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Introducing Ra'iatea & Taha'a

Sandwiched between Huahine and Bora Bora, the twin islands of Ra'iatea and Taha'a are possibly the region's best-kept secret. They offer travellers the opportunity to experience French Polynesia's most idiosyncratic alter ego - the old-fashioned side, stripped bare of all the candy-coated gloss. Locals here live life on their own terms: slowly, traditionally and with a profound respect for their heritage and history. And although both islands embrace tourism, unlike their neighbours they don't need it to survive - agriculture and governmental posts are the primary industries here.

Home to some of French Polynesia's most important ancient places of worship, Ra'iatea and Taha'a emanate a magical, mythical, mysterious vibe. While you won't find a single beach on either island, they exhibit such savage beauty that you'll quickly forget about the lack of sand. Untamed, wild and raw, this is the part of French Polynesia where mossy green hills tumble past coconut-strewn jungles before sliding gently into translucent ribbons of aqua and turquoise blue. Fairly quiet, the islands are perfect for exploring French Polynesia's secrets, away from the crowds. Ride a scooter around Ra'iatea's ragged coast, tour a vanilla plantation in Taha'a's lush and rugged interior, snorkel in the shallow waters off white-sand motu (islet), stay in a private island fantasy resort or in a small family pension - whatever you desire, these islands can usually provide.