Vanilla, octopus, sand, palm trees, blue water, and sacred. These are only a few of the words that describe our fantastic day exploring the beautiful islands and culture in French Polynesia.

This morning, we visited one of the famous vanilla farms of Taha’a. We chilled on the beach and in the shade of a private motu (island). We snorkeled the beautiful coral reef surrounding the island, and our divers took a bit of a deeper look into the ocean.

In the afternoon, we went ashore at another island, Raiatea. We visited Marae Taputapuatea (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), which is one of the most sacred places in all of Polynesia. It is home to multiple marae, or communal sacred places for ceremonies and connection. Marae around the islands of the South Pacific share stones from this site, which connects them all.

Multiple cultural specialists from our natural history staff are from this area, and it was a highlight to have them interpret the meaning of these places. They shared stories to illustrate what the places mean personally and for their people.