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Taha'a, the kingdom of vanilla

for food-lovers

Raiatea, the neighbouring island with whom it shares the lagoon, is sacred, but Taha'a is the fragrant island. Vanilla has been cultivated here since the 19th century.

Of all the Sous-le-Vent islands, Taha'a exhales vanilla, the scents that escape the many plantations that practice the “marriage” of flowers. It is an operation with a poetic name, requiring delicate and crucial handling: to become a pod, the vanilla flower, which cannot self-pollinate, needs divine intervention. With a pollinating insect, it is merely a fruit of chance. But with human intervention, it becomes an art.

Before humans had the idea of artificial fertilisation, they imported this orchid from Central America to the Polynesian islands in the mid-19th century. One subspecies, the Vanilla tahitensis, appeared, a spice very much appreciated by gourmets. Taha'a produces 80% of Polynesian vanilla plantation crops and many producers open their doors to show their know-how, from pollination to the drying of the pods in the sun. This is why Taha'a is “Vanilla Island”.

 See the Travel Guide to Tahiti