Vallee de la Vanille is a family-operated farm on Tahaa. // (c) 2013 Skye Mayring
While on a private catamaran cruise with Tahiti Yacht Charter, I paid a visit to the small French Polynesian island of Tahaa (population of approximately 5,000). The island is lush and so quaint that I never once encountered a car driving along the road or heard any more background noise than the sounds of tropical birds chirping.
It seems that, in place of mailboxes, each home has a breadbox facing the side of the road. To this day, a baker drives by every morning to deliver fresh French baguettes and an occasional croissant to customers.
Food is definitely a focus for residents. Tahaa is known as Tahiti’s Vanilla Island for its prolific production of the vanilla bean and vanilla extract, and most locals are employed by the vanilla industry.
Therefore, it seemed only fitting for me to learn about cultivating and processing vanilla at the family-operated farm, Vallee de la Vanille. My guide was quick to point out that Tahaa was the first of French Polynesia’s islands to harvest vanilla and is currently responsible for nearly 80 percent of the country’s vanilla production. Visitors to Vallee de la Vanille will feel compelled to take home a piece of Tahaa in one of its many forms, from vanilla-scented soap to a vanilla-infused bottle of rum.