Early in the morning, National Geographic Resolution cruised inside the waters surrounding Taha'a, the “Vanilla Island.” Polynesian vanilla is known throughout the world for its unique flavor, and Taha'a produces more than 70 percent of all vanilla in French Polynesia.

Right after breakfast, we disembarked to visit a vanilla farm. Here, we learned that vanilla was introduced to the Society Islands in the early 20th century. Taha'a proved to have the best conditions for growing the vanilla orchid plants, which are cultivated in open air and hand-pollinated using traditional techniques for the highest-quality vanilla for culinary purposes.

Afterward, we enjoyed snorkeling around a private motu (islet). The crystal-clear water revealed interesting coral reefs and an amazing abundance of coral fish.

During lunch, National Geographic Resolution repositioned to Raiatea to learn more about Polynesian culture at the UNESCO World Heritage site Marae Taputapuatea. It is located at the center of the Polynesian Triangle, a vast maritime area dotted with small remote island between Hawai’i, Easter Island and New Zealand.

We were honored to participated in a special ceremony in which our head officers presented an offering in the marae, guided by our Cultural Navigator Tua. After this ceremony, we visited the Marae Hauviri. At the ancestral investiture temple, we each made a personal connection by touching the “Investiture Rock,” Te-Papa-tea-o-Ruea, to share our Mana (energy).

It was a special and memorable day for each of us!