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No. 29 Raiatea, French Polynesia

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Pronounced Rye-a-tay-a and known as “the sacred island,” this member of French Polynesia’s Society Islands (along with Bora Bora, Moorea and Huahine) is where to experience the country’s only navigable river at Faaroa Bay as well as its most sacred marae (ancient temple).

Best Beach: Any of the dozens of tiny motus (sandy islets), where you can be dropped off for a half-day picnic and leisurely private snorkel.

Where to Stay: Opoa Beach Hotel, on the island’s south shore, with nine bungalows hand-built by its owners in a breezy cottage style that’s more French than Polynesian but also exceptionally charming.

World's Best Islands 2012

No. 29 Raiatea, French Polynesia

Pronounced Rye-a-tay-a and known as “the sacred island,” this member of French Polynesia’s Society Islands (along with Bora Bora, Moorea and Huahine) is where to experience the country’s only navigable river at Faaroa Bay as well as its most sacred marae (ancient temple).

Best Beach: Any of the dozens of tiny motus (sandy islets), where you can be dropped off for a half-day picnic and leisurely private snorkel.

Where to Stay: Opoa Beach Hotel, on the island’s south shore, with nine bungalows hand-built by its owners in a breezy cottage style that’s more French than Polynesian but also exceptionally charming.

Hemis / Alamy

World's Best Islands 2012

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