France > French Polynesia > Raiatea Island > Uturoa


Uturoa is a commune of French Polynesia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean. Uturoa is located on the island of Raiatea, in the administrative subdivision of the Leeward Islands of which Uturoa is the administrative capital. The Leeward Islands are part of the Society Islands. Uturoa is the main port of Raiatea Island. At the August 2007 census the urban area of Uturoa had 8,735 inhabitants, 3,778 of whom lived in Uturoa proper. Uturoa is about 200 km northwest of Papeete, the Tahitian capital.


Raiatea Airport is located in eastern Uturoa. Many of the islanders travel from there to different islands. Raiatea Airport has one runway. Air Tahiti is the main airline. The runway is asphalt and stretches to the eastern side of the island. To make an international flight, residents take Air Tahiti to Faa'a International Airport in Faaa. Sometimes ferries leave Raiatea and sail northward toward nearby Tahaa. Other ferries sail to Vaitape/Bora Bora or Tahiti.


Uturoa was first settled by early Polynesians coming from Southeast Asia. The settlers built houses of branches and grass. Fish, bananas and apples were their main food. They hunted fish using spears and sticks. The first European that recorded its sight was Pedro Fernandez de Quirós in 1606; it was charted as Fugitiva. During the 1700s, Captain James Cook arrived in Tahiti and many more French Polynesian islands to map most of the Pacific Ocean. Later on, Charles Darwin came. He explored Moorea and other Society Islands. Don the Beachcomber lived there some of his life. Uturoa had a major population growth during the 1940s.


Container ships and ferries are found throughout the harbour. The ferries sail to other Society Islands such as Bora Bora and Moorea. The harbour size is limited by the short coast.


Uturoa has parks near the harbour. The closest to the harbour is the Uturoa coastal park. The parks on the mountains close to Uturoa have views of the harbour and the city. School parks are found throughout Raiatea and usually have open grass spaces.


Uturoa is the northernmost point of Raiatea and has a view of Bora Bora, Tahaa, and Huahine. The commune is about 5 ft (1.5 m) above sea level on average. The mountains of Uturoa are not far inland and sometimes touch the coast and form coast ranges. Uturoa is situated between the small pass of Tahaa and the forest-covered mountains of Raiatea. Inland parks host Tahitian dancers.


Some beaches of Uturoa have black sand at some parts due to past volcanic eruptions. The beaches stop at one point and then the coast is filled with cranes and container ships.

Nearby communes

Uturoa is part of the Raiatea commune. Two other districts make up Raiatea. The Huahine commune is about 50 km (31 mi) away from Raiatea and is home to Fare, a large commune. Tahaa is just across the pass. Vaitape and Anau of Bora Bora can be seen from Uturoa.


Uturoa is ~270km from Teahupo'o, a district of Tahiti. Teahupoo is close to a reef break that has enormous swells, ideal for the Surfing World Championship Tour.

Other major sports are football and basketball.

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