French Polynesia/Taha’a: La Vallée De La Vanille
Tahaa Island is the capital of vanilla production in the French Polynesia and Tahaa vanilla is world famous for being most flavorful and fragrant. While most of the vanilla sold in the world comes from Central America and Madagascar, the Polynesian variety is quite unique in its flavor characteristics, although it’s not very widely cultivated. The central mountains of Tahaa have several small vanilla plantations, where the plant is grown and the vanilla pods are collected (they may look like beans, but vanilla is actually an orchid – surprise surprise! – and it’s fruits are pods full of tiny spore-like seeds). At the La Vallée De La Vanille you get to see the vanilla plants and see green and ripe and dried up pods, as well as tons of various vanilla products like vanilla powder, extracts, and rum (was my choice of purchase).