Mysterious, sensual and captivating, Huahine can boast of having preserved all its authenticity despite the tourism development.
In the heart of the Pacific, behind a veil of mystery, we can guess the generous curves of “the island of women” as we name it here. Verdant, wild and secluded, it embodies the Polynesia of yesteryear: its natural charm, its casualness and its mana (power). Perhaps you will have recognized it as Te Fiti in the Disney animated movie Moana. Now famous, the island inspires, captivates and unleashes the passions.
The legends telling the origin of its creation are told in the five archipelagos and are now often reported at the Heiva i Tahiti.
Often disdained by the tourism industry, the island is always a pleasant surprise for travelers who appreciate its aura, its simplicity, its appearance of a rough diamond. Part of the archipelago of the Society, it is a secret and well-preserved island.
The island of Huahine:
Located 175km northwest of Tahiti, the island is divided into two parts connected by a bridge of a hundred meters: Huahine Nui and Huahine Iti. It is said that Hiro, the god of thieves, would have split the island with its canoe after falling asleep. When he awoke, he tried to stop the ship by throwing his hook on the ground and lost his paddle during the sinking. Even today, these two elements can be seen on a cliff of the Maroe Bay.
Real Eden, the island is a haven for anyone seeking tranquility and calm. White sand beaches and coral islets have been sprinkled on a blue lagoon that could recall the Bermuda sky. A lush nature marvels the visitors and the island embodies the Polynesian beauty.
Like the small creeks scattered around the island, Huahine wants to be secret, fragile and silent. Only archaeological remains attest to the wealth of ancestral heritage. But perhaps you will be able to make the stones speak and lift the mystery that hangs over the “island of the woman”. Huahine abounds with food and fruit crops, the locals kindness can be read on every smile and in every look.
Dreaded and impressive, these archaeological sites are among the largest in Polynesia. They participate in the construction of the myth and the mystification of the island. In the town of Parea, to the south, you can find the marae Anini, on the domain of the royal family, near the marae Titoi. Dedicated to the gods Oro and Hiro, it is particularly known for its ahu, its altar.
At the edge of Lake Fauna Nui, within Maeva, are the sites of Fare Roi, Fare Tai, Vai-Otaha and Rauhuru. The marae Manunu, located near the former Sofitel, is dedicated to Tane, god of war and fish. There is a fare pote’e highlighting musical instruments and other elements related to the ceremonies that were held there once.
In the charming village of Faie, along the road, the cars accumulate. There, you can spot small groups of tourists looking busy in the water. No need of any sign, something fishy is going on… Be reckless and perhaps you will be able to tame these sacred oviparous. They do not hesitate to undulate under your feet, in search of food, or attention…
The mountainous terrain:
The island is famous for its generous shapes that look like a pregnant woman, lying on her back. Overlooking the great Huahine from its 669m, the Mount Turi dominates the Mounts Tapu to the north, Paeao and Vahi to the south. Moua Toru is distinguished by its three peaks, what a playground for hikers! The best thing to do is to climb to the summit by quad or at least to go to the belvedere of Faie to contemplate the breathtaking view over the bay of Maroe.
Polynesian specificity, fish parks are the premise of aquaculture. Ancestral technique used for centuries, it consists in playing with the current so that the fish rush and cannot come out of the trap. Made from stones and coral blocks, they allow easy fishing and help with animal reproduction.
The pearl farm of Faie:
Symbol of Polynesia, the “Tahiti Black Pearl”, as it is generally called, is an exceptional souvenir that many like to bring back from their vacations. Next to Faie, the “Huahine Pearl Farm” offers a small canoe to allow you to access it for free. This is the perfect opportunity to learn more about the manufacturing process and do some shopping: pearls are mounted or sold as they are. And if you’d like a quick summary, check out our article on pearl farms.
The Umatatea gallery:
Art lovers will be delighted to linger in this colorful gallery while enjoying a tasty taro ice cream.
The tourist attractions of the island are not limited to the landscape and stones. There is also this creativity, remarkable dexterity, this sense of detail, this craft specific to the Leeward Islands. Do not hesitate to take a walk in the markets, you will find some pieces of exception.
The ote’a mau, the Huahine dance:
Dance is without a doubt, the second area in which the inhabitants excel. If you visit the island in July, you will have the opportunity to attend a performance of ote’a mau during the tiurai festivities. This dance is unique to Huahine and is reserved exclusively for men.
What activities to practice?
Take a sunbath on a deserted beach:
Huahine remains a wild paradise where it is good to bask on the hot sand. Here, you will not encounter any difficulty in finding a corner to put your towel, the majority of beaches are uncrowded, not to mention deserted. Near the channel, is the beach of the former Sofitel Hotel from which you can swim to motu Mahare.
Visit the distillery:
Near the police station, not far from the city center of Fare, there is a small factory of artisanal liquors. If the place does not look bright at first sight, the liquors are famous in all the archipelagos: mape flavors, banana, grapefruit, lemon, pistachio or mango / passion…
A lagoon tour:
Why not discovering the island from the lagoon? Embark on a traditional canoe or a comfortable boat and retrace the most memorable legends of the island. Be amazed by the local fauna and flora, endemic species, fish-filled caves and coral gardens. Most of the time, you will be taught how to make a basket of pandanus leaves. Attend the preparation of the famous raw fish with coconut milk, learn to tie a pareo or how to dance the Tahitian way: a great program!
Like the rest of Polynesia, the island is endowed with an impressive biodiversity. We advise you to go around the motu Vaiorea, at the entrance of port Bourayne.
Moreover, every year, during the month of October, Huahine is the starting point of the Hawaiki Nui Va’a, the most famous traditional canoe race. If you stay there at this time of the year, don’t miss it under any circumstances.
Where to stay?
The island has three 3-stars hotels, which are renowned around the island. Nevertheless, the majority of travelers enjoy the opportunity to meet locals, discovering a new way of life, taste homemade dishes while getting to know their hosts by choosing to stay in a guesthouse. Coral paths, mirrors lined with shells, artisanal decoration… these small lodges know how to create a local and friendly atmosphere.
Tama’a ! It’s time to eat:
Unlike in the Tuamotu, you will not encounter any difficulty to have lunch or dinner here. Of course, the shops and snacks are much more numerous on the big island, especially next to Fare. You will find a Super U (supermarket) where you will be able to do your grocery shopping, as well as small restaurants. On the other hand, on Huahine Iti, you will find hotels or fruit sellers along the road. Some day trips also offer lunch on a motu in addition to small snacks but we recommend you to book your stay half board in the hotel or the guesthouse of your choice.
If you are looking to taste a great homemade raw fish, flavored with lemon and coconut milk as it should, on the beach, you will have to go to Tara’s place. On Sundays, you will even have the opportunity to witness the opening of the ahima’a, the Tahitian oven. Immerse yourself in a typical local atmosphere and enjoy colorful food.
Although the island is not very large, its 74 km2 do not allow walking around or even take a bike. Choose a scooter or a car. If you are adventurous and lucky, you can try to hitchhike, islanders are known to be friendly.
How to get there?
First, you need to fly to Tahiti, then you just have to book a direct flight Tahiti – Huahine via the local airline Air Tahiti. In only 40 min, you will arrive at your destination, just the time you need to drink a fruit juice in the air.
A regular sea shuttle has also been set up. Count 8hrs to make the crossing by boat from Tahiti.
The weather point:
Like the other islands in the Society archipelago, the climate is tropical and divided into two seasons: a warm season with abundant rainfalls from November to March, and a cooler season with daily sunshine, from April to October. So we strongly advise you to prefer a departure during the austral winter, when the temperatures are more bearable, the climate less humid and sunny.
Our little extra:
In the past, Huahine was called Mata’irea, which means “happy, golden or rare wind”. Its current name comes from hua huatearu, the “broken coral”, referening to the legend of Hiro.
At the North of the island, you can find a brackish water lake called Fauna iti. Famous for its ava (species of salmon), it often overflows in the rainy season into Fauna Nui, a salt lake that communicates with the sea.