When people visit French Polynesia, Tahiti and Bora Bora are obviously two of the most popular stops, but there are so many other, lesser known islands that are worth checking out. While I only spent a day there on my Paul Gauguin cruise, Huahine remains one of my favorite stops in the South Pacific.
Huahine is actually two islands joined by a small isthmus, surrounded by crystal-clear lagoons. There are only eight tiny villages, and it’s slower pace and authenticity are immediately evident as compared to the big island of Tahiti.
Since much of the island is agricultural, the beaches we encountered were pristine and quiet. It may sound from this post that I’m not a fan of Tahiti, but I just preferred the laid back vibe and more natural surroundings of other islands we traveled to. I’d like to come back and explore the snorkeling and scuba options around the island as the water was crystal clear (for the 30 minutes or so the sun was out in between storms).
Huahine’s Ancient Fishing Traps
Some of the most interesting sights on the island are the remnants of the ancient fishing traps that you cannot miss as you take a drive on the island’s windy roads. The tiny huts and paths outline the water’s edge and provide insight into Huahine’s early beginnings.
Tahitian Maraes (Temples) in Maeva
More evidence of Huahine’s centuries-old history are the restored Tahitian maraes, which are basically temples. Look for remnants of dwellings, religious and ceremonial monuments, marae of island chieftains, and more. Historians believe the oldest recorded date of human occupation among the Society Islands was on Huahine.
Tahitian Vanilla Beans
As a culinary traveler, and one who spends a lot of time in the kitchen at home, I am in love with fresh Tahitian vanilla beans. On Huahine, you can visit a vanilla bean plantation and purchase fresh beans to take back home at a fraction of the cost you will find them for in the stores back on Tahiti, let alone around the world.
Sacred Blue Eels, aka Blue-Eyed Eels of Faie
We almost missed seeing these amazing creatures due to rain from a nearby cyclone, but we braved the downpour to get a glimpse of these large eels with their translucent blue eyes. Local kids feed them, or you can buy cans of mackerel and brave feeding them yourself, but I recommend letting one of the experienced kids do it! According to the guides, you can only find these blue eels on Huahine and on Tahiti itself.
Fare, Main Village of Huahine
The laid back Fare is the main village of Huahine. It’s unlike the typical villages and spots I’ve seen where cruise ship people are herded into masses to buy overpriced trinkets and souvenirs. Fare is the main hub for the island, and has restaurants, shops, and a couple small hotels. It’s a great contrast from the busy and tourist-laden Tahiti.
Other Things to Do on Huahine
I barely scratched the surface on things to see and do in Huahine — between water activities, island drives, hiking, horseback riding, four-wheel driving, pearl farms, and cultural sights, Huahine is definitely an island worth spending a few days on if you can squeeze it in on your French Polynesian itinerary.