Huahine

The Garden Island

The island equivalent to the Garden of Eden, Huahine is an immense tropical jungle thriving with coconut plantations, vanilla orchids, banana groves, breadfruit trees and watermelon fields. Beyond its lush landscapes and bright blooms, Huahine is also a culturally preserved sanctuary with sacred temples hidden throughout dense vegetation. Undoubtedly, this island will leave you spellbound.

The Locale

Part of the Leeward Group of Society Islands, Huahine is a 40-minute flight from Tahiti and rests in close proximity to Raiatea, Taha'a and Bora Bora. The island is divided into two parts: Huahine Nui (big) and Huahine Iti (small). The name Huahine, a variation of the Tahitian word vahine (woman), presumably refers to a mountain ridge resembling the outline of a pregnant woman—a symbol of the island's irrefutable fertility.

Huahine is exceptionally green—perhaps with envy, since fewer travelers frequent her sandy shores and lush hillsides than her favored counterparts, Moorea and Bora Bora. For this reason, though, Huahine has retained the alluring essence and authenticity of early Polynesia. The locals pride themselves on preserving what they genuinely believe is the most picturesque island in Tahiti; and our clients who visit often find that Huahine becomes their favorite island, returning again and again to find the same landscape still unchanged over time.

The Legend

This natural abundance blends seamlessly with a wealth of ancient history and mythical intrigue. Once the home of Tahitian royalty, Huahine is considered the cradle of Polynesian culture. The island maintains the largest concentration of ancient marae (temples) in French Polynesia, some of which are believed to date back to the original ancestors of the Tahitians—the Lapita people—around 700 AD.

Archaeology enthusiast or not, book a tour with Paul Atallah from Island Eco Tours and enjoy an educational and insightful discovery of Polynesia's past. Just outside Maeve Village you will find the largest stone temple with hundreds of excavated structures and many more still uncovered. In the nearby Lake Fauna Nui, visit the ancient stone fish traps considered so sacred that only descendants of the Tahitian royal family can remove them. Lastly, climb Matairea Hill and encounter remnants of countless religious and ceremonial monuments. You can also watch a feeding of the sacred blue-eyed eels in a freshwater lake near the town of Faie.

Recreation

Generally speaking, the natives appreciate a quiet lifestyle; but Huahine is still a very active island. The main town of Fare springs to life on Sunday mornings when the outdoor market brings truckloads of fruit and produce to the waterfront. Every year in October, the Hawaiki Nui Va'a, the largest outrigger canoe race in the South Pacific, starts from the island of Huahine. On that special day, the air is filled with excitement and intense electricity.

Popular water activities in Huahine include snorkeling, scuba diving, Jet Skiing, sailing and fishing. The island also has some of the best surf in the South Pacific, particularly at Ava Mo'a Pass near the reef in Fare. On land, we highly recommend a guided horseback ride with La Petite Ferme, one of the best operations in the area.

Accommodation

There are two distinctively unique hotels on Huahine. The first is the Royal Huahine Resort, located on the western side with overwater bungalows facing Raiatea and Taha'a on the horizon. Accessible only by ferry from Fare, it has a remote offshore feel although still part of the main island. The second is the lakeside Maitai Lapita Village. This charming resort was built around a carefully preserved ancient village and has its own dedicated museum in the hotel lobby. Both are ideal options; but if you seek a non-resort experience, there are also a few small establishments known as pensions scattered around the island.

Final Impression

Mystical, captivating and alluring, Huahine is admittedly one of our favorite islands in French Polynesia. It's usually a popular choice among repeat visitors who have already seen Moorea or Bora Bora and now seek a new experience. Regardless, first timers will love the welcoming hospitality of the locals and the absolute serenity of the island's natural surroundings.

Take a Look Around

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