Ahh, Huahine! Such a beautiful island. Huahine is about a 35 minute flight from Papeete, Tahiti. When you arrive at the small airport you can either pick up a car and drive to your accommodation or you can have someone pick you up. I suggest having someone pick you up and then hire a car later. This way you are able to view this verdant island on your way to your accommodation. Don’t miss the ancient fishing traps in the lagoon when leaving the airport! The locals call it lazy fishing!
Huahine is made up of two islands, Huahine Nui (Big) and Huahine Iti (Little) with a bridge between the two islands. In addition to the ancient fishing traps, Huahine has historical sites (ancient Maraes (ancient sacred places) and a recreation of a chief’s Fare or home), scuba diving, pearl farms, and horseback riding.
Huahine is the perfect island to visit a local Protestant church on a Sunday morning where the congregation will sing acapella. This singing is very unique in the world. You can hear it all over the islands but it is very well known on Huahine. When on Huahine on a Sunday, I rise early to get to the church to see the arrival of the congregants. The arriving women and girls all wear hand-woven hats. The designs are handed down from mother to daughter. It is a true sight to see living artwork! At every church, you are most welcome. Do dress in nice clothing with shoulders and legs covered as a sign of respect for their Sunday services.
This is the authenticity of Huahine.
There are a number of great B & Bs on the island and then the two lovely, 3-star resorts. Huahine residents prefer to not have the larger hotels built here. They wish to keep the island welcoming to tourists but not overridden with them.
The first is the Relais Mahana, in the south of the island on a beautiful bay. With great views of the bay my pick are the Deluxe Beach Bungalows. The restaurant here is excellent, but don’t forget to taste the great menus at the area small restaurants and restaurants in the other small B & Bs here.
The second is Le Maitai Lapita Village, near the airport and the main village of Fare. Le Maitai Lapita Village has garden and lake bungalows. The lake is beautifully set in the tropical vegetation and a number of the lake bungalows have decks over the lake. The restaurant is a short walk from the bungalows and is on a small beach. The food at this restaurant is also excellent. The owner of the resort is a potter, you can see his work at the Pearl Farm in Maroe Bay. When building the resort, shards of pottery were dug up. The research was done. It was found that in the resort’s location there were potters but the clay was not of the correct consistency to continue this practice.
The Huahine Yacht Club, formerly known as Te Marara, has been open since 2004 and has won the hearts of locals and tourists. This fun find offers an extensive menu including seafood, meats, poultry, and reasonably priced wines. The menu has a wide range of traditional dishes found in The Islands of Tahiti such as Shrimp Curry along with lots of other interesting dishes with a twist such as steamed mahi-mahi with ginger! The restaurant does not have “a” chef but instead has a team of three cooks who are all equally responsible for the kitchen and menu. Most of the staff have put in their time working in hotels on the islands of Tahiti and Bora Bora and wanted to “return to beautiful Huahine for a stress-free life” says owner Marc Garnier. Garnier also owns 3 fishing boats providing the restaurant fresh fish daily.
Open 7 days a week from 10 am to 10 pm, The Huahine Yacht Club is located right on the water, very simply decorated, and leaves you quite satisfied. Also, be sure and try their sorbets and ice creams made of local fruits and flavors! The restaurant provides free transportation from select hotels and pensions. (Thank you Tekura from Tahiti Tourism for this description of the Huahine Yacht Club!)
I highly recommend a stay of at least three nights on Huahine. Lots of good times will be had on the “authentic” island of French Polynesia!