We lifted anchor from Oponohu Bay in Mo’orea and set off for a new destination – Huahine. Our friends Dave and Lynn wanted to actively participate in keeping watch on our passage, so we assigned time slots for the 4 of us. After our 19 hour uneventful passage from Mo’orea, we arrived in the main port of Fare and spent 2 weeks there. We split up our time between 3 anchorages: Fare, Plage Hana-Iti, across from Motu Vaiorea on the central West side, and Avea Bay on the Southwest end. Most of our time was spent in Fare with Dave and Lynn.

The main anchorage has a nice dingy dock directly off the Yacht Club restaurant and bar. This is a logical hang out for cruisers, as it is very accessible, has decent food and drinks and the sunsets are wonderful from the water’s edge there. Needless to say, we spent a lot of time (and money) at the Yacht Club.

We made visiting the Distillerie Huahine Passion a priority, which turned out to be an excellent decision! We loved tasting their “Fruit Delights (brandies) and Sublimes” that were 18%, or 55%. Some of our favorite flavors were: mango/passion fruit, pamplemousse, coconut/vanilla, coconut/coffee/hazelnut and You and Me was amazing! We stocked up and Dave and Lynn did too. The owners were so fun to meet and do our tasting with, even though our French is not good, and their English wasn’t great. Christian and his wife Rosie are the quintessential hosts.

We called around to try to find a car to rent, so we could see the island, but to no avail. We ended up renting a couple beat-up bikes for Dave and Lynn, so we could at least ride part way around the island and see some sights. Brent and I have folding bikes, which have gotten rusty, but still work fairly well. Despite the poor quality of the bikes, we managed to have a great ride and see some awesome places.

We pedaled out, toward the airport to the Shell Museum. This is a man’s personal shell collection that he has assembled from 30 years of collecting in Huahine. The museum takes up 2 rooms in his house – with a separate entrance and a small shop area with shell jewelry. It was an incredible assembly of a huge variety of species, showing a range of sizes for each species. We took a ton of photos with Brent’s mom in mind. She has been a shell collector most of her adult life and has an incredible collection herself.

Then we rode on to visit an artist’s studio called Galerie ‘Umatatea. Melonie Shook Dupree is a classically trained artist from the States. Her gallery was packed with paintings, mostly oils of landscapes and portraits. She is highly talented and kind of an unexpected find on a Polynesian island. After almost 20 years, she is well-integrated with the local culture and very at-home on Huahine. You can find her on Instagram @islandartiste.

We continued past Melody’s, to a marae called Marae Manunu. This is a very nicely situated, historical site that is very accessible and fairly intact. It consists mainly of one large ceremonial stone platform near a beach. There are no plaques or signs denoting these ruins, so we felt like we’d just stumbled onto them. Finding them felt similar to finding cave paintings in the desert in the US. We pedaled on to see Fare Potée Maeva, another historical marae site. This is a larger, more important site and has a small museum to explain how the site is laid out. There are raised stone walkways and ceremonial platforms along the beach, including an old canoe that looks like an authentic relic from the same time frame.

Next, we rode out to the Coral Gardens, which is a well-known snorkeling site that many people recommended we visit. The snorkeling was great and we all enjoyed the underwater scenery. We also enjoyed our lunch that we had packed and brought with us. A local horse roaming the beach made it his business to see what we were having for lunch and he really wanted Brent’s sandwich for some reason. The novelty of the horse soon wore off and he became a large pest that was hard to persuade to move on. Eventually, he found someone else to bother.

Coral Gardens is adjacent to ruins of a Sofitel Resort that was closed in early 2005 due to an economic downturn that started in 2003 and then the property fell into a state of disrepair and was mostly dismantled. The grounds of the resort still contain an empty swimming pool, (full of scummy water and leaves), all the concrete pylons that the guest cottages stood on, over the water, as well as many concrete paths that meandered through the once well manicured grounds. We could imagine what a grand place it was at one time. Now it’s just a sad monument to more prosperous times, but that didn’t make our biking adventure any less fun.

We did eventually rent a car with Dave and Lynn. It was from Isabelle, who has a tiny, hole-in-the-wall office next to the market. She was finally open after days of being closed – because she had no cars to rent. She had to hop on her bike and ride out to the airport to fetch a car that someone had left there. It took about 30 mins for her to return with the car and then clean it up a bit.

We circumnavigated the island in the car, scoping out places we might like to check out. We visited the giant Sacred Blue-Eyed Eels, (Anguilles Sacrées de Faie)…which were less than thrilling. They hang out in a river that was clouded with muddy water from recent rains. It was pretty difficult to see any eels, let alone their blue eyes. We could kind of make out their dark shapes in the water, but that was it. Not sure if I care to revisit them in clearer water.

We moved on to visiting the Huahine Pearl Farm, which also has a side business of making pottery. The owner developed glazes from the native sands found 90 ft at the bottom of the lagoon while pearl farming, that have unique navy blue and brown colors. The pottery is beautiful and has native, ethnic patterns on it. This is the only pearl farm in Huahine, so they have a corner on the market, but it was one of the nicest PF’s we’ve visited.

The day came to say goodbye to our friends. We really enjoyed our time with them. The airport is outside Fare and it is pretty nice. Dave and Lynn’s flight was on time and we were sad to see them go.

Brent and I picked up the anchor and moved to the mid island, to another anchorage near Plage Hanu-Iti – Little Hanu Beach. We enjoyed snorkeling here, just off shore of a small motu called Vaiorea. We saw lots of eels and a small pipe fish that looked like a darling tiny snake. The water got rough and there was a big storm coming, so we moved further South to Avea Bay. This is where the inner bay ends and you can’t sail any further. It is supposed to be a fairly protected anchorage, depending on the direction of the wind. We rode out some fairly nasty weather here.

In Avea Bay, there is a nice resort on the beach called Hotel Le Mahana. They have a dingy dock that anyone can use. We used it frequently to go to the resort restaurant and to walk around town. We went to Sunday lunch at Chez Tara, which is well-known for their traditional meals cooked on hot coals in pits and wrapped in palm leaves. It was a buffet and it was awesome!

On the other extreme, we visited Chez Tania, for a BBQ chicken dinner. Tania serves dinners on her front porch. She’s got room for about 12-15 people and her kids are the cooks and servers. For $10 it was a lot of food and a nice local experience.

Huahine won our hearts over. For an island we hadn’t heard much about before visiting, it soon became one of our favorites!

2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Jenn Payne May 15, 2023 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    Huahine is a gem, sounds like you had the best time there & saw it all! We have a soft spot for the island too after living there for 5 weeks.
    Looking forward to seeing you in Tonga. We spent a month there on our catamaran (b4 we owned her) in the Vava’u group in 2007. It’s amazingly beautiful as well & like stepping back 40 years in time! Wonder if it’s still the same now?

    • Beth
      Beth May 15, 2023 at 9:52 pm - Reply

      Hi Jenn,
      We’re really looking forward to spending a few months in Tonga. Brent has wanted to visit for over 20 years. Hopefully, we’ll get to see most of it….and we’ll share what we see🙂

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