It’s been more than six months since I returned from Huahine and decided to write this article. Huahine is in the Leeward Islands of Tahiti, about 170 kilometers northwest of the island of Tahiti. Huahine remains preserved from the masses of tourists who visit Bora Bora and Moorea, actually only a few people go there. There are two main islands: Huahine Iti, which means the smaller island, and Huahine Nui, the bigger one. There is a bridge that connects the two.
I have fond memories of the week I spent in Huahine, a mixture of simplicity and authenticity – worthy of discovery. In this article I will give you some ideas of what to do while in Huahine on your holiday. I think this island is worthy of spending 4 days to a week if you enjoy taking the time to discover and appreciate it. If you’re going to French Polynesia, this island is worth considering.
If you are looking for a great website to find sports activities in French Polynesia, I particularly recommend Manawa website.
I think this is the first and most important thing that you should do in Huahine. Granted, it was easy for me as I have friends who live there and own a boat. Discovering the beauty of the island in the late afternoon by sea really changes the view and the atmosphere. To fully experience Huahine in just a few days, this is the best thing to do.
There are several ways to do that:
- If you’re staying at a family pension you can ask them to organize a boat rental for you. It seems to be fairly easy and you just have to follow their recommendations. I don’t know how much it would cost, but it is generally cheaper than organized excursions,
- If renting a boat isn’t possible, most of the pensions offer daily excursions which will cost around 8,000 / 9,000 XPF.
During the day you realize the beauty of the island and the lagoon. Some places are really splendid. Let yourself be carried away…One of the nice things to do is to stop at the coral gardens at motu Vaiorea. The motus are surrounded by crystal clear water and white sand beaches.
And yes, Polynesia is not just white sand and coconut palms. This island has many archaeology sites, called “marae”. They are scattered around the island and interesting to visit on your tour of Huahine. To mention just a few important and easy sites to visit, there is marae Maeva and the shore of Lake Fauna Nui, the Fare Pote’e which has a small museum explaining what you’re seeing and the beautiful Marae Anini in Parea at the southern tip of Huahine at the edge of a sublime sand beach. If you’re interested in knowing more about this site, visit Tahiti Heritage page, the Bible of Polynesian history and sites remaining that can be visited.
The drive around the island of Huahine is very pleasant. Don’t drive fast so you’ll have plenty of time to visit the archaeological sites, mentioned above, and stop at superb viewpoints – “belevederes” along the way. When the weather is good, these offer wonderful views of the lagoon and coral reefs in the distance.
During your drive, stop to admire the fish parks in the inlet that connects the lake to the ocean. You’ll see them at the exit of Maeva just after the bridge, on the left side. These fish parks were built by the ancient people and it seems that they are still, more or less, used. The objective is that the fish, move through the maze with the tide to the end of the triangle that is at the same level as the small ‘fare’. I went back several times to take pictures as I found this place so beautiful.
Don’t hesitate to walk until the end of the roads that lead nowhere. There are lots of dead ends like this and their beauty will surprise you.
You could consider doing this during your road trip around the island, or even better, take more time and do it another day. The “Huahine Pearl Farm” is in the bay, right before the little village of Faie. A small outrigger, with dubious scheduling, takes you there. You can spend time in the little house on stilts and learn about how the nucleus is implanted in the pearl oyster and how the pearl forms. You, obviously, have the “bonus” of being able to buy some pearls, either alone, or already set in jewelry.
The island of Huahine is particularly well known for its’ sacred eels. They are found in one spot in a creek in the main village of Faie. There is a sign on the road on the right. The local folk feed them with leftovers. It’s impressive to see how many there are in so little water.
While I was there little children had their feet in the water. I wasn’t too sure about that…
The island of Huahine has some beautiful beaches, some of the best in the high islands. Regardless of it’s during your drive around the island or during your boat tour, take the time to stop and enjoy the beaches you see.
During my boat tour, my friends took me to the deserted site of the Hotel Hana Iti. The beach is lovely with a backdrop of the deserted bungalows perched on the mountainside. You can easily climb thru the lush vegetation to the top of the hill and admire the lagoon from this magnificent viewpoint.
However, in my opinion, the most beautiful beach on the island, by far, is the beach of the abandoned Sofitel hotel. If, like me, you have the chance to be alone, it’s magical. Picture postcard perfect and without the crowds. To get there, go left as you leave Maeva, after the bridge and drive to the end. You can always ask a local if needed.
I especially wanted to talk about food in this article because anyone, French most particularly, who respect themselves love eating, right? If you’re in the southern part of the island, don’t hesitate to stop at this little snack bar by the water. The setting is lovely and, in my opinion, the food is very good. The prices are reasonable and you’ll enjoy the time you spend here as I did.
Unfortunately, I can’t give specifies on this activity, nor how I feel about it, but I know there are several diving clubs in Huahine. My friends dive with Michel from Pacific Blue Adventure and highly recommend him. If you’re a scuba diver, this is something you should plan to do to enjoy the marine life here on the island.
This was recommanded to us before we came and is something I like more and more. Spending a few hours eating a leisurely breakfast in one of the beautiful hotels on the island. The setting at the Mahana Hotel is awesome and breakfast prices are reasonable. As a bonus, enjoy the superb beach in front of the hotel do some snorkeling and admire the corals. To the right of the pontoon there is a large colony of anemones and clown fish! The hotel also provides kayaks and paddles for guests, so cool isn’t it ? In short you can spend a morning here no worries!
When I was in Huahine we stayed on the southern tip of the island in Haapu at Camping Plage Guest house. There were kayaks available to paddle out to the motus opposite the guesthouse. My two-year-old son and I paddled out with no trouble and we had a great time, both during the crossing and the time we spent on the nice beaches. It was also an opportunity to look more closely at the seabed and admire the turquoise waters.
Even if you’re not staying at this place, I think you can still rent their kayaks or use others from another guesthouse.
I must admit, I didn’t go hiking while I was there, but it is definitely something to do to see the valleys, waterfalls, etc. Teri, the only official guide on the island, at Camping Hiva Plage, can offer to show you the interior beauty of Huahine, which is Interesting to know for those who want to stretch their legs during their stay.
I will end my short list of things to do in Huahine by reminding you to bring back some small gifts for yourself or your friends. There are 3 specific items I think are a priority.
- Vanilla : you’ll find it around do don’t hesitate to ask your host where you are staying to suggest where you can buy the famous vanilla beans.
- Believe it or not, but there is a local distillery in town, known by everyone that offers good bottles of various alcohols. There is something for everyone.
- Finally, I had heard a lot about the handmade sarongs found on the island. You’ll find them everywhere, even on the side of the road. You can choose the color and the pattern. Plus, a sarong is a nice gift and also for yourself.
I’ll continue this article about Huahine by giving you some practical advice about how to get there and where to stay.
To get to Huahine Island, you must of course first reach Tahiti Island, the main island of French Polynesia (the only international airport for now). For Americans, the cheapest way is to fly from San Francisco to Papeete. If you are flexible, you can find flights at $650/700. If you live far from SF, I recommend that you first fly internally from a major US city to SF. For Canadians, I also recommend that you take a flight from a major Canadian city to San Francisco and continue with another flight SF -> Papeete. Usually, Frenchbee, United and Air tahiti Nui are the main companies to come to Tahiti.
Once on Tahiti Island, the easiest option is to fly with the local airline Air Tahiti from Tahiti to Huahine Island. The airfare is about 20 000xpf, about 200$ round trip. If you are traveling for several weeks, you will probably include the visit to the island in an Air Tahiti Pass, which is still the most economical way to visit the Society’s archipelago.
If you are looking for the cheapest flights to come here, I advise you to look at this flight comparator that I have been using for more than 10 years now. ?
And if you don’t know yet, I have a page with a series of cheap flights that I update on a regular basis. Maybe French Polynesia is on the best flight deal this week ?!
It’s also possible to go to Huahine by boat from Tahiti. It’s an overnight trip and costs nearly nothing. I mention it on my page where I talk about the possibility of inter-island sailing. You can also sail to Huahine from the island of Raiatea by catamaran in the form of a mini-cruise. With a little luck and depending on the season, you might even see whales. Also, some famous boats are cruising from Tahiti, like Paul Gauguin !
There is something to satisfy everyone in Huahine; back packer camping, small guest lodges called family pensions and beautiful hotels.
For those economy minded travelers there are two places where you can camp. Both are on the southern tip of the island. I stayed at Camping Hiva Plage located at the edge of a beautiful beach. The setting is heavenly. You can either camp by the beach, or stay in a small cabin. It’s rustic, I’m warning you. There is a communal cooking area and two available showers. If you like simplicity, it is a very nice place.
There is another site where you can pitch a tent, a few kilometers before Hiva Beach, by the ocean. I haven’t been able to find its’ name so therefore it doesn’t seem to be an official campsite, but it’s worth a look.
For those who want a little more comfort, here is a list of all the guest houses (pensions) in Huahine:
Here’s another thing to note if you are already in Tahiti or know someone who lives there, Sejours dans les Iles, is a website that offers packages including flights and guesthouses. These packages are cheaper than taking everything separately.
Finally, if you’re a fan of gorgeous hotels and/or of bungalows on stilts overwater, then I particularly recommend :
Prices range of 20,000 xfp to 40,000 xfp per night (160EU to 250 EU). For the price, you get an idyllic setting and you’re not far from earthly paradise.
The island isn’t huge, but much too big to explore by foot or bicycle. You have the choice between a scooter and a rental car. There are several car rental companies on the island including Avis and Europcar. I recommend mostly this site to compare prices. Count 6,000 xfp/8,000 per rental day. Hitchiking works quite well on the island too.
Depending on where you’re staying, it’s quite possible you’ll be on a half-board. This is probably the best method if you don’t want to cook for yourself. Some guesthouses offer cooking facilities, which will save you some money. There are a lot of stores scattered around the island that sell necessities and snacks. Sometimes you’ll see take-away meals for sale on the side of the road for not much. If you’re staying on the southern end of the island and plan to cook for yourself, it’s best to stock up at Super U in town when you leave the airport.
That’s it. This is the end of my article about the island of Huahine. Personally, I really like this island; calm, authentic and very beautiful. It feels good to be away from the crowds of tourists you meet on other islands. I personally prefer Huahine to Raiatea, which I found too big and busy. It’s a matter of taste. Take the time and spend a few days in Huahine, you won’t be disappointed, but my favorite island is still Maupiti.
I wish you a beautiful Polynesian holiday of discovery