This is the closest of the Leeward Islands in the Society Group to Moorea and Tahiti.
We left Marina Taina in the early afternoon of Thursday after 11 days tied to the dock. Life is convenient at Marina Taina – showers, nearby shopping, buses to downtown Papeete – but it can become too easy to stay tied to the dock.
The overnight sail from Marina Taina on Tahiti to Avapehi Pass on Huahine was uneventful if not very comfortable. There was a strong, short swell from the southeast and a longer but also strong crossing swell from the southwest, and both swells persisted for the entire passage. But although we had an uncomfortable swell, at least we had good wind almost the whole way and arrived at the pass through the coral reef when we wanted to.
Fare on Huahine is a nice change of pace. It’s a small village with one main street. We are on a mooring right off a public beach that’s popular with local families. The nearby Huahine Yacht Club (actually a restaurant/bar) has a new dock, and offers potable water as well as cold beers and great hamburgers. Next door you can rent bicycles, scooters and kayaks, and get your laundry done for good measure. There is a farmers’ market on Saturdays, as well as a larger and well stocked grocery store. The island is popular with tourists who stay at small resorts or rental houses (pensions), but it’s all very mellow and the number of visitors is small compared to Tahiti.
Scenes from the main street in downtown Fare
Bike Tour around Huahine Nui
Yesterday we rented bicycles for the day and rode around the larger of the two islands that make up Huahine – Huahine Nui (larger) and Huahine Iti (smaller). These are small islands and our ride around Huahine Nui took us about five hours, including stops. The first of these stops was an archeological site where there are several restored marae and a museum. We spent some time here looking at the stone platforms and enjoying the view. The museum, which is a replica of the type of meeting house associated with a marae, there were exhibits and paintings on display for tourists interested in the prehistoric culture of Huahine and French Polynesia. The displays were modest, but well done. Mostly, we enjoyed being inside the cool and beautifully built museum, which was built on a platform over the water and had a woven floor and bamboo sides topped by thatching.
At the archeological site and museum
From the archaeologic site, we continued our ride, passing modest homes on either side of the road, usually with a small produce garden growing nearby. We soon came to the Huahini Pearl Farm, our next intended stop. We were lucky – the farm was open to tourists on Sundays, but only until noon; we had arrived shortly after 11:00. A boat ride takes you out to a small motu and hut built on a platform over the water. A young woman gave us a presentation on how pearl farmers coax oysters into producing those beautiful black pearls for which this part of the world is renowned. Inside is a small gift shop offering pearls and also numerous ceramic pieces, made by one of the owners and all quite well done. A family owns and operates the farm: The husband is from the US and is a ceramic artist; he met his Polynesian wife in California and they returned together to Huahine to start this life together. Their son is now also part of the business, & also an artist in ceramics. They practice sustainable agriculture very deliberately, and make sure visitors know how this is done.
The boat ride returned us to the road and we set off on our bikes again, knowing that we were more than half way around the island but also knowing that we were now facing a steep climb over a ridge to reach the other side of the island. We soon discovered that our “boat legs” weren’t quite up to the climb – we had to push our bikes most of the way up the ridge (Randy points out that the rental bikes were not in the best shape either). There was a really great view at the top. After an exhilarating descent, we found ourselves back on a mostly level road and riding along the shoreline again. The road soon took us back into Fare, where we returned our bicycles and headed around the corner to the Huahine Yacht Club. Cold beers in the shade helped revive us before the row back to Velic. Naps aboard followed.
The island of Huahine is as beautiful as any we have seen so far. We intend to explore some of the lagoon anchorages along this side of the island; we’ve read about some interesting anchorages with good snorkeling.