Home    Journal    Boat    Crew    Articles    Links    Contact    Site Map

Huahine 

Written by Cathy Siegismund
August 2001


  

Huahine is part of the leeward island group of the Society Islands in French Polynesia

We left Tahiti at about 1400 on Friday, August 3. We had 12-17 knots of wind on the beam as we sailed out of Papeete harbor. 

Felicity sailing out of Papeete Harbor, Tahiti

We followed Layla all the way to Huahine. The sail was quite nice with a full moon, clear skies, and 15-20 knots of wind most of the way. The only complaint was we felt like we were on a freeway. We saw ferries, supply ships and other sailboats most of the night, some passing within 1/3 of a mile from us. 

Route taken to Huahine from Tahiti

We entered the Pass Avapeihi on the west side of the island. We decided not to anchor near the town, as it was quite crowded and we had heard the holding was only good in a few areas. We headed a short way south inside the reef, and dropped the hook in lovely clear turquoise water. We spent a relaxing couple of days there hanging out with Drew and Vernita. 

On Monday, August 6, we decided to move up to the anchorage in front of the town. We had to check in with the Gendarme and we wanted to see about scooter rentals. The anchorage in front of the Bali Hai was packed, so we tried to anchor behind the reef. Drew got what he thought was a good grab, although when he dived on his anchor, he said the bottom was all rock and coral with only a dusting of sand. His anchor was laying on it's side with just the tip grabbing a coral head. To add insult to injury, as Drew was diving on his anchor, a big catamaran charter boat came and anchored right in front of him, almost running him over as he was swimming on his anchor. 

We tried to anchor 3 times, and although it felt like it grabbed we started dragging as soon as we settled back against our chain. We decided to raft up to Layla for the afternoon. We had lunch with Drew and Vernita, and then Ken and Drew headed into town to check in. Vernita and I stayed on the boats to keep an eye on things. 

Felicity and Layla rafted together at Fare

After Ken and Drew returned from town, we decided to head back down the island and look for an anchorage that was less crowded and offered better holding. 

We decided to grab the two moorings that Ken and Drew had seen off a resort, the Te Tiare. As we approached, Vernita went in ahead of us in the dinghy to explore the moorings and ask permission to use them at the hotel restaurant. We were given permission, but it ended up that there was only one mooring, the other float was in very shallow water and was for a swim platform. 

We grabbed the mooring, and then Layla joined us. The two Bob Perry boats again rafted up.

Layla and Felicity rafted at a mooring at the Te Tiare Resort

We couldn't get over how cute our two little Ta Shing boats were, we did take a few pictures of them.

Ken and Drew on the two wide-bottom boats

Sunset looking out toward the resort's bungalows built over the water

OK, just one more - Felicity, dubbed 'mini-me' for you AP fans

We had a vacation from cruising while we swung on the mooring at the resort. This may not make sense to those of you who envision the whole trip as a vacation, but it is more of a lifestyle than an ongoing holiday. While we were at the resort, we refrained from doing laundry - as we ended up in a number of vacationers holiday photos. We also went to happy hour in the bar where we enjoyed overpriced cocktails, had a lovely dinner in the restaurant, snorkeled off the boats, swam in the pool, had the hotel reserve scooters for us, and took the complimentary resort boat into town. 

   

We had to take pictures of the fanciest desserts we'd seen in some time

And even in the restaurant we could enjoy the view of our boats

We enjoyed fabulous sunsets over the nearby island of Tahaa

We were surprised to see a couple, Andy and Lynn from New York, who Ken and I had met diving on Moorea. They are on a three week vacation in French Polynesia. They are adventure lovers, both being very well traveled and involved in skiing, diving, and mountaineering. We had them out to the boats for drinks one night. It was a fun evening and interesting to hear some of the questions and comments from 'normal people.' We seem to only hang out with cruisers these days, and forget what life on land is all about.

We spent a day with Vernita and Drew 'scootering' around the island - this is turning into one of our favorite ways to explore the islands. We caught the hotel's shuttle boat into the town of Fare where we had reserved scooters. 

Waiting for the shuttle boat into Fare

The first stop on our circumnavigation of the island was one of the many marae, a sacred enclosure and platform constructed of stone, which are found at many archeological sites in Polynesia. 

Marae on Huahine

Ken standing by a large marae that lined a deep bay on Huahine

Interspersed with the ancient marae where modern homes of the people living on Huahine

Local boy with his outrigger outside his house, which was situated on the bay with marae on either side

We continued to explore the island. Our next stop was at a tourist-ized pearl farm. Pearl farming isn't as prevalent in the Societies as it was in the Tuamotus, so we were rather surprised to find it. Drew and Vernita had not visited the pearl farm on Makemo in the Tuamotus, so they wanted to see one. We took a pirogue out to the hut in the middle of the bay. It had several displays showing how the oysters were harvested and the seeds were planted in the oyster to start the pearl growing. They had guides who did an excellent job of explaining the process. It was informative, but polished for the tourist trade. We thought it lacked the charm of the Makemo pearl farm we visited where we saw the real work of pearl harvesting and production. There was of course, the requisite gift shop with very expensive pearls, but it did have some wonderful mother of pearl carvings. Drew and Vernita bought a great jewelry box made of a polished and carved oyster shell with black pearl feet and handle.

Vernita, Drew and Ken at the pearl farm

The gift shop also offered pottery by a Californian artist who had lived on the island for 25 years. He had built himself a wonderful home in the middle of the bay, complete with a boat garage.

Californian artist's home

We continued our scooter adventure, and stopped to see the 'sacred blue-eyed eels' of Huahine being fed for a bus load of tourists from a cruise ship. These are black fresh water eels about 2-3 feet long. They seemed quite tame from the feedings and rather shy of the local children playing in the river with them.

We continued our scooter adventure, and stopped to see the 'sacred blue-eyed eels' of Huahine being fed for a bus load of tourists from a cruise ship. These are black fresh water eels about 2-3 feet long. They seemed quite tame from the feedings and rather shy of the local children playing in the river with them.

We also saw stone fish traps. An ancient method of catching fish in the lagoons. The fish traps are set up in the shallow water in bays inside the reef. The fish are corralled into the traps, and as the tide goes out the fish cannot swim over the rocks forming the traps.

Stone fish traps

Huahine is split into Huahine Nui (large) and Huahine Iti (small) The island is actually cut in half by two large bays on either side of the island. Tahiti has a similar geography. 

Cruise ship at anchor in the huge Port Bourayne Bay

We crossed a small bridge that tied Huahine Nui to Huahine Iti and explored the less developed half of the island. We stopped for lunch at one of the snack shacks. These are found all over French Polynesia and can offer excellent and relatively inexpensive food. 

Ken at the counter at a snack shack

Drew and Vernita at the snack shack

Drew and Vernita had rented scooters on Moorea with Jason and Tam and had dubbed them the Angry Hornets. We aspired to tour the island as the Angry Hornets II; however, the scooters were in such disrepair that we figured the best we could do was the 'Bad-tempered Hornets'.

Drew and is bad-tempered hornet with missing mirrors and stalling engine

The Bad-Tempered Hornets at a lovely lookout on Huahine Iti

Vernita giving her best tough biker-look

Beautiful shades of blue inside and outside the reef

We stopped to explore some huge palm trees that were growing out over a bay. We speculated that some of these trees may have been damaged during a cyclone that hit Huahine in 1998.

Ken sitting on a palm tree that was growing almost horizontally over the water

Vernita walking among the enormous palms at the water's edge, showing their huge roots

We had a great day, despite being caught in the torrential rain of a passing squall. After returning our scooters, we explored the small town of Fare and Vernita and I did some shopping. 

We concluded our day with a swim in the hotel pool, and dinner and a rousing game of Canasta on Layla.

The next day, we decided to leave our private little bay and head to Bora Bora with an overnight stop in Tahaa.

Felicity leaving our private bit of paradise at the hotel Te Tiare

Ken and I made a quick stop by town to dump garbage and pick up a few things at the market. This included a few bottles of liquor, we had finally broken down and decided to pay the exorbitant prices.

Notice the theft sensors on the bottles of Bombay Gin, you'd normally find on clothes in a department store.

We then headed out the pass and joined Layla in the 30-mile trip to Tahaa. Raiatea and Tahaa are two islands that are enclosed by one reef. Raiatea is the larger island to the south and Tahaa the smaller northern island.

Our route to Tahaa and on to Bora Bora

We motorsailed across to Tahaa, as there wasn't much wind to sail, and we wanted to make water and charge our batteries. We hadn't heard much about Tahaa, but were pleasantly surprised by how pretty the island was.

Approaching the pass to Tahaa with two motus on either side

We motored between the islands of Raiatea and Tahaa

Looking aft at the southern tip of Tahaa and the northern tip of Raiatea

As we rounded the corner of Tahaa, we got our first glimpse of Bora Bora.

Following Layla with our first view of Bora Bora in the distance

We pulled into Hurepiti Bay on the southeast corner of Tahaa. It was a lovely deep bay that reminded us of Desolation Sound.

Hurepiti Bay

We spent a relaxing evening anchored in lovely bay, although it was our deepest anchoring to date - we dropped the hook in 101 feet. I can't imagine cruising French Polynesia without an electric windless. 

We left the next morning for the 20 or so mile trip to Bora Bora. We had light winds and rolly seas, but as Layla had never had their spinnaker out they pulled it out for a photo shoot.

Layla flying her beautiful spinnaker with Tahaa in the background

Copyright 1999-2003. All Rights Reserved.