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Huahine means “pregnant woman” in Tahitian, and this verdant island earned its name from its silhouette — which does indeed look like a pregnant woman. It’s one of my favorite islands in French Polynesia for culture, natural beauty, and ocean adventures. In between dense coconut forests you’ll find ancient ceremonial sites, called marae, and rivers rife with blue-eyed eels. In its waters, coral gardens, pearl farms, and perfect waves await.
If you’re planning a trip to this veritable Garden of Eden, these are the best things to do in Huahine.
Discover all the best travel tips and things to do on Huahine in Moon Tahiti & French Polynesia.
1. Go on a lagoon adventure with Huahine Nautique
Huahine is formed by two lush islands, Huahine Nui and Huahine Iti, both enclosed in a tropical blue lagoon. If you do just one thing on Huahine, venturing out on a tour with Huahine Nautique should be it. Plan your tour for the beginning of your trip just in case poor weather takes place — you can reschedule it to a day with better weather.
I’ve taken 10s of lagoon tours throughout French Polynesia, and this one is perhaps my favorite.
With Huahine Nautique, your lagoon tour has three major highlights: snorkelling, a pearl farm tour, and lunch at a white sand motu (tiny island).
From Fare, you’ll snorkel at coral gardens rife with black tip reef sharks and other tropical fish. If you’re lucky, you might spot rays, sea turtles, and eels. The reef sharks are generally harmless, but you don’t want to chase or touch them. They’re used to humans and only react when provoked.
At mid-day, the tour stops at a pearl farm where you’ll gain insight into how black pearls are made. They’re generally high quality, and if you’re not up for pearl shopping, there’s also a small ceramic studio attached to the pearl farm selling handmade ceramic items.
For lunch, the boat stops at a sugar sand motu where you’ll be privy to a buffet lunch, coconut husking demonstration, and entertaining sarong (called pareau) tying lessons.
Ending the day is a small tour around the Huahine Lagoon where you’ll admire the beautiful blues with a cold drink in hand.
Tours are offered with a boat, jet ski, or motorized canoe. I recommend opting for the boat or canoe; something about the jet ski’s loud buzz really takes away from the laid-back element of Huahine.
Lagoon tours offered by Huahine Nautique:
2. Step back in time at the archeological sites in Maeva Village
Maeva Village on the east coast of Huahine Nui was once a town for noble families on the island. While many structures of belonging to these pre-European royal families are long gone, there’s still a vast collection of archeological sites to admire.
Learn about Huahine’s history, admire replicas of traditional canoes, and peer at ancient artifacts at the Fare Potee, a replica of a traditional house surrounded by marae (ceremonial sites).
Since the start of excavation studies in the early 1920s, 30 marae have been unearthed in the region.
The best way to see many of these marae is on the hillside of Mata’i’rae. They’re large stone platforms, often surrounded by vanilla plantations.
A three-minute drive from the coast brings you to Marae Manunu, one of the most impressive on the island and well worth the miniature detour.
3. Witness the ancient art of fishing
The archeological finds of Maeva are not limited to land — you’ll find them underwater as well. A few hundred meters from Maeva Village, at the bridge, you’ll see evidence of the ancient art of Polynesian fishing. Fishermen create traps by piling rocks into a large V. When the tide goes out, fish are caught in the fish trap and harvested by local fishermen. This practice has been going on for over a century, and is still in use today.
4. Visit the sacred blue-eyed eels
Located south of the archeological site in Maeva, Faie village is a hallowed place for Huahine’s residence. The floppy eared eels known as puhi taria are considered sacred; they’re easily spotted with their bright blue eyes and charcoal skin.
These blue-eyed eels can grow up to two meters long, and are believed to be a gift from a higher being. The freshwater streams they live in signify a promise of life and abundance.
Finding the sacred blue-eyed eels is easy. Follow a sign saying “Anguilles Sacrées de Faie” near the bridge of Faie. Many day tours stop here to feed the eels taking refuge in the shallow water — you might be surprised at how high they can jump!
5. Swim, surf, and snorkel near Anini Marae
Venture down to the southern coast of little Huahine Iti to see Anini Marae, a large ceremonial site perched on the edge of gin-clear waters. Made from large slabs of limestone, the marae is dedicated to Oro, the god of War, and Hiro, the god of seafarers.
While sunbathing and swimming isn’t recommended just in front of the marae, walk 50 meters on either side for white sand beaches and access to a prime snorkeling spot.
6. Watch the sunset from Huahine Yacht Club
For the best sunset views on Huahine, head to the quaint Huahine Yacht Club in Fare. It’s one of the best vantage points to admire Huahine’s feminine silhouette.
The Huahine Yacht Club isn’t a large marina by any means — think a few sailboats moored out front, bringing their dinghys to the single dock.
Most of the menu revolves around seafood, and you’ll find French Polynesia’s controversial dish fafaru, at the counter. Fafaru is made from shrimp and fish left in seawater over the course of a few days, best served with fermented coconut milk.
Crisp, cold Hinanos (local beer) are always on offer, as are a gamut of other cocktails. It’s an easy place to laze and afternoon away as you watch sailboats come and go and the sun turn from blue to a hazy pink.
7. Spend a day on Avea Beach
The southwest coast of Huahine Iti is home to one of the best beaches in French Polynesia, Avea Beach.
This seven-kilometer white sand crescent is a peaceful stop on a road trip around Huahine, and non-guests of Hotel Le Mahana can eat at its open-air restaurant. There’s a nice snorkeling spot just in front of the hotel, and at high tide kids and the young-at-heart enjoy jumping off the jetty,
8. Shop for a pareo at La Maison Du Pareo
Did you really go to French Polynesia if you don’t come home with a pareo? I vote to adopt the pareo as the world’s de facto uniform. These colorful fabric sarongs are ubiquitous around French Polynesia, and easily act as a beach towel, dress, skirt, headwrap, scarf… the options are endless.
If you’re on Huahine Iti and arelooking for the perfect souvenir, drop by La Maison Du Pareo.
This little shop specializes in pareo. While there are plenty that are ready-made, enroll in a hands-on session and design your own. I guarantee it’s about to be an essential part of your French Polynesia packing list.
9. Gaze at the Island’s largest shell collection at Huahine Shell Museum
Huahine Shell Museum is a small privately-owned museum. It has over 500 types of shells collected from around the Islands of Tahiti. The owner offers personalized tours around the museum, though you could easily spend quite some time admiring the intricately-organized collections. A little bit of time here elevates your next snorkeling session to the next level.
10. Take a lap around Huahine
One of the best things to do on Huahine is explore it with your own set of wheels. A lap around the island(s) takes a full day as long as you don’t linger too long at any stop. My suggested route? Start in Fare and venture to Maeva Village and Marae Mururu. Then, head to Faie for its sacred blue-eyed eels. If you’re not doing a lagoon tour, you could also visit the pearl farm. Enjoy lunch at Avea Beach before buzzing back up to Fare.
Most car hires are manual drive; if you need an automatic transmission, book it well in advance. Your accommodation can typically help arrange your car rental, though I’ve had a great experience on Huahine with Avis.
11. Taste fruiy liqueurs at Distillerie Huahine Passion
The island of Huahine is amply fertile, producing fruits galore on its volcanic soil hills. Founded by a father-son duo, Distillerie Huahine Passion is one of the best places to sample Huahine’s tropical fruits in alcoholic form.
The distillery is found near the Gendarmerie in Fare, and offers limited tastings. I loved the Huahine Passion made from mixed fruits, my friend Hannah grabbed one with a creamy coconut flavor.
12. Stroll the streets of Fare
Despite being the capital of Huahine, Fare is still laidback, and wandering along its waterfront is one of the best ways to spend a lazy morning. This is also where you’ll find groceries, ATM access, and basic goods for the rest of your stay.
Mid-day, a small market of roulottes (food trucks), doles out crepes, burgers, and fresh seafood fare near the end of the main road.
Recommended spots to stay near Fare:
- Pension Fare Ara Huahine: A cute and affordable guesthouse in a central location.
- Fare Ihilei: Simple and cheap within walking distance from Fare.
- Hotel Maitai Lapita Village: A lovely upscale hotel with tropical gardens and beach access.
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