HUAHINE | Garden Isle
Often unexplored but always adored by those who visit, Huahine is a culturally preserved paradise with a beauty that rivals both Moorea and Bora Bora. This incredibly scenic island is lush with vanilla plantations, banana groves and taro fields. Huahine is actually two islands basking in one lagoon, encircled by a coral necklace. On its shores, coconut trees sprout in untamed profusion – their palms stretching out across a narrow band of powdery white sand, reaching for the sea.
Considered to be the cradle of ancient Polynesian culture, Huahine is home to many important archaeological sites. The former royal village of Maeva safeguards several fascinating artifacts, including numerous ancient temples known as marae. Once sacred, sacrificial shrines, these marae are now restored and preserved for all to pay homage. In a nearby lake, 300-year-old stone fishing traps – which are still in use today – are so sacred that only descendants of the Tahitian royal family can remove them.
With some of the most hospitable people in the Pacific, Huahine retains the very best of old Polynesia. The small, sleepy main town of Fare springs to life for the arrival of inter-island ferries, when locals enjoy mingling with arriving passengers. On these occasions, the waterfront is bustling with activity. Truckloads of copra, taro, bananas and melons are brought to the dock to set up the town’s market. Here, the traditional way of life still exists, meaning visitors will always receive the warmest welcome – a greeting that is uniquely characteristic of Polynesia and its people.
LEGEND | Princess Hutu-Hiva
Looking out across the lagoon toward the island of Huahine, you will see the outline of an outstretched woman in its mountain peaks. This woman is believed to be Princess Hutu-Hiva, daughter of Tutapu, the chief of Raiatea. According to legend, Tutapu sent Hutu-Hiva in a pahu (sacred drum) across the ocean to Huahine to look for a husband. Landing on the sands of To'erauroa, the northernmost part of the island, she was stranded for many years until a young warrior named Te-ao-nui-maruia finally came to her rescue. They married and formed the Te-pa'u-i-hau-roa Dynasty. Ten sons were born from their union and their names were given to the ten districts of Huahine.