It’s only about a half-hour flight away from both its popular sister islands, Tahiti and Bora Bora, but why is this paradise off the travelers’ radar?

We had not heard of the island of Huahine until we started planning and researching our trip to French Polynesia.  We read up on the different islands in the archipelago and Huahine certainly caught our attention.

We read that it was not touristy, scarcely developed, very lush, offers taste of genuine Polynesian culture and hospitality,  boasts of the largest and most important archeological site and some of the best beaches in the archipelago, good spot to relax and recharge but also has slew of activities like great diving, snorkeling, hiking, etc.  It definitely sounds like our kind of destination.

We also read that Huahine was how Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea were like before they were invaded by tourism boom. Sold!  We thought that Huahine would provide a good balance to our itinerary which included Bora Bora and Tahiti.

Island of Huahine, French Polynesia, South PacifcWe found that Huahine was indeed  very lush. It is actually dubbed as the Garden Island of French Polynesia. It is covered with dense rainforests and its dramatic landscape is thriving with vegetable and fruit farms.  

It is also indeed calm and refreshingly scarcely developed. In fact, there are only three resorts here and they are nowhere as posh as the ones that its sister islands are famous for.

Lush vegetations in Huahine, French Polynesia, South PacificHuahine is actually consists of two volcanic islands joined by a small bridge over the lagoon. A scenic drive on its mostly unpaved road winds through green canopies and breathtaking vistas for about 20 miles/32 kms around the two islands.

Houses and Buildings in Huahine, French Polynesia, South PacificA drive around the island also passes through small villages, dotted with colorful buildings and charming homes,  where about 5,000 inhabitants live.

Medicinal plants in Huahine, French Polynesia, South PacificHuahine is rich with medicinal plants that grow wildly around the island. We learned about “miro” (left photo), a fruit which produces a yellow sap that locals use to ease itchiness from mosquito bites (Yes, mosquitoes love hanging out in paradise).   We also learned about “noni,” a fruit whose juice is used by locals for its detoxifying effect.

Beaches and Lagoon in Huahine, French Polynesia, South PacificHuahine’s lagoon, bordered by white sand beaches, is absolutely stunning even during cloudy and rainy days. It also said to be rich with beautiful marine life. Unfortunately, it rained mostly throughout our stay and our snorkeling trips were cancelled.

Marae (Ancient Polynesian Temples), Huahine, French Polynesia, South PacificHuahine is considered the cradle of Polynesian civilization and is an important archeogical site.  It is home to the largest concentration of ancient Marae (sacred Polynesian temples), some of which are believed to date back to the original ancestors of the Polynesians, the Lapita people, around 700 AD.

The historic village of Maeva, once home to Polynesian royalty, contain ruins of maraes as well agricultural terraces, house foundations, fortification walls and burial platforms.

Ancient Fish Traps, Huahine, French PolynesiaOne ancient practice that is still evident in the island today is the use ancient fish traps, a system unique to Polynesia, that was used to supply abundant seafood to the royal inhabitants of Maeva.   They still work as good as they did in 16th century in trapping fish as the tide ebbs and flows in and out of the narrow passage.

Beach in Huahine, French Polynesia, South PacificOne of the island’s largest marae is dramatically situated along this stunning north coast.  It was so peaceful with just us and few locals.  It’s a spot for locals to go for surfing or fishing,  and a delightful spot fo us to gather pretty sea shells.

Black Pearl Farm, Huahine, French PolynesiaBlack pearl farming is one of the island’s industry. We got to observe their farming techniques and saw some of the finished products. Keith didn’t find the products fascinating (too expensive, he thought) and to his relief, they were not much to my liking either. But he definitely found the farm a good place to take a nap. Surrounded by water, it was indeed a relaxing place to be.

Sacred Eel, Huahine, French Polynesia, South PacificHuahine has some very unique inhabitants – the sacred eels that thrive in fresh water. The islanders believe that these blue-eyed eels embody the souls of their ancestors and feed them with canned sardines or mackerel as a daily ritual.

Vanilla Plantation, Huahine, French Polynesia, South Pacific The island is dotted with vanilla farms that produce vanilla extracts of export quality. We visited one farm where the lovely caretaker showed us how the vanilla orchards are grown and how the beans are processed. We also got to try a vanilla rum.


So if this island is so culturally rich and naturally beautiful, why is it then not a popular destination as its neighboring islands?  From what we understand, its locals are simply not interested in tourist development.

Also from what we gathered, the locals of Huahine surely have independent streak. While its sister islands became French colonies in 1880, the Huahine islanders resisted as much as they could and didn’t get colonized until 1888.

We had the blessing of rich interactions with Huahine’s islanders of today and these meetings were the most treasured experience we had during our French Polynesian trip.

Locals Hanging out in Les Dauphins Restaurants, Huahine, French PolynesiaWe were walking around the village and stopped by this  unassuming restaurant, Les Dauphins,  to check the menu. We were charmed by the scene of locals hanging out by the bar and playing music. They were very friendly and they assured us that we would enjoy the food at this restaurant.

We took their words for it and we very much enjoyed its French-Polynesia cuisine indeed. As delicious as the food was, it was not the best part of the evening.

Hanging out with Locals in Huahihe, French Polynesia, South PacificAfter we finished our dinner, the locals invited us to join them at the bar.  They were very warm, genuine, fun and truly welcoming. They treated us like long lost friends.

Hanging out with locals in Les Dauphins Resrtaurant in Huahine, French Polynesia, South PacificThey didn’t only buy us two rounds of drinks but they also played traditional Polynesian music for us and even danced with us. They certainly know how to have fun, and it was only Tuesday evening.  We loved their spirits.  This evening alone was enough to make our Huahine experience unforgettable.

Sunset on Beaches  of Huahine, French Polynesia, South PacificThe sunshine may not be hospitable during our time in the island but the sunset surely was. It was not bashful at all in its showtime, It was the most spectacular we have seen in French Polynesia.

Sunset on Beaches  of Huahine, French Polynesia, South PacificWe walked to the main town of Fare one day and was delighted to see village kids joyfully jumping in and out of the water from the small pier against the backdrop of stunning sunset. We felt so happy for them for their gift of youthful freedom and the blessing of a beautiful natural playground.

Sunset in Huahine, French Polynesia, Sotuh PacifcKeith engaged the kids with his magic tricks and in return the kids shared their tricks with him.

Sunset in Huahine, French Polynesia, Sotuh PacifcHuahine’s sunset became more magical as its golden glow became deeper.

Sunset in Huahine, French Polynesia, Sotuh Pacifc

Sunset in Huahine, French Polynesia, Sotuh PacifcA family fishing at twilight.

Sunset dinner in Huahine Yatch Club, Huahine, French Polynesia, South PacificTo enjoy more of the magical twilight, we sat down for dinner by the waterfront. where we devoured on traditional dish of fish with vanilla sauce, vegetables and rice. It was sumptuous.

Town of Fare, Huahine, French Polynesia, South PacificHuahine’s main village of Fare is very quaint, sleepy port.  It has several restaurants, small hotels, and a  supermarket that does not give out plastic bags.

Unlike the main island of Bora Bora,  the villages are impressively very well-kept.  The locals of  Huahine pride themselves of preserving their surroundings.

Market in Town of Fare, Huahine, French Polynesia, South PacificWe ventured into town early one morning and found  the small space  in the waterfront turned into a bustling market place. There were fish, vegetables, fruits, eggs and cooked food for sale.

 Locals in Town of Fare, Huahine, French Polynesia, South PacificWe were the only tourists around. The locals  warmly greeted us with “Bonjour” or “Ia Orana” (Polynesian for Hello).  Ilean (left), a very friendly and vibrant woman, approached and introduced herself to us and within few minutes we knew of her life story. She  seemed to know everyone and introduced us to every vendors and passersby. 

Egg Vendor at Market in Town of Fare, Huahine, French Polynesia, South Pacific

The Egg Vendor

 Fruit Vendor at Market in Town of Fare, Huahine, French Polynesia, South Pacific

The Fruit Vendor

_28_ Fish Vendor at Market in Town of Fare, Huahine, French Polynesia, South Pacific

The Fish Vendor

Locals in Town of Fare, Huahine, French Polynesia, South Pacific

Ilean with one of her friends.

We found Hauhine a spectacular, special island. We were enchanted by its natural abundance that blends seamlessly with a wealth of ancient history and mythical intrigue. We enjoyed the absolute serenity of the island’s natural surroundings. Most of all, we were endeared by the welcoming hospitality of the locals.


Travel Notes:

Getting there: Air Tahiti offers daily direct flights to Huahine from Tahiti and Bora Bora.

Getting around: The island can be best explored by renting a car or bicycle or by hired excursion. Taxi service is available. The public transit system, Le Truck, has daily routes from the six outlying villages to Fare.

Where to stay:  We stayed at Maita Lapita Village and we highly recommend it. It is a charming resort modeled after a Tahitian village and is built around a preserved archeological site. It offers spacious and comfortable bungalows in beautiful garden and lakeside settings. While the bungalows do not overlook the beach, the restaurant and swimming pool provide direct access to the stunning shoreline. It is a convenient 10-minute walk to the main village of Fare. Wonderful, charming staff.

Where to dine:
-Les Dauphins – For delicious and innovative French-Polynesia fare. It’s located in Fare right next to the only post office in the island. Hang out for locals.
-Yatch Club Huahine  (formerly  Te Marara) – For lovely waterfront dining in Fare. Great for sunset viewing. Offering traditional island fare.  Hang out for locals.
-The Omai – Located in Maita Lapita Village. Offers fusion of French and Polynesia cuisine. Overlooking the beach.


Linking up to Travel Photo Thursday and Travel Photo Discovery.

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About Marisol

Taking you on our journey one photo - and footstep - at a time.

40 responses to “Huahine: French Polynesia’s Off-the-Beaten-Path Island

  1. Katie

    I have to admit, that I was convinced to leave the French Polynesia off my bucket list after reading your post on Bora Bora. Now, it’s back on! haha! Huahine is exactly what I would be looking for too. It sounds perfect and I can’t wait to visit one day!!
    Katie recently posted..Conservation Efforts at Reef Seen BaliMy Profile

  2. There is nothing like meeting locals and joining in their conversations, song and dance to leave a most favorable lasting impression. Your photos as always are spectacular and made me feel like I was right there with you. I could almost hear the waves crashing and feel the rain drops. Thanks for a great post!
    Jackie Smith recently posted..Greece ~ Unexpected Joys Off-the-Beaten-PathMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Jackie, our pleasure. Beautiful interactions with the locals truly make travel very rewarding. So glad you enjoyed the post.

  3. You are a trailblazer mah frend. What a post. I would prefer to spend more time here than in Bora Bora. It’s lovely to see how the islanders live and play and enjoy their island life. And the island itself is incredible, all the greenery and the beach – almost paradise, right?
    Photo Cache recently posted..Zion Day Trip Part 1My Profile

  4. Marisol, take me to Huahine now! Wow! This looks like my kind of island, especially since the locals have done such a great job of keeping the island from getting overrun by tourism. And it shows in the beauty and simplicity of the landscape. It’s so great that you guys had the chance to have intimate interactions with the locals. They’re probably so welcoming because they haven’t been jaded by an influx of tourists. I love your photos (as always)!
    Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans recently posted..Rome, the Great?My Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Dana, yes, let’s go! It really is refershing that locals have protected their island from being overtaken by tourist development and choose to keep more authentic. For us, it was really worth visiting the island for the authenticity of the culture and its people. I’m sure you will love it there.

  5. Mike

    You know, having romanticized about my someday trip to Tahiti there is one thing I had never even thought of. Mosquitoes! So glad you mentioned the miro, Marisol! Also, Huahine had not been on my radar but it will be now! :) That is awesome that you had a great visit with the locals at Les Dauphins, as I would really enjoy doing that myself. Keith does magic tricks, huh? How cool is that and I’m glad those kids liked it. I gotta tell ya Keith, those sunset pictures are poster perfect and most definitely should be in a magazine, sir! Great post and thank you for sharing :)
    Mike recently posted..Flowing Tide Pub Reno, Nevada Is An Escape To The Old WorldMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Mike, yes, mosquitoes were all over French Polynesia so it was great when we found out about about miro. I Bora bora insect repellants were being handed out at the bar! Keith only knows one trick and it’s always a hit everywehre were traveled. Great way to break the ice. glad you enjoyed the sunset pics.

  6. jan

    Huahine’s lagoon, is gorgeous and how beautiful that sunset was, I like the darkness in the photo, the blues and gold – it totally suits such a place. Your last photo of Ilean and friend I think is very good. The friend is so clear and real. Where did you stay on the island and what was it like and how much did it cost? If you don’t mind me asking :)

    • Marisol

      Hi Jan, we could just imagine much more gorgeous the lagoon is during nice sunny days. But yes, the beautiful sunset made up for the lack of sunshine during our stay. We stayed at one of the resorts close to the main village called Maitai Lapita Village. I added its info above.
      Marisol recently posted..Huahine: French Polynesia’s Off-the-Beaten-Path IslandMy Profile

  7. Now this is the French Polynesia of my dreams! I cannot believe those beach photos, and I’m so glad that you were able to have such a rewarding experience with the locals. I always find it so interesting to visit places where tourism is just a small sector of income. Whenever I make it to this part of the world, I’ll be skipping Tahiti and Bora-Bora and heading straight here instead!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..Ella EnchantedMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Steph, I’m pretty sure you will love it there. Very unspoilt and still geuinely Polynesian. Yes, those beaches must be on a lovely sunny day.

  8. After reading this, I think I’m ready to just bypass famous Bora Bora and head directly for Huahine. You make it sound like paradise, and the number of things that appeal to me are too many to list. Beautiful photos, too, especially the ones at sunset.
    Michele {Malaysian Meanders} recently posted..Ice Cream is the Cure for Jet LagMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Michelle, stop by Bora Bora to indulge in its beauty and luxury but linger longer in Huahine. That’s what we plan to do next time. Glad you enjoyed the photos.

  9. your photos are just too stunning, the experience exceptional, the beaches too enchanting those azure waters leave me speechless … what’s not to love about Huahine? a place I would definitely want to visit.
    Rachel@safari254 recently posted..The Birds of Amboseli National ParkMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Rachel, thank you, That’a true there’s nothing not to love (except perhaps the mosquitoes). I hope you get to go soon, I’m pretty sure you will love the island and the local experience.

  10. Molly S

    Wow – it looks stunning, even in the rain! Your sunset photos are just gorgeous. And it sounds so rewarding to have such close contact with the locals. A dream trip!
    Molly S recently posted..Weekend Wanderlust #1: The Florida KeysMy Profile

    • Marisol

      HI Molly, glad you enjoyed the photos. Our local interactions was really rewarding. The experience was priceless.

  11. Vinciane L

    I will be in Huahine at the end of september working as an eco-volonteer for a couple of weeks, join people and help them for scientific whales watching
    I”m glad to discovery their work and the island which seem wonderfull
    thanks for your report and pictures, it makes me feel that I will be in the right place..

    • Marisol

      Hi Vinciane, our huge pleasure. You will definitely be in a right place. Good luck with your volunteer work and enjoy the island and its wonderful people.

  12. Love your sunset shots, Marisol. And you’re right, I haven’t heard of Huahine (it reminds me of Thailand’s Huahin). It’s always just Bora-Bora. Still, it seems worth it to go there. The lagoon looks lovely. Too bad it always rained though.
    Aleah | recently posted..Finding Solace in JaipurMy Profile

    • Marisol

      HI Aleah, thanks. Although it rained a lot it was still very lovely in there.

  13. Leigh

    This island looks lovely on so many levels. Your photos are stunning and your people pictures suggest great interaction. Nice to hear about a place that hasn’t been overrun with tourists.I also found that high in the mountains of Tahiti, that there were places where hardly anyone ventured.
    Leigh recently posted..A Hike into Sunshine Meadows, Banff National ParkMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Leigh, thanks. It was truly refreshing that a beautiful island like this isn’t over run by tourists per the wishes of its inhabitants. We also ventured in the mountains of Tahiti and found that we were the only souls in there. It was quite wonderful.

    • Marisol

      Hi Kendra, thanks. Being welcomed by the locals was truly a rewarding experience.

  14. I love off the beaten path locations like these! What a beautiful place and it’s so great that it’s still unspoiled and you really enjoyed yourselves. I have heard of Huahine but haven’t seen many pictures. Love this collection of beautiful photos especially with the two of you interacting with the locals. Glad to see Keith found another napping place 😉 This reminds me a lot of Kauai.

    • Marisol

      Hi Mary, it really is a gem of an island. Glad you enjoyed the photos. The island actually looked so much more stunning that how we captured it. I hope you get to visit and enjoy the island someday.

  15. Bama

    The people of Huahine might not enjoy the money from tourism boom the people from other islands get. But they managed to preserve things that matter the most: pristine environment and strong communal bonds. It’s really heartening to see their hospitality toward foreign visitors, or the lack of them.
    Bama recently posted..Kelimutu: A Dream FulfilledMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Bama, the strong sense of community and the great environmental preservation effort in Huahine is truly impressive and heartening.

  16. Freya

    Huahine would definitely be the place to be for me. It’s indeed a very green island and the non crowded white sand beaches are like a dream come true.
    Freya recently posted..EBC Trek Day 6: Tengboche to PangbocheMy Profile

    • Marisol

      HI Freya, I can definitely picture you in this pristine island. Hope you get to visit soon.

  17. Anda

    Beautiful island, indeed. I agree that tourism most of the time ruins rather than helps these beautiful places. Gorgeous pictures, by the way.

  18. When looking at the photos on which the sight swims in clouds, I imagine it must feel hot and damp.
    But nevertheless, it’s pure therapy just looking at the beautiful views. It’s so spectacular!

  19. Frank

    Wow! Those photos of sunsets over the Pacific are amazing. Beautiful post on an island I’ve previously only read about.
    Frank (bbqboy)

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