French Polynesia – Next Stop Huahine

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Diane Macdonald @dmcameraJuly 2019 · 5 min read

FINDING MANA ON HUAHINE

The Garden Isle Of French Polynesia from the air - Huahine

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© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

Huahine? No doubt you have heard of the islands of Huahine and Bora, Bora, and maybe even Moorea, but Huahine? In the Leeward group of French Polynesia's archipelago, the Society Islands, Huahine is but a 40 minute stone's throw from the island of Huahine, and our flight from Moorea took only 35 minutes.

Tahiti Nui plane which brought us to Houhine

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© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

So why is magical Huahine (total poulation around 6,000 people) such a well-guarded secret? (It's known sometimes as The Secret Island. Well, she does not have a city with a large market like Papeete on Tahiti where you can shop for everything from black pearls to local fish caught in the lagoon, or an abundance of resorts like the rest of the island. There are only a handful of very small resorts and some pensions (B&Bs) on Huahine. There is no night life or famous big restaurants like Bloody Mary's on Bora Bora, which also has an abundance of resorts.

Therefore, the average tourist seems to bypass this jewel of an island, which really is two islands connected by a bridge and surrounded by a fringe of coral reefs and several motus or islets. Huahine Nui, or Big Huahine - the more populated island lies to the north; Huahine Iti, or Small Huahine - the more rugged and less populated island – lies to the south. The airport and main village of Fare with its Sunday market and shops are on Huahine Nui, but the resort where we stayed for four nights, Hotel Le Mahana Huahine, is on Huahine Iti close to the small village of Parea.

Hand drawn map of Huahine

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© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

Huahine is a version of the Tahitian word Vahine, meaning “woman.” According to the driver who drove us south to our resort on Huahine Iti, this mountain ridge resembles the outline of a pregnant woman lying down. This is also a symbol of the fertility of Huahine.

The mountain ridge which gives Huahine her name, Huahine

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© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

The bridge separating Huahine-Nui and Huahine-Iti, Huahine

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© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

Tahitian legend says that Mana, a polytheistic belief from ancient Polynesian times, is the life force or energy which connects all of her 118 inhabited islands, giving special meaning to Island Time in French Polynesia. If I believed that I found Bali Hai on Moorea, then surely I experienced Mana on Huahine! Here is where I first encountered the true island experience of French Polynesia - feeling more like a traveler through time than a tourist, experiencing the authentic Tahiti where time slowed down to a crawl.

What then kept me spellbound about Huahine? It was not only the fact that Huahine is known as The Garden Island or The Garden of Eden of French Polynesia, growing coconuts, bananas, vanilla beans, watermelons, breadfruit and a myriad of tropical flowers, but that she consists mainly of a huge tropical jungle, fringed with sandy beaches and also that her ancient culture could be found in the ruined maraes (sacred temples) scattered throughout the two islands. Here could be found the greatest concentration of them in all of French Polynesia. Some of these maraes are believed to date back to around 700AD and to the Lapita people, the ancestors of the Tahitians. Huahine then is considered the cradle of French Polynesian culture, and was once the home of Tahitian royalty.

Breadfruit, Huahine

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© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

Bougainvillea, Huahine

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© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

Marea Anini Sign, Huahine

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© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

Marea Anini, Huahine

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© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

This paradise is reserved for those of us who enjoy experiencing the outdoors and the true culture and history of a region, so tourists in their masses thankfully don't flock here! Yet, my husband and I found so much to do on Huahine, besides sitting on the deck of our beach bungalow watching the waves, or rather lack of them, in the lagoon!

View from our beach bungalow, Houahine

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© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

There are tours we could have taken into the tropical forests and into the lagoon for snorkeling and sightseeing, but we chose to explore as much as we could on foot from our resort, discovering there was much to see right on our doorstep! We also rented a car for one day and toured the entire coastal route of the two islands – definitely worth doing! And if you happen to be fortunate enough to visit in October, you may get to experience the excitement of the Hawaiki Nui Va'a, an outrigger canoe race which starts out from Huahine. All throughout our trip to French Polynesia, we witnessed athletes practicing for it, the largest of its kind in French Polynesia!

Our Fiat Panda rental car which we drove around the entire two islands of Huahine

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© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

Huahine then, has given me much to write about, and I'm excited that I will be able to share my photography and experiences with you in other posts to come. This is just an introduction to the island. In upcoming posts I will write about the resort and about our experiences in detail on Huahine! So, please keep checking in!

If you have enjoyed reading this introduction to Huahine, you may want to check out my other posts in this series:

  1. French Polynesia – A State Of mind
  2. Moorea French Polynesia – First Impressions And The Resort
  3. Moorea - French Polynesia – Bali Hai

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Wow, what beautiful photos @dmcamera!! :) Thank you so much for sharing them, and thank you @vibesforlife for featuring your post in her Pay it Forward Curation contest entry!


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Thanks! I’m not sure how that contest works, but it is an honor to be nominated for it!


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Feel free to check out our weekly contest ( @pifc) for all the details, but it's a kind and supportive group to belong to :) ... and a wonderful way to highlight quality, undervalued posts in the process.


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Congratulations! Your high-quality travel content was selected by @travelfeed curator @elsaenroute and earned you a reward, in form of a 100% upvote and a resteem. Your work really stands out! Your article now has a chance to get featured under the appropriate daily topic on our TravelFeed blog.
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Wow! you were surely in paradise, @dmcamera. What a beautiful spot. I can see the pregnant lady for sure. And the photo of the two chairs on that lovely beach makes me wish I could go sit there now. Lucky you!


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Thanks! Words can't even describe what it was all like. I have traveled a lot, but nothing compares to the French Polynesia experience! It was worth sacrificing new cars and fixing up the house in order to make incredible memories. I can thoroughly recommend it!

Although those chairs were inviting, we mostly just sat on our own deck looking out at them!


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Haha! It made for a good photo, @dmcamera!

I will always take travel over material things. And such a fantastic spot would have me letting the house go too :)


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Yes, life is too short. My grandmother used to say, “There will always be houses.”


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Ah the French Polynesia. Your photos are so so beautiful. On my bucket list since being made famous in the Crosby Stills and Nash song 'Southern Cross' about Pape'ete and the Marquesas. You are way away from it all out there!


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I don't remember that song, but that doesn't mean I don't know it. I will Google it to see if it jogs my memory! Now the Marquesas is on my bucket list. We got out to the Tuamotus, but not as far as the Marquesas. There are the small details of time and money required to fit in everything. LOL!


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I have heard of the Island but never been there thanks for sharing the beauty of this magical and somewhat mystical island with us

thanks for being an activ emember of SteemUSA !tip


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You are rare, but being from New Zealand, your knowledge of the geography of the South Pacific would be better than most. Thanks for stopping by and for the tip.


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yesif I had not stopped over in Papette I would not have known about it :)


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I would not have known about it if not for Jim. Before we met he had gone to Tahiti twice when he lived in LA and it was easier to access, and always vowed to take me there some day. Our 25th anniversary seemed to be the perfect time to say to heck with needing new cars and fixing up the house! He took me to his favorite islands!


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I think that was a brilliant idea for your 25th anniversary


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Yes, we were treated so well wherever we went. Three of the resorts gave us special treatment because the agency had put in the notes that it was our anniversary. I will be writing about the specifics as I go along.


1

wow the island looks heavenly and dreamy, beautiful pictures.


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Thanks for your kind response! I thought I had answered this comment already, but can't see it anywhere. LOL! I must have hit cancel by mistake.

Yes, both heavenly and dreamy! It's an experience I would not have missed. Writing about it helps to keep the place alive for me too!


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:):)


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What an interesting and beautiful post !tip


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Thanks you! And thanks for the tip.


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You're very welcome :-D


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How beautiful. And what a great place to seastead.


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Thanks! I had so many neat experiences in French Polynesia! The place is truly magical!


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Looks like such a dream place for wonderful vacation... Thanks for sharing with us this amazing place...


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Yes, and I am still dreaming about it!. I have to go back some day!


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Yes, and I am still
Dreaming about it!. I have
To go back some day!

                 - dmcamera


I'm a bot. I detect haiku.


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Too funny. I see the haiku rhythm now. 5/7/5 But, why am I talking to a bot? LOL!


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Hahaha....


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Wow what a hidden gem from French Polynesia! The blue is just amazing here and I love the spiritual side of the story, the way the mana flows from nature to those of us lucky enough to experience it. Tourist? Absolutely not. Traveller through time and space... definitely! Congrats on the features and travelfeed cuation :)


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Thanks! As my husband explains to me often, there are tourists and there are travelers. We consider ourselves to be travelers. 😊


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Yes I'd say so to and I've been on a few adventure tours where there are definitely tourists rather than travelers. The worst bit is when tourists consider themselves as travellers when all they are doing is sight seeing and not immersing in the culture of the place they are visiting.

Sorry, went off on one there haha! You're definitely travelers 😀 keep sharing!


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Glad you agree with me. There is a big difference between a tourist and a traveller!


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