We began our vacation on Huahine where we stayed at the Sofitel Heiva Huahine. This depicts their overwater bungalows. We did not stay in an overwater bungalow. Our room was very nice and within easy stroll of the beach and snorkeling. We each have both common and individual experiences to share. Please click on the hyperlinks to see the photos. Then click on Close Window to close the window with the picture in it.
|The Huahine airport is tiny. On arriving there you guess
that this Tahitian island might not have suffered the over-development
evident elsewhere. You would be right, for now. The island has not been
prettied up for the tourists. For instance, I saw a number of areas along
the coast that looked like mud flats with scattered, bedraggled palm trees.
Upon inquiry I found that these areas flooded during the rainy season.
A more developed island would have filled in these low lying areas to
make them more attractive. Keeping things natural is part of what I liked
about Huahine. This theme carried on through the lives of the people as well.
I saw a lot more traditional architecture on Huahine than on the other islands we visited. The homes, the private hotels, the shops and the harbor were all utilitarian with a look that let you know that people used these establishments. I did not see anything outside the resort that was created just for show.
Oh, don't get me wrong! It was great fun to play the role of pampered tourists and enjoy the facilities at the Sofitel Heiva. The grounds were beautiful and I loved snorkeling and taking moonlight walks on the beach so near our lodging. Going on the tours was a great way to get oriented quickly. The early Polynesian archeological sights were fascinating. And the local flora were incredible. Coconut and banana, hibiscus and "tiare" (Tahitian gardenia) were growing everywhere!
One of the magical moments of our vacation happened near the end of a back-country tour of Huahine. Our guide pulled the LandRover beside a relative's house and led us back into a wooded area. Bright green vines with occasional white flowers twined around the trees, all of which were mulched in coconut husks. A sweet aroma permeated the air as we stood in the middle of a vanilla plantation in the still twilight! I later bought a bundle of the dried and fermented beans to remember that moment.
Huahine spoiled me - perhaps because it was my first island - and became the yardstick by which I would measure the others. I loved our time there, but if we were to go back I think I would like to do things differently. Perhaps stay in a small hotel or rented private bungalow, take part in local activities and experience a more authentic stay.
The waiters are French. One morning one of them was snorkeling naked.The general atmosphere was relaxed and continental. Of all the resorts we stayed at, this one had the best menu including vegetarian on request. Be sure to try the tiare sorbet - it is made from the gardenia flower and tastes just like it smells. I enjoyed the Sofitel best of all the places we stayed. Besides the other swimmers, I liked the pristine waters so close to the resort. The entire island was much less developed than Bora Bora or Moorea. But it is rapidly under development- so hurry. See The Environment for a summary of environmental issues in the islands.
We went on a 4W drive tour of the island. The 4w drive tours also involve stopping to purchase stuff: Pareos Try to buy these pareos, which is the Tahiti version of a sarong, since at least you know they were made by local people. The rayon ones could be made in Indonesia.
We went on a circle island tour by pirogue - no shark feeding - but lots of scenery: beach at Huahine
On our last day we went hosrebackriding. I thought this would be cool- ride along the beach; canter through the surf... The saddle is skimpy; there is no bit in the bridle; and the horses voice control but they only speak French! We went on the beach: horse back riding on the beach (Le gallop means the same in French and English, but they didn't tell us what stop was...) Gobind is so good-natured- he even hand a friendly pat after falling off: Gobind's horse
That afternoon we went into Fare, the island's biggest town. It's about a block long. But if you're getting souvenirs, it's probably the best of the three islands we visited. Here's the supermarket: in downtown Fare where coke costs $1.00 a bottle instead of $3.00 a can.
All in all this was best- after wine, a nice meal, and sensual Polynesian dancers - the smell of night blooming tropical flowers, a warm breeze, the full moon over the ocean at night. It was so bright you could read (or see your lover's eyes...)