June 12, 2008 | Comments 0

A Laid-Back Tropical Experience In Huahine

The Tropics is one of those few places where you can just sit back and enjoy doing absolutely nothing.  In Huahine, those who have become too accustomed to the rugged and fast-paced city life will find the simple pleasures in the islands a welcome treat.  Suffice it to say, Huahine is not for the activity freak; but it is a veritable paradise for those who want to experience quality downtime.

Huahine is a part of the South Pacific cluster which also includes Bora Bora, Moorea, and Papeete in close proximity.  It is actually a combination of twin islands, Huahine Nui (big) and Iti (small), with Maroe Bay in between.  Cruise ships anchor at this point.  The Polynesian myth maintains that Huahine was created when the local god Hiro decided to carve through the landmass with a canoe, splitting it into two smaller isles.  Indeed, if you view Huahine near the shore, you’ll have a hard time disbelieving the myth and there’s a sense of pleasant mystery which envelops the islands, with lush green peaks and the fragrance of hibiscus carrying off well past the shore.

Be prepared to take in the slow pace of the main village of Fare.  Don’t count on commuting to your destinations, as public transportation is practically nonexistent.  Rented vehicles (scooters and air conditioned cars) are available at port though, so you won’t have trouble with getting around.  Even in Fare, there’s not much to do, although you’ll treat this as a boon rather than a turnoff and this is part of the island’s allure.  The public area near the waterfront accommodates quaint boutiques, an all-in-one supermarket which carries anything from local delicacies to furniture, several banks, a jewelry shop, and internet cafes.  You’ll enjoy strolling along the coast of Haamene Bay, and the sight of friendly locals in straw hats is a treat in itself.

For excellent photo ops, rent a car and drive up to Belvedere Point, a steady rise which ends up in an overlooking vantage point of Maroe Bay.  At the top, you are rewarded with an idyllic view of the bay, and if you’re on a cruise, your ship will also be in full view.  You can also pretty much have your way with on shore excursions, whether you plan to do it on your own or as part of the excursion package.  It is easier with the latter arrangement though; the lagoon does rent out bicycles, small boats, and kayaks, but shop hours are unpredictable and you might find them closed when you want to get into the water.

There’s a free ferry ride which disembarks from Fare to a small pearl farm in the center of the lagoon.  You’ll get a chance to view how pearl farming works from the farm owner himself, then take advantage of the trinkets and jewelry in his studio, all available for purchase.  The breeding site of the island’s sacred eels is also within easy reach from here; these five-foot eels are considered as the descendants of the island’s ancestors& you can try hand-feeding them with mackerel to make the stopover count.  Huahine lacks the exhilarating adventure offerings which other tropical destinations flaunt, but it more than makes up for it with authentic, laid-back, tropical charm.

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