Don't Miss in Huahine
Fare: Tiny Fare (which in Tahitian means 'house') is Huahine's main village. There's not a lot to do, but that's part of its charm. The main drag along the waterfront is lined with small boutiques, a jewelry store, a few banks, a bustling supermarket (called Fare Super Nui) stocked with everything from food to furniture, and Internet cafes. The warm breeze carries the delicious scent of fried food, and locals in straw hats are sure to smile and say 'ia ora na' (hello).
Water activities: There are plenty of ways to get in the water on Huahine, both on shore excursions and via local operators located in Fare. To explore on your own, Huahine Lagoon (689-40-68-70-00) in Fare rents out bikes, boats and kayaks, though there are no set hours and no guarantees they'll be open. For divers, Mahana Dive (689-87-37-07-17) and Pacific Blue Adventure (689-40-68-87-21) operate scuba trips.
Belvedere Point: This lookout point is a must-stop for photographers. The summit on Huahine Nui boasts stunning panoramic views of Maroe Bay and a clear view of the ship at anchor. You can reach it by car or on select shore excursions.
Sacred Eels: Near the village of Faaie, on the opposite coast of Huahine Nui from Fare, live Huahine's sacred eels. The freshwater eels measure a metre or so in length and jump out of the water to be hand-fed by locals who stop by with cans of mackerel (which can be bought in a shop nearby). Here, eels are treated almost as family pets and are considered sacred because of local mythology; the legend states the first eel to crawl across the mountain married a beautiful maiden from Mataiea, Tahiti -- and that present-day inhabitants descended from the unlikely couple.
Marae: The sleepy village of Maeva was once the seat of royal power on the island; scattered along the waterfront and in the mountains are the ruins of maraes, or temples, which belonged to chiefs and priests. As you drive through town, also look for the stonefish traps that are unique to Huahine. These date back some 400 years and are still used today -- groups of stones are arranged in the water; when the fish swim in, they are scooped up with nets.
Fare Potee Museum: For more history, stop by the open-air Fare Potee archaeological museum in Maeva. Located in a thatched hut over the water with a woven floor (shoes must be removed, a respectful tradition in Polynesian culture), exhibits include tools used to build houses and carry water (hollowed coconut shells, for example), and fabrics such as the fibrous purau that were used to create early dance costumes and baskets. There's no gift shop, but a handful of silk pareos and small wooden canoes made by local schoolchildren are often available for purchase. The museum is open weekdays and on Saturday mornings, but opening times can be erratic.
Lagoon tours: Although Huahine Lagoon isn't as gorgeous as the body of water at near-neighbor Bora Bora, getting out onto a small island (motu) can deliver a taste of that castaway-in-the-South-Seas experience. Huahine Nautique (689-87-78-59-05) seems to have the island covered by offering beach picnics and snorkeling and tours that offer a land trip combined with lagoon activities. It caters for cruise ship passengers who can book through its website.