Huahine (Photo:Mumemories/Shutterstock)
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Melissa Paloti
Cruise Critic Contributor

Port of Huahine

Huahine, pronounced wah-ee-nee by the French and who-a-hee-nay by Tahitians, is rugged and isolated and offers a taste of old Polynesia. Historically, the island is one of the three most important Polynesian archeological sites, along with Easter Island and Raiatea; ruins in the form of stone and coral temples remain from the days of royal rule -- as do 400-year-old stone fish traps that are still in use.

About Huahine


Pro

Visit ancient Polynesian temples, pearl or vanilla farms -- and meet blue-eyed eels

Con

Minimal public transit except for bumpy Le Trucks; be prepared to get on "island time"

Bottom Line

Take in some culture before heading to the beach in this scenic, isolated spot


Find a Cruise to the South Pacific



Intriguing as is its history, what Huahine does best is force visitors to kick back and relax. With only about 5,000 inhabitants (compared to Tahiti's 170,000), police officers double as mailmen, and tourist infrastructure is purposely kept to a minimum. The pace of life -- even in the main village of Fare -- will slow down even the slickest city slicker. Trust me when I say it takes time for us city types to adjust; early on in my visit I waited impatiently for my meal at a waterfront cafe and change in a boutique selling vanilla beans and colorful pareos (silk wraps); later on I finally gave in to "island time" -- and it felt great!

Like Tahiti, Huahine is actually made up of two smaller islands -- Huahine Nui (big) and Huahine Iti (small) -- separated by bright blue Maroe Bay where cruise ships anchor. Polynesian legend has it that the god Hiro split the landmass in two by plowing into it with a canoe. The mountains are lush and green, and roadways are lined with coconut and banana trees, vines of vanilla, and wild hibiscus that scents the air and adds splashes of tropical color to the landscape.

Where You're Docked

Ships anchor between Huahine Iti and Huahine Nui in Maroe Bay; the tender dock is in the village of Maroe on Huahine Iti.

Good to Know

Bring an umbrella: Rain showers are common in Huahine, and while they don't usually last long, they're often intense. If wet weather occurs during your visit, look for the pretty rainbows that form over Maroe Bay.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

The local currency is the French Pacific franc. A good rule of thumb is that 100 francs equal $1 -- but you'll want to check XE.com for the latest exchange rates. Though some shops accept U.S. dollars, including the supermarket in Fare, you may want to keep a few francs on hand for the smaller boutiques. There's an ATM at the Banque de Tahiti; it's the furthest bank from the pavilion.

Language

Tahitian and French, though tourist officials and many folks in town can communicate in English.

Shopping

There is a pearl farm on Huahine where you can purchase Tahitian black pearl jewelry. Another take-home idea is vanilla, which is grown at roadside plantations; $10 will get you 10 to 15 beans (more or less depending on length).

Best Cocktail

Fresh fruit is abundant on the island so be sure to sample local libations like the "Huahine Cocktail," which is made of pineapple and orange juice blended with chucks of watermelon and strawberries.