Before telling you about this third leg in French Polynesia – the first and second were Tahiti and Taha’a – it’s time to do some evaluations. And I do it now because the very characteristics of this island, Huahine, inspire me to do so.
How did I expect to be Polynesia? I was in the Maldives before, so I guess I expected more small atolls surrounded by crystal clear water. But I was wrong.
French Polynesia is made by a number of islands, each of them big enough to host small villages, schools and human activities as fishing and farming. Vegetation is luxuriant and on every island you can have a trip to its natural beauty and the local traditions. Huahine is the perfect example of such reality.
Like Tahiti, Huahine is comprises two islands: Huahine Nui and Huahine Iti. The latter is more isolated and harsh, but at the same time offers the most beautiful beaches and lagoons. The ideal place to isolate yourself from the rest of the world, certainly not to look for nightlife and parties. Huahine Nui, instead, hosts a bustling town named Fare where the airport is also located.
Huahine is the perfect destination to get in touch with nature in an environment still untouched by urban and tourist development. On the island there are three resorts, all of them in three quite and isolated bays, surrounded by rocks and trees. I stayed at Royal Huahine, which comprises bungalows and overwater suites and is surrounded by clear waters where snorkellers can explore the amazing sea life.
I have to say the resort could be better if the management put more care into food and atmosphere. Even hospitality wasn’t particularly warm, which is strange since Polynesian people so far have always proved to be kind, welcoming, and which such an intense glaze it seems they can see you through.
I experienced this warm feeling in Fare Maeva Huahine, a lovely family-run hotel offering bungalows and small apartments starting from 60 euros. They and a few more businesses are kind of a low-cost alternative to the fabled resorts. The location isn’t on the island most beautiful lagoon, but you can still explore the whole island if you rent a scooter or a car.
Back to Huahine, there are two activities that really impressed me beyond any other: the picnic on a motu (‘sand island’) and snorkelling with the sharks.
For the picnic it was just us on the small island, palms and white sand, the bright ocean and an incredibly peaceful atmosphere. We all have a few moments in our life when we really feel in balance with the rest of the world… this was one of mine.
Snorkelling with the sharks, instead, was among the most exciting experiences I had while in French Polynesia. To be honest, entering the water requires less bravery than one would expect, since here we are talking about small sharks well fed by the activity management. But this does not subtract any bit from the incredible feeling of swimming surrounded by several sharks confusingly mixed with countless other colourful fishes.