Exploring Huahine

We’ve been in Huahine for one and a half weeks and we really like it here. The pace of life is slow, only about 6000 islanders live in small villages around the twin islands Huahine Nui and Huahine Iti (big and small Huahine which are so close that they are connected by a short bridge), but the capital Fare is big enough to feature amenities like bike rental places, numerous roulottes (vans that have been turned into restaurants), a big supermarket, veggie stands with local produce and even a bar with a happy hour. There’s also a big medical centre, a dentist(!) and even a vet(!!!) on tiny Huahine. There are quite some tourists around, but most of them stay in little pensions, up to now we’ve only seen one bigger hotel with bungalows on the lagoon. There are more yachts around than we had expected, but it seems there are still puddle jumpers lingering here before heading further west and charter catamarans from Raiatea also hop over to nearby Huahine.

The first week we were anchored off the main town Fare and after the two months in Tahiti during which our only exercise was carrying shopping bags we took the opportunity of hiking to nearby temple sites (marae) and renting bikes (huffing and puffing). The anchorage on a sandy shelf between the two passes into the lagoon is pretty with turquoise water, but a constant outflowing current (because swell fills up the lagoon and the water then streams out through the passes) meant that Pitufa was always aligned with the current, even when the wind was blowing 25 knots from the side or stern, we were just swinging around then quickly being shoved back–not very comfy.
We then decided to find a more sheltered place and got the anchor up expecting a downwind sail in northeasterly winds southwards on the western coast. It seems that Huahine’s geography somehow funnels the wind over ridges though, so instead of calm conditions on the lee side we had violent gusts out of each bay and soon motored against gusts accelerated from the Southeast to up to 35 knots… Weird.

As the lagoon is generally deep with very shallow coral shelves the yacht-friendly Commune of Huahine has set mooring buoys (free use!) in several places. On the way South we checked some out, but they were exposed to strong gusts and again in a constant current. We finally found a rather sheltered spot in lovely Haapu bay off the little village. There is no current so Pitufa is properly facing into the wind again.

Mariela–the owner of the tiny magasin in Haapu–is very friendly, reserves a baguette for us each morning, offered to get us anything we need from Fare and even organised two bikes for us this morning. Unfortunately one of them broke down after a few kilometres, but Mariela played breakdown service and picked us up. Her next recommendation was a hike up the mountain ridge behind the village and she showed us the beginning of the trail, not without pointing out that she hadn’t been up there yet. Struggling up the incredibly steep and slippery path we soon understood why, but we crawled all the way up anyway and were rewarded with a great view from a rocky picnic spot :-)

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