Laid Back Huahine
12 June 2017 | Humane, French Polynesia
Today, Huahine is known for its surfers and backpackers as its well away from the posh resort islands and has a laid-back low key atmosphere about it. Similar to the town vibe we experienced in the Tuamotu's i.e. Gambier, Makemo. Apparently the locals aren't too keen to have hotel developers engulf their island with high end resorts and have successfully solicited to keep their isle unpretentiously Polynesian but allowing small type pensions to be built. Bravo! Huahine has two islands of similar size – Huahine Nui (Big Huahine) to the north and Huahine Iti (Little Huahine) to the south and they're bridged together at Baie Maroe. There is a 60km ring road that passes a lot of fruit plantations and pretty home gardens. It certainly is a nice life these folks have. I read that the translation of the word 'Huahine' is 'vagina' and while its origin is unknown, historians figure it has to do with the important role women played here as Huahine's queens f long ago were highly respected. Today, surfing is king here - Fare's reef break attracts the big names of world surfing.
We left Moorea at 17:30 and sailed into an amazing orange filled sunset for the overnight passage to Huahine. It was a great sail - 12-16kt of so'easterly winds on a broad reach with 1m swell and a half moon lighting up the ocean. It was Rose's first passage since December so was glad it was an easy one to allow her to get her sealegs back. We planned this 80nm night passage so we'd arrive at day break and safely enter the Passe Farerea in daylight conditions. Once inside, we took a big circle around scenic Baie Maroe and entered into petit Baie Puravia with possible plans to anchor here but with three yachts well spread out there wasn't much room to drop an anchor in 15-20m and have a sufficient swing room. So we exited Baie Maroe, took a right turn and went down the eastern channel behind Motu Murimahora and anchored on a sand shelf in clear turquoise waters. It was now time to get a few hours recovery rest.
And after a good hour long nap to recharge the batteries what better way to freshen up than a good cool swim and snorkel with the common and spotted eagle rays that have been swimming around Emerald. We later loaded 'Dragonfly' with our snorkeling gear, cameras, VHF and emergency kit and headed south down the 'dinghy channel' to explore the underworld. Focused around the coral outcrops south of Motu Tarohu we found plenty of small colorful reef fish i.e. Clark's Anemonefish, masked banner fish, lined butterflyfish, a large trumpetfish, neon damselfish,titan triggerfish, solander's toby's, to name a few! But fish seem very shy here compared to other places we've snorkeled.
I later had an encounter with a Titan Triggerfish where I swam into his ' conical area' that he must of been protecting of either his eggs or young. He circled erratically and I that's when I remembered this was their spawning season, but too late, he charged, and took a nip at my fin. And fortunately it was just the fin. He quickly swam back and I the other direction.
Unfortunately the coral is mostly dead however the upside is that plenty of small reef fish still thrive while the downside is the absence of any medium size reef fish i.e. parrot fish, big-eyes, jacks, groupers, etc. These seem far and few between which tells me that the fisherman here have been very active. Rays seem to flourish here - perhaps they are protected. The waters were refreshingly cool and clear water and we drifted in the current with our dinghy in tow checking out and photographing the life below.
What a pleasant anchorage (16 45.871S: 150 57.568W) here among the spotted eagle rays (at least they survive!). The following days at Motu Murimahora we explored the eastern channels along Motu Mahara and Vavaratea, walked the shore roads and chatting with locals. Along with Andrew and Claire from SV Eye Candy we toured 10nm up to Lac Maeva and visited the museum that contained much about the local Huahine heritage.
While this was a great anchorage we were keen to see some of the other locations on Huahine. We hauled up the hook and followed our route back out of Passe Farer and circled north around Huahine Nui and into the Passe Avamoa, passed Fare (port and administrative centre) and kept south through the channels down to Baie D'Avea where we took a mooring ball. Nice spot. Took a walk along to the Parea village though not much there except the lady's practicing their local Tahitian style dancing. We had drinks and internet at the Taravee pension where we could tie up our dinghy on the beach below. Later I took the dinghy around to the east side of Passe Araara for some great snorkeling and photos among a plethora of small reef fish and black tips near the outer reef (16 48.95A:150 58.19W). A few days later we backtracked to Fare and anchored in the shallows behind the reef in emerald clear waters where we explored the village, rose early for the local fresh produce in front of the Super U and shipped back my Locomarine Yacht Router modem to Croatia for repair.
Ive read of many complaints that the L450 has too many sharp edges, hard points, in its cabinetry. Today, I'd agree to that as I've now become a victim of this 'Ikea' design as I managed to slam my toe on the lower cabinet edge hard enough to remove the toenail - ouch!
OK, off to Bora Bora - that famed island of the wealthy and famous.