CRUISING, DAY THREE - SEPTEMBER 2004
After a first night docked at the Autonomous Port of Papeete and a second night travelling to Huahine - 170km northwest of Papeete, the first of the Leeward Islands you meet when coming from Tahiti -, we passed the fringing reef, entered the lagoon pass and, by 6:30 a.m., dropped anchor at Maroe Bay. Everything looked beautiful, but even close to Paradise sad news do reach you: a fax sent by satellite to the ship gave notice that a very good Colleague and Friend had unexpectedly passed away. That was the only shadow and blow during this fantastic trip!
Huahine (The «Garden Island», «Secret Island» or «Rebel Island») is composed of two islands - Huahine-Nui (Big Huahine) and Huahine-Iti (Little Huahine) - formerly joined only by a sandpit at low tide, and now connected by a small bridge over the narrow isthmus in the lagoon. It is, geographically speaking, one of the more diverse of the Society Group, with hills that descend steeply to the blue lapis-lazuli and green emerald bays, and lush green tropical scenery. With much less tourists than Tahiti, Bora-Bora or Moorea, Huahine is also quieter, much more relaxing and stress free, which makes it one of the more interesting of the Society Islands.
"TENDER - Transfer to land, to the small village of Maroe, is made by tender, as there is no cruise port in Huahine. Our Group is ready to start exploring the Island: actually we had a rent-a-car booked for the day..."
"LAC FAUNA NUI - We took the cruise bus to Fare Town, the picturesque waterfront village with a predominantly Polynesian population that is the main village in the Island; then, we picked the rented car and headed to the Marae near Maeva. There are almost 30 ancient marae sites along the coastline at Maeva Village. Here we see one of the marae site (on the left hand side of the photo behind the traditional house) and the Fauna Nui Lake"
"MARAE - In ancient Polynesian societies, a marae is a sacred place used for both religious and social purposes. It usually consists of roughly rectangular cleared area (the marae itself), bordered with stones or wooden posts (the au) and containing a central stone (ahu) and terraces used in older times for ceremonial purposes. This is one of the marae near Maeva, with the airport on the other side of the Fauna Nui Lake, behind the trees. Maeva was a sacred village where the chiefs of the island’s eight districts once lived peacefully side by side, and built dozens of marae"
"This MARAE SITE near Maeva is carefully arranged. With the exception of Taputapuatea on Raiatea, the marae in Huahine are the more impressive and the best well preserved"
"A TRADITIONAL HOUSE was reconstructed at the site of the marae. As we can see on the left side of the picture, sad news come also by cell phone, and roaming works in Huahine..."
"MUSEUM - The reconstructed traditional house acts also as a museum for the local artefacts, but you'll need to leave your shoes at the entrance"
"VANILLA FARM - There are several vanilla farms in Huahine, but the Island is not as famous as Tahaa for the vanilla"
"ANCIENT FISH TRAPS can be seen within the Fauna Nui Lake"
"PEARLS - Black Pearls, Grey Pearls, and Tahitian Pearls are one of the treasures of French Polynesia. They are supposedly a gift from the god Oro, King of the Firmament, and develop their shape and colour in the turquoise waters of Polynesian lagoons. Considered a royal symbol, the product of the womb of the black-lipped oyster is now a perfect gift! In Huahine there is only this pearl farm to visit. A boat takes you to the hanging oyster strands in the lagoon to learn how the process develops from cultivation and harvesting to the final product. Then you are ready, and the sellers accept credit cards..."
"SACRED EELS - Under a bridge over a certain part of a river in Huahine, there are some very unusual residents... Sacred Eels! These eels range in size from almost one to almost two meter long and are very interesting to look at. They have fins along their side and their eyes have a cold blue translucent colour. There is an ancient legend that says: «The first eel crawled across the mountains from a pool in Arue, on the north coast of Tahiti. Feeling lonely, the eel married a beautiful maiden from Mataiea, after much courting and splashing about the water. The present day inhabitants supposedly descend from this incongruous couple». It's your turn to believe..."
"BELVEDERE - Continuing our tour of Huahine Nui, we stopped at the Belvedere. As we were on our own with a rented car, we had the chance to get there before the tourist crowd from the buses arrived and occupied the full platform to take the photos of the Maroe Bay, with the Tahitian Princess anchored"
"PEOPLE - The wonderful blue colours, including the oxford blue from the shirt bought at the Tortola Pusser's, are starting to show up"
"BRIDGE - This is the bridge that links Huahine Nui to Huahine Iti"
"VIEWS FROM THE BRIDGE - Towards Maroe Bay with the Tahitian Princess anchored, and towards the open sea on the other side. The narrow hollow channel between the islands is said to be the Hiro's (god of the thieves) canoe..."
"TROPICAL FOREST - The fabulous green colours from the trees and the turquoise of the waters"
"BLUES AND TREES - The laguna in Huahine has some superb colours difficult to match!"
"AGAIN - Don't we look nice here?"
"SEA WATCHING: White sand beach with boat and Raiatea and Tahaa at the distance"
"AVEA BAY with sailing boat"
"RELAIS MOHANA - Huahine is a rural island with small villages and plantations but few restaurants or hotels. At the south end of Huahine Iti we made a technical stop for swiming and for lunch at the Relais Mohana, one of the nice places on the Island"
"BEACH - Huahine has only a few beaches along its coastline but, as we have already seen, the coastal scenery and the inland green deserve the tour. The swim at the beach in front of the Relais Mohana was quite nice, and lunch was also perfectly acceptable"
"BY BUS - After the tour we returned the rented car at Fare and took the bus back to Maroe Village to get the tender to the ship. Some crew members, including the Australian Fiona on the left, travelled with us. The clouds were starting to win the fight with the sun, and the ship pulled anchor and departed.