Why Huahine is My Favourite Island in the South Pacific


Beach on Huahine
The main beach on Huahine, French Polynesia

When I was planning my South Pacific trip, I had an image in my mind of what my dream island would look like. It would have beautiful scenery that encompassed beaches, jungles, ruins, lagoons, and volcanoes, along with friendly locals, great food, the ability to visit on a budget, and plenty of options for activities.

Well, I’m pleased to say that I found an island just like that. It’s called Huahine and it’s perfect.

Here’s what made it the highlight from my month in the South Pacific:

Road in Huahine, French Polynesia

It’s the Most Affordable Island I Visited

Huahine was one of the cheapest islands I visited in French Polynesia and the South Pacific in general. And yes, I. know. it’s. not. Southeast. Asia. cheap., but this is a paradise island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, in a region that has a reputation for being one of the most expensive in the world. When you take that into account, I found it offered great value for money!

I stayed at Pension Fare Ara for $43 a night, which included breakfast, an airport pickup, and a friendly puppy to play with. The guesthouse was a ten-minute walk from the best beach on the island (and probably the best one I found in all of French Polynesia!), and a dozen great restaurants. The owner was lovely and had a ton of advice for off-the-beaten-track activities, and there were bicycles to rent, too. I would totally stay here again and highly recommend it.

For cheaper accommodation options, you can camp at Camping Hiva Plage ($12 a night for a tent) over where the surfing is best on the island, and there are a couple of other guesthouses on HotelsCombined for around $40 a night.

Everything else is inexpensive, too: I hired a bicycle for $5 a day, lunches were around $10 and dinners were $15.

I guess I just didn’t feel like I was being ripped off on Huahine, and I’d definitely felt that way on other South Pacific islands — I’m looking at you and your grocery store prices, Aitutaki.

Beach on Huahine

There’s a Seriously Spectacular Beach

I fully expected the best beach I’d visit in French Polynesia would be on Bora Bora, but it was this gorgeous one on Huahine that stole my heart instead. Just look at those colours!

Fare Beach had dazzling white sand as soft as icing sugar, a warm, calm ocean that was turquoise blue and so clear I could see my toes when paddling neck-deep. It was peaceful: there were no car engines, no music, no loud conversations — just the sound of the sea lapping gently at the shore. And it was surrounded by beautiful scenery: palm trees slightly back from the beach and a jungle-clad volcano further inland.

Road in Huahine

There are So Few Tourists

Huahine is one of the least populated islands in the Society Islands, and it’s not filled with tourists either. With only eight small villages dotted around the 20-miles-in-circumference island and 5,000 residents, hopping on a bicycle and riding for just a few minutes is all it takes to feel like you’re on your own private island.

The photo of the beach I posted above? That wasn’t an artful angle to make it seem as though I had it all to myself: it was actually just everyone who was on the beach! Whenever I spent my afternoons sunbathing there, I never had to share that spot of sand with more than three people at once.

Away from the beaches, the island is just as quiet. As I explored by bike, the roads were often deserted, with a car passing me by only every ten minutes or so. When I went to see some ruins, I had them all to myself. When I went on a hike, I didn’t meet a single person.

In some respects, it’s not all that surprising, because have you even heard of Huahine? I know that I hadn’t until I started to plan this trip. But it’s also kind of shocking at the same time, because Huahine is a 30 minute flight from Tahiti and a 30 minute flight from Bora Bora. It’s so easy to get there from the main tourist hubs of the region, but so few people make the journey.

And honestly, unlike some places I’ve visited (Maafushi, in the Maldives, for example, which I recently learned is now absolutely overrun with tourists and has had its beautiful beach dug up), I don’t think it’s going to change any time soon. There purposely isn’t much tourism infrastructure on the island, there are no major hotels or resorts, and I didn’t see or hear any construction going on. Unless Huahine receives some kind of major publicity, I can see it continuing being overlooked in favour of Tahiti and Bora Bora for many years to come.

And that’s definitely a reason for me to return.

Huahine jungle

The Scenery is Breathtaking

Huahine has everything you could possibly desire from a South Pacific island. You’ve got amazing white sand beaches, palm trees lining every road, extinct volcanoes to climb, glistening lagoons to paddle in, dense jungle, old Polynesian ruins to explore, smooth roads to cycle along, vanilla bean plantations to wander around…

No matter where you are in Huahine and what direction you’re looking in, I guarantee there’ll be something beautiful before you.

huahine ruins

There’s a Ton of Ancient Ruins

The ruins on Huahine are said to be as significant as the ones on Easter Island, which is pretty cool, I guess. <— Not a person who likes ruins.

But in all seriousness, Huahine is covered in ancient Polynesian ruins, and they’re all free to visit and clamber over. And although they do now look like piles of coral and stone, they used to be religious temples; sites where human and animal sacrifices took place; places for villagers to build canoes and braid ropes. James Cook is said to have witnessed a sacrifice here. There’s even some 400-year-old fishing traps made of stone that are still in use today.

IMG_2016-08-11 12:57:11

You Can Feed Sacred Blue-Eyed Eels

Here’s a really bad photo of them.

One of the things I was most excited about seeing in Huahine is the sacred blue-eyed eels. You’ll find them swimming around in a river in the village of Faie, where they’re worshipped by the locals. Pull up alongside the riverbank and you’ll find a small stall where you can buy tins of mackerel to feed them.

While I was there, a couple of small children were running around in the river, wrapping their arms around the eels and raising them up in the air to show them to me. Given that the eels grow to six foot in length, this was no mean feat. And fun fact: I just misspelled eel as eek and that feels very appropriate.

Rather than joining the kids in the water, because the eels were creeping me out, I decided to stare into their bright blue eyes instead. Which was probably just as creepy, to be honest.

HUAHINE BEACH

There’s So Much to Keep You Busy

I spent three days on the island and left feeling like there was so much more I wish I’d been able to see.

Huahine is actually comprised of two large islands, which are connected by a narrow strip of land. I saw maybe a quarter of one of the islands, and none of the other.

I missed out on so many beautiful beaches, and I especially wanted to check out the ones the locals surf at to see what they’re like. I wanted to check out several different hikes to viewpoints around the volcano, but it was raining when I tried. I didn’t get a chance to visit the vanilla bean plantations. I couldn’t find the time to take a boat across to the black pearl farm. And I missed the whole other island of Huahine.

I feel like I could easily spend a week on this island before I started getting itchy feet.

huahine woman

Huahine Looks Like a Pregnant Woman

Huahine means pregnant woman in Tahitian, and that’s because when you stand in the main village of Fare and look to the left, the hills look like a pregnant woman lying down. My guesthouse owner parked up here and said, “Look! Can you see her boobies?”

huahine road

There’s no doubt that Huahine was my favourite island from my entire South Pacific trip. It has the scenery, the friendly locals, the affordability, the great accommodation options, good food, plenty to see and do…

As I’ve been writing about French Polynesia, I’ve found myself planning returns to this region to check out some of the other island groups. If I do manage to make it back, though, I think I’ll struggle to not return to Huahine.

 

Does Huahine sound like your kind of paradise island?

Huahine is my favorite island in French Polynesia!

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67 Comments

  1. Michelle
    August 11, 2016
    Reply

    Wow! Absolutely beautiful!

    • Lauren
      August 12, 2016
      Reply

      It’s a special place :-)

  2. Dominique
    August 11, 2016
    Reply

    Ha, I can see her boobies! :) Huahine looks amazing! I made the mistake to check the location on Google Maps and as I was zooming out I found out how many islands there are in the area! So much to explore ;) It’s good to know Huahine is worth a visit – this kind of information on rarely visited islands is really valuable!

  3. Tina Spencer
    August 11, 2016
    Reply

    We visited Huahine almost 25 years ago on our honeymoon. It was like stepping back in time and I fell in love with the island. We also visited Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora. Huahine is definitely the place to go if you like off-the-beaten-path kind of places. Thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures! Takes me back….almost 25 years ;-)

    • Allie Thylle
      November 29, 2018
      Reply

      wow, those are the exact places I’m going for my honeymoon next October! Can’t wait!

      • Lauren
        November 30, 2018
        Reply

        You’re going to have an amazing adventure, Allie! :-)

  4. Michelle
    August 11, 2016
    Reply

    Huahine sounds like my perfect holiday destination. The fewer people at such a lovely place, the better! Your photos are AMAZING!

  5. Lulu
    August 11, 2016
    Reply

    Sounds like fun!

    Your right,that staring at the eels is a little creepy,but its great you had fun!

    • Lauren
      August 12, 2016
      Reply

      :-)

  6. Natalie
    August 12, 2016
    Reply

    Wow! It’s gorgeous and I love that the beaches were nearly empty. That is my idea of paradise! Well, that and the perfect turquoise water. I’m not sure I’d want to leave.

    And in response to you guesthouse owner’s question? Why yes, yes I can see her boobies! :-D

  7. GJ
    August 12, 2016
    Reply

    wow!!! checking out skyscanner on how to get there from Southeast Asia. Always love a beautiful isolated beach.

    • Lauren
      August 12, 2016
      Reply

      Probably best to get there via Australia. It’s definitely worth the long trip, though!

  8. Faye
    August 12, 2016
    Reply

    I never heard about Huahine. You really are adventurous Laureen. Despite what happen to you in Maupiti, you never stop looking this wonderful glimpse for Polynesia. I’m gonna put this on my list. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Lauren
      August 12, 2016
      Reply

      Ah, thank you so much! I definitely don’t feel adventurous most of the time :-)

  9. Lotte
    August 12, 2016
    Reply

    Every time you publish a new post about French Polynesia I have to exercise serious self control NOT to book a ticket IMMEDIATELY! Thanks for sharing yet another gorgeous island:-)

  10. Brooklyn @JustBeingBrooklyn
    August 12, 2016
    Reply

    Lauren, I think you just found paradise!

    • Lauren
      August 12, 2016
      Reply

      I think so, too! :-)

  11. Charlie
    August 13, 2016
    Reply

    It looks amazing! Just got back from the Cooks and thought I had my fill of the Pacific for awhile, but now I have more islands to add to my list…

    • Lauren
      August 13, 2016
      Reply

      Huahine is definitely worth it! :-)

  12. Sia
    August 13, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Lauren,

    I was wondering if you know any ways of flying to Huahine cheaply? What’s the best time to travel there do you think? I would be flying from Canada.

    Thank you! Loving the blog.

    • Kareen
      July 8, 2018
      Reply

      Hi Sia and Lauren;

      Did you ever make the trip from Canada to Huahine?

      I am hoping to head to Australia from Ontario Canada in December 2018 to visit my daughter who is working there and I very much wanted to make a 3 or 4 day pit stop in Bora Bora on the way there or back – but am now thinking if I only have a little bit of time that Huahine may be a better option. Was just wondering if you made the trip Sia and if you had any suggestions to share?

      Thanks, Kareen

      • Lauren
        July 12, 2018
        Reply

        Hi Kareen,

        Commenters can’t subscribe to be notified of replies, so I highly doubt Sia will head back to this post and see your comment.

        I personally think you’d have a wonderful time no matter which island you choose. They’re both so ridiculously beautiful that you can’t really make a wrong decision. It all comes down as to whether you’d prefer a more local island or one that’s gorgeous. I think Bora Bora is prettier than Huahine, but you gain a greater insight into Polynesian culture on Huahine.

  13. Naomi
    August 13, 2016
    Reply

    Great travel writing! :) I’m planning a week in French Polynesia on my way to Australia (from the U.K., via the US!) and I think I know which island I’ll be heading straight for now :)

    • Lauren
      August 14, 2016
      Reply

      Yay! You’ll love Huahine :-)

  14. Lucy
    August 14, 2016
    Reply

    I fully 100% recommend that you go to Samoa. You will not regret it. Don’t stay on the main island, go to Savaii. I stayed at a place called Tanu Beach Fales and it was one of the best places I’ve ever travelled.

  15. Shaun
    August 20, 2016
    Reply

    Interesting place! I hope to visit one day.

  16. Avichai Ben Tzur
    September 19, 2016
    Reply

    Totally agree with you Lauren. I spent a week in Huahine and was lucky to have great weather even in the rainy season. Life just seems so genuinely simply over there. It is a bit disappointing that hiking in the beautiful mountains isn’t really possible without a guide – but that’s a French Polynesia problem in general… Did you make it to Hana Iti Beach? Beautiful photos!

  17. Peter
    October 11, 2016
    Reply

    Have been going to the society islands for the last 15 years and next month we will be spending 2 days in Huahine. Even the locals in Moorea will tell you that it’s very beautiful.
    Can’t wait. Thanks for the great posts.

    • Lauren
      October 12, 2016
      Reply

      Oh, wow! Hope you have an amazing time there :-)

  18. Harvey Evans
    December 19, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Lauren I think it’s amazing what you do and I’m glad I’ve found your website! I’m a 21 year old highly interested in travelling. Huahine literally sounds like my idea of paradise and I am seriously considering flying there in the new year either with a friend or alone. The only problem is I’m unsure as to how i would fly there, I live in the UK & the Internet is not being very helpful in showing me how I’d get there! Would really appreciate a reply, thanks a lot :)

    • Lauren
      January 1, 2017
      Reply

      Your best bet is probably to pick up a deal to Australia (check Secretflying.com for return flight bargains), and go from there. Or Paris is most likely the cheapest place in Europe, as it’s a French territory. Feel free to drop me an email with your dates if you can’t find anything and I can take a look!

  19. Darci
    March 14, 2017
    Reply

    We honeymooned on Bora Bora and it was great. We are going to Huahine in June to celebrate my 50th birthday. I can’t wait. It’s been 5 years since we’ve had a south pacific vacation. I know where you’re coming from regarding Aitutaki food prices. Another beautiful destination, just the same!!

    • Lauren
      March 30, 2017
      Reply

      I hope you’ll love Huahine as much as I did, Darci! It’s such a special place :-)

  20. Lisa
    April 28, 2017
    Reply

    I visited Huahine in December of 1990. Loved it…One of the best places I’ve ever visited.

    • Lauren
      April 29, 2017
      Reply

      Oh, amazing! I wonder if it’s changed much since then.

  21. Joanna
    August 3, 2017
    Reply

    This place is so beautiful, thank you for this post and all information. Amazing shots!

    • Lauren
      August 3, 2017
      Reply

      Thanks, Joanna!

  22. Ron
    August 3, 2017
    Reply

    Would it be suitable to spend a couple of months there during January -March ….looking to escape FLorida’s tourist season!

    • Lauren
      August 16, 2017
      Reply

      Yep! You might get a little bored with two months there, but there are so many islands nearby that you could do plenty of day/weekend trips around the Society Islands if you fancied a change of scene.

  23. Francis
    August 25, 2017
    Reply

    Most amazing Thanksgiving of my life was in a small restaurant near the pier on Huahine. As we enjoyed a Hinano (local beer) and some freshly made Poisson Crux (Fresh Ahi tuna marinated or “cooked” in Lime juice with coconut milk and fresh onions) we witnessed a most spectacular sunset over the island of Raieatea in the distance. The air was like liquid silk. The perfect temp, calm and magical. One of my favorite memories of my second favorite place in the world.

    • Lauren
      August 25, 2017
      Reply

      Sounds amazing! Where’s your favourite place?

  24. Lukas
    July 3, 2018
    Reply

    Hey Lauren,

    just read your post about Huahine. Since I am on Tahiti for 4 months now, I want to do a trip to some other islands in the end. I really liked your review of Huahine and now it’s my top of the list.

    But there is one thing I wanted to point out. You wrote Huahine means Pregnant woman; I just asked a tahitian friend and she told me the translation is “sex of the woman” : for Hua = Sex and Hine = Woman.

    Just to let know. Best regards

    • Lauren
      July 12, 2018
      Reply

      Yeah, that’s true, but the interpretation of that is that it means pregnant woman.

  25. chip rohlke
    July 3, 2018
    Reply

    Hi Laren:
    Did you ever get to Tahaa?

    • Lauren
      July 4, 2018
      Reply

      I didn’t!

  26. Donna McKiernan
    September 12, 2018
    Reply

    What a great article! I’m just beginning to read about the islands after booking a Windstar cruise down there in February. I clicked on your $43 a night Pension Fare Ara hyperlink and was stunned to be quoted between $352 to $500 per night for March 2019! When did you stay there?

    • Lauren
      September 13, 2018
      Reply

      Hi Donna! Are you sure those prices were for Pension Fare Ara? It’s definitely not worth that much a night! One of the more recent TripAdvisor reviews for it says it was super affordable, so I just can’t see them upping the price 10x! I just had a look on HotelsCombined and couldn’t find any availability in March, so maybe it’s fully booked for those dates and you were shown prices for an alternative hotel instead? I stayed there in January.

  27. Shelley
    October 28, 2018
    Reply

    Headed to Tahiti next month. Love your review. Where did you find $5 bike rentals on Huahine??

    • Lauren
      October 29, 2018
      Reply

      From Pension Fare Ara! I just rented one from where I was staying.

  28. Catya
    November 16, 2018
    Reply

    Lauren,

    Is there any chance of seeing Mantas in January? What did you hear about the snorkeling in French Polynesia/Huahine? I know you don’t love to snorkel, but this is one of our favorite things to do, where in South Pacific might you most recommend for this from what you’ve heard?

    Thank you!

  29. Chris
    December 9, 2018
    Reply

    Huahine is not only the best place to visit but also the best place to live in the entire Society Islands. There is a reason it was once the center of Polynesian society, a neutral ground for the different kingdoms and chieftains to meet and discuss the future of Polynesia. The largest ruins of ancient Polynesian kingdoms can be found on Huahine.

    There was a massive exodus of population from all corners of Polynesia towards Tahiti in the 1950s to 1990s because it’s where all the opportunities were, which explains the low population in Huahine today, their loss I suppose, Tahiti isn’t nearly as nice as Huahine.

    You can basically live in self-sufficiency on Huahine, the nature is generous and abundant, just stretch your arm for fruits and nuts all over the place, small hunt roaming around the island, waters are teeming with fishes. In Polynesian legends the island is referred to as the garden of eden.

  30. Vanessa
    December 30, 2018
    Reply

    Thank you top of my wanderlist after reading you and an article in a new french magazine published recently

    • Lauren
      January 5, 2019
      Reply

      I hope you make it there soon! :-)

  31. Eti
    January 8, 2019
    Reply

    Hi! I’ve just come accross your blog and I already love it :) I’ve been thinking of visiting French Polynesia this year and I would also travel solo (hope the creepy guy is not reading now :D ) I looked for accommodation but haven’t calculated all the costs yet or planned what I wanted to see. Maybe just procrastinating as I’m a bit worried about how things will work out. I could only stay for 2 weeks which is sadly not enough to visit the more distant islands like Nuku Hiva or Mangareva but Bora Bora and Huahine are not to be missed. Your travel stories are truly inspiring :) I’ll keep on reading!

  32. Russ
    March 11, 2019
    Reply

    We really liked Huahine. Our favorite island (together with Maupiti). The store (Super U) takes credit cards (2000 XPF minimum purchase) but works short hours (5:30am-7pm, sundays 5:30am to noon). We bought fresh fish in the mornings from the locals selling them along the road near Fare. We would have biked, but given the size of the island and our lack of experience of riding a scooter, we decided to rent a car. The gas stations also take credit card (with again 2000 XPF minimum, so fill in the last day). It is possible to camp near Pointe Hiva near the ruins (beautiful beach) if you are not going during the rainy season. Lots of fish: we saw the locals were just using cardboard boxes to catch fish and even with those basic tools, they did catch a lot. The beach of the abandoned Sofitel was also nice. The only thing we didn’t like is that there were a lot of abandoned properties on that island and we did have a scare with some stray dogs (turned out fine).

    • Lauren
      March 27, 2019
      Reply

      Thank you so much for sharing, Russ! This will be so helpful for my readers :-)

  33. Taylor
    May 4, 2019
    Reply

    This is so helpful! We have always dreamed of seeing the islands but couldn’t swallow that price tag. What time of year did you go?

    • Lauren
      May 4, 2019
      Reply

      I went in January!

  34. Jessica Staples
    June 18, 2019
    Reply

    Hi! We are thinking of going here for my boyfriend’s 43rd birthday. Were there a lot of public beaches? We’ve gone to islands in the past that had beaches that were “private” for resort guests, that we weren’t able to enjoy. Wondering if we will run into the same issue here? And how is cell phone and internet service?Thanks for the informative article!!

    • Lauren
      June 19, 2019
      Reply

      Yeah, Huahine isn’t all that resort-focused, so you’ll be fine. I didn’t stumble upon any private beaches while I was on the island. Cell service and WiFi was all good while I was there — which was several years ago, so I imagine it’s better now. You can grab a local SIM card from Vini if you need to stay connected while you’re there.

  35. Alan Bordallo
    June 24, 2019
    Reply

    Really nice information about French Polynesia. My wife and I are going there spend 20 days for honeymoon and we’re thinking about getting the same flight pass you did. Is that a short time for it? how many days did you spent in each location?
    Also, we’re really into Va’a paddling (the main sport in Polynesia), and this is a huge reason we chose there for honeymoon. is it easy to find canoes to paddle in the places you visited?
    Thanks!

  36. Renae
    September 14, 2019
    Reply

    I LOLed at the blue-eyed eels :D Then I thought, “Hey! I like this chick! I’m gonna read more of her stuff!” Not that you have to persuade me or anything because you’re writing my fairy tale! I never want it to end! :)

  37. Joe T.
    October 4, 2019
    Reply

    We honeymooned in Huahine, Bora Bora and Tahiti over 20 years ago. Huahine was definately my favorite. It is a shame you didn’t get to visit the vanilla farms as that was one of my favorite things. We stayed in the Sofitel, which has since been abandoned. At the time they had the only swimming pool on the island. Your article makes me want to go back.

    • Lauren
      October 5, 2019
      Reply

      Oh, I tried to visit the Sofitel, but there were a bunch of guards who wouldn’t let me have a look around!

  38. Karen
    January 2, 2020
    Reply

    We are sailing in on a small cruise ship right now. It looks amazing, and having read your review, I am really excited about going ashore. Thank you for your great review!

    • Lauren
      March 15, 2020
      Reply

      Nice! I hope you ended up loving it as much as I did!

  39. Sonja
    September 1, 2020
    Reply

    Huahine is my favorite island as well. I have been lucky enough to have visited a few times. I had planned a visit this past June and it was cancelled due to Covid. I am now rescheduled to go the end of this month. I hope I make it!

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