12/2/21: Huahine, French Polynesia

Family and friends,
After not being terribly impressed with what we’d seen in our admittedly brief time in Pape’ete, Tahiti, Steven and I were excited to head on to the island of Huahine, the first of four islands we were visiting in French Polynesia over the next three weeks. We found the island to be certainly very quiet, if a little too boring perhaps, but the cerulean waters and tropical vegetation made up for our initial disappointment. Click here to view on our main blog or just continue below. https://bergersadventures8.blogspot.com/2021/12/12221-huahine-french-polynesia.html

Wishing you and your loved ones peace, happiness, and especially good health in 2022, Annie

175 kilometers northwest of Pape’ete where we’d spent the previous night on arrival in Tahiti lay lush, mountainous Huahine. It’s one of the Leeward Islands which are the most visited part of French Polynesia after Tahiti and Moorea, the latter of which would be our last island in our three-week escape to the South Pacific. After the Leeward Islands were settled by Polynesians around 850, Dutch explorer Roggeveen spotted two of the Leeward Islands in 1722 but didn’t make land. 
Thanks to having a Tahitian priest on board as a pilot, Captain Cook ‘discovered’ six other Leeward Islands in 1769. He renamed them the Society Islands as they were contiguous to each other. 19th-century American whalers seeking a respite from winters in Antarctica replenished their ships with local products such as salted pork, vegetables, and sugar on stops to the islands. The sailors’ visits also aided the local economy.

As we walked into town from our studio apartment and noticed the Seventh-day Adventist Church, we would soon realize that there were far, far more of them not only in Huahine but all over French Polynesia than we’d seen anywhere else in the world!

After missionaries from the London Missionary Society arrived in 1808, the traditional religion was abolished by Pomare II once he extended his power to the Leeward Islands. The islands, however, were a British protectorate until 1887, unlike Tahiti and Moorea that were controlled by the French in 1842. French marines attacked Huahine in 1846 but were defeated in Maeva. Even though the French in 1847 assured Britain the Leeward Islands would not be annexed, they did exactly that 40 years later. 
Because local chiefs declined to sign the annexation treaty until 1895, resistance to France was only overcome by force in 1897. Even though the English missionaries who had been there for 88 years were expelled, about 80 percent of the Leewards population is still Protestant. 

Walking through the tiny town of Fare one could optimistically call it unpretentious or perhaps more realistically a little depressing with small, poky shops, little in the way of eating options, and a not insignificant homeless population. Reading in advance about Huahine being described as “immaculately tropical and effortlessly Polynesian” made it sound more appealing than we actually found it to be. On the plus side, the ‘town’ faced the water, and there was a tiny beach and quay just across from the only grocery store.

The most popular and also, for us, the most viable dining option in Huahine were the roulettes or food trucks in the town square as the few restaurants had very limited hours. We soon realized that the roulettes were a staple fixture in all the islands. 

Apart from the town’s grocery store, this was the only shop in town that was open most of the day.

It was evident from the outset that tourism was far less developed on Huahine than it would be on the more touristed legendary Bora Bora, which would be our third island stay. Once an airstrip was built in 1973, tourism began on the island and it’s become a major port of call for yachts that anchor near the island’s only major town of Fare. As we discovered first hand, there were several small pensions as large hotels had a history of going broke. For those looking for peace after the hubbub of Pape’ete, Huahine might be considered an oasis of peace if you’re putting an optimistic spin on things.

Even though the island’s almost entirely Polynesian population numbered just 6,000, some of the greatest leaders in the struggle for Polynesian independence came from Huahine including Pouvanaa a Oopa, whose statue we saw in front of the Territorial Assembly in Pape’ete.

One of the nicest buildings we saw anywhere on Huahine was the very colorful post office!

Not only would we see countless more Seventh-day Adventist Churches in the islands but an equal number, at least, of branches of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or the LDS Church as it’s formally known. The church’s first foreign-language mission was founded in French Polynesia in 1843. After the French government closed the church in 1852, the missionaries left the territory. They returned and resumed the mission in 1892 after general religious tolerance was established.

On a strip of ground across from the grocery store we found a spot to leave our things and took turns swimming in the gorgeous, turquoise waters that made coming the great distance so, so worthwhile!  

Next post: Discovering all of Huahine after renting a car.
Posted on New Year’s Eve, 2021, from our home in the southern Denver suburbs as thankfully snow is finally falling after the historic and dreadful fires that our northern neighbors in Boulder County faced just a day ago. As I wrote in the last post, I hope again that the new year will bring you and your loved ones peace, good health, and an escape from the pandemic to tour sites you had to put off exploring as well as the opportunity to visit family and friends living in far-flung places.


6 thoughts on “12/2/21: Huahine, French Polynesia

  1. Yes, this island is laidback and quiet. I’m surprised to read there is a homeless population now. We never saw homeless people in the islands, except, maybe, in Tahiti.

    Your posts are bringing back memories… Mark and I stayed on a mooring ball off Fare and further along the island for at least a month, several years ago. We enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere of Huahine (and an island tour by motorcycle) and had a mellow New Year’s Eve at the “Yacht Club” on the waterfront.


  2. I was also surprised by the homeless population in tiny Fare, Liesbet, and was also somewhat taken aback at how two were quite agressive when I was alone across from the grocery store.

    You and Mark must love your solitude far more than Steven and I as I would have gone stark raving mad spending much more time in Huahine than we did. The lack of restaurants or things to do even in Fare was surprising to me. We could have gone on a boat ride and no doubt would have enjoyed that but there wasn’t much else I think we missed. We were thankful that our enjoyment of the islands improved immeasurably with each in one we visited!

    After seeing Steven had commented on your Phoenix post, I didn’t, not wanting to piggyback on his. However, I also wish you and Mark a happier new year and more lucrative and satisfying employment opportunities. It was sad reading how depressing that RV park was you stayed in. We’re heading to Phoenix for the month of February but will be renting an entire house do our experience will be far different than yours.

    If and when you return to Phoenix, do try and visit the capitol, the excellent Heard Museum, the Museum of Musical Instruments, Taliesin West – Frank Lloyd Wright’s Arizona home and studio – and explore the city’s murals and street art. The latter are among other best I’ve found in in ANY American city!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Liesbet,

    Since spending so much time on the road traveling coast to coast and visiting about 30 state capitals in the last year, I, too, have become a huge, huge fan of murals and street art! Steven is fat less enamored than I, however, as he’s the driver so tends to be only allot so much time to me to follow my new passion!

    I just thought these suggestions might give you a more favorable impression of Phoenix. To he musical instrument museum was Steven’s favorite almost anywhere by the way so that’s quite an endorsement!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s