A to Z Abroad: Huahine

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Hanging out in the Society Islands of French Polynesia is the island of Huahine. In comparison to tourist hotspots like Bora Bora and Moorea, Huahine has the feel of an uncharted island.

Like most islands in Polynesia, coral reefs and lagoons hug sandy beaches, but Huahine doesn’t have nearly as many people crowding the natural beauty of the clear blue water and tropical landscape.  For this loner of a traveler, the isolation of this place makes it my favorite destination in French Polynesia.

A pristine beach on Huahine
Photo by: c.b.w. 2001

One of the first things I did was jump into a kayak and paddle through a lagoon. To my surprise, I didn’t tip the boat!  For an afternoon, I had the lagoon to myself, which gave me the unique experience of sitting in the middle of the sky and water without giggles or shouts from other visitors.

Kayaking in Huahine
Photo by: Someone in my family!

While the view from the beach is beautiful, I quite enjoyed the view from my kayak!

In the middle of a lagoon!
Photo by: c.b.w. 2001

Aside from pristine lagoons, Huahine is also home to several maraes, which are of both historical and archeological interest. Maraes are sacred places believed to be temples to Polynesian gods. Recent excavations have revealed the presence of human remains, leading to the theory of human sacrifice (most likely lawbreakers or prisoners of war).

Marae Ruins, Huahine
Photo by: c.b.w. 2001

Maraes are typically dedicated to specific deities, which vary by region. However, it is believed that most temples built around Tahiti serve the Polynesian god ʻOro.  Walking the grounds of these sacred places is like walking into the past, where just for a moment a sensation of mysticism seems swirl in the air.

Marae Ruins, Huahine
Photo by: c.b.w. 2001

At one marae in particular, a rainbow appeared and arced over the ruins.  In that instance, I believed in magic.

A rainbow visits a marae
Photo by: c.b.w. 2001

Upon the arrival of Christianity, maraes were abandoned or destroyed. What remains of these architectural wonders leaves more questions than answers as this particular element of Polynesian culture is largely unrecorded.

It’s been twelve years since I visited Huahine and I hope all is still the same. An island that has managed to escape most of the tourist hoopla that plagues Tahiti and Bora Bora, is something quite special.

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Part of the A to Z Challenge!

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c.b.w. 2013