After an easy 40-minute flight from Papeete on the island of Tahiti, check into a Tahitian Guesthouse such as Pension Tupuna
, Moana Lodge
, or Fare Maeva Huahine
, to get a true flavor for the relaxed life on the sparsely populated island. These are just a few of the many options (also known as a pension) run by local residents, rather than large hotels, resulting in more opportunities for authentic interactions. You’ll really get to know the people who live here and enjoy conversation with them on a daily basis. Expect friendly proprietors to stop by your table to check in on you or even join you at mealtime—some also provide personally guided tours and outings.
The first order of business is sorting out transportation. The easiest option is to rent a car or a bike, and take time to explore. Car, quad, and scooter rentals are available, or for the more active types, biking will keep you fit and allow a deeper sensory experience, taking in the sights, scents, and sounds of the island that’s often referred to as the “secret” or “secluded” island. Home to roughly 6,000 people, it measures 10 miles in length, and is just eight miles at its widest point across. A week gives plenty of time to explore it all. (And on days you don’t want to drive or bike, taxi service, the public transit Le Truck, and tours—like four-hour trips from Island Eco Tours which take you to many of the island’s attractions—are available.)
Start the week off by browsing through the main village of Fare to get a good feel for the place. A lively but quiet village, it’s lined with shops, souvenir stores and food trucks, called roulottes—a perfect option for a lunch of poisson cru, burgers, pizza, or crepes. Take time to relax and luxuriate in the crystalline waters in the afternoon—snorkel, swim, or just frolic at will.
As chickens roam the island freely, it’s likely you’ll wake up on your second day here (and every day after) to the sound of roosters cock-a-doodle-dooing. After breakfast at your pension, enjoy a fascinating tour of the village of Maeva, famous for fish farming techniques that use V-shaped stone fish traps. The tools, an ancestral legacy, are built out of volcanic rock and still in use today.
While you’re there, visit the French Polynesian cultural site Marae of Maeva and The Fare Pōte’e Maeva Huahine. Marae are spaces dedicated to social and religious ancient Polynesian ceremonial activities, and you’ll learn all about it here at the educational museum of the Fare Pōte
(which translates as a house where local knowledge, sacred traditions, and rituals were taught). You’ll also feast your eyes on archeological finds such as ancient paddles, axe blades, and tattoo combs. End the day with dinner back at your pension, while the sun sinks into the horizon.
For the more active traveler, a 4×4 off-road tour provides a thrilling way to see more of the island, or book a four-five hour deep-sea fishing tour, during which you’ll fish for the big fish of the island, such as jackfish, thazars, barracuda, and dolphinfish.