Today we rented a little red Fiat Panda for a drive around the island. We had a few goals, some of them domestic like changing money and washing clothes, neither of which we were able to do, and others more exciting like more snorkeling and checking out the sacred blue eels of Huahine.
Our resort is on the southern end of Huahine, the airport is on the northern end, and the main town, Fare, is just to the south-west of the airport. When I rented the car, the agent told me to be sure to go to Fare this morning because they are having a public market. For those who don’t know, I am all over a public market, so that changed our plans a bit because we figured Fare would be where we ended up for lunch.
The road network is like a figure 8. Huahine is 2 islands, so our original plan was to drive around the entire outside of the island, but the market meant we would do more of a classic figure 8. We started out going around the southern tip of the island, to the East. There aren’t enough adjectives in the English language, or any language probably, to describe the views we had of the island. Put it this way, we killed a fully charged battery on the camera by the end of the day, taking pictures and video. We had to switch batteries on the GoPro too. Breathtaking might come close if I could only choose one word.
The road network includes small spurs to different areas, so we ventured out to a couple, and both times were rewarded with beautiful scenery. Ultimately we arrived in Fare and checked out the market. It was fun. We tried a deep fried crab thing that we both regretted pretty quickly. Not because of the taste, just too much batter, and it wasn’t fresh. We also bought some little pies.
From Fare we continued toward Maeva and further to Faie where we would look for the eels. In Maeva there is a great museum of the history of the Marae. We stopped and went through it and learned a lot about the history of Polynesia and the cultural alliances and differences that stretched from New Zealand to Polynesia to Hawaii. The museum has both inside and outside exhibits. They have everyone take their shoes off before visiting the inside museum as it is in a replica of an original meeting place right down to a carpet of woven palm leaves.
Before heading to Faie we drove out one lonely road, and had two stops, one at another Marae that was right next to a gorgeous beach, and then to the end of the road where a former Sofitel resort stands, now in disrepair. The beach provided some great snorkelling and a very relaxing break from the driving. I chose this particular beach because it is directly across from a Motu island that has one of the original places we were considering staying at. As it turns out, the people who owned it closed their B&B business, so we couldn’t book it. Subsequently someone else has started operating it again. We saw where we could have stayed, and again the setting was stunning.
On to Faie. We were expecting to find some lunch and then check out the eels, but each of the villages are so tiny that there weren’t any options for food, so we continued to the spot where the eels are. Lucky timing for us, a tour group stopped at the same time, and were met by a local young mother who brought out some fish to feed the eels to bring them out into the open where we could see them. What a treat! They are huge; probably 6 feet long and the larger ones were maybe 6 inches around. I jumped down into the creek with another person along with the woman feeding the eels to touch them. Quite the experience.
From there we headed back to Fare to get gas in the car before returning to the resort. Since we hadn’t had any lunch, and when we got to Fare all the lunch places were closed, we bought a baguette and some brie for a snack back at the resort. I think we’ve had bread and brie every day we’ve been in French Polynesia!
Dinner was a buffet, and included a performance by a local dance company of traditional Polynesian dance. They were very good. I was brought out of the crowd to join them in a dance, and afterward they set up chairs so that couples could take pictures with the dance group.
Yet again another wonderful day of new, and in some cases unexpected, experiences.