The Eden Island

Huahine offers Polynesian charm without the crowds

By: Kevin Brass

In her 25 years living on Huahine, Dorothy Levy has heard all the stories about the island turning into the next Bora Bora.

“A lot of it is just blah, blah, blah,” said Levy, who runs a food stand in the airport. “They always talk about more people, but the bus never pulls up.”

Thanks to its ability to resist the onslaught of tourism, Huahine retains more of the traditional Polynesian culture and atmosphere than its well-traveled Society Island counterparts of Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora.

In its efforts to market the individual islands, Tahiti Tourisme has dubbed Huahine the “Garden of Eden.” It certainly earns the title. It’s a paradise of towering peaks, clear lagoons and lush jungles.

Getting around the island is easy the government just finished paving the road that loops around the coast. Several villages dot the road; the fish traps used by generations to feed their families are visible in the lagoons.

On a recent sponsored trip, we spent one morning riding horses on a deserted beach, north of the main town of Fare, guided by Le Petite Ferme, a family operation that has been offering excursions on the island for 20 years.

Afternoons were spent lounging in the quiet coves, hiking into the hills or wandering the quiet main drag of Fare. As the sun set, canoe teams practiced offshore digging hard, out for a Polynesian-style workout.

At night, Huahine shuts down. There are few restaurants outside the budget pensions scattered around the island. Travelers accustomed to the five-star restaurants in Tahiti may be disappointed, but that’s Huahine. It’s the place for clients who want to get away from the fancy resorts and play in their own Garden of Eden.

Le Petite Ferme,

The Te Tiare Beach Resort is located in a remote cove accessible only by boat. It includes 16 over-water bungalows. 888-600-8455; The Sofitel Heiva Huahine, on the northwest side of the island, has 6 over-water bungalows and 19 beachfront bungalows. 689-41-04-44;