On Monday morning 31st May, we anchored at Fare village on Huahine Nui Island, 90 nm northwest from Moorea. Picture pretty, but without the dramatic mountains of Moorea. Huahine is known for the vanilla bean pods it produces and visiting a vanilla farm, plus cycling around the island was on our to do list.

Huahine Nui and Iti islands.

A model showing the topography with the surrounding reefs.

But first I had to research the Covid-19 entry protocols for ports of entry into Australia, as we had given up on Fiji. The latter would have cost us over $2,600 in tests and entry costs into Fiji and limit us to disembarking at only one of the 300 islands of Fiji. Both New South Wales and Queensland on the Australian eastern seaboard, have compulsory 14 day quarantine in place for international arrivals. The cost of quarantine in an approved hotel plus the cost of leaving our boat in a marina, to be paid by us, is around $4,000.

Happy hour at the Huahine Yacht Club.

Having registered our sailing plan from FP to Cairns in QLD with the Australian Border Force, we set about enjoying Huahine, which consists of two islands joined by a bridge, Nui (big island) and Iti (small island). We cycled the 23 km route around Nui visiting the original settlement of Fare Pote’e near Maeva on the north-east corner of the island.

The locals are proud of their sidewalks.

Fare Pote’e museum.

Inside the more than 200 year old museum.

The little daughter of the supervisor, showing Annie the fish.

This was the original capital in ancient times. There is an interesting legend of the Princess Hotu Hiva who escaped an arranged marriage on the nearby island of Raiatea by hiding in a barrel and floating across to Huahine.

The legend of Hotu Hiva – click to enlarge.

Hotu Hiva arrives by barrel.

The spot where she reputedly landed.

There are numerous Maraes (sacred sites) here and the original fish traps of the ancients in the river –  still in use today. We also stopped at a stream which teemed with 2-3m long eels. The hills from Faie to the Bay of Maroe were quite steep, so we had to push the bikes.

A nearby Marae.

Ancient fish traps.

Public toilets near the sites – note the timber shingles and woven palm frond walls.

Push Annie, push!

At the top – totes sweaty.

We met Daniel from Berlin at the Huahine Yacht Club, who told us about Avea Bay at the southern tip of Iti, the small island. The next day I met four lovely ladies having lunch at the yacht club, wearing their traditional Tahitian flower crowns called “Hei Upo’o” which are worn to celebrate the beauty of everyday life in these islands of paradise. The embodiment of “The Happy Life”

Lovely ladies at the yacht club.

Tara, one of the ladies has a restaurant “Chez Tara” at Avea Bay and she invited us to lunch on the Sunday. We motored the 8 nm down some narrow channels to Avea Bay on the Friday, which has the clearest water we have seen – anchored in 10 metres depth, we could see every link of the anchor chain on the white sand. It was a 50m swim to the kilometre wide reef, only 1.5m deep.

Esprit anchored in the clear blue water.

A traditional house boat anchored near to us.

Me, celebrating the achievement of having swum the 50m to the reef and back.

On Saturday we cycled the 16km up the east coast to Tehoro in the north and back, followed by a short 10hm cycle up the west coast to Ha’apu Bay and back on Sunday morning, finding the vanilla farm closed. Spruced up after a swim and a beer on the reef, we settled down at Chez Tara at 12:00 for lunch.

Time to assemble the bikes again.

So that Ms Armstrong can take off again.

Palm trees along the road.

Bananas growing wild along the road.

So, this is how they keep the verges trimmed.

Some parts of the island have been inundated by these creepers taking over the trees.

A pity the vanilla farm was closed on a Sunday – we will try another farm on Tahaa island.

Marea near Avea Bay – how did the ancients move these stones?

At the top of a hill – no Sweaty Betty, this one.

Back at Avea Bay before lunch.

We were welcomed like old friends with hugs and Annie was presented with a fresh “Hei Upo’o” and a bunch of bananas, as I had mentioned earlier she wanted to bake a banana bread. The freshly grilled Mahi Mahi fish, chips and salads washed down with the local beer, went down a treat, resulting in a long Sunday afternoon Nanna nap.

Two lovely ladies.

Well fed and lubricated.

I begged Annie to take off her “Hei Opo’ou before she went to bed.

On the Monday we motored back to Fare in the rain, anchored and at 5pm joined a bunch of German, Dutch, Swedish and British sailors for a convivial happy hour, half price, drinks session at the yacht club. Tuesday was perfect for recovery as it was raining most of the day.

Next stop Raiatea island.

Wednesday morning the 9th June, we set sail for the short 22 nm sail to Raiatea and Tahaa Islands.

Cheers for now!