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