Huahine is nicknamed the «Garden of Eden». Situated 177 kilometers northeast of Tahiti and less than an hour’s flight from Papeete with Air Tahiti. It is composed of two islands joined by a bridge and the special magic of Huahine can be sensed as soon as you arrive in the warm smiles of the local people, proud to welcome you to their island. Even the village where the airport is located is named «Maeva» which is Tahitian for welcome! A 32 kilometer road winds its way round the island, passing through small villages and climbing up hills to offer spectacular views over white sandy beaches and the shimmering, turquoise waters of the lagoon. The restored marae (temples) and the centuries-old stone fish traps are vestiges of an ancestral culture which has been passed down from generation to generation and now belongs to the residents of this magnificent paradise. Huahine is an agricultural island, rich in melons and watermelons. Vanilla, coffee, banana and taro plantations can be found all over the island, as well as groves of breadfruit, mango, and papaya trees and fields of cultivated flowers. It is also an internationally renowned surfing destination with world-class waves at the Avamoa pass. Each year Huahine is home to the start of the Hawaiki Nui Va’a, the most important outrigger canoe race in the world. But above all, visitors fall for the peaceful atmosphere and beautiful scenery of this very special Pacific island.
Raiatea and Taha’a, are about 200 kilometers northwest of Tahiti, and share the same lagoon surrounded by a single coral reef.
Raiatea, known as «the sacred island», is the most venerated island in the South pacific. The Kings of neighboring islands used to assemble on the Marae at Taputapuatea for ceremonies and important negotiations. Reconstructions of these ancient ceremonies help visitors understand and appreciate the unique and sacred aspect of Tahitian culture. The only navigable river in The Islands of Tahiti is at Fa’aroa in Raiatea. Paddling up the cool, green water in an outrigger canoe is a unique pleasure.
For yachting enthusiasts, Raiatea, home to companies such as Moorings and Stardust Marine, is Tahiti’s nautical base. Both experienced navigators and beginners (with a skipper) can enjoy the pleasures of sailing in the Leeward Islands. The Pacific breeze and calm lagoon provide perfect conditions all year round for sailing as well as for deep sea fishing. High up on Mount Temehani, visitors can admire (but not touch) the tiare Apetahi, a rare flower which, despite the best efforts of botanists, refuses to grow anywhere else on earth. According to legend, a very beautiful young lady once fell in love with the son of a Tahitian king. She wasn’t allowed to marry him and so she died of a broken heart. The five delicate petals of the tiare Apetahi are the fingers of her hand and if you go to the top of Mount Temehani in the very early morning, the flowers open with a pop, which is the sound of the young lady’s heart breaking.
Taha’a is less than 10 kilometers from Raiatea and offers a taste of the traditional and peaceful Tahitian way of life. The island’s 4,000 inhabitants are fishermen and farmers. It is known as Vanilla Island, and the delicate and rich aroma of this rare and precious spice perfumes Taha’a. Each November, the island hosts a traditional stone fishing competition. The men go out into the lagoon in their outrigger canoes and begin striking the surface of the water with a stone tied to a rope. This creates a sudden frenzy that terrifies and disorients the fish, which are then “herded” towards the shallows where the people from the village encircle them. The end result is a sumptuous feast for the whole village.