Too Many Bora Bora’s
Huahine, French Polynesia, Society Islands
I recently had the opportunity to lay over in Tahiti for about two weeks on my way to New Zealand. I needed a place to unwind and recharge. I had read the the articles of why not to go; expensive seems to be the buzz word most used – money better spent in Fiji or the Cook Islands is another. I also had a hard time finding much out other then “a great place for a honeymoon” though I think if you can read French you will have a much easier time because the language used, besides Tahitian, is like the name French Polynesia suggests, a major French tourist destination.
So after looking at the official sites, gathering what little I could on the backpacker sites and still having little to go on after consulting guide books I decided to throw caution to the wind, forgo the tourist trail to Moorea and took a flight to Huahine. I arrived and myself and two others departed the plane…everyone else was off to the “wildland” of Bora Bora (just kidding) and was met with…an empty airport. I have no conversational French, but was lucky enough to get a ride into town with the other two people off the plane, their driver called a man who allowed camping (I had my own tent ). I was let off in town with a good luck and a promise the man would be by in a few hours to pick me up. I sat at the Cafe Chez Guyenette, which doubles as a type of hostel called ‘Club Bed’, had an espresso to ward off the plane ride and watched the world unfold. The people there seemed nice, laid back and I imagine if I had spoken the language would have found them engaging, as it was I sat looked and listened. Eventually I was picked up by “Emberto”, though I think his name is Hubert, the head of the family that owned Ariiura Camping (telephone number: 6126.96.36.199) and how lucky I was that day is a story in and unto itself. I think the cost of my tent was $12 US and the fares, which are small simple shacks made of bamboo with tin roofs a bed and a mosquito net, were about $23.
As I have said, simple accommodation – if you want opulences and catering to, go stay in a resort and pay the cost. If you want beauty, simplicity and are content with unspoiled waters, stay here. There’s incredible surfing by the way at “the passage”, if you’re good enough, definitely not for the beginner, huge and I mean HUGE faces with both a left and right break…and NO people. The reef is a kilometer off and there is plenty of coral in between with an exceptional amount of reef fish snorkeling is fantastic and you can walk/swim to the reef…incredible !!! You will want to bring your own snorkle set as the amount of stuff they have is minimal. I brought my own and left it for others to enjoy hoping others will do the same. If you’re like me and travel light with a pack, it’s a modest gift that keeps on giving.
The people I met when I was there were fantastic, very open , helpful and friendly. The camping area is safe so you can leave your stuff there without fear of it being ripped off ; which I hear is a problem in most of the islands. If you do go for a walk and swim, a tip I was given was to bury your things, as your face is down in the water most of the time and temptation is best avoided. Food is a simple affair – there is fruit for sale at stalls and a real food store when you come into town Emberto will stop if you ask – he’ll probably stop anyway. “Le bus” runs into town in the morning and back in the afternoon sometime. There is a store a 10 minute walk that has eggs, soup, beans, fresh baguettes and Hinano beer. Ahh, Hinano beer, nothing better to end your day watching the sun set. The store was open a few hours in the morning and again in the afternoon.
Another suggestion, if your coming from the States, is to bring some food with you – trail mix, ect. There are fish to be speared and if Uric is around maybe he’ll take you out at night spearfishing, he’s a great fisherman and speaks some english. The cooking facility is simple; two gas stoves, no ovens. There are two fridges, and small freezers to get that Hinano cold, cold, cold ! They have kayaks you can rent – I didn’t but I snorkeled as much as the sun would allow.
Renting a car one day would be enough to see the island and take photos and you can walk to where the cars are rented down the street. It’s probably 100 bucks, but if there’s a couple of you it’s a bargain. There is diving and other stuff to be found in town but again Huahine is a place to CHILL. I saw about 7 people the entire time I was there who were not at the site…there were 3 of us not including family, or locals. It is still unspoiled and I want it to stay that way . I wouldn’t write this except the people there WANT people to come. I just hope they are the right people – to lose such a delicate thing as paradise would be a shame . There is enough Bora Bora’s in the world. Take a step back in time, take a giant step outside your mind. Visit Huahine, chill, relax, respect.