Huahine - Fare Bay

Huahine Hide Out

We saw a weather window that would allow us to travel the short distance from Moorea to Huahine.  Unfortunately, it had to be a night sail so that we could ensure a daylight arrival to clear the pass.  There are a few well-protected bays on this island that will allow us to hide from the maramu (A “maramu” is strong southerly winds in the south Pacific that occur in the winter).

So, after our wonderful SafarI Mario tour, we prepared the boat for an overnight sail.  We had considered fueling up in Moorea, but the dock was small, the weather was not perfect, and frankly we didn’t “need” to fuel.  Skip that for now and wait until we get to Raitea.

It was not a particularly bad sail, but it was not a good one either.  We anticipated bad weather and high winds with the Maramu, but in actuality we saw on average low to moderate winds.  There was a period of 3-4 hours with high winds at 25 knots, but for the most part we saw 10-15 knots which kept our boat average down to 5.1 knots.

We had following seas which pushed us along but made for a weird rocking of the boat.  It was if Mother Nature was taunting “you can run, but you can’t hide.”  I was not feeling great and was happy to let Matt take the brunt of the shift.  We arrived with plenty of day light and with two boats on our tail.  Kata and Krabta followed us from Moorea but were about 4-5 miles behind us the entire time.

Passage Details

  • Departed Moorea to Huahine on Sunday 30 June at 1600
  • Arrived Huahine Monday, 1 July at 0930
  • Miles Traveled 85.3nm
  • Max speed 12.8kt
  • Average speed 5.1kt
  • Leaving in the lull of the maramu had us over prepared.  We only flew the jib and kept one engine on at idle.  At one point in the night we saw 25kts of wind and with the following seas it gave us a max speed at 12.8.

It was blowing stink as we pulled into one of the many passes.  Once inside, we had a choice of turning right and anchoring in a relatively empty bay with just a few other boats or anchoring in front of Fare, the main village.  We decided to anchor near the main village for a few days, then move to a quieter more remote location.

Once we were comfortable with our anchorage we went to shore to explore.   We were all surprised by how geared the island was toward tourists.  There were several areas outfitted with small vendor booths selling touristy items (shirts, shells, jams, pearls, etc…).  We decided to grab a bite to eat at the Huahine Yacht Club.  We didn’t linger as we wanted to return to the boat and hide from the storm.

Vendor area on Huahine

Vendor area on Huahine

Safari Mario Tour of Moorea

Tour time!  We found an outfit called “Safari Mario” who would take us by 4×4 to the pineapple plantations, Belvedere Mountain, Magic Mountain, and a vanilla farm where we have food samplings.

Our tour guide, Ron spoke English, Dutch and German.  He was exceedingly happy and very proud of his rock!  The first stop was the very same pineapple plantations that we had walked the day before.  But this time we got a little more history.

The first stop was “the Bounty” which is a flat surface where they shot parts of the 1983 movie “The Bounty.”  We had stopped here yesterday, but did not know any of the history.  The beautiful mountain in the background is called Moua Puta or Princess Hei Ata and she stands 800 meters.  You really have to use your imagination to see her silhouette.

The Bounty at Moorea

The Bounty at Moorea

We learned more about the pineapple farming (inserted into Moorea post) and also about bananas.  The banana tree will grow two flowers.  The female will turn into a bunch of bananas while the male flower will hang low.  The farmer must cut it once it droops as it will cause a reduction in the size of the bananas.  Plantains grow up toward the sky (lower right corner) while bananas grow down (lower left corner)

Pineapple Crop, Banana and Plantain Bloom

Pineapple Crop, Banana and Plantain Bloom

We crossed over two small running rivers in our 4×4 tour truck and up the Belvedere mountain.  From the top you can see both Cooks Bay and Opunohu Bay.

Two bays: Cooks Bay and O

Two bays: Cooks Bay and Opunohu Bay

Our 4×4 tour to Magic Mountain was bumpy and twisty.  The mountain got its name based on the famous theme park in California.  Known for its twists and turns  One family owns all of the property around Magic Mountain.  They have built a “road” to take visitors to the top and another road to take them down at a cost of $2 per person. Not bad when you consider all of the 4×4 trucks, hikers, and ATVs that go up on a daily basis.

Safari Mario Roads Less Traveled

Safari Mario Roads Less Traveled

We had spectacular views from the top, but unfortunately it was hazy so the colors don’t show up well on the photos.  The first photo is looking toward the Hilton where a large number of cruisers anchor.

View toward Hilton Hotel

View toward Hilton Hotel

The next photo is toward the Intercontinental where fewer boats anchor, but more day boats visit.

View toward Intercontinental Hotel

View toward Intercontinental Hotel

Breathtakingly beautiful views of the mountains and neighboring villages

On the way back to town, we passed by a sad, but majestic monument for Captain James Cook.  The British and French are known for their dislike of each other. So, the French are not taking care of the British monument.  It was surrounded by weeds and trailers.  But, the globe, hand carved in stone showed Capt. Cooks three voyages: 1768-1771, 1772-1775 and 1776-1778

Captain Cook Monument

Captain Cook Monument

Our last stop was the Tropical Gardens where we sampled fresh marmalade and vanilla.  All of the tables were adorned with floral arrangements.  They had a least a half dozen Christmas palm trees (middle left photo), a pretty pond and a vanilla farm.  The left lower image shows the vanilla bean and the lower right shows the vanilla flower.  At this farm, they have to pollinate each flower by hand.  One flower will produce one vanilla bean and it takes 9 months to transition from flower to bean.

Tropical Gardens

Tropical Gardens

The entire farm as littered with blooming flowers.  The flowering leaves on the top left incorporates the flower into the leaf. The alien flower top right just looks fabulous.

Tropical Gardens

Tropical Gardens

Overall, it was a spectacular tour.  Ron was very knowledgeable and passionate about Moorea.

Sugar Shack with Moorea Mountain

Mystical Moorea

Moorea is about 26-miles from Point Venus which theoretically would take us about 4-4.5 hours.  We started out with zero wind and 2 hours later we had 20-25 kts of wind.  There is definitely a strange weather pattern happening  – or locally called “maramu.”  Moorea was voted “The most beautiful island you have never heard of” by Huffington post.  Mo’orea was formed 1.5-2.5 million years ago from a volcano called “Calderia”.  The island is only about 10 miles wide and has nearly 18,000 inhabitants.  This island is known as the Pineapple island yet the legend has the local name as the “Yellow Lizard.”

Our destination, Cooks Bay which is a deep, protected bay surrounded by lush, sloping mountains covered in vibrant, green foliage.

Sugar Shack approaching Moorea

Sugar Shack approaching Moorea

The mountains only appear greener as you get closer.  There is a small village at the center of the bay and houses and hotels that pepper the waterfront.

Sugar Shack anchored in front of PaoPao

Sugar Shack anchored in front of PaoPao

EXPLORING MOOREA ON LAND:

Our first day, we walked to Paopao, found a mobile gas station, magasin (market), and a pizza place.

View of PaoPao bay from shore

View of PaoPao bay from shore

The next day, we docked the dinghy at the center of the bay and found the Super U market and  several small businesses.   Including, this eatery with an enormous bird catching a fish on the side.

Local artwork on Moorea

Local artwork on Moorea

Sugar Shack looking pretty with the mountains as a backdrop.

Sugar Shack with Moorea Mountain

Sugar Shack with Moorea Mountain

We decided to explore the island and search for the pineapple fields. They are about 2-miles inland and are located half way between Cooks Bay and Opunohu Bay.  It was an easy walk along the paved road for the first 1.75 miles, then it changed to a dirt, muddy road.  But the majestic views made up for the wet trail.

The locals have grown pineapple fields throughout the mountains and they are spectacular to see.

Pineapple Fields in Moorea

Pineapple Fields in Moorea

Each pineapple plant takes about 9 months to mature, then one pineapple with grown in its core.  The plant will not bloom another core pineapple.   The plant will produce one pineapple closer to its roots every 3-6 months.  Pineapples grow smaller with each new birth.  The pineapple plant is dug up and discarded after the plants have produced fruit for 6-7 years.  Because of the relatively short life cycle, they have many fields in various stages of production.

Pineapple Fields on Moorea

Pineapples growing at various stages

We anchored near an old church with a red steeple.  So, we decide to find it on shore.  I didn’t find any signage on the red steeple church, but the one next door is St. Joseph Catholic Church.

Moorea - Cooks Bay

Moorea – Cooks Bay

Stay tuned for more adventures on Moorea as we explore the island in a 4×4!

Fun Facts:

  • There are over 2,000 variety of plants on Moorea, but only 200 are native.
  • The water is not drinkable on Moorea so the government installed five drinking stations where the locals can bring bottles to fill up with water from the springs.
  • The average monthly income is between 1,000-1,500 per month and that is only if they had a contract with a hotel or business that provided consistent work. This is staggering when you consider the cost of food is ridiculously expensive!
  • Moorea used to have above ground power lines that were mounted on poles made of pine trees. The mayor got fed up with replacing the poles after each storm and ordered all lines to be run underground.  It makes for a much more beautiful vista.
  • The local government owns all of the plantations, but 33 families actually work the farms, grow the plants and produce the fruit.

Shocking and True:

  • All of the islands in French Polynesia are slowly moving North West and are sinking about a ½” a year.
  • The lower the island, the older it is until it becomes an “atoll” like the Tuamotu’s
  • The coral dies when the fresh water from the mountains combines with the salt water from the sea.
  • There are 118 islands in French Polynesia, yet only 42 islands are inhabited.