If I mentioned the locations of Bora Bora or the Maldives to you, I bet your mind would fill with wondrous imagery of tranquil turquoise waters, over the water bungalows, dramatic waterfalls, unspoilt white sand beaches and beautiful sunshine. These places are synonymous with the concept of paradise on earth.
Many I have spoken to automatically say it’s ‘the dream’.
But what if I said Huahine to you? I would guess that the majority of you would have the same reaction we did – where/what is that?
Well Huahine is one of the lesser known French Polynesian islands, along with nearly a hundred other islands that make up this incredible country.
So how on earth did we end up in a place we had never heard of? Well that is down to the power of the internet and TripAdvisor. It all started when I was living in America and became indoctrinated by the dream of one day visiting the iconic dream island of Bora Bora. This became a reality a number of years later when Megan and I included French Polynesia in our round the world flight plan. In order to get from Tahiti (the international airport) to Bora Bora you usually have to pass through a few lesser known islands.
I spent days researching these lesser known islands on the internet and TripAdvisor, and a wonderful story caught my eye. The title read ‘Au Motu Mahare – A Real Robinson Crusoe experience’. As any of you who read my blog could attest I love the wilderness, there is just something very special about being at one with nature, seeing the world as it once was and truly experiencing its wonder. This article resonated with me, and whilst reading it I felt inspired. With words such as ‘incredible’, ‘wondrous’, ‘idyllic’, ‘paradise’ and ‘sublime’ continuing to appear in every review, I was hooked.
Researching more and more, I discovered that Au Motu Mahare was a sand island surrounded by a coral reef, essentially an island within an island. The Island is run by a French family, who rented out just two cabins to those wanting to appreciate the seclusion and natural beauty of the island. There were no hotels, no shops, essentially nothing but a house, two cabins, a cooking area and a small dock for a speedboat. WOW! I booked it there and then…
So did Huahine and Au Motu Mahare live up to expectations? – Absolutely!
We were met by the owner at the airport. Taken to the grocery shop to get everything we needed for our stay on the island, this included breakfast, lunch and dinner for the five nights we had planned to stay. We then drove around the island to the families speedboat and over to the Motu. It was exactly like the pictures, how many times can you say that?
Our accommodation was footsteps from the small dock, and was simply a hut with a bed covered by a mosquito net – simple but very effective. What I really liked was that the floor was actually the same sand as outside, it just had a real sense of authenticity. We put our food away, and went to explore the island – ten minutes later we were back where we started… It’s a tiny island! This was going to be amazing! Lying all day in a hammock, cooking on an open fire, occasionally moving to have a swim in the beautiful reef protected waters… what’s not to like?
The one walking path from the huts was directly toward the beach, and took no longer than a couple of minutes through a lush palm tree forest. The beach was not the perfect white sand beach but it was beautiful. It was a beach that didn’t see many visitors and the reef a few yards out housed some incredible creatures including clown fish galore.
We discovered that our hosts Walter and Kim had leased the island from the Polynesian government on a ten year basis, moved from France and started a life here. Oh I envied them so much!
What an amazing choice to make. Now that’s an inspiring tale if ever I heard one! They were a true credit to their choice, they were incredibly hospitable,, friendly and welcoming. One evening they even shared their dinner with us – Now I know from experience there is nothing like fresh Mahi Mahi fish on a BBQ! We indulged in coconut milk and flesh, from trees on the island every single day. Truly this was idyllic.
Megan made friends with the local mullet fish on the lagoon side of the island, and sat most days (when she decided to wake up) in the crystal clear waters hand feeding them. The water was just so appealing, we swam and bathed in it every day. We even had a hilarious kayaking experience. I just can’t reiterate how amusing it must have been to anyone watching the two of us trying to kayak around the island – I think we got beached at least 3 times!
One of the main reasons I love these lesser known locations is that they are a version of the wilderness I lust for. With the wilderness comes the intoxicating evening sky’s. The sky just explodes with natural light from stars and galaxies; it’s an unmissable light show that we could never reproduce. The sunrises and sunsets were also just wondrous…
Don’t get me wrong, if you would like to explore some more of the island, the hosts will call the mainland and book tours for you. While Au Motu Mahare is beautiful, Huahine also houses some other sensational sights. These include natural Pearl farms, further tranquil turquoise waters and iconic white sand beach escapes. The one thing I was disappointed with was the diving – but the snorkelling made up for it!
We stayed on the Motu for five nights, which was just two nights too long for Megan who started to get a bit of island fever. I understood where she was coming from, as the island did have limited options – you couldn’t just pop out for a drink, some food or walk somewhere different. You had to be pre-prepared to live on this island. But that is what it is really – it is essentially a sand island, cut off from any true civilisation – experiencing Polynesia not from the glory of an ‘over the water hut’ but just a sand island in the middle of nowhere.
We slept; we chilled, swam and relaxed in the serenity of nature just one another for true company. If you want to experience something like this then get in touch with them here. Truly a Wandering Memory not to be forgotten
But what an experience, living on a sand island – some people could only dream of this kind of lifestyle – Me included…
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