We are being spoilt by French Polynesian paradise. Case in point is the island of Huahine, one of the Society islands. Located less than a day’s sail from Tahiti, Huahine offers fun on land and water. We spent a week exploring and discovering the Huahine highlights.
Huahine, pronounced “Hoo-a-he-nay” by locals, is part of French Polynesia’s Society islands, with Moorea, Tahiti, Raiatea, and Bora Bora, most notably. The island’s population is around 6,000, bigger than any of the Tuamotus. Since it is close to Tahiti, only 100 miles, the island is easy to visit, accessible by regular flights and ferries from Tahiti.
Huahine consists of two islands, Huahine Nui (Big Huahine) and Huahine Iti (Little Huahine), surrounded by fringing coral reefs and little motus. We spent a little over a week exploring this lovely island, visiting three different bays by boat, and cycling around the big island.
This may be hard to believe, even to us, but we are commemorating four years living on a sailboat. On December 5th, 2018, Brian, Domino and I moved onboard Sava in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and now we are in French Polynesia, on the same boat!
High Highs and Low Lows
We’ve had some high highs and low lows living on a sailboat. I’ve learned that in nature everything is more extreme. I have felt more awe and joy on the ocean and at anchor than I ever imagined, mostly when interacting with wildlife.
This year alone we experienced noteworthy nature shows. One of the most memorable was being surrounded by hundreds of eagle rays leaping out of the water in Las Perlas, Panama.
The Marquesas are beautiful and fun to explore. Located in one of the most remote regions on earth, tourists are uncommon and supplies are thin. In contrast, the land and seascapes are stunning! Read about cruising in the Marquesas, with some tips for first-timers.
About The Marquesas
The Marquesas archipelago is in the northeasternmost part of French Polynesia. This location makes it a common first stop for sailors crossing the Pacific. Other than sailors, not a lot of tourists visit this part of the world. Which means a lot of unspoiled beauty and some difficulty accessing basic goods.
The Marquesas consists of six occupied islands and we have been to five. Mountainous and green, the land provides ample fruit for its residents and visitors. So much fruit that Marquesan citrus is exported to Tahiti and beyond. The hard part of cruising in the Marquesas is finding internet, fresh veggies, and propane, and if you can get that all in one anchorage with clear water, don’t ever leave!
Sailing in The Marquesas
Sailing between islands in The Marquesas is good in that distances usually allow for daytime trips from one island to another. Here’s an idea of distances between islands (obviously differs depending on departure and arrival bay), from northeast to southwest (our route):
Nuku Hiva to Ua Pou: approximately 22nm
Ua Pou to Tahuata: approximately 60nm
Tahuata to Hiva Oa: around 20nm
Hiva Oa to Fatu Hiva: about 45nm
The island we didn’t visit – yet – is Ua Huka, 30 miles from Nuku Hiva, so would take 6 hours.
It’s nice to have the luxury of jumping between islands without overnight trips, and each island is unique and worth visiting! Sometimes we have to motor sail, or just motor, especially when travelling between Tahuata and Hiva Oa.
Our first stop after crossing The Pacific was Marquesas’ biggest island: Nuku Hiva. While exploring Nuku Hiva, we anchored in two different spots and drove around on a day tour. Two weeks in Nuku Hiva gave us a great introduction to French Polynesia.
The Marquesas are impressive! The islands rise up straight out of the sea into majestic mountains. Lush green rolling hills are full of fruit trees with some of juiciest citrus we have tasted. The hiking is great and the water is warm and full of amazing sea life like mantas and dolphins. Add to that lovely people with a great culture and I love it here.
About Nuku Hiva
Nuku Hiva is the largest island in The Marquesas, which are a group of islands in French Polynesia. Nuku Hiva is located in the northwest of this island group.
Maybe because of Nuku Hiva’s size, the government designated it as the only port to clear in since the pandemic began. So, even though it is further west and thus farther away than other ports of The Marquesas, we had to stop there first from Panama.
We loved Colombia’s Zona Cafetera – coffee zone- so much we returned for a longer visit five years after our first. It’s a top tourist spot for many reasons including its status as a UNESCO World Heritage site and some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. While there, we visited some of Colombia’s nicest towns and saw amazing nature and wildlife. If you’re considering a visit, read about Colombia’s Zona Cafetera highlights.
Getting to the Zona Cafetera
There are many ways to get to Colombia’s Zona Cafetera, and we have done most! By air, domestic flights arrive to three separate airports (it’s a big region): Armenia in the south, Pereira central, and Manizales, north. We flew into the Manizales airport years ago from Bogota, and this time we flew out of Pereira airport back to our boat in Cartagena.
Buses are very frequent and affordable throughout the country, but I get carsick so wasn’t up for that this time. We drove from Medellin, with a stop in Jardin, and went the indirect way, which I wouldn’t recommend unless you’re adventurous, have a lot of time, and/or a four-wheel drive.
Visit the Metropolis of Manizales
A university town in the mountains with a great cable car system and nearby hot springs, we visited 5 years ago and you can read all about our fun times exploring Manizales! This is the furthest north of the Zona Cafetera and one of the three airport hubs of the region.
Stay in Salento
We stayed four nights total in this beautiful town and it was the perfect length stay for us. Salento features a variety of restaurants and accommodations and is an ideal base for touring Colombia’s Zona Cafetera highlights.
Salento is charming. With a beautiful town square and well-maintained colorful buildings, it’s a pleasure to stroll the streets, although keep in mind, it’s built into a hill so it gets tiring.