Paul’s Motu & Huahine


Last Updated on November 4, 2020 by Amy

We left Moorea and did a one-night sail (16 hours) to the island of Huahine.

Murimahora Motu

We read from the compendium about an anchorage just off of Murimahora Motu. We made the pass easily and found two other catamarans on the sandy bank – both Aussies; Miss Catana (whom we have met before) and Southern Man. We dropped anchor in 10′ of crystal clear water.

Meeting the Locals

We puttered around the boat for a bit until we had a visitor in an outrigger – Paul.  Paul doesn’t speak English. In fact, we are not entirely sure he speaks any known language. I’m not sure if it is a physical or mental disability, but Paul is a giving and sweet man.

When he stopped by Starry Horizons it was to ask us to sign his guest book. He showed us a full book and then a 2/3 full book, which he stored in a waterproof case. I signed for us and taped a boat card to the page. Paul pulled out three husked coconuts for us. Through some hand gestures, Paul told us where the best snorkeling was and invited us to the shore to visit him. We said we were planning on snorkeling, but maybe tomorrow.

When Paul left I grabbed our biggest knife and cut off the top of the coconut. It’s was a mature coconut, so the water was a little bitter. I drank about half of it and then used the knife to give the coconut a few solid thwacks until it cracked open. The meat was the perfect ripeness for eating straight from the coconut – it was firm but moist.

We did go for a very short swim. The current here is incredibly strong, so much that we were concerned about getting back to the boat if we wandered too far.

Blue-eyed Eels

Then we packed up for a morning outing. We left at 9:30 and took the dinghy to Baie Faie, about two miles away.

Just like in Moorea, we followed a path of black and white markers, indicating a PWC channel. We found a small boat dock to tie up to and then walked about a kilometer into the town of Faie.

We were looking for the blue-eyed eels and had to stop and ask for directions at a little roadside stand around 10:45. They pointed in the direction we had been walking, so we kept going but they called after us – no, literally right there!

The eels were in a small river next to the road. Their eyes are very blue, and the eels were pretty big, up to four feet. I had brought a piece of baguette to feed them and we enjoyed watching them suck the bread from the top of the water. While we were there, a bus tour group came too, and their guide got in the shallow water and fed the eels fish scraps.

Scenic Overlook to Baie Maroe

From there we took the road towards Baie Maroe, to stop at the scenic overlook over Baie Maroe at 11:30. This bay is probably technically not a bay – it’s the body of water between Huahine’s north and south islands. A small bridge joins the islands. This bay is where the small ship cruise ships come into Huahine.

We made our way back to Starry Horizons and ate our picnic lunch in the cockpit. Paul stopped by again and brought us three papayas. I asked if I could come to shore for a walk and he said yes. Through hand gestures and the help of my watch, I told him I’d be there at 2.  Paul pointed at my feet and communicated to me to wear good shoes.

Touring Paul’s Motu

Paul was an amazing guide. He immediately hugged me and gave me a bouquet of three kinds of hibiscus flowers. We walked passed his home and boats to the other side of the motu where the Pacific Ocean stretched out beyond the sandy beach. Paul frequently pointed out the stunning views and the warm temperatures with his hand gestures. He told me he runs every morning and watches the boats come into the pass so he can run to meet them in his outrigger.

We walked passed some pensions (guest houses) and all the way to the north of the island. Paul drew a picture of a cruise ship and conveyed that the ships come in and stop for 4-5 hours to do an excursion. At the very north of the motu, is a beach bar with picnic tables overlooking the stunning scenery. I assume the cruise ship guests can arrange a trip to the motu for a picnic lunch.

Walking the East Beach

As we walked back down the east side of the motu, Paul made sure to point out when I could see Starry Horizons. We meet a few dogs; Paul knew which ones to avoid and which were friendly and I could say hello.

Based on the houses I would say maybe a dozen people live here. Paul showed me the hose where they get their water supply. It comes through a submarine pipe to the island, and then a metered hose runs the length of the island to provide fresh water. Just north of Paul’s home is an estate that looks more like a vacation home for a foreigner – complete with a kid’s playground and outdoor kitchen. I think Paul keeps the grounds of the estate. He pantomimed someone coming in, looking around and telling him he did a good job.

A Parting Gift

By then we had arrived back to the dinghy. Paul picked some more flowers for me – plumerias and another sweet-smelling one I don’t know the name of. I think he offered me more coconuts, but I told him I still had two. As a parting gift, I gave Paul some extra gloves we had lying around – perhaps they will be handy in the tough yard work he does.

While we walked on the beach, Paul picked up interesting seashells to show me and we soon had a collection going. When it was too much to carry, he found a split coconut and removed the husk by hand to make a bowl of the shell to carry the seashells.

All in all, I spent two hours walking around the island with Paul. It’s the sweetest and most welcoming experience we’ve had with a local.  I’m amazed at how well we could communicate having no language in common and Paul only speaking a few syllables.


The next morning we left to sail around Huahine to the village of Fare.

Our visit to Fare was mostly administrative.  We needed wifi to take care of some paperwork back home, in addition to getting gasoline for the dinghy, some groceries, and some medicines from the pharmacy (I can’t seem to kick a cough I brought back from the states).  The Fare grocery store is surprisingly big and well-stocked.  I actually found pork chops!!  In front of the grocery store were a few stalls set up, selling prepared food like crab beignets, something called retia (I think this is the dessert we had at Bali Hai Hotel in Cook’s Bay, recipe here) and fruit salad (papaya, bananas, star fruit, passion fruit, and vanilla).

We debating about leaving for Raiatea, but the day rolled on and we got too lazy.  It’s a good thing we did!  Several buddy boats came in; Margansie and Blowin Bubbles. We invited them over for drinks, and Margansie told us about the Hieva occurring that night.

Hieva in Huahine

After dinner, we tied LD at the Huahine Yacht Club and walked with Margansie and another boat, Carola, to an arena where the festival was held. Outside, there were snack booths, foosball tables, and music. Tickets were only 500F ($5). The show started around 8. While in line, we ran into the crew of Balikcil, Elif and Mustafa, from Turkey.  We have seen them and said hello many times since the Galapagos, but we finally got to introduce ourselves and shake hands!

There were about a dozen sets and 40 singer/dancers. The same dancers returned over and over again, which must have been physically grueling.

Most of the dancers were younger. The costumes were stunning and elaborate. It was interesting to compare the show to the ones we’d seen in Moorea at the Bali Hai hotel. This show was more authentic, with less “cheesy” bits and sexual innuendo.  The basic dancing was the same, as we recognized a lot of the moves.

Learn more about the history of Tahitian dancing.

Onward to Raiatea

We finally left Huahine headed for Raiatea.

Watch the Video:  Huahine Hieva

Pin it!


  1. Congrads Amy!! We read your article on Paul in Cruising World a coulpe of weeks back (happily while making passage from the BVI to Wilmington, NC)

    Great story well told. Hope to see you published more!

    Jeff & Debby
    s/v Making Memories

  2. I love the shells. I’m glad you had a great experience with Paul, but remember, not all people have good intentions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.