Walk With Me To Parea, Huahine, French Polynesia

in travelfeed •  10 months ago  (edited)

4 Walks From Hotel Le Mahana - Part 3 - Walk To The Village Of Parea, Huahine

parea postcard huahine.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

If you are like me, and like to explore places that are “far from the madding crowd”, then you will love Huahine, I promise you! Probably French Polynesia's best kept secret and known as The Garden Of Eden, the only bit of night life on Huahine is on Huahine-Nui
(Big Huahine - the northern island), but I will cover that in a future post! For the time being, I am still writing about our walks on Huahine-Iti (The Small Island), the southern and more remote of the two islands.

Huahine has a little over 6,000 people living there according to the 2017 census, spread out among the 8 villages (no cities) on all of Huahine: Faie, Fare (the largest village) , Fitii, Haapu, Maeva, Maroe, Parea, and Tefarerii. To put that in perspective, all the islands of French Polynesia combined have a total population of around 279,000!

houahine walk to Parea.jpg
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The downtown area (if you could call it that) of the village of Parea was an easy walk on the main road from our resort (if you like walking.) The southern tip of Huahine-Iti looks a little like the shape of the state of Florida, but on a much, much smaller scale. Our resort Hotel Le Mahana was on what would be the equivalent of the gulf coast of Florida around Fort Myers, and our walk took us all the way to the southern tip (past The Everglades) hugging the coast all the way up to what would be the equivalent of Charleston, South Carolina on the US map! Of course our journey was not nearly that far, and the comparison ends with the shape of the peninsula. I have marked our walk on the above map.

Parea, (the main village on Huahine-Iti), like most of the villages of Huahine, was not quite what I expected of a village. It was spread out over about a kilometer, with gaps along the way. We didn't find a typical English, Scottish or European village with ancient architecture placed around a town square. Instead we found an eclectic mix of very modest homes with corrugated iron roofs, and some a little more upscale. We encountered gorgeous views of the lagoon and Motu Araara, a small islet on the barrier reef that surrounds Huahine. But let's begin our walk, shall we?

The first thing to grab my attention along the way (other than loads of flowers, which I'll be posting at a later date) was this very rural scene with 2 makeshift mailboxes.

mailboxes huahine.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

Magasin Chez Hine (Hine's Shop) was a very welcome sight along the way and quite unexpected – a great place to purchase some drinks to place in the refrigerator at the resort. But for now, all we needed was a Magnum Bar (much better tasting than the American ones - the chocolate is more creamy) to cool us down. We made a point of stopping here on the way back to the resort later. This little store sold all the basics. It was here that I bought Genie, a small tube of imported gel for washing clothes – the best ever! If you live in the EU, you should be able to get it just about anywhere. The link I provided above is to a UK site.

Chez Hine huahine.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

And I would be remiss if I omitted the banner ad for Tahiti's national beer, Hinano with the world famous Hinano Girl, whose image is as much an Emblem of French Polynesia as is the Tahiti tiare, (also known as the tiare flower, or Tahitian gardenia)!

There is even a whole collection of men's and women's clothing with the Hinano Girl trademark! Check it out! Those items are available in the US, both online and at many surf shops in California and Florida. Do you recognize it? Not being a beer drinker, I didn't sample the beer, but had intended to – just to say that I did! Oh, well. There's another reason to go back. LOL!

hinano girl huahine.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

The official welcome sign to Parea was nothing like we expected! It had not been manufactured at some factory in China or elsewhere! No! This welcome sign to the village had been lovingly created by a local artist – a reminder of simpler times in the rest of the world! The welcome is in 3 languages: French, English and the Tahitian Maeva.

welcome parea sign huahine.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

I had never seen so many dogs roaming freely as I did in French Polynesia! Not all are strays, but many like this one guarding the bridge are well fed and obviously have owners. Again this to me is a reminder of simpler times before there were so many cars, when dogs did have the freedom to roam in most places anywhere.

dog on bridge parea huahine.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

Outrigger canoe racing is big on Huahine. In fact Hawaiki Nui Va’a, a very prestigious and grueling race, sometimes called The Tahitian Superbowl, starts every October from Huahine, then goes on to Raiatea, Taha’a, and Bora Bora. Perhaps this upturned outrigger canoe belongs to a team which is practicing for the event! During our stay in French Polynesia, it was not unusual for us to see an outrigger canoe or two speeding past whichever resort we were staying at - no doubt practicing for the big yearly event!

Also, all over French Polynesia we saw small motor boats stored above the water on these interesting boat lifts in order to protect them from the tides.

you can see Motu Ara'ara or Motu Araara across the lagoon!

outrigger canoe parea huahine.jpg
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Motu Araara, a tiny uninhabited island was never far from our view on the lagoon side of the road, and what better backdrop could we have for a row of coconut palm trees?

row of palms parea huahine.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

Until European explorers came in the 1700s and introduced textiles to the Tahitians, their simple clothing had been made from many types of bark. At first, only ancient designs like the kind on their carvings were used on the pareo. Nowadays though, fern and flower patterns in bright colors have been added to this 2 yard long piece of fabric which is the national dress of Tahiti, the pareo. You can purchase one at any tourist shop on every French Polynesian island, but if you want a pareo that has a unique design, you can purchase a hand painted one from a local artist like this one in Parea.

house of pareo sign.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

house of pareo parea huahine.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

As we crossed this bridge, we heard the most wonderful acapella singing drifting on the tropical island breeze. We had this beautiful view of the lagoon, so you can imagine how it gave us goosebumps to hear such music praising the Creator in such a gorgeous tropical setting. It was a Saturday morning, so we wondered why such a heavenly sounding choir would be singing on that day. It would be a few minutes before we rounded the bend and got our answer.

bridge parea huahine.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

In the meantime we came across this beautiful hand painted sign, but I'm not sure what it represented. I think perhaps it was another ad for La Maison Du Pareo or for another artist in the village.

flower poster parea huahine.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

Being surrounded by water, it's no surprise that the people of Huahine all seem to have boats, and there are always boats available for rent like these these kayaks. The little motor boat seems to belong to a private owner, although, I'm sure a trip around the lagoon could always be arranged!.

kayaks parea huahine.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

boat in lagoon 2 parea huahine.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

boat in lagoon parea huahine.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

When we finally arrived at the destination producing the heavenly music, we discovered that the singing was coming from the congregation of a Seventh Day Adventist church, whose members worship on a Saturday instead of the traditional Sunday in the rest of Christendom. Their thatched roof structure had no walls! And like all French Polynesians, they welcomed us in the most warm and friendly manner. A Tahitian lady who saw us walking by, came outside and invited us to join them, which we gladly did! The service and singing were in French, (apart from the odd Tahitian chorus now and again.) I could follow along quite happily, but Jim was left to smile and simple enjoy being there.

church parea huahine.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

There were no praise bands with fancy stage lighting, no padded individual seats, and no large screens with the lyrics projected from above. Things were much simpler here. There was no musical accompaniment whatsoever, we sat on old fashioned pews, and the lyrics were taped to the wall for all to read!

inside churchparea huahine.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

And because the building was open like all the restaurants in the resorts we stayed at, and cafes and restaurants where we stopped in our travels, cats, dogs and wild chickens were free to come and go as they pleased! A little dog who was uncannily like Carlos our old dog who went to doggie heaven over 5 years ago, came and sat at my feet during the rest of the service! He even felt like Carlos when I petted him and even acted like him, but at the end of the service he just disappeared, so I got no better photograph of him.

It was at this church that we were told of a “secret” walk that only the villagers knew about because there are no signs leading to it. So guess what my next post will be about! Keep your eyes open for my next post featuring the “secret” walk, which involved climbing a small hill.

dog in church parea huahine.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

Next door to this warm and inviting little church, was a white church (Protestant, but I'm not sure of the denomination). It was surrounded by a wall, so the best shot I could get of it was actually at the back of the church where there was a large grassy area, where I can imagine children playing and picnics being held.

white church parea huahine.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

It is not usually so windy in June, we were told, but at least it gave us the opportunity to see palm trees really swaying in the breeze. The lagoon water was choppy because of the wind, and out past Motu Araara on the horizon, you can see white surf, marking a favorite spot for surfers to the islands.

two plams parea huahine.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

It came as no surprise to encounter a seabird or two along the way. This sooty tern, or common tern was taking a break on a post next to an outrigger canoe, and of course Motu Araara is on the horizon.

outrigger canoe seabird parea huahine.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

Unfortunately, not every dog we encountered was well fed. This poor guy looks as if he could have used a square meal or two. Sometimes I would bring along a few scraps of cold cuts from our breakfast buffet, but this time I had nothing to offer. That look on his face is pitiful. I wish I could have fed him

skinny dog parea huahine.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

In contrast, this black lab doesn't look as if he has missed a meal in his life, and is enjoying a little siesta under a shady tree by the lagoon. The life of Riley!

black dog by lagoon parea huahine.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

On the way to the village, the lagoon was on our right and buildings were scattered here and there on the left. On the return route, of course it was reversed. Notice the long empty road once more. A car may have gone by every 5 minutes or so, but I don't really remember seeing any on this Saturday morning walk. The building with the long corrugated roof appeared to be a gathering place for the villagers. On that day, some were enjoying a picnic under the shelter of the roof. I imagine that at other times, it may serve as a market place.

road in Parea parea huahine.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

I have had a fascination for photographing lone trees in the landscape for as long as I can remember. This gnarled tree looks like it has seen quite a few tropical breezes during its growing time. I have no idea what type of tree it is with its flowers that blend in with the foliage, but I had the inclination to create a B&W image from it, burning and dodging digitally, like I learned to do in the old fashioned darkroom so many years ago! Which one appeals to you the most, and why?

gnarled tree by lagoon parea huahine.jpg

gnarled tree B&W.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

There was certainly no shortage of coconut tress everywhere, but seeing these coconuts hanging so close to the water in the lagoon, I knew I had to get the shot.

cocnuts by water parea huahine.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

It was on the return walk from the village that I paid more attention to the homes in Parea. As I mentioned before, all buildings were on the side of the road away from the lagoon, so they were on the right hand side on the way back to the resort.

This first image shows a very modest home with a tin roof and with washing blowing in the breeze on the clothes line. Note some colorful pareos on the right, and also a rug or pareo with a design of a lizard from a traditional carving.

washing on line parea huahine.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

This home backs onto a small stream, and appears from the very orderly landscape and more solid structure to be a bit more upscale. This image was photographed from one of the little bridges we crossed on the way, but I'm not sure now from which one.

hoses by stream parea huahine.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

Remember Hinano beer? Well, it happens to be named after the white flower, hinano on the male tropical pandanus or the pisonia plant, which is native to the South Pacific. As every part of the tree is used, it is one of the most common and useful plants in French Polynesia, and is easily recognized by its roots which are visible above the ground helping to keep the tree trunk stable. Although it looks a bit like a palm tree, it is not really related to the palm tree.

The flowers are often used to perfume Tahitian monoi oil, and are often added to flower garlands, and heis (crowns.) Its leaves are used to construct the thatched roofs of the resort bungalows, and probably the roof of that church we visited. Islanders also weave the leaves into hats and baskets. The wood of the pandanus is used as a building material and for making canoes etc., the roots are used in some traditional healing remedies and if all that is not enough, the fruit is edible!

tree roots and boulder parea huahine.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

We encountered no traffic on the stretch of the road back to Hotel le Mahana, so I stepped back to take this final shot of Jim striding ahead of me and enjoying the solitude of such an island paradise!

jim on road parea huahine.jpg
© Diane Macdonald - All Rights Reserved

I hope you enjoyed walking with me to the Parea on Huahine; if so, you may want to check out my other posts in this series:

  1. French Polynesia – A State Of mind

  2. Moorea French Polynesia – First Impressions And The Resort

  3. Moorea - French Polynesia – Bali Hai

  4. French Polynesia – Next Stop Huahine

  5. 7 Things To Do At Hotel Le Mahana

  6. 4 Walks From Hotel Le Mahana – Part 1

  7. 4 Walks From Hotel Le Mahana – Part 2

(Thanks to @tattoodjay and for #wednesdaywalk. I have been meaning for ages to get a post ready on a Wednesday for it!)

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This is a very beautiful post. Hard to pick one image. Every photograph is better than the previous one, but then, all look equally amazing.
I'm going to pick the one with the tern on the stick. So delicate, balanced, peaceful.
I loved this walk; all your stories and background information. Very valuable. It's good to know that despite all the crazy development iin the world, there are still places like this one, preserved and pretty much pristine for us to still imagine what paradise must be like

Thank you so much for stopping by and for your very kind words. Yes, I agree about the balance in that image, and it seems to have a big story to tell! Yes, the only other place I had encountered like with was 15 years ago on Fiji, but now that particular place now has a massive resort with a hotel, condos and a golf course etc. I heard from a local resident that the majority keeps voting down any big scale development for tourism!

They do the right thing. Greed tears the bag, as people say over here. they can still make money and preserve the emvironment

Yes, such progress has its ups and downs. My husband visited French Polynesia 27 years ago, and he was disappointed to see that Moorea had become more commercialized in the area closest to where the ferries come from Tahiti. And there was quite a lot of traffic on the road, making walking from the resort a bit more hazardous! Huahine was the same as it was 27 years ago, he said!!

I am loving these posts from your trip there the natural beauty is amazing and I had many a Hinano beer the times we stopp4ed over there sitting under the shade of one of the trees by the pool so relaxing

Thanks for joining Wednesday Walk :)

Haha! At least you know what it tastes like. I probably wouldn't like it anyway - except as a shandy perhaps!

Thanks for your kind words! I was happy to join the walk!

My Wife had it a couple of times as a shandy, I drank it straight, was quite nice from what I remember, nowadays if I was there I would just be drinking water bytthe pool

Sounds like a good plan to me. I got hooked on Rotui mango juice, and have been buying a South American import that’s similar since I came back.

Mango is something I have never got into but I do remember a nice mix of orange and pineapple juice they did there that I loved ;)

Isn't it funny how taste buds are so different? I think mango is an acquired taste, or maybe taste buds just change. I was not fond of it before this trip, but I have another mango drink in the fridge here and I don't like it at all. It has passion fruit in it though, and although I ate some passion fruit there, I was not too keen on t.

Actually my taste buds have changed maybe I should try it again I do like some things now that I never used to when I was younger

OHh now with passionfruit with Mango I may try that I love passionfruit :)

Yes, that may be so! I still don't like seafood though. LOL!

Beautiful images! Your story about the dog really touched me. We’ve seen a few dog movies that made me believe this was your old dog Carlos. I’m sure it’s all fiction, but then again...

He was a faithful old mutt - looked like Benji. I think he was a cross between two terrier types. I miss him....

Beautiful shots and thanks for the history

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Yes, Dianne. I am like you and enjoy exploring places that are 'far from the madding crowd,' whenever i get the opportunity. And it looks like you are making the most of this wonderful opportunity.

What a wonderful blog; full of fabulous photos and great information. It always helps to have fine weather to enhance the scenery even more doesn't it? The pace of life in some on these islands are truly enviable and after visiting them I always endeavour to slow down and not sweat the small stuff. In fact, situations we think are worthy of stress become considerably less stressful after getting a dose of remote island living or visiting places with smaller populations and less material encumbrances.

I am always inspired by the rhythm and music of the Polynesians and I can imagine what a blessing it would have been for you to join with them in praising our Creator.

I am drawn to solo trees also and I love both your images equally. It is good to see the contrasts between the two and absorb their individual features. We have a lot of pandanas palm trees where we live and they always interest.

I look forward to enjoying more of your travel blogs. Blessings.

Hi dmcamera,

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Idyllic visit to quiet islands, walking on the roads a pleasure seeing how people live alongside nature.

Black & White photograph is more appealing showing the gnarled tree hanging in there through all types of weather, a little touch of old.

Thanks for stopping by and for giving your opinion. I Lean towards the B&W too, because more of what I wanted to convey from the scene and of my reaction to it is portrayed in the post processing of the B&W one. What I saw and felt is conveyed in the color Image too and I love the colors. But With the B&W I attempted to convey all that as in the olden days without the benefit of color.

ehy dear @dmcamera, all you can do is watch your post with your mouth open in wonder, your photos are fantastic and with them you have allowed us to stay a while with you! I absolutely love the photo with the two palms in the wind, like two heads that shake their hair with that fabulous blue behind them. as for your tree, I confess that I'm a fan of black and white, but in this case I vote for the color photo because nature is so beautiful and lush that you can't give up all those shades of color.
were you there for vacation? Is it an expensive place for a vacation?
congratulations on your curie vote and thanks for sharing

Thanks so much for all your kind words. Yes, it’s hard to improve on nature. But before there was color photography, there was black and white, so the old masters had to try through dodging and burning in the darkroom to express their feelings for what they saw in color. There was never an opportunity to look at a color and B&W Image side by side. Color leaves nothing much to the imagination of the viewer, whereas B& W does. Another person would create a B&W image with a completely different range of contrast and toning, therefore conveying a totally different mood. That’s what I love about B&W!!

Of course , the same can be said with color photography. But that’s another story. Unless an image is captured in RAW format, the camera software has decided where to do all the dodging and burning.

For this reason, When I post a B&W image, I don’t usually show a color one for comparison, but like you, I was so impressed with the colors of nature, that I felt the urge to post both, but of course the color image still represents what I saw and felt. So perhaps I conveyed it best in color! Again, thanks so much for responding to that question It means a lot!!😊😊

yes, I totally agree with you on the reflections on black and white, I love the contrasts, the shadows, the shades of gray, and the sort of drama they give to the viewer: it is my perfect mood :-))
if you can see my pics this is my instagram profile: instagram.com/pics_i_feel
all the best for you

I couldn’t find your pics on Instagram with that link.

I don't know, the link is right! in the couple I am alex

Beautiful! For years while living in Cambodia, I tried to land a teaching job in Majuro in the Marshall Islands. I never got the chance to go, and high cost of living and expensive plane tickets intimidated me too much to go without a job. The South Pacific is so beautiful though. I watched a documentary on the Pitcairn Islands as well, seems like such a strange place with a very interesting history.

Yes, the South Pacific is amazing. I visited Fiji too 15 years ago. The Pitcairns sound very interesting!

Imagine the Seventh Day Adventist church being there. They bought our old Papillon head courters in Johannesburg last year. We were established in the old Methodist property that we sold to them before our relocation here to the Western Cape Province.

Your photos and story is beautiful, but I fear the masses discovering this place, as an invasion will bring with it developments in order to lure more tourists.
Glad that you got a Curie for this amazing post my friend!

I don’t think so. There is no accommodation for the masses, and the islanders keep voting down any large scale development like golf courses and large resorts that would appeal to the masses.

The islanders are indeed very wise my friend.
Hope you have a great weekend!

So far anyway! It’s outsiders settled there that push for changes.

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Thanks again!

This looks like a paradise to me. I like those shots with the ocean as the water there has so many different colors. That very light blue in the back is intriguing.

I'm sorry to see that poor dog. It's so unfair that some of them are fed well and other not. It should not be like this. I can imagine I would be packing my breakfast too and bring it to them :)

Great photos, lovely walk! Thank you for sharing and have a good day!

Thanks for dropping by to comment. I would have taken all the poor dogs home. One time I fed one, then within minutes another2 dogs showed up, but it was too late because I had given all I had to the first one. It was heartbreaking. 😢

That looks like my kind of taking a break from hiking and climbing the mountains but relaxing :)

Plenty of mountains there. They are not very high though. Just spectacular to look at.

Such an absolutely beautiful place, and lovely photos!

Thanks very much indeed!!

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Great post Diane. I was touched by the fact that the little dog come and say by you then disappeared. I also love taking pictures of lone trees. Maybe I'll do a post of them! Where you in the South Pacific for vacation? I saw you are Scotish, me and my younger brother and sister went there in May, to visit see where our ancestors are from. It was beautiful and green and lots of sheep!

Thanks! Yes, we were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary there. Yes, I am from Scotland, and my Dad and my siblings are still there. I'm preparing a post about Scotland which I will post on Monday. Do you know which area your family came from in Scotland?

Yes, my grandpa was born in Bathgate. So there is lots of family from Bathgate and then some from Linlithgow and Falkirk, Polmont and Kylsth.

I will be looking forward to your post about Scotland.

I did a post today inpired by what you said about liking lone trees in this post.

Cool! I know all those places, but I am from farther north in Scotland - north of Aberdeen!

Interesting island. It seemed to me that the sea was a little wind, but no big waves.

Yes, the big waves were out beyond the reef. This was the protected lagoon.

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An incredibly, well thought out and written account of your trip. I have never been there, and yet, I feel like I have with your wonderful account of your trip.

There are so few places left on this globe that are seemingly unspoiled and untouched by the Western World.

Thank you so much!! And I loved the part of hearing the singing and coming upon the church.

Wonderfully told, beginning to end.

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Thank you for taking us for another beautiful walk trough paradise! I only wish I was there and I also I could feed that poor dog! However, it's strange that most of the others seems well taken care off. Nevertheless, your photography is outstanding! I really love that tree; great capture!!! 🌴💙🌴

Thanks! Yes, even the well taken care of dogs had freedom to roam it seemed. It was heartbreaking to see the strays, or those not taken care of!

You are most welcoem my Dear. And yes, it must be nice for the dogs to have so much freedom on on hand, but seeing starved ones on the other. I don't understand hwy people don;t out food out for the stray dogs. I am sure that would't make a big hole in their packet!

Most people there are quite poor though, and I think what happens is that they can’t afford the vet’s bill to get their dogs sterilized, so they end up with a houseful of dogs. The island government is trying to help, and most people are willing to pay a share. I heard that the vets are not willing to accept the 2/3 payment, so that they too contribute. But that’s only through the grapevine. I don’t know all the facts.

Ohhhhhhhhh! I see! I know that is very common problem in most developing countries and islands. Very sad!

Sad though. None was aggressive. Every dog we saw was sweet and gentle. So, I guess they are not otherwise abused by humans. :-(

That's good to know.............I just wish there would be some charity to neuter them and to feed them!

I know. The population of the entire island is only 289,000 spread out over 6 villages and a few scattered houses. I do know someone there who is fighting to get something done, though!

What beautiful friend photos, super beautiful and colorful, I would like to make such special shots :D

Thanks for your encouraging words!

I am glad you enjoyed them. Thanks!