Huahine Sacred Eels

French Polynesia’s Huahine island is renowned for its beautiful scenery, turquoise lagoons, and white sand beaches. The sacred eels that live in the rivers and streams of the island are, nonetheless, one of the most fascinating aspects of Huahine’s cultural legacy. The native Polynesians on the island have long respected these eels and regarded them as keepers of the island’s natural riches. In this post, we’ll delve into the interesting world of the Huahine sacred eels and look at their relevance to local culture, history, and distinctive traits.

Black eel

The History of the Huahine Sacred Eels

The sacred eels of Huahine have an illustrious past that extends back to the island’s earliest Polynesian settlers. According to tradition, the demigod Maui, who is also credited with bringing fire and other crucial resources to the inhabitants of Polynesia, introduced the eels to the island. According to legend, Maui gave the eels to the Huahineans as a gift, and they kept them in the “Fare o Anini,” a sizable stone pond.

The islanders considered the eels to be a source of food, spiritual energy, and protection in addition to both of those things. The eels were revered as protectors of the island’s natural resources and were thought to contribute to the ecosystem’s balance. Over time, the eels started to break free from the Fare o Anini and find their way into the rivers and streams on the island, where they continued to be essential to the ecosystem.

The Cultural Significance of the Huahine Sacred Eels

The Huahine sacred eels are seen as a significant emblem of the Polynesian people’s connection to the natural world and are firmly ingrained in the island’s cultural legacy. Mana, a phrase used to signify spiritual strength and energy, is viewed as the eels. They are thought to be endowed with a divine energy that can provide luck and protection upon people who come into contact with them.

The “Feast of the Eels,” which is held yearly in the village of Faie, is one of the most significant cultural occasions related to eels. The feast honors the island’s cultural past and the enduring bond between Polynesians and the eels that have inhabited it for countless years. The eels are caught and prepared for the feast using coconut milk and other regional delicacies in the traditional Polynesian manner. The celebration offers the neighborhood a chance to come together and pay tribute to the eels that have played a significant role in their lives.

Eel in the ocean

The Unique Characteristics of the Huahine Sacred Eels

The Huahine sacred eels are a rare species that have impressively adapted to their surroundings. They are two meters long, slimy creatures that are recognizable by their characteristic brown and black coloring. The blind eels use their senses of touch and smell to find their way through the rivers and streams on the island.

It’s possible that the behavior of the sacred eels is what people find most fascinating. They are renowned for being highly gregarious and friendly animals, and visitors to the island’s rivers and streams frequently encounter them swimming up to them. The eels are not believed to be harmful to people and have also been observed accepting food from visitors.

Conservation Efforts to Protect the Huahine Sacred Eels

Like many other species in French Polynesia, the sacred eels of Huahine are threatened on many fronts. Recent years have seen a reduction in the eel population as a result of overfishing, habitat degradation, and pollution. Numerous conservation initiatives have been started to save the eels and their habitat in response to these dangers.

The Huahine Eel Sanctuary, which was established by the regional government to save the eels and their habitat from human activities, is one of the most significant conservation initiatives. The Fare o Anini, the ancient pond where the islanders first kept eels, is where the sanctuary is situated. The pond has been brought back to its former glory, and a robust population of sacred eels currently resides there. Visitors can get knowledge about eels and the value of their conservation at the refuge. It also acts as a template for other French Polynesian conservation initiatives.

Along with the sanctuary, initiatives have been made to increase public understanding of the value of eels to the island’s ecological and cultural legacy. Educational initiatives to encourage sustainable practices and conservation efforts have been supported by neighborhood schools and community organizations. These initiatives aim to save the eels and their habitat for upcoming generations.

Experiencing the Huahine Sacred Eels

There are several chances for people who want to personally witness the wonder of the Huahine sacred eels. Visitors to the island are able to observe the eels up close and learn about their significance to the island’s history and culture by taking guided tours of the Fare o Anini and the island’s rivers and streams. The tours are often hosted by regional experts who can provide tourists a special and immersive experience because they have a thorough understanding of the eels and their habitat.

Additionally, there are a variety of traditional Polynesian activities that give guests a deeper understanding of the eels. Visitors might, for instance, take part in a traditional fishing expedition and discover how local fishermen catch eels and other species. Using regional ingredients and cooking methods, visitors can also try their hand at preparing and cooking eels in a traditional Polynesian style.


A distinctive and intriguing facet of Polynesian culture, the sacred eels of Huahine provide a glimpse into the island’s extensive natural history. They serve as a significant emblem of the Polynesian people’s connection to the natural environment due to their cultural significance and distinctive qualities. However, there are other dangers to the eels’ survival as well, like pollution and habitat damage.

Visitors to the island may contribute to the protection of this significant species and guarantee that it will continue to be an integral part of Huahine’s cultural and natural landscape for many years to come by learning about eels and supporting conservation efforts. The Huahine Eel Sanctuary and other conservation initiatives set an example for other French Polynesian islands and demonstrate the value of safeguarding the environment for the island’s inhabitants. Visitors to the island can personally see the Huahine sacred eels and learn more about the ecological and cultural significance of this unusual and intriguing species.

Our Top FAQ's

The Huahine sacred eels are an important symbol of the Polynesian people’s connection to the natural world, and have played a significant role in local mythology and traditional practices. They are also considered to be a delicacy and are an important food source for the island’s inhabitants.

The eels face a number of threats to their survival, including habitat destruction, pollution, and overfishing. These threats are a result of human activities such as development and unsustainable fishing practices, and have led to a decline in the eel population in recent years.

Conservation efforts to protect the eels include the creation of the Huahine Eel Sanctuary, as well as educational programs that aim to raise awareness about the importance of the eels to the island’s ecosystem and cultural heritage. The sanctuary provides a safe haven for the eels and serves as a model for other conservation efforts in French Polynesia.

Visitors to the island can take guided tours of the Fare o Anini and the island’s rivers and streams, where they can see the eels up close and learn about their history and cultural significance. They can also participate in traditional Polynesian activities such as fishing expeditions and eel preparation and cooking. These experiences offer visitors a unique and immersive way to connect with the eels and gain a deeper appreciation for their cultural and ecological significance.

Book your dream vacation here