- Our recommended itinerary
for sailing fans (A must = the Leeward Islands )
Stopover 2 or 3 days
Tahiti, Tetiaroa a day trip by boat
Sailboat rentals in Raiatea or in Moorea or in Tahiti
Sailboat rentals in Raiatea, cruise the Leeward Islands, Tahiti
Sailboat rentals in Raiatea, extension Tuamotus, Tahiti
French Polynesia is a first choice destination for boating: over one hundred islands, immense shallow lagoons, which are as many natural shelters away from the ocean. No tides inside the lagoons, short navigation distances between islands, first class marking to go through passes and sail inside the lagoons around the islands, a people from the sea respecting the ocean, a method of transportation and lodging ideal to enjoy the many motus with idyllic beaches and crystal-clear water.
Renting the entire boat :
Boat rentals are regrouped in the three major marinas on the islands of Tahiti, Moorea and Raiatea. They offer rentals of single hull or catamaran sailboats 33 to 56 feet in length equipped with 4 to 10 berths, with or without skipper (in which case proof of sailing experience will of course be required). You can plan a round trip itinerary or, for an extra fee, return the boat in one of the other island in your trip.
Raiatea is truly the center of activities related to sailing and boat rentals in French Polynesia, as it is an ideal starting point to enjoy a discovery journey throughout the Leeward Islands. In the town of Uturoa (the administrative capital of Raiatea) you will find all the equipment and services necessary to prepare and supply your boat. Your rental angency will advice you efficiently to help you: plan the whole morning to get ready to take charge of the boat, its preparation and its supplies in water and food.
Island of Raiatea:
See the Marinas and all Rental Agencies
Renting by the cabin:
Renting a cabin is possible in individually owned boats with size generally around 70 feet. The crew is at your disposal to make you discover the best spots in French Polynesia and to initiate you to the secrets of the sea. Inclusive prices for a cabin generally include all meals, but not the drinks.
Society Islands - Leeward Islands: with very little ocean navigation and crossings of 4 hours maximum. It is the ideal beginner's solution to discover French Polynesia. Starting bases from Raiatea.
- Two weeks: D1 Raiatea / D2, D3, D4 Huahine the wild island / D5, D6 Tour of Tahaa by the North / D7, D8, D9: Bora-Bora and its unbelievable lagoon / D10, D11 Maupiti the secret jewel (weather permitting) / D12 back to Bora-Bora / D13 last night in the lagoon of Tahaa / D14 back to Raiatea the sacred island.
- Crossing time using sail power: Huahine > Raiatea-Tahaa: 2.5 hours / Tahaa > Bora-Bora: 3.5 hours / Bora-Bora > Maupiti: 4 hours.
Society Islands - Combination Windward and Leeward islands: With a 20-hour crossing between Moorea and Huahine, this is an itinerary for experienced sailors only. Starting base Moorea or Tahiti, and arrival base in Raiatea.
- Two weeks : D1 Tahiti / D2, D3, D4 Moorea, its lagoon and its many tourism activities / D5 Crossing to Huahine / D6, D7 Huahine the wild island / D8 Raiatea the sacred island / D9 Tour of Tahaa by the North / D10 Tahaa and its splendid motus / D11, D12, D13 Bora Bora and its unbelievable lagoon / D14 Boat return in Raiatea.
- Crossing time under sail power: Moorea > Huahine: 140 Km, or about 20 hours.
Society Islands and Tuamotus:
- Three weeks: Starting with the previous itinerary, you can plan a one-week extension to the Western Tuamotu (Tikeahau, Rangiroa, etc.) and their crystal clear atolls. Experienced sailors only.
- Crossing time under sail power: Tahiti > Rangiroa: 3 or 4 days
Mooring or mooring buoys: After passing the pass, and once protected inside a lagoon, you'll have plenty of choices where to moor. In some places, you can tie your boat to mooring buoys installed for this purpose inside the lagoon. Plan to arrive to the moorings at the latest around 5 PM so you'll have enough light to navigate between the coral heads. Make it a point to have a crewman on the boat's prow so he can signal potential obstacles and shallow places to the skipper. It is impossible to find a mooring after 6 PM because of surrounding dusk. Sailing at night is forbidden in the lagoons and close to the islands.
The best moorings
Society Islands, LeewardIslands (ideal for yachting):
Bora Bora moorings everywhere, but especially on the East and Southeast side
Tahaa moorings on the Northern motus
Raiatea moorings East Coast
Huahine moorings along the whole West Coast (pass on the Northwest)
Maupiti moorings everywhere, but the pass is difficult
Tupai, no pass, mooring not recommended
Society, WindwardIslands (less frequented but very beautiful):
Moorea, moorings on North side at the end of 2 passes, and East Coast
Tahiti, Northwest and West coast. Do not try the East coast
Tetiaroa, no pass, daytime mooring only
Navigation inside the lagoons: Navigation inside the lagoons is like sailing inside a gigantic swimming pool with crystal clear water. Marking to navigate in the lagoon and channels is excellent and well maintained (red marker toward the island, green marker toward the sea). The only danger comes from the coral heads and shallow areas, which even if they are well indicated on the charts require you to proceed carefully on sight. Only the lagoons of Tahaa and Raiatea are navigable all around, other lagoons are partially obstructed by coral formations (shallow white sand areas right at the surface), true postcard scenery and a visual delight that lets visitors wade in 2 feet of clear water!
Marking and charts: Passes to enter the lagoons are also very easy to spot with the markers often located on each side and with alignment markers to approach the pass correctly. Once you're inside, stay carefully in the middle and let the sometimes stong current carry you. Sailing charts are very detailed and will be supplied to you by the boat rental agency.
Drinkable water: Warning: it is not always possible to fill up with fresh water outside of the marinas, some islands sometimes have water rationing (Bora Bora especially), others do not have docks. Inquire with your boat rental agency.
Currents: Beware of very strong currents in some areas of the lagoon. These currents are often caused by tides and swells passing through the reef in the Hoa (small channels). They are generally located near the passes, but also in function of shallow areas.
Tides: In addition to the strong currents they create, the influence of tides in the lagoons is practically non-existant. The lagoon does not have time to fill up or drain significantly between two tides. If you are planning to sail near islands without lagoon (the Marquesas and some Austral Islands) or near atolls without pass (Tetiaroa, Tupai, etc.), make sure you select your mooring carefully taking into account the tides and the swells.
If you are circum-navigating the globe, in the wake of the reknowned sailors, then you will need technical information. Go on www.noonsite.com , the global site for cruising sailors.