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SS_Tahiti

Tahiti

Inspiring Itineraries

Where is the best place to sail in French Polynesia?

French Polynesia-, where azure waters and lush landscapes create an unrivaled sailing paradise. There are 121 islands to explore in this archipelago and knowing where to start can be overwhelming, so we have summarised the best places to visit French Polynesia – depending on the type of holiday you are after – below.

For Families

  • Tahiti: The largest island, Tahiti, offers a blend of family-friendly activities, from exploring waterfalls in the lush interior to enjoying the calm lagoons for snorkeling and swimming.
  • Moorea: Known for its stunning landscapes, Moorea provides a relaxed atmosphere with family-friendly accommodations and opportunities for water-based adventures suitable for all ages.

For Couples

  • Bora Bora: Renowned for its overwater bungalows and romantic ambiance, Bora Bora is an ideal destination for couples. The turquoise lagoon and coral reefs create a dreamlike setting for a romantic sailing getaway.
  • Motu To’opua: this romantic haven offers a secluded and intimate setting. The pristine white-sand beaches, crystal-clear lagoon, and breathtaking views of Mount Otemanu create an idyllic backdrop for romantic strolls, private moments, and unforgettable experiences in this tropical paradise. 
  • Raiatea and Taha’a: These sister islands offer a more intimate atmosphere, perfect for couples seeking secluded anchorages and private moments in picturesque surroundings.

For First-Time Sailors

  • Raiatea:* Known as the “Sacred Island,” Raiatea features calm and navigable waters, making it an excellent choice for those new to sailing. The island’s well-protected lagoons and straightforward navigation provide a gentle introduction to sailing in French Polynesia.

*Please note that French Polynesia is a level 2 sailing holiday with Sunsail and you must have the correct certificates and experience to embark on this charter. 

Alternatively, you can hire a skipper to sail you around, visit one of our Sailing Schools to ascertain the necessary certificates or look at our range of level 1 sailing holidays.

For Large Groups

  • Huahine: With its expansive lagoon and numerous anchorages, Huahine is well-suited for larger groups. The island’s diverse landscapes and cultural attractions offer a variety of activities to accommodate different interests within the group.
  • Tahiti (around the Society Islands): The proximity of the Society Islands to Tahiti allows for convenient island hopping, providing flexibility for large groups to explore various destinations with diverse attractions and activities.
What are the best things to do in French Polynesia?

There is no shortage of things to do in French Polynesia- from diving into the crystalline lagoons of Bora Bora, or, snorkeling amidst vibrant coral reefs in Moorea. Foodies, explore and savor traditional Tahitian flavors or for culture, visit the Tiki Village in Moorea. There are so many options for holidaying in this tropical paradise, so we have summarised the best things to do in French Polynesia, below.

Relaxing

Relaxation is built into the French Polynesian islands. From bicycle rides around deckings over the ocean to lazy days by the sea, this is the perfect location to let go of your stresses. Below we have summarised some of our favourite, quieter locations within these islands. 

  • Motu Toaru: With its tranquil surroundings and pristine beaches, Motu Toaru is perfect for relaxation. The serene atmosphere offers an escape from the hustle, providing a peaceful retreat for unwinding in the lap of nature.
  • Motu Tautau: Rich in Polynesian charm, Motu Tautau invites exploration. Its cultural significance and lush landscapes make it an ideal destination for those seeking to immerse themselves in local traditions and discover the island’s natural beauty.
  • Motu Mahaea: Nestled in the lagoon of Taha’a, Motu Mahaea offers both relaxation and exploration. The peaceful environment allows for quiet moments by the water, while its proximity to Taha’a provides opportunities to explore the vanilla-scented island and its vibrant coral gardens.

Exploring

French Polynesia is known for its spectacular resorts, restaurants, and holidays coded in relaxation. However, the lush greenery fringing the infamous beaches also provides some incredible hiking opportunities. We have listed our favorites, for you, below.

  • Moorea: Known for its jagged volcanic peaks and lush valleys, Moorea provides numerous hiking trails. The Belvedere Lookout offers breathtaking views, and the Three Coconuts Pass hike takes you through diverse landscapes.
  • Tahiti: The largest island in French Polynesia, Tahiti boasts waterfalls, lush mountains, and intriguing archaeological sites. The Fautaua Valley and Aorai Mountain hikes provide challenging routes with rewarding vistas.
  • Huahine: This less-visited gem offers unspoiled landscapes and historical sites. Hike to Mount Turi for panoramic views, explore ancient marae (temples), and wander through lush vanilla plantations.
  • Bora Bora: While renowned for its overwater bungalows, Bora Bora also offers hiking opportunities. Mount Otemanu, the island’s highest peak, provides a challenging trek with stunning views of the lagoon and surrounding motus.
  • Maupiti: A quieter alternative to Bora Bora, Maupiti offers a challenging hike to the island’s summit, Mount Teurafaatiu. The panoramic views of the lagoon and neighboring islands make it a rewarding trek.

Eating and Drinking

  • La Villa Mahana (Bora Bora): A top-rated restaurant known for its intimate setting and exquisite French cuisine. The chef creates personalized menus using locally sourced ingredients.
  • The Lotus Restaurant (Tahiti): Situated in InterContinental Tahiti Resort, Le Lotus offers overwater dining with stunning views. The menu features a mix of French and Polynesian dishes, complemented by an extensive wine list.
  • Chez Tara (Huahine): A popular choice in Huahine, Chez Tarais known for its casual atmosphere and delicious seafood. The beachside setting adds to the charm of this dining spot.
  • Hei restaurant (Papeete): Trip Advisor 2023 Awards winner, a fine dining experience you won’t be quick to forget: this French Fusion Restaurant offers truly stunning meals that will make your mouth water even days later.
  • Meherio Tahitian Bistro (Papeete): (modern, budget-friendly bites and marina dining). This spot is perfect for a delicious breakfast or lunch with a view: at night you can enjoy your dinner and watch the sunset over the marina. This Tahitian gem is a Sunsail favorite for its wonderful staff, delicious food, and wonderful energy.
  • The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort also offers a multitude of spectacular dining choices, including Farniente Restaurant (cozy setting, fresh Italian cuisine), Lagoon Restaurant (Outdoor dining and spectacular oceanside views, French Cuisine specializing in seafood), and Bamboo Restaurant (Swanky, Pool-side Japanese Fusion).

Underwater Adventures

The Islands of French Polynesia are teeming with life under water, we believe you will be hard-pushed to not find a snorkel or scuba spot within a stone’s throw from wherever you choose to moor. However, we have listed our top spots for underwater adventures, below.

  • Bora Bora: This island is abundant in Dive Sites, Kayaking opportunities (we understand this is an underwater activity list but it feels worth including, Snorkelling (Bora Bora is a great island to learn to snorkel as the current is gentle and on many beaches, you can stay in the shallows or close to shore and still see spectacular fish), Motu To’opua: Either Snorkel or Scuba dive with spectacular Eagle Rays in the ‘valley of eagle rays’… you may even get lucky and see a Manta ray or two!
  • Motu Tautau: The Taha’a lagoon offers one of the most scenic snorkeling locations in French Polynesia – below the water’s surface you will find stunning coral gardens, and above? Spectacular views of Bora Bora and Taha’a. This is another perfect spot for novice snorkelers, children, and new learners!

Motu Mahaea: This islet bordering Taha’a’s sheltered lagoon offers visitors coral reefs, and swimming or snorkeling opportunities in the relative safety of waters sheltered from ocean swells.

When is the best time to visit French Polynesia?

The best time to visit French Polynesia is during the peak season – June to August. This is when the temperature is warm and has less rainfall, which makes for optimum sailing conditions.

Although the islands remain temperate year-round, the wet season significantly increases the island’s humidity and average rainfall (which is why the area is so very lush!)

What are the sailing conditions in French Polynesia?

Sunsail yacht charters around French Polynesia require a level 2 certificate of experience or hired skipper. You will require a moderate understanding of tidal flow & experience sailing open waters. 

For more information regarding the temperature and sailing conditions of your trip, please view our French Polynesia Sailing Conditions page. 
Equally, if you wish to improve your sailing knowledge or increase your time as a skipper before you set sail, please look at the Sunsail Sailing Schools.

How much does it cost to charter a yacht around French Polynesia?

How much a yacht charter costs in French Polynesia is dependent on the time of year you wish to visit, where you are traveling from, and what you intend to do (dining options, excursions, activities etc) whilst on your charter. 

Sunsail yacht charters in French Polynesia start at £2,300pp. 
For more information on itineraries and price points, visit our website to build your own sailing holiday quote, or contact us directly if you have further questions.

How much are the moorings fees for locations in French Polynesia?

In French Polynesia, many moorings and anchorages are under the ownership of restaurants and charter companies. This often allows you to anchor for free as long as you dine at the restaurant associated with the respective anchorage.
For more information, read our Tahiti and French Polynesia Essential Information or speak with one of our incredible holiday planners.

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