SOUTH PACIFIC YACHT CHARTER GUIDE
WHEN IT COMES TO THE ULTIMATE TROPICAL GETAWAY, THE ISLANDS OF FRENCH POLYNESIA ARE AS EXOTIC AS THEY COME
Comprising a group of mountains rising above the surface of the South Pacific, the islands of French Polynesia are surrounded by a barrier reef, in between which lie glorious lagoons and coral atolls rich in marine life. The Society Islands are the most popular of French Polynesia’s five island groups, however, the central archipelago of the Tuamotu Atolls is favored by diving enthusiasts. The lesser-known Marquesas, Australs and largely isolated Gambiers remain so far off-the-beaten-track that yachts rarely venture out so far, but those that do are rewarded with some of the most exotic and intriguing islands in the world.
With a tropical climate and fanned by trade winds, the warm waters of the South Pacific provide perfect conditions for an unforgettable desert island charter. The sprawling region is made up of five well-separated archipelagos located in the world’s largest ocean. Their landscapes range from rainforest-carpeted volcanic mountain peaks to white-sand beaches, blue lagoons and coral reefs. From the Society Islands to the Tuamotu Atolls, and the lesser-known Marquesas, Gambier and Austral Islands, planning a cruise here is something of a balancing act, but the rewards are many.
The Society Islands are the most popular of the island groups for luxury yacht charters. From Tahiti and the atolls of Bora Bora, to the islands of Raiatea, Taha’a and Huahine, the archipelago is best discovered by yacht. Tahiti is the largest island in the group and is the usual gateway to the Society Islands and neighboring Tuamotu Atolls. This is a region that invites you to make the most of the water, with snorkeling and diving, swimming and kayaking vying for your time. Ashore are countless monuments and ruins and natural landscapes that remain relatively unspoiled. Board your luxury yacht in the capital of Papeete, with its restaurants, bars and cultural hot spots. Spend the day immersing yourself in Polynesian culture ashore before setting a course to discover her Society Islands. Explore the timeless beauty of the volcanic islands and jump in to discover the stunning underwater world beneath the psychedelic surface of the South Sea.
- Step ashore to a peal farm in Huahine
- Take a horseback ride along one of the many beaches on Huahine
- Hike up the Tapoi Mountain for spectacular views over the Society Islands, Raiatea
- Explore the US World War II military base on Bora Bora
- Snorkel and swim around the “motus” (deserted islands) that surround Bora Bora’s lagoon
- Lounge on Bora Bora’s Matira Beach – reputedly the best beach in all of French Polynesia
- Kayak up the Faaroa River and visit Raiatea’s horticultural gardens
- Browse Papeete’s pearl shops and select your own pearls for a necklace threaded on site, Tahiti
Encompass the Tuamotu Islands and the Society Islands over a two-week charter. Accessing the Tuamotos from the Society Island can be difficult due to prevailing winds, so it is generally better to begin your itinerary in the Tuamotu Islands and cruise or sail downwind to Tahiti and her Society Islands.
TAHITI TO MOOREA (20 NAUTICAL MILES)
Step on board your luxury yacht on the cosmopolitan island of Tahiti and make way for Moorea. Aptly shaped as a heart, the island is a popular honeymoon spot and boasts superb resorts ashore and a colorful mix of marine life in the surrounding lagoon. Swim, snorkel or kayak through the waters and discover the stunning underwater world.
DAYS 2 & 3
MOOREA TO HUAHINE (88 NAUTICAL MILES)
Spend the day enjoying watersports in Moorea’s translucent lagoon before an overnight crossing to Huahine. The island is arguably the most picturesque in French Polynesia with steep mountains descending into protected bays of emerald green – perfect for all manner of water activities above and below the waterline. Formed of two islands separated by a narrow isthmus, Huahine is the perfect place to absorb some local culture.
HUAHINE TO RAIATEA (25 NAUTICAL MILES)
Cruise through the lagoon and the Iriru Pass to Raiatea. The island’s rugged interior is as impressive as its stunning beaches and is where you will find French Polynesia’s most sacred temple, Marae Taputapuatea. Hike up Mount Tapioi to the peak where you will be rewarded with spectacular views over the Society Islands.
RAIATEA TO TAHA’A (15 NAUTICAL MILES)
Lying in the same lagoon as Raiatea, neighboring Taha’a is the Society Island’s largest producer of vanilla. Visit the vanilla farms or the black pearl farms ashore. Spend the afternoon simply floating amid a rainbow of fish in the stunning lagoon as your crew prepare a traditional feast in an ahimoa – a Polynesian cooking put dug into the ground.
DAYS 6 & 7
TAHA’A TO BORA BORA (16 NAUTICAL MILES)
From Taha’a it is a short cruise through the Te Ava Nui Pass and the Pai Pai Pass to the lagoon that surrounds the island of Bora Bora. With its densely vegetated interior and stunning beaches, the island itself is as close to the picture perfect tropical ideal as it gets. Spend a few days exploring the island that is surrounded by reef and clusters of tiny islands, known locally as motus, before flying to Tahiti, or cruising overnight.