FRENCH POLYNESIA CRUISE
Situated midway in the Pacific Ocean between South America and Australia, French Polynesia is comprised of 118 islands in the Austral, Gambier, Marquesas, Tuamotu, and Society archipelagos spread out in an area roughly the size of Europe.
Papeete on Tahiti is the capital. Within the Society group are Bora-Bora, Raiatea, Tahaa, and Huahine, the jewels of the exotic cruising grounds of a Tahiti sailing vacation. Because the islands are downwind from Tahiti they’re known as the Leewards. The mountainous heights rise from the sea atop what remains of ancient volcanoes so old the craters have all but eroded into oblivion. Encircling barrier reefs provide a habitat for sea turtles, sharks, dolphins, porpoises, colorful hard and soft coral, and more than 500 species of fish, making the Tahitian Leewards one of the world’s top snorkeling and scuba diving venues. Resorts, watersports, island tours, archaeological sites, and fine dining are just some of the delights of a French Polynesia yacht charter.
Cruising in French Polynesia
A Polynesian sailing vacation offers balmy easterly trade winds averaging between 15 and 20 knots throughout the year, virtually guaranteeing a relaxing sail every day in the calm waters behind the reefs and spirited sailing on open-water passages. Inside the reefs navigation is line-of-sight from one marker to the next, though a watchful eye on the chart is necessary, as is plotting courses on the longer passages between the islands. The tidal range is insignificant at less than one foot, which means currents are typically weak except in narrow passes through the reefs. The beauty and unique character of these exotic waters lures less experienced and veteran sailors alike to return time after time for more adventures. Year-round temperatures range from 78°F to 80°F .
More photos of the Bali 4.5 – Bali 4.5 Gallery
Although Bora-Bora, Raiatea, Tahaa, and Huahine are neighbors, each island has a slightly different ambience. Of course, the South Pacific beauty is a common trait. The exquisite reefs, motus, and beaches are too. But on one island the emphasis may be more on catering to the chic, while on another Nature is supreme. On still another the handiwork of local artists or the quiet reverence at a stone temple dating back to the earliest times of Polynesian travelers is in evidence. Together, the four treasures of the Tahitian Leewards are an enchanting cruising ground for a memorable Tahiti sailing vacation.
Tucked into the south end of Tahaa, Apu Bay provides excellent protection except in south winds. The mountains on Raiatea and Tahaa are magnificent. The scenery is picture-perfect South Pacific and a key reason why yachting in Apu Bay is so popular.
Bora Bora – Pt. Raititi
The lagoon widens north of Pt. Raititi with Povai Bay to the east along the shore of Bora-Bora. The scenery is truly spectacular, which accounts for the several hotels and restaurants in the vicinity and why Pt. Raititi Bora-Bora yachting is so popular. To the west is the small island of Topua, the only remaining vestiges of the massive volcano that formed Bora-Bora.
Moorings are available for diners at the Bloody Mary restaurant in Povai Bay. Anchor west of the beacon marking the north end of the reef near Pt. Raititi. Another great anchorage for spending the night is close to the west shore of Topua at the south end of the island in Topua Bay. Also in the bay are day anchorages with easy access to the beach and the reef.
Dinghy dockage: Dinghy dockage is available at Hotel Bora-Bora for boaters who avail themselves of the excellent food and drink at the hotel’s restaurant and bar.
Things to do
There are several excellent beaches accessible by dinghy for snorkeling on the reef. Scuba diving excursions are available. A leisurely stroll ashore takes you to a number of shops, art galleries, and restaurants.
Bora-Bora Yacht Club
Yachting in Bora-Bora waters is a journey through paradise. For centuries the fabled island has drawn sailors and inspired the imaginations of travelers throughout the world. A highlight of Bora-Bora cruising is a visit to the Bora-Bora Yacht Club located north of Vaitape Village, the main town on the island. It’s a favorite spot for globe trotting cruisers, and you’re sure to meet some interesting people as you sip a cool drink at the yacht club bar.
Tahaa is a beautiful, mountainous island known for its many vanilla plantations ensconced in valleys. It is very similar in nature to Huahine in terms of agriculture and the laid-back ambience. Haamene Bay cruising brings you to the largest protected body of water on the island.
Cruising in Faaroa Bay Raiatea waters brings you over the north end of the island of Raiatea, then southeast along the eastern coast. The channel is well marked. To starboard, opposite the Passe Irihu ou Maire, is Faaroa Bay, a fjord-like indentation deep into the shoreline. Steep mountains rise on either side, lush with tropical vegetation and tall palms. Beyond is the valley of Mt. Tefaatuaiti.
Aside from its stunning beauty, the main attraction of the bay is the opportunity to explore the Aopomau River by dinghy. In no other place in French Polynesia can you take a river trip! As you head up the river, jungle fronts both shores, interspersed with the cultivated lands of working plantations. The mountains are ever present, looming above like watchful sentinels. At an elevation of approximately 3,400 feet above sea level, Mt. Tefaatuaiti is the tallest peak in the Tahitian Leeward Islands.
Opoa Bay and its surrounding lands are steeped in history. The lagoon was once a major staging area for long-distance Polynesian voyages that led to the settlement of New Zealand and the establishment of the Maori. The sea was integral to Polynesian culture, and thus it is no surprise that the Polynesians would build a major religious center at Opoa because of the area’s great importance as a port. Faaroa Bay in particular was a key location due to its protection from most wind directions. Today, a small village is on the shores of the bay, and there are vanilla plantations inland. Opoa Bay Raiatea yachting is a must during your cruise of the Tahitian Leeward Islands.
Ashore in Opoa is the archaeological site of Taputapuatea Marae, restored in 1994. Work continues to preserve the marae, which is being tentatively considered for inclusion as a World Heritage Site. The great stone altar is the centerpiece, but there are many other interesting points of interest, such as stone figures called Tikis. The size of the complex indicates its importance. It dates back to earlier than 1000 A.D. and was a place of sacrifices to the gods and gatherings of the best seamen in Polynesia who passed on their knowledge to students.
When you go cruising in Fare Village waters, you encounter the delights of the largest settlement on Huahine. The village has a variety of restaurants, shops, and several small hotels. When the inter-island freighters dock at the wharf, much of the population turns out for a party. The scene is evocative of life in the Tahitian Leeward Islands, where the sea is still the lifeline, as it has been for millennia in these waters. Huahine is a large, agricultural island, with plantations nestled in the valleys and lowlands. Its interior is mountainous. Maroe Bay on the east side and Port Bourayne on the west side nearly cut Huahine in two. The small passage between them does indeed separate Huahine into two islands.
Early morning sail back to the charter base to disembark. Catch a flight back to Tahiti or stay a while longer!
READY TO GO?
Contact us today and we will fill you in on how to get to the boat and other details to help make this – “The Best Vacation Ever !”