The 118 exotic islands of French Polynesia are great for exploring on a luxury yacht charter. Travelers can count on having the islands’ picture-perfect beaches, remote coves, and glittering blue lagoons all to themselves.
French Polynesia covers a sizable portion of the South Pacific Ocean. In fact, this spans more than two million square miles. Importantly, French Polynesia islands are defined by their volcanic landscapes and protected lagoons. The unspoiled and incredibly wild Gambier Archipelago, as well as the culturally and aesthetically rich Austral Islands, are located further off the main path.
Discover how French Polynesia is the world’s best paradise for yachting in Polynesia. This comprehensive guide covers all aspects of chartering a yacht in Polynesia to help you prepare the perfect sailing or yachting itinerary.
Why charter a yacht in French Polynesia?
Polynesia is a huge and remote archipelago.
Polynesia houses 118 islands in 5 archipelagos. All of these represent diverse cultures and landscapes.
- First the most known archipelago is the Society Islands, lava-formed splendor. Beautiful lagoons, where a dazzling variety of marine life inhabits the calm, shallow waters, are located between reef and mountain. The main islands are Moorea and Tahiti. Idyllic islands, well-known for a reason; they re the epitome of what a tropical paradise should be. Also not to be missed, Bora-Bora the majestic. Out of the deep, blue lagoon, Mount Pahia and Otemanu rise, their peaks rising up into the sporadic clouds that gather over the islands. Motus, which are barren islands, are grouped together on the reef that surrounds the lagoon.
- The remote Tuamotu Islands make up the center archipelago of French Polynesia, located 600 miles (965km) south of Bora Bora. These UNESCO islands, which are made up of coral atolls and more than 70 low-lying islands, can be easily reached by plane of boat. They are well-known diving location because of the diversity of the faune. Famous Tuamotu islands include Takapoto home of the famous black pearl from the Oinctada margaritifera oyster, Hao open to the ocean host the famous Kaki pass. Do not miss Fakarava, the second largest atoll of polynesia, UNESCO biosphere where french painter Matisse became obsseced with the variety of shades of blue of the lagoon, his artistic vision was turned upside down here, giving birth to the style that made him famous.Visit the Tuamotou will allow you to explore diverse habitats that are home to unique birds, plants, and aquatic life, as well as dive locations that are essentially unexplored.
- The Gambier islands, located over 1,600km southeast of Tahiti. The Gamber are a remote paradise, the mythology tells that Mangareva was raised from the ocean floor by the demigod Maui. Along with pearl farms, travelers can also explore the surprising number of churches, convents, watchtowers and schools left over from the 1800s.
- The Marquesas islands: Ua Huka, Nuku Hiva, Ua Pou, Hiva Oa. They are located 1,500 km northeast of Tahiti and are spread over 12 islands, of which only six are inhabited. Golden rays of light filter through the clouds hanging from steep mountain peaks, creating an unreal and subtle atmosphere.
- The Austral islands. Well named they are located at the level of the Capricorn tropic of Capricorn, 1 hour and a half away by plane south of the Society Archipelago. There are 7 islands, 5 of which are inhabited: Rurutu, Tubuai, Raivavae, Rimatara and Rapa. From Tahiti, the most accessible Austral Islands are Rurutu and Tubuai.
Island hopping is brought to another level in Polynesia
French Polynesia islands are both exotic and diverse. By moving from one island to another, you may witness every type of scenery, from the high, geometric ridges dotted with waterfalls to the low, desert-like atolls with vast lagoons.
Each island is relatively smal and separated from of a few nautical miles from one another. They also don’t take more than a day or two to see the sites, but you’ll need more if you want to get a feel for the island’s pace of life.
A tropical climate all year round
French Polynesia has a warm tropical climate which makes it the prefect destination to visit all year round.
Hot warm season is from mid november to mid march. July and august is high season during which tourism is at a peak, you may want to book at least a year in advance if you wish tot ravel at this period.
Shoulder season april-may-june and september-october tend to have pleasant weather and lower pricing.
French Polynesia has a unique culture.
Polynesians are renowned for their strong feeling of family, despite being dispersed around the Pacific. The reverence of kin has a profound, spiritual value because of their long tradition of honoring their ancestors. The islands place high importance on being kind, generous, and welcoming.
Polynesians who live at sea are innately and spiritually connected to the islands. Travel to Raiatea, which is regarded as the spiritual center of historic Polynesia.
Many locals are sailors themselves.
Polynesians themselves are excellent sailors. Indeed, they derive this trait from their ancestors. They had a long-standing custom of sailing together and navigating by the stars at night. Therefore, if you are on a sailing adventure to some uncharted beaches and islands, you need to worry about having any issues with your yacht or sailing boat.
When is the best time to charter a yacht in French Polynesia?
From March to November. In French Polynesia, the constant trade winds are a blessing that keeps sails billowing and sailors delighted. Although they’re excellent for yachting, they’re not absolutely necessary to maintain a cool environment. Also the shoulder months, June and September are very nice and can offer more affordable yacht charter prices.
The main islands to explore French Polynesia by yacht
Tahiti: French Polynesia main island
Your yachting voyage will start here since Tahiti is the starting point for all international visitors. The majority of visitors rapidly leave for more distant islands, which are home to the tiny but bustling capital of Papeete, more than half of the country’s inhabitants, and few resorts. Certainly, it’s worthwhile to stay a day or two to hike through Tahiti’s many waterfall valleys and mountains, including the Papenoo and Fautaua Valleys. If you are planning to visit Tahiti in July, then do include the Heiva festival in your itinerary. By far, this is when the city is at its liveliest.
Bora Bora: the postcard of French Polynesia
From its azure lagoon, this imposing, square-topped island rises like a paradise photo-shopped in. Also, you can locate the renowned overwater bungalows here, where glass coffee tables allow you to gaze into the fish-filled waterways below and where nightly buffet feasts are served by flaming torches.
The stunning lagoon of Bora Bora is surrounded by exclusive islets with beaches. Although the lagoon on the island has a sandy bottom for the most part, if you go out to the outlying reefs at places like Anau and Tapu, you’ll be rewarded with diving areas known for manta ray encounters and lemon shark sightings.
Moorea: a beautiful and raw island
Even though Mo’orea is only a short flight or ferry ride away from Tahiti, it offers more of the typical tropical vacation amenities, like pristine beaches, opulent resorts, and an incredibly blue lagoon. Although less expensive travelers and families are better catered to, it rivals Bora Bora in terms of lush, high-peaked beauty.
Also, make sure to go into the Opunohu Valley, where numerous old Polynesian temples are tucked away in a rainforest fit for Indiana Jones. Furthermore, the Belvedere viewpoint offers views of the Cooks and Opunohu bays over impossibly sharply cut slopes. Additionally, these two deep bays lead to islets with bordering white beaches that are perfect for snorkeling and sunbathing. An exhilarating halt at a shallow sandy spot where reef sharks and stingrays congregate to feed is a highlight.
The Tuamotu: remote atolls perfect for island hopping
The dreamy coral rings that make up the Tuamotu islands surround lagoons teeming with coral, fish, sharks, and rays, despite the land’s elevations seldom rising above a few meters. The largest and most developed atoll is Rangiroa, and it is famous for its shark-filled passageways for scuba diving.
Non-divers can take a tour of the lagoon “Lagon Bleu” with their yacht, a region that is indescribably blue and is bordered by a white sand beach – to add in your buket list itinerary.
Society islands: a true remote paradise to explore by yacht
Leeward and Windward Islands together make up the Society Islands. Indeed, the breathtaking Society Islands are the most explored archipelago in French Polynesia, and for a good reason – it is home to idyllic islands, including Tahiti, Moorea, Raiatea, and the romantic Bora Bora. Also, with its steep mountain terrain, thick jungle foliage, crystalline beaches, and blue lagoons, it’s every bit the tropical paradise we envision.
Marquise islands: another unspoilt piece of heaven in French Polynesia
The magnificent mountainous vistas of the Marquesas are well known. Obviously, hike across the vast, sparsely populated Nuku Hiva, where treeless, wind-whipped cliffs descend to wild mango groves and rivers dotted with the crumbling stone foundations of long-gone settlements. Thereupon, visit the most amazing archaeological sites.
The typical sailing itineraries in French Polynesia
A sailing itinerary in French Polynesia often involves straightforward crossings through the safe harbors behind the stunning coral reefs. Furthermore, these reefs encircle the islands, enabling calm sailing in one of the world’s most unusual cruising areas.
13 days to discover Polynesia:
Day 1 : Most of the international flights arriving late evening you will probably enjoy spend your first night in one of the nice hotel offered in Tahiti.
Day 2, 3 and 4: You may want to flight to Moorea to enjoy 2 nights in a hotel or family type accommodation offered to visit the island.
Day 4 until 11 : A short flight will take you back to Raiatea, for a 11 days charter in the windward islands, from Raietea, Huahine, Taha’a and finally Bora Bora.
The last days you can take a flight back to Tahiti and visit the typica local market of Papeete, enjoy a nice diner then take a flight back home. You will be full of wonderful memories.
A 7 days sailing itinerary from Raiatea :
Day 1. Raiatea marina – Motu Taoru
Day 2. Motu Taoru – Ha’amene Bay
Day 3. Ha’amene Bay – Motu Tautau
Day 4. Motu Tautau – Motu To’opua
Day 5. Motu To’opua – Bora Bora
Day 6. Bora Bora – Apu Bay
Day 7. Apu Bay – Raiatea marina
Day 9. Haamene Bay
Day 10. Uturoa
A 16 days cruising journey including the Tuamotu and the society islands.
Day 1 & 2: Fakarava north and south pass
Day 3: Unesco reserve Toau
Day 4 & 5: Apataki
Day 6, 7 & 8: Rangiroa, Avatoru and Tiputa pass
Day 9 & 10 : Cruise from Rangiroa, the tuamotus to Bora-Bora
Day 11: Taha’a
Day 12: Raiatea
Day 13: Huahine
Day 14, 15 & 16: Tahiti
What are the best type of yachts to charter in French Polynesia?
Catamarans: the perfect vessel to explore shallow Polynesian atolls
Catamarans are the perfect boat for cruising the shallow Polynesian archipelagos since they offer excellent levels of performance, quality, and comfort. The goal of this experience is to make sure you have the most enjoyable, relaxing vacation possible, whether that means exploring the volcanic islands, relaxing on the flybridge, or having fun with the boat’s water toys, like kitesurfing, wakeboarding, water-skiing, paddle boarding, or snorkeling among the vibrant reef.
Sailing boat: a great type of yacht for a pure sailing experience
Sailboats are great for spending leisurely afternoons in French Polynesia on a breezy bay. Indeed, they make for the ideal cruising vessel when visiting remote beaches. Sailboats can now move in little wind and even resist the beating of head seas thanks to advanced construction techniques that have made them stronger but lighter.
Motoryachts: the best choice for long cruising voyages
With its great range, a motor yacht provides you the opportunity to cruise in exceptional comfort, whether your plans call for day outings or longer cruises from the Tuamotu to the society islands. They also provide luxuriously furnished deck areas with unmatched panoramic views from any areas. Enjoy while wearing the diver’s helmet the gorgeous sunsets while you swim with rays and sharks, snorkel, or dive through schools of fish in clear waters. Indeed, the a motoryacht can give you the extra space needed to bring a diving intructor and equipement to organise your diving journey.
These are cozy seagoing vessels with a kick of speed if you want to cover a greater distance in one day. Also, you can simply use it for a fishing excursion or tearing up the bay!
What are the main marinas and ports to moor in French Polynesia?
- Marina Taina, Tahiti: Superyachts are only permitted to dock in the stern. Indeed, this charming full-service port in Tahiti with regulating depths of 4–15 meters.
- Maikai Marina – Bora Bora: Yachts up to 150′ can dock at MaiKai Marina. The port also offers complimentary Wi-Fi, water and ice, mail and freight services, business center facilities, and a shuttle to the city.
- Marina de Papeete: The largest island in French Polynesia, Tahiti, is home to Marina de Papeete, often known as Papeete Marina. Furthermore, the marina is situated in the city’s heart. Moreover, Papeete Marina can accommodate yachts up to 100 m LOA and offers 82 spaces spread across two substantial pontoon lines for up to 87 vessels.
- Vuda Marina: Vuda Marina, with a 63-tonne trip lift and several well-regarded allied boatyard services, is situated in Lautoka. Also, it is just a short ride (or 20 minutes by car) from Port Denarau Marina.
What is the sailing experience required to sail in French Polynesia?
The Society Islands: a Polynesian destination best for first-timers. In fact, the calm waters of the Pacific in the Society Islands are the best for beginners. You can easily explore the beaches on bareboat sailboats, motoryachts, or catamarans.
The Tuamotu Atolls sometimes witness bewildering weather conditions. Also, it has some deep waters. Thus, it is best to opt for skippered/crewed yachts with an experienced and skilled captain.
The Islands of Marquesa offer access to some remote beaches and hiking treks. Every location on these islands has something special to offer in terms of both ecological and cultural importance. You can explore the waterfalls, the volcano cliffs and meet fashcinating people. With a motoryacht you can hop from Nuku Hiva, Ua Huka, teh charismatic Hiva Oa, Ua Pou ebfore flying back to Tahiti.
How much does it cost to charter a yacht in French Polynesia?
The cost of chartering a yacht in French Polynesia depends upon the season, model, length, and other factors.
- Bareboat sailboat. Ranging from 2 660€ to 29 000€ per week.
- Crewed sailing yachts. Ranging from 13 000€ to 70 000€ per week.
- Luxury motoryacht. Ranging from 70 000 and up per week.
Our yachts available for charter in Polynesia
Planning to go on a yachting vacation to French Polynesia? Undoubtedly, you will need to charter the best yacht to explore the paradisal archipelagoes of Polynesia. We offer a wide array of sailing boats, yachts, and catamarans for charter in these seas. Henceforth, whatever you need as per your need, duration, budget, or comfort – we have them all!
French Polynesia has some of the most breathtaking red sunsets, white sandy beaches, and emerald-green foliage. However, beneath the surface of the sea, there are equally vibrantly colored kaleidoscopic reefs. The flowing rainbow of fish, which includes striped snapper, parrotfish, emperor angelfish, and butterfly fish, will astound divers and snorkelers of all skill levels.
A biosphere reserve recognized by UNESCO is located on the Tuamotu Islands. The lovely coral atoll’s spacious lagoon and quiet anchorages make it ideal for diving, snorkeling, and all water sports. The atoll of Rangiroa comes to treat you with the best dive locations in the world. The more adventurous charter clients should travel to Apataki, where the seas are home to the largest population of grey reef sharks in the Tuamotus, or the area surrounding Avatoru Pass, where silvertip sharks can be found.
After an enjoyable yachting voyage in Polynesia, you will unquestionably come home with your head and heart overflowing with scents, colors, and priceless memories.
Certainly, use this guide to learn everything you need to know to plan your next charter vacation, from the best seasons to sail to the top cruising grounds to get ideas for your own charter voyage.