Escape to the idyllic white sand beaches and turquoise waters of French Polynesia. With many spots to drop anchor among the 118 motus that call this region home, which are clustered into five groups, you’ll most likely start your Polynesian adventure on one of the main islands of Tahiti or Moorea.
A combination of high islands and atolls makes for beguiling cruising in French Polynesia. Jagged, lush peaks soar to over one thousand metres on the high islands, while lower atolls pass in the yacht’s wake, looking every bit the South Pacific idyll. A sophisticated infrastructure makes for easy cruising around the nation, with island hopping, lagoon exploration and blue water cruising, all part of your Pacific adventure.
Riviera of the South Pacific Papeete has the flavour of a French Riviera city, an extensive port to pull in and jostle with other pleasure craft on voyages of discovery and Le Marche, one of the best-known markets in the South Pacific. Moorea, only a 17 kilometre cruise away, with two enormous bays, carving deep indents into the towering mountainous landscape, quickly transports you to a slower pace. Find a quiet spot to drop anchor and marvel at the sharp contrast between turquoise water and heights of verdant, lush growth.
• Watching the world go by at the waterfront; a popular gathering spot with plenty of restaurants, craft stalls, music and cultural shows
• Choosing a luminous local black pearl to take home with you
• Tee off for a round of golf in the lush setting of Tahiti
• Take the peaceful circle road around Moorea, stopping to explore plantations and sample the sweet locally-grown pineapple as you go
• Visit the historic octagonal church at Papetoai Village
• Take part in shark or ray feeding for a hit of adventure
• Laze the day away on one of Moorea’s squeaky-white sand beaches
The Leeward Islands These islands, part of the Society Group and made up of Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa, Maupiti and Bora Bora, sit about 200 kilometres to the northwest of Tahiti, and are an easy half day’s sail apart.
• Watching the sun sink into the Pacific over Raiatea and Tahaa
• Transiting the deep passes in the islands’ coral reefs to reach sheltered, extensive lagoons
• Crystal clear snorkelling, swimming and diving
• Exploring the sleepy ambience of the Leeward Islands’ towns • Huahine Island’s main town of Fare, with one main street, and a constantly rotating cast of inter-island trading vessels and yachts; it’s the quintessential south seas port
• Anchor off Raiatea, grab a cold drink and watch the sun set behind Bora Bora
• Visit the blindingly blue shades of Bora Bora’s infamous lagoon
The Tuamotus and Marquesas If a slow pace of life and forging your own path sounds like your sort of holiday, head to French Polynesia’s outer islands. These atolls sit a scanty one to two metres above sea level which, combined with an incredibly-high underwater visibility, makes them perfect dive sites. Deep passages in the motus’ reefs mean safe anchorages can be found throughout the island chain, and don’t miss Rangiroa’s Tiputa Pass with its world renowned shark wall of up to 300 sharks, gathering to feed.
The Marquesas are further from a continental land mass than any other island chain in the world and the wildly-rugged group of twelve islands can’t be missed for those who are adventurous of heart. Though there are no coral reefs here, sheltered bays make for safe anchorages and are widely considered to be some of the most beautiful places to drop anchor in the world. Don’t miss the ancient religious sites, enormous stone tiki, plummeting waterfalls and secretive, lush valleys. Wherever you choose to go on your yacht charter across French Polynesia, one thing is certain: you’ll have no shortage of gorgeous backdrops to snap those holiday photos.