Pacific - Polynesia
Turquoise waters, enchanting lagoons, multicolored fish and an extraordinarily beautiful seafloor, Polynesia continues to be the now-accessible destination of our dreams for most of us. Now, we are free to follow in the footsteps of Cook, Melville and the mutineers of the Bounty throughout the 118 islands of French Polynesia…
There are two main starting areas for those who would like to rent a boat in French Polynesia: Raiatea, in the archipelago of the Leeward Islands, and Tahiti. Actually, it is actually quite easy to sail within the Society Islands. The passes are better and better marked, and once in the lagoons, there is no real problem. Obviously, in the context of a “relaxed” cruise, it is best to start from Raiatea. This island and its neighbor Tahaa are located in the same lagoon, which provides many mooring opportunities without any need to go out to sea. This will delight inexperienced crews… For those who prefer to cover some territory, you can consider going to Huahine or even all the to Bora-Bora. Huahine and its lagoon offer good anchorage possibilities and Fare, the island’s small capital offers a museum-shop in honor of the talented painter and singer Bobby, well worth the visit… The legendary Polynesian island is, of course, Bora-Bora, one of the most frequently visited in the archipelago. Once in the lagoon, you can do as you like… There are plenty of places to anchor, all more beautiful one than the other. This is particularly true in the northern part of the lagoon, with truly wonderful seafloors with water of an indescribably blue. If you start from Tahiti, you will have little other choice than to go to Moorea. The island’s capital, Papeete, is very noisy, with infernal traffic conditions; this is surely not what you are seeking in Polynesia. There are lovely anchorages, such as between the big island and the peninsula of Taiarapu (at the Gauguin museum). In Moorea, although the anchorage is beautiful, it is not very good, unless one takes the precaution of mooring on the sand at the eastern entrance to the bay. Finally, as an amusing aside, Cook never dropped anchor in the famous bay that bears his name, but in the nearby Bay of Opunohu, during his third voyage to Polynesia. He preferred this mooring to that in the Bay of Matavai in Tahiti. It’s up to you to see whether you agree…
Itinerary for one week of rental starting from Raiatea
Day 1 : Raiatea
Day 2 : Raiatea - Huahine
Day 3 : Huahine
Day 4 : Huahine - Tahaa
Day 5 : Tahaa
Day 6 : Tahaa - Bora-Bora
Day 7 : Bora-Bora - Raiatea
Formalities : Valid passport. Very few sanitary problems, beside the all-too-famous “itch”, the ciguatera, that can easily be avoided by not eating fish caught in the lagoons.
Weather : November to February is cyclone season, but they are rather rare in this region. Outside this period, which is always critical for navigation, you can go to Polynesia whenever you like. The winds blow between 15 and 25 knots from March to october, which makes it the most pleasant time for sailing. At any rate, most people renting boats in Polynesia never leave the lagoons and only occasionally undertake overly long crossings. Indeed, there is enough to see near the rental areas.
Sailing conditions : The greatest danger is from coral patates. You must look out for differences in the color of the water, that inevitably announce a change in depth or nature of the seafloor. That’s why it is always to sail when the sun is high in the sky and, if possible, behind you. The setting sun can pose a real threat since it masks everything on the surface of the water.
Marking : Zone “A” (as in Europe). Marking remains unreliable and the lights don’t always work. At any rate, rental companies discourage sailing at night, and sometimes even forbid it.
Currency : Pacific franc