Imagine thousands of islands scattered across the South Pacific, all covered in lush tropical vegetation and with sandy beaches and transparent waters. That's what Polynesia is all about, so it's no wonder it's one of the most coveted exotic destinations for yacht charter.
Literally meaning “Many Islands” (from the Greek polus meaning many and nessos meaning island), Polynesia is a country made up of up to 1000 islands scattered over the Central and Southern Pacific Ocean. The islands are all located within the imaginary triangle roughly between Hawaii, New Zealand and Easter Island.
The most important islands in the group are Samoa, Tonga, the Cook islands, Tuvalu and French Polynesia which is comprised of famous tourist destinations such as Tahiti. The geography of these islands is either volcanic or coral-based, most of them being nothing more than atolls which means they have a low relief but due to their location they boast a beautiful tropical vegetation.
Polynesia has a history going back thousands of years, even though it is sadly unrecorded until the arrival of the Europeans. This happened in the 17th century and from then on the local traditions and way of life changed dramatically. Since the islands are separated by vast stretches of ocean, the locals had to be skilled sailors, a tradition which they kept up until today.
French Polynesia and Hawaii are the most popular destinations for sailing holidays. Hawaii is a part of the United States and French Polynesia is an overseas department of France. They are not only special because of their tropical setting, the unbelievably beautiful beaches and the amazing Robinson-Crusoe feeling but also because of the great sailing opportunities.
Also located within the archipelago of Polynesia are Raiateia and Tahaa. Raiateia is also the main base for a lot of motor or sailing yacht charter. The island has 3 marinas, 2 boatyards and several companies operating off these shores. Apart from the sailing, there are fantastic opportunities to fish (and not just any fish, but the big ocean type) and off course to do water sports like diving and snorkeling to admire the beautiful underwater corals.
Law & Order
As most tropical islands in the Pacific, Polynesia tends to be very welcoming towards foreign tourists though they do have a very strict border control which impacts positively on the overall safety both on land and water. Tourists from the United States don’t require a visa, and neither do nationals of Great Britain while other European countries must apply for a tourist visa (for French Polynesia). Such a visa is valid for 90 days.
If you’re planning on chartering a bareboat, a valid skipper’s license is required and most international types are accepted here. There are also sailing schools that provide you with an international sailing certificate upon graduation.
We also recommend renting a catamaran just because their low draft is the most suited for the shallow lagoons around the island. Also, it is prohibited to sail at night in the coastal lagoons so plan your daytrips carefully.