1 Year of Magic, our sample itinerary
If you have just 12 months for your sabbatical, don’t panic! It’s definitely enough time to take in the best of the region with some great ocean sailing included. Starting in Tahiti, our route will take you to sophisticated Moorea, beautiful Huahuine, world famous Bora Bora and into the Tuamotu atolls and further.
Our 12 month sailing loop is just over 3000 nautical miles, or a month of sailing … leaving you 11 more to enjoy French Polynesia. The region has plenty to offer in the way of activities and culture. For ideas on what you can do, see Tahiti Tourism’s handy things-to-do search tool, or take a look at our blog posts on the subject.
Society Islands – get to know your boat and start exploring
The Society Islands are volcanic and combine lagoons and mountains, offering lots of activities that you can enjoy like diving, windsurfing, kite boarding, outrigger canoeing, hiking and cultural events… The valleys and peaks of Tahiti, Moorea, Huahina, Taha’a and Raiatea have some of the most beautiful scenery and include traces of early Polynesian society for you to explore. The Marae “Taputapuatea” in Raiatea was the most important religious centre in the Polynesian world and is classed by UNESCO as a world heritage site. The Mao’hi culture lives on in French Polynesia, with the yearly Heiva festival of dance and song in Tahiti each July.
First of the Tuamotu and onwards to the Marquise Islands – real ocean cruising
The Marquesas have retained their mystery. Their location and rugged terrain have kept them at a distance from the pressures of modern life. Artists and poets have found refuge and inspiration there, with Gauguin choosing them as his final home “to be at peace and rid of the influence of civilization” … The Marquesan’s have preserved their culture, and their welcome is legendary among South Pacific sailors. With traditional shops a rarity, you will find that local people will exchange goods, and often simply share what they have. They are a people that live close to nature. Their activities are fishing, hunting and growing fruits and vegetables and their land is generous. Come prepared with fishing equipment (lures etc) and household items to trade, and you will be provided with the produce of this garden of Eden.
If you like hiking, the Marquesas islands are an unspoiled paradise. The more adventurous can even join a hunting expedition, on horseback or on foot looking for wild pig and goat. For those looking for more peaceful pursuits, there are beautiful waterfalls and rockpools for quiet contemplation.
Sailing between the Marquesas is easily manageable, as the distances are not great, and the trade winds are present throughout the year. Don’t forget to trail a fishing line, the area is legendary for great catches!
East to the Gambier Islands – more ocean cruising to a seldom visited paradise
Mangareva, or the Gambier Islands, lie more than 900 miles South East of Tahiti. They form the eastern edge of the Tuamotus and are 300 miles NE of Pitcairn. Polynesian mythology tells the tale of the demi-god Maui, who lifted Mangareva from the bottom of the ocean. The region is almost completely off the beaten track, and this is its charm.
The Gambier islands are surrounded by a huge lagoon, which they share. Pearl farming and fishing are the principle exploits of the local population and of course you can expect some magnificent diving and snorkelling.
Get out your hiking shoes again for some more splendid walks and you can visit a surprising number of churches, schools and other structures dating from the 1800s. The St Michel church in Rikitea is still in use, the altar – in mother of pearl – is worth a visit.
Tuamotu Atolls exploration – off the beaten track
The Tuamotus are a maritime legend, known as the dangerous archipelago. This was the time before GPS navigation, but still there is a wonder in making your way through a cut in the reef to enter the calm turquoise of the lagoon. Once you’ve dropped your anchor into 2m of water and taken a swim, you’ll know you’ve found the essence of the South Pacific. A thin layer of sand over a chunk of coral reef, and outside the immensity of the ocean. Fish, sharks, coral, birds, these will be your neighbours for the next while.
If you like wind sports like windsurfing or kiteboarding, you’ve found your paradise. The channels also make some legendary surf spots, for the most part known only by locals. The spear fishing is excellent.
Each atoll has a slightly different personality, our favourites are: Fakarava, Toau, Faaite …