PxPixel
Charter News: Taha’a & Raiatea - Sail Magazine

Charter News: Taha’a & Raiatea

Author:
Publish date:

Ah, Tahiti! Even the sound of the word elicits thoughts of heaven on earth—a Polynesian paradise and a bucket list cruise to talk about for years. Most people are lucky to come here once in a lifetime, so I have to wonder why charterers are always in such a hurry to get their boat in Raiatea and press on to exotic Bora Bora or remote Huahine. You’re here. Stop and smell the tiare flowers before setting sail to elsewhere.

Raiatea, the “Sacred Island,” is a 50-minute flight from Papeete and the departure point for all bareboat charters from Sunsail, Tahiti Yacht Charter, The Moorings and Dream Yacht Charter. Raiatea and Taha’a Island share a fringing reef, so it’s easy to stay in protected waters on the first day or two while you get your sea legs and learn the idiosyncrasies of the boat before heading out one of the many passes on all sides.

A circumnavigation of Raiatea will bring you to some hidden gems like Naonao Island at the southern tip, a perfect motu that you can kayak around, or Faaroa Bay where you can SUP on an Indiana Jones-esque river flanked by taro fields. Here, the paddling is usually calm as you float along, surrounded by bushes of exotic flowers, their scent hanging heavy in the still air. At times, the river gets so narrow and shallow that you may have to “get out and walk,” pulling the board behind you.

Nearby is Onoa Bay and Marae Taputapuatea, one of the largest spiritual sites in French Polynesia. Many of the stone temple outlines have been rebuilt, so a stroll through will give you an idea of the civilization that ruled here a thousand years ago.

Two hours north from the charter bases is Hurepiti Bay on Taha’a, the “Vanilla Island.” Here, Alain and Christina Plantier run a great land tour on a 4x4. The couple sailed their 32ft plywood catamaran to Tahiti from France 45 years ago and built a Robinson Crusoe-like homestead that shows off every kind of plant and flower Tahiti has to offer— including many different colors of tiare.

Alain is a trained botanist who ran a vanilla farm for years, and his encyclopedic knowledge of the flora of Tahiti is mindboggling. His four-hour tour includes a stop to feed coconuts to chickens (they’re crazy for the stuff) and an extensive lesson on vanilla pollination. In season, Alain also serves up noni juice, the fruit of a tree in the coffee family, purported to be a miracle cure and a fountain of youth. Beware, though, the stuff tastes like a mix of laundry water and boiled sweat socks. Bottoms up!

Taha’a is black pearl central, so a visit to a “farm,” like Champon, is a must. Nobody gets away from a pearl display case without being a few Polynesian francs lighter. These little round wonders are hypnotic and unique to this part of the world, so you can’t possibly leave without one.

The western side of the long reef offers phenomenal sunset views of Bora Bora in the distance. Le Taha’a Resort, with its picturesque (and expensive) over-water bungalows, makes for great photos too. In fact, the whole place can’t take a bad picture. Even the coral in the nearby pass is photogenic. Just beware the zippy current as you snorkel through the pass, and unless you have tough feet, bring your reef shoes.

In any other part of the world, Taha’a and Raiatea would be a draw in themselves, so they’re worth a slow careful exploration. If you’re lucky enough to tick Tahiti off the bucket list, well, you’re lucky enough. So adjust your pace, look around and take in the beauty before sailing on to someplace else. I mean, what’s your hurry? The bucket list is all around you. 

Charter companies

Sunsail sunsail.com

The Moorings moorings.com

Dream Yacht Charter dreamyachtcharter.com

Tahiti Yacht Charter tahitiyachtcharter.com

June 2018

Related

HB96k_EP

Sea Eagle’s HB96 inflatable SUP

What SUP?Dinghies and kayaks are all very well, but there’s nothing like a stand-up paddleboard for exploring interesting new shorelines while giving you a good workout. Sea Eagle’s HB96 inflatable SUP makes a fine addition to your boat’s armory of anchorage toys, either on its ...read more

DSC_0031-43

Charting the USVI and Spanish Virgins

When my friends and I booked a one-way bareboat charter with Sail Caribe, starting in the U.S. Virgin Islands and finishing in Puerto Rico, we were a little nervous about what we would find in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria—even seven months later.When our plane ...read more

SailRepairKit

Know How: Sail Repair Kit

Despite your best efforts, there will inevitably be times when your sail gets damaged while at sea and needs to be repaired. First, no matter what the job, you will need to do a quick damage assessment, a task that requires a flat wooden surface, sharp scissors and a helping ...read more

01-061018ROAC-8149

Coming of Age at the Atlantic Cup

Midway through the final race of the inshore portion of the 2018 Atlantic Cup, the three boats in the lead—Mike Dreese’s Toothface 2, Mike Hennessy’s Dragon and Oakcliff Racing, representing the Long Island Sound-based sailing school of the same name—suddenly broke free from the ...read more

01_silken_2018-03-08-0052

North U’s Regatta Experience Program

“Want to check the keel?” North U Coach Geoff Becker calls to me from back by the transom. We’ve just suffered our worst finish in the regatta and are absolutely flying on our way back to shore, spinnaker up and heeling at an angle that feels like maybe we’re tempting fate. ...read more

Navy-Sand-Dune_1080

Tucket Footwear’s Giller Shoes

Just for KicksMove over Crocs, there’s a new plastic shoe in town. Unlike the aforementioned fashion crimes, Tucket Footwear’s Giller shoes are made for boating. Water will get in, yes, but it will also run straight out again via rows of “scuppers” in the uppers and a dozen drain ...read more

01-m3113_git170829-294

France’s Maxi-tri Ultime class

It’s hard to believe how far foiling has come since the Moth class figured out how to reliably take to the air in the early 2000s.Was it really only in 2013 that the America’s Cup was dragged kicking and screaming into the foiling world by Emirates Team New Zealand back in San ...read more

GGTobagoCays

Cruising: Guadeloupe to Grenada

Our Dream Yacht Charter delivery started as a “wouldn’t it be fun if” idea. Those are usually misguided, if not downright stupid. But a Bali 4.3 named Jumelles (French for “twins,” appropriately) needed to leave Guadeloupe to do heavier charter work in Grenada, and as soon as I ...read more