Maritime transport

The world’s greatest navigators have sailed in our waters, and now it’s your turn! Follow in the wake of the legendary Polynesian sailing canoes and the the European explorers of old, and plan your route through the Southern Seas. Anchors aweigh!

The navigation

Gently rocked by the trade winds blowing at about 10 to 15 knots from the east, The Islands of Tahiti offer perfect sailing conditions between the Marquesas and Society Islands. Things can be a bit more difficult in the Tuamotu, Gambier and Austral Islands. One of the particularities of the Society Islands is that they are on an amphidromic point, which means that the moon has no influence over the tide, which is dictated by the sun. The tides are weak and at the same time every day. The system of seamarking in the lagoons and at the entrances to the passes is very efficient there are ample mooring positions and docking facilities for ships of all sizes. From July to September, the mara’amu wind from the southeast can reach force 6 or 7 (25 to 30 knots) making the sea choppy and causing currents in the channels between islands. From December to February, depressions arriving from the west can cause strong winds.

The passes

With the exception of Maupiti, the passes into the lagoons in the Society Islands are wide and deep and practicable all year round. In the Tuamotu Islands, where the currents can be quite strong, it is recommended to enter the passes during the slack water period between tides. In fact, when some of these shallow passes are subjected to strong swells, they can become dangerous to cross, especially the southern passes when the mara’amu is blowing.


Most of the Society Islands have deep sheltered bays that are ideal for mooring sailboats. Other zones in the lagoon or close to the reef may be inviting, but you are requested to pay very careful attention not to harm the coral. There are certain zones in the lagoons where mooring is not allowed. You can get details about mooring zones from the Direction Polynésienne des Affaires Maritimes or from the respective local authority.

The population of The Islands of Tahiti is committed to the preservation of the coral reef. It is an important part of the food chain for marine life in the lagoons and the ocean.

The autonomous port of Papeete

The only international commercial port in French Polynesia, the port of Papeete is equipped with adequate infrastructures to handle commercial ships, cruise ships, luxury yachts and sailboats.

The port is being constantly developed to offer the best possible welcome to all shipping and ensure good relations between visiting crews and the local population.


There are several marinas at the disposition of sailboats and yachts in Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora and especially Raiatea, which is an important center for sailing.

Boats for rent

– Sailboat charter: Catamarans or monocoques with or without crew, sailing to multiple islands with a flexible itinerary.
– Luxury yacht charter: Motorized yachts with crew, sailing to multiple islands with a flexible itinerary.
– Cabin on a cruise ship: Private cabin on a catamaran or motorized yacht sailing to multiple islands with a fixed or flexible itinerary.

Sailing in The Islands of Tahiti is always an unforgettable experienc.

Things to know for an unforgettable experience at sea

– The trade winds are predictable and weak to moderate throughout the year.
– Sailing time between the islands is relatively short and several islands and atolls may be visited in the same cruise.
– The lagoons in most of the islands and atolls are an intense blue with a water temperature 80°F.
– The lagoons provide shelter from heavy swells.
– You can buy provisions in the markets, shops and marinas in the islands.
– Security being of prime importance, the islands are equipped with VHF radio links, daily weather updates, emergency services and medical evacuation services..
– There is a wide choice of charter companies in The Islands of Tahiti.

For more information, see our Cruising & Yachting section.

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Apetahi Express




Cma – Cgm


Tau’ati Ferry


Maupiti Express II


Aremiti 5

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