Sail Tahiti's Society Islands

Where Tales of the South Pacific Come True

The very word 'Tahiti' invokes visions of an island paradise. Explore the western Society Islands by charter yacht - monohull or catamaran, sailboat or motor boat. For over 30 years Sail Connections has been organising yacht charters around Raiatea, Taha'a, Bora Bora and Huahine. Specifically grouped as the Leeward Society Islands, this amazing part of French Polynesia is consistently one of our most popular bareboat sailing destinations.

The magical Society Islands, a sailing region that's better in real life than it is in the brochures. Majestic volcanic landscapes covered in lush tropical vegetation, each island rising steeply from its lagoon. The encircling and protective outer coral reefs are in turn dotted by small uninhabited motu (islets), fringed by white sandy beaches behind which lush green coconut palms grow. Truly an island paradise!

The Leeward Society Islands are a short flight or overnight passage from the main island of Tahiti, which is part of the Windward group. Adjacent to Tahiti is Moorea, the quintessential South Pacific landscape of stage and screen. On an extended charter it is possible to take in these islands as well as the more popular Leeward group. That is, if willing and able to do that overnight downwind passage*. Any Windward Society Islands visit must include a stopover at Cook's Bay (Paopao Bay), where Captain James Cook's crew enjoyed the local hospitaity in 1769. 

All these beautiful places are in our Pacific backyard, and we know their waters best! Let us share our local sailing knowledge and first-hand personal experiences of French Polynesia sailboat charters in this perfect sailing holiday destination. We will secure the boat that's right for your vacation and assist with all aspects of your charter, including personalised itineraries and provisioning advice to ensure just the very best holiday in one of the best destinations on Earth.

The best time to take a French Polynesian sailing vacation is from May to October. The trade winds provide sensational sailing conditions at that time of year, while the weather is beautifully warm.

Talk to us about a customised Society Islands boat charter. The options will surprise you! Or for more on sail and motor boat charters in the wider French Polynesia, read about sailing holidays in the Tuamotu Islands and Marquesas Islands.

The scuba diving and snorkelling was amazing. Being able to pull up the boat wherever you want on these amazing sites was also fantastic.
The boat sailed like a dream and we made great time on all our inter-island passages (it helped that the wind was on our side too!)

Dean, Australia, January 2020

* It is possible to do a 'one-way' charter from Tahiti island via Moorea to the Leeward islands, finishing at Raiatea and flying back to Papeete.

Quintessentially the South Pacific: the Glorious Society Islands

The Society Islands are that part of French Polynesia that has become so familiar to Westerners by way of media and tourism promotion. Split into the Windward and Leeward groups, these south sea island jewels are today sophisticated tourist destinations where you can be as connected or as remote as you wish to be.

The Leeward Society Islands are by far the more popular sailing holiday destination, normally accessed on a 40-minute flight from Papeete. The capital city itself is on the iwland of Tahiti, part of the Windward group that also includes Moorea. While of less interest to sailing vacationers, these islands have features to explore and charms to enjoy in their own ways.

The Leeward Islands: Bora Bora, Raiatea and their accompanying coral island gems

Featuring on all the Leeward islands are well-marked deep turquoise lagoons that provide smooth inshore sailing, within which are safe, sheltered havens for staying over. Gaps in the encircling reefs give easy access to blue water and your next island.

After a pleasant day of sailing or relaxation in a picture-perfect lagoon, pick up a mooring and dine ashore at a local restaurant. Eat as the locals do, or make it five star if you wish. Or simply drop anchor in a secluded spot and BBQ aboard under a blanket of stars, savouring the peace, the serenity, the sweet ambience of the unique tropical paradise that is the Society islands.

Raiatea

The island of Raiatea is our Leeward Islands yacht charter hub. The township of Uturoa is the administrative centre of the group and provides your best opportunity to provision your charter yacht. We will assist you with advice on what to buy and where to get it.

According to legend, Raiatea is the sacred home of the gods, and the ancestral heart of French Polynesia. Visit the sacred sites and explore the river where the great canoes were built for their migratory voyages to Hawaii and Aotearoa/New Zealand. It remains a mystery to us why the inhabitants would chose to leave this magical island paradise. Admire the mountainous peaks of the island's south, where magnificent waterfalls cascade to the sea. Spend your first few days relaxing and acclimatising here, exploring the sheltered lagoon shared by the twin islands of Raiatea and Tahaa.

Raiatea lies within easy sight-sailing distance of the Leeward Group's other magical islands. From base it's 24 miles eastward and upwind to Huahine, and 22 miles northwest and downwind to Bora Bora. 

Long walks along narrow coastal roads, big swims in crystal clear waters - some of the highlights.

Taha'a

Taha'a is the only island in the group that you can easily circumnavigate on your charter. The sweet tropical aromas of vanilla and frangipani permeate the air of this lush and tranquil isle. It's Taha'a 'au naturel', unfazed by the commercial world, and accessible only by boat. Ashore, wander along the coral road that winds around the waterfront and meet the friendly locals.

Take a safari tour into the hinterland to visit the vanilla plantations. It's a botanical extravaganza! Visit a pearl farm and learn all about the art of cultivation. Dinghy to the shallows of the reef and explore the sandy palm-clad islets that ring the turquoise lagoon.

We had a great time at Ficus on Taha'a where we saw a very entertaining show and ate authentic Polynesian food which we enjoyed.

Huahine

Lure a deep-sea tuna on your windward passage to the legendary island of Huahine. Anchor your charter yacht off the village of Fare where you can top-up your supplies. Discover some of the unique qualities of a small island village, go horse riding, or take a land tour to learn about the sacred archaeological sites that mark a civilisation dating back over 1000 years. Anchor in the south of Huahine, take a beachfront stroll, and snorkel the underwater delights.

A favourite with our charter clients is the unique 'round the island tour' of Huahine Iti. You'll get to special places places you can't even go by boat!

Totally awesome place. My wife and I enjoyed the remoteness we found in Avea Bay on Huahine. We had the place to ourselves.

Bora Bora

The fabled island where they make movies. spend some time in secluded anchorages and hop ashore to places accessible only by yacht. Sail to the eastern side, visit the Lagoonarium, then lose yourself in the blues, greens and turquoises of the beautiful lagoon itself. After you have plucked up the courage to swim with the turtles, sharks and rays here, you will announce this a highlight of your yacht charter holiday! Dine at the famous Bora Bora Yacht Club, spend a day ashore and take a bicycle, scooter or car around the island road.

Maupiti

On an extended charter of longer than seven days, sail westward to the less-visited yet equally stunning Maupiti, accessed though the Onoiau pass and best crossed in daylight. Maupiti is resplendant in pre-historic sites easily explored on foot or by bicycle.  From Maupiti it's a long sail the wind forward of abeam to Raiatea where most charters end, so a high level of sailing proficiency is required if you haven't hired a skipper. 

Getting to the Leeward Society Islands

Internationally, Tahiti is served through Faa'ā International Airport in Papeete. Air Tahiti has scheduled flights to Raiatea and some multi-island services.  Flight schedules make both return and one-way charter itineraries easy to plan. Charters out of the main island of Tahiti are also possible, but require some blue-water sailing experience and are usually only undertaken with paid skipper on an overnight passage. 

One way charters from Papeete to the Leeward island are possible. As stated above these are always recommended with hired skipper or full crew, sailing west then flyng back for Raiatea to conclude your vacation. 

The Windward Islands of Tahiti and Moorea: Tall peaks, deep valleys, waterfalls and tropical forests 

The main island of Tahiti and nearby Moorea are normally visited on an extended (10 day or longer) charter that sets out westward from Papeete. We always recommended  such charters are done with hired skipper due to the distance to be covered crossing to the Leeward Islands. But if sailing miles are not what you're looking for, rather a relaxing time aboard staying close to the main centre, there is plenty to offer around these striking islands. 

It's just two hours from your Papeete base to Cook's Bay. Take a 4WD tour for an appreciation of the lanscape, or just chilll out and enjoy the change in climate after your international flight. Then it's around to Moorea's other famous bay Oponohu, where there is an emphasis on nature and the opportunity to further explore the island by scooter and even horseback. The Ancestor's Walk will connect you to early Polynesian settlement fo these islands.   

The waters of Moorea are rich in sea life, so it's a great place to snorkel and enjoy the marine environment. Particularly at Haapiti lagoon, where you anchor on a large sandbank.

After looping around Moorea, sail back the short distance to the main island of Tahiti and see some of its south-western coastline. This is largely uninhabited with limited road access. It's where you'll find Teahupoto, a famous surfing spot with a safe anchorage. Another attraction where you can anchor is the Botanical Gardens, resplendent in examples of the islands' native flora in all its colourful varieties.You will return to Papeete via the sheltered west coast.

Opportunities to enjoy the main island by charter boat are limited, so you may like to spend a full 7 day charter at Moorea. It's just one of the many choices you have when planning you French Polynesian sailing holiday.

To summarise, take advantage of our in-depth sailing knowledge of the Society Islands. Ask us about the location of our favourite anchorages, our recommended itinerary options, and all the ways to get the very best out of your sailing holiday in.French Polynesia. 

Our client reviews about charter sailing in French Polynesia: The Society Islands

Rating: 5 / 5
The Saba 50 was an excellent choice. Extremely comfortable and spacious, equipped with everything we needed.

Our skipper Hugo and his lovely wife, added considerably to our enjoyment of the charter. The only discomfort for me was the foam cushions. Everything else was great.

We loved the snorkeling, fishing. Swam with reef sharks, rays and fish everywhere. Highlight was the coral garden in Raiatea and of course Bora Bora with its magnificent waters.

Your service and the advice given by Sue and Robert was excellent as that given by Tahiti Yacht Charters and our great crew.
Sydney, Australia, Jun 27th, 2023
Rating: 5 / 5
The Lucia was great. we had a lot of fun and she did not let us down. There is one big complaint though and it is how hard the tender is to pull up on the Davits. I was able to do it but it was extremely heavy and if there was older or less fit people on board they would have had a terrible time.

Bora Bora and Huahine were amazing. On second thoughts everywhere was amazing.
Daniel, Australia, Jan 24th, 2023
Rating: 5 / 5
The boat was amazing. We did have an issue with the water maker which couldn't be fixed on the run, but DYC happily reimbursed us for water that we had to buy and in addition compensated us more than fairly for the inconvenience.

The scuba diving and snorkelling was amazing. Being able to pull up the boat wherever you want on these amazing sites was also fantastic.
The boat sailed like a dream and we made great time on all our inter-island passages (it helped that the wind was on our side too!)

Your service was in line with the rest of the holiday. Trouble free, professional and a pleasure to deal with. Dean, Australia, Jan 21st, 2020
I just wanted to say a big thank you to you for your services since we booked our Tahiti charter. In particular Robert I really appreciated the time you took to talk with me on the phone to offer advice just before we left. Also your swift assistance with our torn UV sail strip was greatly appreciated. The charter went very well aside from the minor technical issues we encountered. The water was incredible and the weather was fantastic. Anon, New Zealand, Nov 7th, 2019
Rating: 5 / 5
We sailed for two weeks in the Leeward Islands of French Polynesia in late May, 2019. The Dream Yacht Charter team was fantastic. Our boat, the 52' sloop ARZ, was a delight, very much up to the job of carrying our crew of 8 from island to island. Every minute of the trip was life-changingly dynamic, charged with beauty in land, sea, and people. We experienced the deepest peace combined with the greatest excitement, including a passage from Bora Bora in the midst of a suddenly appearing, un-forecast gale with 2-3 meter breaking wind waves slamming against directly opposing 2 meter swells. The boat performed beautifully in these challenging conditions.

Really, we couldn't imagine a more wonderful trip and greatly appreciate Sail Connections as our agent, who smoothed our way and was instrumental in our choice of charterer and vessel, and Dream Yacht Charter, who made it happen. Had taken an earlier cruise in Tahiti and had experienced some problems with the charter service. Robert talked to me in detail about those issues and reassured me that Dream Yacht Charters was excellent, and that he and the Sail Connections team would back us up and do all they could to smooth over any difficulties. Without this, I doubt if we would have taken the cruise. Both teams, Sail Connections and Dream Yacht Charters, were meticulous in making serious promises and keeping them. Ten out of ten. Paul, New Zealand, Jul 19th, 2019
Rating: 4 / 5
The boat was well maintained with everything in good working order. Sail systems are easy to use, especially with the electric winch and the Catana sailed beautifully. Personally I do not like the steering stations at the stern of each hull as visibility to the opposite side is poor. But I knew that before we booked. The GPS is located inside the saloon which makes navigating more difficult compared to having a map alongside the steering. Overall a very comfortable sailing boat for 2 families.

Vanilla tour of Tahaa was amazing with Noah. Bora Bora is beautiful, though of course very touristy. Managed to swin with many reef sharks, eagle rays and a manta. Taputapuatea is worth the effort to visit being the centre of Polynesian migrations.

Your service was great. Quick responses to most questions and patience during the many changes. Craig, New Zealand, Jul 17th, 2019
Rating: 5 / 5
"The water in Bora Bora was amazing. We found the Bali 4.5 to be an excellent boat for cruising the lagoons around Bora Bora, Taha'a and Raiatea." Glenn, Australia, Nov 4th, 2018
Rating: 5 / 5
Practically new boat, so was in great shape. We liked the design, equipage, etc. Everything was as advertised and cannot think of anything serious to complain about. Quite comfortable. We would go back to the Leeward Islands of Tahiti in a speedy minute. Spectacular scenery, not at all crowded, felt private in all our anchorages. Nice, friendly people. Robert, USA, Jul 31st, 2018
First rate service in all respects. At the end of the charter we were practically ready to adopt our skipper and hostess. We truly enjoyed their company as well as high level of competence and knowledge. Checking in and out was a snap. We had such a great experience with Sail Connections, our boat and itinerary. Robert & Pat, USA, Jul 19th, 2018
"What a truly magical trip it was! The islands were stunning, the crew was amazing. We had an amazing trip and truly kicked back. We snorkelled so much in such amazing underwater coral gardens and reefs - outstanding! The local Champion in Raiatea is as good as any grocer here in Toronto. Good supplies in Bora as well, and pizza too! The base crew in Raiatea were great, most knowledgeable and helpful It was a most amazing time. Thank you for all of your help in making this all come together." Patti, Canada, Nov 30th, 2017
Totally awesome place and a trip of a lifetime! My wife and I enjoyed the remoteness we found in Avea Bay on Huahine. We had the place to ourselves. We enjoyed learning about the culture and had a great time at Ficus on Tahaa where we saw a very entertaining show and ate authentic Polynesian food which we enjoyed. We met some great people on our trip. The sailing provided a mix of adventure and relaxation. The natural offerings were spectacular and we enjoyed snorkeling where we saw many beautiful fish and several Manta Rays. Awesome. Robert, USA, Feb 28th, 2016

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