Adventure Cruises in French Polynesia
Picture postcard-perfect tropical islands and beaches are truly what visitors to French Polynesia will experience. Being an Island nation, a small ship cruise is a fantastic way to visit and explore this paradise destination.
Small ship cruise vessels in French Polynesia are few in numbers and whilst the region is not new to cruises in the area, the more intimate, personal adventure cruise option is very appealing to the discerning traveller. Cruises around French Polynesia will visit some of the most well known Island groups such as the Leeward Island (Society Islands) & the Tuamotu Islands and of course the island of Tahiti itself.
Island hopping itineraries are offered to allow guests to explore and experience the different landscapes found in French Polynesia. From the amazing green covered peaks rising from the islands to the waterfalls that creep through the rock to create spectacular sights, every island offers its own unique beauty. Vivid blue lagoons will really convince visitors to take a swim in the warm waters.
Best French Polynesia cruises and areas to visit
Cruise itineraries will usually visit numerous islands within the country and will also offer guests the chance to take part in various local excursions such as snorkeling, cultural tours, 4x4 experiences, Polynesian picnics + many more. Some of the most popular places to visit are shown below;
Tahiti hosts the capital Papeete and is usually the starting point for cruise itineraries in French Polynesia. With its very distinctive mountain peak silhouette visible from western Tahiti the neighbouring island of Moorea is also a popular stopover for cruises.
The Leeward Islands, or the Society Islands, host the paradise island destination of Bora Bora, claimed to be possibly the most photographed place on earth due to its amazing setting and true paradise feel. This group of islands is also home to the islands of Taha’a, Huahine & Raiatea.
Taha’a Island is well known for its fertile land and is covered with tropical fruit plants and the treasured Tahitian vanilla orchid.
Raiatea Island has significant cultural importance to French Polynesia as it is considered the original homeland of the ancient Polynesians. Also on the island is the open-air temple (Marae) of Taputapuatea which recently became a UNESCO protected site.
Huahine Island is actually 2 islands (Huahine Nui & Huahine Iti) and together form a large tropical jungle landscape which was once home to Tahitian royalty. It contains the largest concentration of ancient marae temples in the whole of French Polynesia, some believed to date back to 700 AD.
Rangiroa is the largest atoll in the Tuamotu archipelago. Very popular with scuba divers due to its amazing underwater world. It also hosts the Blue lagoon, a natural pool formed within the central lagoon itself. Shallow enough for snorkeling and swimming in its clear waters.
Makatea Island is actually a raised island of coral and claims to have 3 species of threatened endemic birds that call it home. Explore rock pools and the ‘Grotto’, an underwater cave system that reveals an amazing natural cathedral with stalagmites and stalactites.
Best time to cruise in French Polynesia
It’s entirely possible to visit French Polynesia year-round and each season offers its own unique experience of the area. However, between June and August is possibly one of the best times to visit due to it being the driest months and not too hot or humid (20-30°C). This can also be the busiest time to visit, so a month earlier or later can still have great weather but fewer crowds.
One benefit of visiting French Polynesia on a cruise is that being out at sea will mean temperatures, in general, are more comfortable than on land where the tropical landscapes can create more humid environments.
November to April can see tropical showers, but they are often brief and interspersed with periods of sunshine.
In general, the islands of French Polynesia are not usually affected by tropical storms.
How to get to French Polynesia
Most international visitors to French Polynesia will arrive into Faa’a International airport near Pape’ete. The national airline is Air Tahiti Nui which has direct flights from the USA, France, Japan and New Zealand. If there are no direct flights from your country connections are possible to French Polynesia via the above countries.
Other airlines may operate direct flights at different times of the year.
Most cruises in French Polynesia depart from the port in the capital Pape’ete, Tahiti.
French Polynesia Cruise Tips
As there are limited flight options into French Polynesia, it’s worth planning ahead to arrange travel and accommodation to avoid no availability at busier times. Due to the remote location and travel time, it could be worth arriving early before your departure date and staying in a hotel prior to your cruise.
Small ship cruise vessels in French Polynesia offer different route options, make sure you check which will suit you best and the excursion options available on each.
Take plenty of reef-friendly sunscreen, swimwear and personal snorkel gear (if preferred) as the water in and around the islands are a joy to swim in. Most days will have the options to take excursions for snorkeling, swimming etc.
Bring comfortable walking footwear - excursions may involve some walking and treks, so best to have something more comfortable than sandals.
As with most tropical climates, bring lots of light, cool clothing options and good footwear for excursion days. A warm jacket or top is also a good idea as if the weather turns slightly it can get cool in the evening and on some cloudier days.
Tahitian and French are the main languages spoken in French Polynesia, but English is also widely spoken in the main tourist visited areas. The local currency is the Pacific Franc (CFP), but the Euro is also widely accepted in resorts and hotels.
French Polynesia, in general, does not require a visa for most countries, but as requirements are always changing it’s worth checking with your countries travel authority to check before travelling.