French Polynesia covers a vast area in the South Pacific with 5 island groups spreading over more than 2000 kilometers. People often compare it to the size of Europe. Unlike the wide diversity of land animals in Colombia and Panama, French Polynesia has only a few and they’re primarily domesticated. The real action is in the water. In our year there, we had amazing marine encounters in French Polynesia. This post features our best videos and tips of where to spot marine life from The Marquesas to the Society Islands.
Fun with Marine Animals
One of the highlights of living on a sailboat traveling around the world is getting up close with marine animals. After over four years on board, spotting these animals in their natural habitat still gives us a thrill! Turtles, sharks, and dolphins have been regular sights since the beginning, and rays and whales are more common since we’ve hit the Pacific. The South Pacific, so far, seems more untouched than much of the Caribbean. We love spotting marine life in French Polynesia just as much as everywhere else and here are some highlights.
We spent over two months in Tahiti and explored a lot. We came here planning a much shorter visit, but plans change on a boat! A few months later, we enjoyed our time on this big island with its happy people, experiencing the top things to do in Tahiti.
Tahiti is the largest and most populated part of French Polynesia. Islanders from all parts send their children to school here, and many remain in Tahiti to work before starting families. I read that Tahiti is home to over 68% of French Polynesia’s population. The good thing is that “big island” vibe doesn’t mean it’s unfriendly. On the contrary. We found Tahitians, and Mooreans, some of the friendliest people we’ve ever met, making it even more fun to get out and explore! Plus, they are multilingual, switching between French, Tahitian, English, and more with ease.
Get in the Water
Tahiti is surrounded by coral reefs and the clarity of the sea is perfect for spotting marine life. We joined several dives with Fluid Tahiti and saw sharks, colorful fish, and tons of turtles. Snorkel, swim, scuba, kite board, or surf. The South Pacific waters are beautiful and refreshing!
After spending so much time on land in Tahiti, we felt lucky to escape to its beautiful sister island, Moorea. Located 11 miles northwest of Tahiti, it is busy and tourist-filled, but still feels like a tranquil getaway. On two different getaways from Tahiti, we spent four weeks communing with the marine life in Moorea.
First, a little background. Like Tahiti and The Tuamotus, the island of Moorea is surrounded by coral reef, providing protection from big ocean waves. Moorea allows us to anchor in beautiful places with close proximity to shops, restaurants, and other amenities of civilization. One of the highlights is the marine life in Moorea.
After six weeks in The Marquesas, it’s now one of our favorite places, in no small part due to lovely Tahuata island. For two weeks we bounced between a few different bays, snorkeling and diving with marine life, exploring the villages, and eating at local restaurants. Add to that marveling at the beauty around us, which is unavoidable in French Polynesia!
Location and Getting There
Tahuata Island is located just south of bigger Hiva Oa, which makes it ideal for anchoring. It’s the smallest occupied Marquesan island, with a village and a few communities with churches. The benefit of its proximity to Hiva Oa is we can stay “away from it all” at quieter Tahuata with the convenience of town a few hours sail, or motor, away.
When I said everything would be easy after our Pacific passage, I spoke too soon. Our trip to Tahuata from Ua Pou was terrible. What should have been a 60nm half-day trip turned into almost 24 hours with no sleep for both of us. The wind kept shifting from side to front, from 12 knots to over 20 to next to nothing. We had to be on guard to change the sail trim and position, which we had to do at least once an hour if not more. What was supposed to be 60 miles became almost 120 with all the tacking we had to do!
The good news is we got a lot of time to recover from the trip in a beautiful place with fun adventures.
Here’s what to expect and where to go hiking in Curaçao
When we’re near land, Brian and I like hiking. We exercise, commune with nature and wildlife, and see the local views. Aftertoo much down time, we’re grateful to be healthy enough to hike and explore the island of Curaçao. Here are some tips and recommendations for hiking in Curaçao.
Any time you hike, be prepared. Pack essentials like water, snacks, and bug spray. Wear good walking shoes (waterproof), a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen or clothes with SPF protection. Before hiking in Curaçao, read the following tips.