Sailing French Polynesia: what it's actually like first-hand

The often neglected French Polynesia is a true paradise and the dream destination of many a sailor. Captain Petra Bošková fulfilled this dream, taking in the islands of Tahaa, Raiatea, Bora Bora and Huahine. We interviewed her and we completely understand her passion for the region!

Yachtswoman Petra Bošková is one of the most experienced skippers and has sailed to places that many sailors only dream of. So, we interviewed her in depth so we can share some of her breathtaking experiences with you. Plus, we've added a tip for a perfect 14-day sailing route through the region.

Where is French Polynesia?

World Map and French Polynesia

Magical and enchanting island paradise in the Pacific

You told me that out of all the destinations you’ve visited, you like French Polynesia the most. Why do you find it so captivating?

French Polynesia gets you as soon as you're on the flight. Shortly after take off from Los Angeles, the flight attendants change into traditional Polynesian costume and wear a white flower behind their ear, called a tiara. Upon arrival at the international airport, you’re welcomed by a local music group and a traditional flower wreath is hung around your neck. French Polynesia is literally a paradise on earth, at least I see it as such.

French Polynesia

When the manta rays dance beneath your boat

In the Pacific, everyone is enchanted by the underwater world. Is it really true that there is no nicer snorkelling to be found elsewhere?

That’s true. Right here, on the island of Tahaa, that I discovered the most beautiful snorkelling spot in the ocean, in a coral garden with thousands of brightly-coloured fish. And I know I'd be hard pressed to find a more beautiful one. You won't hesitate to spend days here, enjoying a spectacular ride through the magnificent corals.

Is there something more here, that you wouldn’t get a chance to experience elsewhere?

Whilst anchoring at night in one of the lagoons, wonderful giant manta rays would dance under the boat. It was truly one of the most beautiful experiences.

Snorkeling in crystal clear seas of French Polynesia

What are the conditions for anchoring and sailing in French Polynesia like

Sailors are certainly most interested in the conditions for sailing and anchoring. What is the yachting infrastructure like there?

While cruising along the Society Islands in French Polynesia, you won't encounter marinas, at least not as you know them from Europe. You can anchor practically anywhere in the lagoons where conditions allow, but you must be very careful about the depth as the lagoons are very shallow. It is often necessary to have one of the crew at the bow to to keep an eye on what is happening below the surface.

YACHTING.COM TIP: What should you prepare for when sailing in the Pacific? How about thes the route, sailing conditions, marinas and life in French Polynesia. Find out everything you need to know in our article — Try sailing in an exotic paradise: all about French Polynesia. Journey with us to the edge of the world to a land of beautiful nature, fascinating underwater world, culture and friendly locals. It will fulfill everything you could wish for in an exotic boat holiday.

And what about anchoring at night?

Over the last few years, a number of state-subsidized buoys have sprung up to help you safely moor for the night. What you need to take into account when sailing, however, is the limited ability to restock fresh water. Therefore, for a comfortable voyage, a boat with a watermaker is a must.

I guess sailing in lagoons can really get the adrenaline pumping

Certainly. The biggest adrenaline rush definitely comes sailing from the open sea to the lagoons of the islands, especially if there are some big breakers, you get the feeling that you’ll barely make it through the narrow passage and then a huge freighter loom up.

Recommended sailing route for French Polynesia – 14 days

Mango and coconut straight from tree to mouth

What do you think surprises Europeans the most sailing in the Pacific?

Europeans are definitely most surprised by the unspoilt nature, which is basically one big botanical garden. The vibrant colour of the flowering plants is utterly amazing with coconuts and fruit growing everywhere. Within just a short walk you can bring back limes, banana, or even mangoes, which grow freely around the paths.

Similarly, you will be taken aback by the helpfulness and hospitality of the locals who you’ll never find with an outstretched hand trying to get extra cash. If you ask, they’ll be the first to help.

How are the infamous Polynesian black pearls formed?

In addition to sailing in incredible surroundings, French Polynesia is full of other attractions. What shouldn’t be missed?

French Polynesia has an incredibly rich history that spans thousands of years. As an example, on the island of Raiatea it is possible to visit the most sacred place of Polynesia — Marae Taputapuatea. This is an ancient sacred complex of several marae — bordered rectangles paved with basalt or coral. Religious ceremonies took place here, but it was also a meeting place of travellers and ship navigators.


Don’t miss a visit to a pearl farm. You’ll see with your very own eyes how the famous black Polynesian pearls are born.

Pearl farm in French Polynesia

Do you recommend something in particular that we shouldn’t leave at home?

Take a quality snorkelling kit with you, you can rent flippers at the location, and take plenty of sunscreen, because even when it’s behind the clouds, the sun can still burn. The islands are the ideal for photography, but bring an underwater camera as well, because as vibrant and varied the life and nature is above the water, it is equally so beneath the surface. Also a true fishermen should not leave their fishing rod at home, but make sure it’s a good really one.

Why a really good one?

Because we managed to catch tuna weighing 10 kg. There is nothing better than freshly caught fish. Half of us ate it raw and the other half grilled it onboard.

Food prepared from local ingredients and fish

4 things to look out for when visiting French Polynesia

Petra, is French Polynesia purely idyllic or are there any dangers lurking there?

There are 4 things you need to beware of when visiting French Polynesia:

  1. Cone snail – cone-shaped shells, small and inconspicuous, but you don't want to get stabbed by one.
  2. Stonefish – this fish lives at greater depths, but an encounter with one, may be your last.
  3. Coconut – a coconut falling from the palm onto the head of a passerby can be fatal.
  4. Credit card – when visiting a pearl farm.

What’s your final word to any sailor that might be hesitating?

It's a truly wonderful part of our planet, you could spend weeks here and every day there’s still something to surprise and amaze you. And it’s worth biting the bullet and enduring the 24-hour plane journey, because your reward will be a literal paradise on earth.

Who is Petra Bošková?

Petra Bošková, offshore yachtmaster, has been actively engaged in yachting since 2004. Her sailing journey began in Mediterranean waters (Italy, Croatia and Greece), but she has since gained a wealth of sailing experience in the Caribbean, Seychelles, Asia and the Pacific. Sher has her own sailing yacht — the Dehler 92 Optima.

We'll take you to this paradise. Get on touch.