Your Guide to Surfing in French Polynesia!
Ia Orana! Welcome to AWAVE Travel’s guide to surfing in French Polynesia!
For the Polynesians, surfing is part of the local culture and dates back to the time of the kings, when only the nobility had access to these prestigious waves. The archipelagos offer countless world-class spots that break on living coral.
This guide will explain where French Polynesia is and the best times to go. We will also look at how to get there and include some insider tips to ensure you have an unforgettable trip!
With dozens of world-class waves, the most well-known Teahupo’o attracts surfers from all over the world. All around the islands, the pass orientations magnetize swells from all directions that make reef and beach break surfable all year long for all levels.
Where is French Polynesia?
French Polynesia is made of 5 archipelagos that group 118 islands in total (76 populated) located in the southern Pacific Ocean, about an 8-hour direct flight from Los Angeles or San Francisco. The major islands, Tahiti and Moorea, are part of the Windward Islands. Both, group some of the best reef breaks you will find on earth, some more accessible than the others.
Surfing in French Polynesia is for most surfers, a life’s dream in our sport. The majority of the reef breaks are over 800 meters from the shore making for difficult access. So, unless you have access to a boat, you will need to paddle out to check the spot. For the most motivated, the “mana” (spirit) of the island will give it back by offering some unforgettable moments such as paddling out with dolphins to reach the spot early morning, or experiencing the jumps of whales while waiting for your wave.
The island where the majestic Teahupo’o attracts advanced surfers from all over the planet. Tahiti can be defined in 2 parts; “Tahiti Nui” (the big Tahiti, the North Island) and “Tahiti Iti” (the little Tahiti, the South Island). The whole west coast holds some of the best reef breaks you will ever surf!
The sister island, offers a lot of (less crowded) waves and is only 17 kilometres from Tahiti. It is accessible by ferry or short plane ride from Papeete. This island reflects the image that everyone has in mind when we think about Polynesia; wilder, with more serenity and dreamy reef breaks.
The largest chain of atolls in the world, as big as Western Europe (78 islands) has countless world-class waves! Mostly reef breaks, they can work at any time of the year.
Best time for Surfing in French Polynesia
When to travel to French Polynesia? Due to the location in the South Pacific Ocean, you can surf all year long on the different sides of the island. It is a year-round destination because of its exposure to consistent swell on its varying breaks.
The dry season (May – October) is well known for its beautiful days with consistent and repetitive south and west swells that hit most of the south and west coast, and are usually accompanied by very favourable winds. Real swell magnet, waves can get really big during the peak season between June and August.
The wet season (November – April) is more famous for its humidity period, and for its northern and eastern swells that turn on some hidden gems of the north and east coast. The wind at this time of the year makes most of the surf spots from the west coast hardly practicable. During this period, Papenoo delivers some epic sessions and proof one more time that beach breaks can equalise reef breaks!
How to travel to French Polynesia?
How do you get to French Polynesia? Faa’a International Airport, located conveniently on the west side of Tahiti, is the choice airport for international travel. We recommend Air Tahiti Nui for its high-quality level of service and awesome surfboard baggage policy (surfboards go towards total baggage allowance and are not charged separately)! AWAVE Travel’s experts will be on-hand to assist in arranging logistics when traveling to French Polynesia!
AWAVE Travel’s favourite Waves in French Polynesia
The Polynesian waves are the jewels of the Pacific Ocean and are the dreams of most surfers! With its colourful reef breaks and black sand beach breaks, it is a destination for all kinds of surfers. When we have the occasion, the AWAVE Travel team loves surfing on the islands and have picked a few of our favourite waves:
Located in “Tahiti Iti” (south part of Tahiti), Teahupo’o is the most famous and beautiful left-hander barrel in the world. Power, perfection, and commitment make this wave an unforgettable ride for most of us! South West swell is the best condition you can get combined with light easterly winds.
See the forecast here.
The most popular beach break on the island, located on the north coast just after Papeete, is well known for its all-level waves. This spot turns on with a North/East swell during the wet season and delivers a wave playground.
One of the best left-handers we have seen! A very hollow and spectacular barrel that breaks on a very live reef. It has 3 different sections that make the wave challenging and changes according to the swell’s size. South and west swells are the best forecasts to score this!
Where to stay in French Polynesia
There are many amazing resorts and charters to stay at whilst in French Polynesia. AWAVE Travel has compiled a few of our favourite surf resorts and surf charters that would allow you to access the amazing waves in the region!
If you are looking for comfort and luxurious accommodation whilst surfing in French Polynesia, our range of resorts could be perfect for you! These allow you access to some of the best waves in French Polynesia with beautiful accommodation.
Tahiti is a real tropical paradise, with warm crystal-clear water, outstanding beaches, a laid-back atmosphere, and some of the best waves in the world!
InterContinental Tahiti boasts top-notch facilities, with excellent restaurants and vibrant bars. The resort offers superb infinity pools set amid colourful gardens and a diverse range of activities on offer!
Ninamu Resort is an intimate island resort, hidden away on a remote motu in the southwest corner of Tikehau atoll. This little slice of paradise serves as the perfect launchpad for luxury surfers seeking perfect Polynesian waves!
Ninamu Resort offers a client-focused experience with only 10 handcrafted bungalows in the resort. This ensures that all of our guests receive personal service not found in large chain resorts.
Charters in French Polynesia
As you may have guessed, we at AWAVE Travel love surf charters! Being onboard a quality charter allows you the flexibility to surf where you want when you want. If you’re happy to forgo some of the luxuries that you would find on land, a charter is the most flexible way to surf in French Polynesia!
Seawolf Expeditions is the perfect private charter for small groups looking to score the world-famous waves of French Polynesia! This custom-built vessel is designed specifically for your comfort and enjoyment on the water and is available for personalised charters throughout French Polynesia.
On top of Surf Safari, SeaWolf can arrange whatever you could want to do on the water including deep-sea fishing (some of the best in the world!), scuba diving, snorkelling, shark encounters, whale watching, spearfishing, SUP, jet skis and more!
What to Pack
This beautiful archipelago is renowned for its fantastic warm, tropical climate and year-round surfing opportunities due to its position in the Pacific Ocean. Surfing in French Polynesia is a dream trip so being prepared can make all the difference in the water!
Because of French Polynesia’s remote location, AWAVE Travel recommends you bring the following items along with you on your Surf Trip:
- 2 or 3 surfboards
- Spare leg-ropes
- Surf wax
- Sunscreen (lots of it!)
- Surf hat
- Rash Guard
- first aid kit
- Ding repair kit
AWAVE Travel recommends purchasing travel insurance from WorldNomads.com, available to people from over 130 countries, designed for adventurous travelers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage, and a range of adventure sports and activities, including surfing.
World Nomads is backed by a suite of strong, secure, specialist travel insurers who provide you with great cover, 24-hour emergency assistance, and the highest levels of support and claims management when you need it most.
Booking Your Trip
AWAVE Travel’s team are here to help you find the perfect resort or charter for your trip. Once you have decided on the trip and the route that would suit you, we can set you up with an offer for booking!
All of our trips are covered by our Best Price Promise, so you will always get the best rate booking with AWAVE Travel!