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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.

AWAVE Travel offers a range of resorts and surf charters in French Polynesia and the Pacific Ocean. These will get you to the best surf, in comfort and style!

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 Islands:

Tahiti

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!

Moorea

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.

Tuamotu

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:

Teahupo’o

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.

Papeno’o

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.

Taapuna

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!

Resorts

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.

InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa

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

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 Expedition

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!)
  • Zinc
  • Surf hat
  • Rash Guard
  • first aid kit
  • Ding repair kit

Travel Insurance

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!

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Customer Reviews

AWAVE Travel

Customer Reviews

Justin West 19/04/2022

TrustPilot
I run surf coaching trips to perfect, uncrowded waves and I relied on the AWAVE team to deliver for my clients a month long boat trip to the Maldives. We had great waves on an absolutley 5* boat called North Seven which I REALLY recommend you enquire about.

I was dubious at first as a few boats were changed, in for repair but James assured me correctly this was a usual thing and they would endevour to find us the very best replacement (which they did). North Seven was so new we were the third guests but the crew were super experienced and could not have given us a better service. Captain Usmaan, the Chef great food, Hasan and Azim our surf boat operators could not have worked any harder and always had a smile even after the 50th request to speed us to the line up or spend four hours cruising looking or waves.

AWAVE team were always on hand to answer any fears and smooth out any worries. The payment system using Revolut was super easy.

We did have a few hiccups with the local airlines which was resolved and partly our fault (as for a month trip we took alot of surfboards and in some cases were over weight).

Take the fear out of booking and especially group bookings by using the AWAVE team. Justin West Coaching recommended.

Alex J. Zalewski II 12/11/20

Trustpilot
These guys are the BEST! Massively knowledgeable, fun and absolute shredders. I approached them asking for a UK winter getaway somewhere in the Indian Ocean and they suggested the perfect place, awesome setup with the beach a short stroll from my accommodation with 3 sick waves breaking over reefs to chose from. Real life doesn’t get much better than this. I also popped my barrel cherry in a big way on this trip so it was a truely memorable one. James also somehow wangled a boat charter to some super remote islands where we scored epic surf and landed some massive fish. James’ broken Indonesian language skills will get you places. Thanks again guys you rock.

Christine Losser 04/27/21

Trustpilot
James was very helpful and always there to answer all the questions. I will definitely book again with him!

Mark Carless 05/11/21

Trustpilot
James is a super knowledgeable surfer with a great ability to match any trip requirements to the right locations. He has arranged several trips for me and my friends in France, Morocco and more recently Indonesia. Awave have a great knowledge of all the surf spots and will go the extra mile to make sure your trip is all set up. With limited time to do this myself their service was invaluable.

Andrea Gomez 05/19/21

Trustpilot
Giuliana has been amazing to work with!! She was always available and answered all my questions. Thank you for all your help! We can't wait for our trip!

Adam 05/23/21

Trustpilot
Fantastic service from start to finish from James and his team. After having several ‘self organised’ trips to Asia end with only a handful of good surf days I decided this time to use Awave in hope of maximising my valuable holiday time. James custom built a trip for me and my friends tailored for our abilities and requirements. There were no days wasted waiting for transfers as he organised it all from the airport to the beach. We scored pretty much every day whilst also having a surf trip that had that ‘off the beaten track’ feel we wanted. To round it off there was also a secret boat trip in the end where we surfed an awesome spot just us...Unforgettable. Will be using again.

Micio Pardo 07/13/21

Trustpilot
Fantastic service and support from Giulia during our trip. During a self organised trip to Maldives, we ended up in a sketchy situation: the hotel was far from the described plus the owner 'forgot' to mention that the whole island was in lockdown for a covid emergency. I quickly realized that I would need support and the best in class. That's when I decided to use Awave! Giulia answered reactively and custom built several solutions for me and my girlfriend, based on what feasible, our budget and surfing preferences!! No other words needed. Thanks Giulia, we'll be in touch again!

Caroline 07/18/21

Trustpilot
A wave travel were great! They helped me organize my trip to Sumatra. I would definitely book with them again!

Harry Vargas 07/19/21

Trustpilot
My friends and I recently went on a trip to the Maldives. We booked a week on the Hudhuranfushi resort which was amazing! The staff was very welcoming, flawless facilities and tasty food. One day our surf guide Ryan caught a fish and made some sashimi on the spot! I think that was pretty thoughtful! Awave agency really made sure all our needs where met as we where a big group of friends. A very personal approach and clear communication. Epic surf, great service, memories of a lifetime! I highly recommend traveling with Awave!

A. Laprell 09/03/21

Trustpilot
I had just arrived in Bali when the whole of Indonesia went into lockdown again. Despite travel restrictions such as mandatory vaccination and PCR tests, flight cancellations and even the fast ferries to the Mentawis being cancelled, Giulia tried everything to get me there. It was a hell of a trip to get there but totally worth it.

I scored pristine and empty Mentawis. The resort was affordable yet very luxurious given the remoteness. And with their great surf guide and their boat, I scored amazing empty waves!
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