Discovering French Polynesia
We spoke to one captain about why you should look beyond Tahiti when cruising French Polynesia…
We spoke to John Crupi, captain of 45m Dorothea III, about his experiences of cruising the South Pacific, focusing on French Polynesia in particular.
“When people talk about Tahiti I’m not so sure they grasp the whole concept of the area surrounding it,” says Crupi. He explains that, while Tahiti may be considered the yachting hub of French Polynesia, there is much to be gained from cruising in between each individual place and owners would do well to explore its varied cultural delights and “sheer beauty”.
Crupi, who is currently anchored on board Dorothea III off the Marquesas Islands, describes his location as stunning: "You have 4000ft cliffs that drop right into the ocean, some of the world’s largest waterfalls that you can anchor under as they fall right into pristine bays. Some of the largest Tikis in the world are found on Hiva Oa (the second largest island in the Marquesas Islands), the fishing and diving and all the cultural experiences of all the Marquesan people are out there and no one experiences them.”
With regards to infrastructure, the region is somewhat lacking, with only a single marina in Tahiti, Marina Taina, which can accommodate around 20 vessels under 60m. “As a result, it often gets overrun by large sailing yachts that come up from New Zealand during the season,” Crupi explains. For larger yachts of 60 to 100m there is dockage available in the port area of Tahiti with fixed piers, albeit it in a commercial environment.
Crupi adds that regulation in and around Tahiti is fairly accommodating of superyachts: “You’ve got pilotage requirements in Tahiti but that's just for Tahiti itself. Once you clear though, you’re in. It’s extremely user friendly.”
Surprisingly for Crupi, a number of the areas beyond Tahiti get overlooked by visiting superyachts. “Tuamotu, for example, is an amazing destination. However, I think that the specifics relating to cruising in these destinations have not been published widely and, therefore, what happens is that people recognise Tahiti as a hub and fail to make the most of the other locations… I have been cruising here since 2012 and in all the years I have cruised the Marquesas and Tuamotus I have only seen two other yachts cruising here,” he continues.
Perhaps one of the factors that puts owners, guests and captains off from visiting the region is the perceived lack of traditional yachting infrastructure. “You’re off the hook here, everything has to be flown in,” continues Crupi. “The amount of forward planning required to fly in food and fuel often puts people off, but as you don't pay dock fees the extra 500-600 dollars a week to fly provisions may actually be more economical when you don't have to spend a thousand dollars a day on dockage. The juice is definitely worth the squeeze."
Crupi believes that the experience of the destination overshadows any logistical headaches: “We did a dive here yesterday in Rangiroa and water visibility is 60-100m. We had a school of porpoise swim up to us and almost hug us! Those who prefer to stick to marina life won’t have the same stories that I do.”
In our upcoming issue, The Superyacht Migration Report, we consider a variety of alternative superyacht destinations, including French Polynesia. To get your own copy, click on the link here.
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