Our Tahiti base is located in Raiatea, called the The Sacred Island, as it was once at the heart of ancient Polynesia. Our base is at Marina Apooiti, less than one mile from the town of Uturoa. The base is located in the middle of the Leeward Islands, the northwestern group of French Polynesia, and is located just two minutes from the airport.
Base open hours
Our base is open all year around. The office hours are from 7.30-5pm.
Tahiti base facilties include:
A shower facility, briefing room, restaurants, dive centre, Internet, public phone, water, fuel, weather forecast. Supermarkets are located in Uturoa, 10 minutes by taxi and 30 minutes by boat.
You will find complete facilities at the marina, including toilets, washbasins and showers. They are near the Sunsail office and are open 24 hours a day. Please ask the Sunsail staff for the key if it is a weekend or public holiday.
Arrival and departure
Raiatea is GMT -10 hours from the UK.
Gatwick information: 0844 335 1802
Heathrow information: 0870 000 0123
Manchester information: 0871 271 0711
Luton information: 0158 240 5100
Glasgow information: 0870 040 0008
Luggage allowance is 20kg per person. Only one item of hand luggage per person is allowed and this must not weigh more than 5kg. For storage aboard we recommend traveling light and using folding luggage.
Lost or damaged luggage whilst flying is the responsibility of the airline and is not covered by your travel insurance; however Thomson Airways has no liability for loss or damage to valuable or fragile items packed in hold baggage however caused. You must not include in Checked Baggage money, jewellery, precious metals, computers, personal electronic devices, negotiable papers, securities or other valuables, business documents, passports and other identification documents or samples.
If an incident occurs, immediately report it to airport officials and ensure Property Irregularity Reports (PIR) are completed. Claims will not be considered once you have left the airport.
If you are taking our Thomson Airways flights and wish to enquire about pre booking seats please call the airline direct on 0844 871 1603. Group seats are available for pre booking through Sunsail. Call the team for more details. Please note: Thomson Airways are unable to provide a priority check-in service for your inbound flight. This service operates at London Gatwick outbound only.
After a stop in the international airport of Papeete-Tahiti, you will take a plane with a local company to Raiatea.
Papeete-Tahiti Airport facilities
Several gift and pearl boutiques, a flower shop, car rental, restaurants, Internet points, duty-free shop, money exchange and a bank.
You can pre-book a minivan or taxi from North Uturoa Airport to the Marina. Alternatively take a taxi to the base a journey of approximately five minutes.
- Mini van: CFP 300 per person.
- Taxi: CFP 1,500 per taxi for max four passengers.
- Bus: CFP 5,000 for 20 or more passengers.
Please provide us with your flight information prior to departure so that we may schedule a transfer for you from the airport to the base.
We would highly recommend packing prescription medicine and essential clothing (swimsuit, t-shirt and shorts) in your hand luggage as occasionally your luggage may arrive at the base after you do.
Please pack using soft-sided bags, as these are easier to store on your yacht.
Passport and visas
You must have a valid passport when you travel to Tahiti. Please ensure that your passport is valid for up to six months beyond your scheduled stay. Visas are generally not required if staying for less than 30 days. You need a visa if you stay more than three months in French Polynesia.
Your passport name must match the name on the flight ticket otherwise you may not be able to travel and insurance may be invalid. If your child is not already included on a valid British Passport they are required to hold their own passport. British Passports holders do not require a visa.
Please note country entry/exit requirements are subject to change. Please check www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice for the latest information before you leave.
We are not responsible for any requirement changes.
Customs and immigration
On arrival, you will be required to show your passport, completed Immigration card (distributed on the aircraft) and your return ticket. Going through immigration, customs and baggage collection can take up to an hour.
Duty free allowances are similar to those in the EU. Airlines will assume no liability for perishable articles, e.g. food, which may also be confiscated by Ccstoms.
No airport departure tax or taxes/customs charges apply.
Most clients land around 8am and fly out again around 5.50pm. If your arrival is earlier or later we can arrange for you to be met by our customer service staff. Check in will not be earlier than 12pm.
Out of hours arrival procedure
In the evening a short briefing is arranged for overnight. A full briefing is given the following day.
Disembarkation is at 9am. This is the mandatory time when the boat must be returned and ready for debriefing and checks. If you have booked an early morning flight on the day your charter is ending, it is preferable you return to port in the middle of the afternoon the day before to carry out these formalities.
Before disembarkation please collect a debrief form from reception. The debrief form is to let us know if you have encountered any problems with the boat or broken anything during the trip, this enables us to rectify problems for the next charter.
In addition to filling in forms we also require you to bag dirty laundry and leave in the cockpit, empty all cupboards and fridges of food and throw away, return snorkel gear and any lifejackets borrowed from reception and ensure that the boat is handed back to Sunsail in a clean and tidy state. We reserve the right to charge for boats left less than shipshape.
Sailing experience: Level 2
Experience levels are based on sailing conditions and the length of passages within your chosen sailing area. Follow the link for more information on the sailing conditions.
To charter a yacht in Tahiti, there must be at least one skipper and one crew member, both over 18 years old. The skipper should be competent at handling a yacht in close quarters, anchoring and mooring in varying conditions and be able to use navigation and pilotage skills to plan the day’s sailing and know your position at any time. As a yacht skipper, you are required to have a sailing license or a certificate from a recognised sailing association as detailed below:
Skipper is REQUIRED to have one (1) of the following:
- ICC (International Certificate of Competence), International–Prerequisites: RYA “Day Skipper Course” or similar/equivalent certification from any recognised sailing association or complete the ICC Assessment form to prove competence from previous experience.
- IPC (International Proficiency Certificate), America–Prerequisites: ASA 104 or US Sailing “Bareboat Cruising Course”
- UK: RYA Day Skipper practical (with our without photo)
- USA: US Sailing “Bareboat Cruising Course”, ASA “104 Bareboat Cruising Course” or above
- Germany: Sportbootführerschein See“ or above
- Belgium: Algemeen Stuurbrevet/ Brevet de conduite général
- France: Le Permis Plaisance
Or a similar/equivalent certification from any recognised sailing association
It is essential to have a sailing license for the skipper. This document has to be registered in the transit log and presented to the port authorities.
Cruising permits and taxes
Cruising permits are not required in Tahiti.
Night time sailing
You are not permitted to sail at night unless it has been agreed with the base manager prior to departure.
Cruising area limits
This information will be provided in the chart briefing, however for passages to the islands of Raiatea, Bora Bora, Huahine and Tahaa the base may ask you to sign a waiver confirming your experience in making such long passages. Passing to the south of Raiatea (Passe Nao Nao) is prohibited.
Mooring fees and taxes
All moorings in the area belong either to restaurants, charter companies or similar and are usually for their clients. As a guest you may use them free of charge otherwise call the owner to ask for permission. In most places you will anchor.
Charts and pilot book
All the charts and pilot books you will need for the sailing area are on board the yacht. Charts and pilot books can be purchased by mail order from the UK chandler Kelvin Hughes by contacting 02380 634911.
Skippered charter information
Sailing to Tuamotus is only permitted when there is a Sunsail skipper on board and cannot be done at all during the months of November, December, January, February and March.
The skipper’s time is booked from 12pm-12pm in 24-hour periods. If you have reserved a skipper for the first day of your charter and have a 6pm start, he or she will use this time to ensure they are happy with all aspects of the yacht and will be at the base to meet you upon your arrival. If you've reserved a skipper for a later date on your charter they will start at 12pm on that day.
The skipper is responsible for the safety of the yacht at all times. They are not permitted to dive with you, nor leave the vessel overnight. He or she must conduct a safety brief with you before leaving the dock regardless of the duration of the contract with you.
For “check out charters” (anything less than the full duration of the charter) the check out skipper’s time is booked from 6pm-6pm to allow for a meet and greet in the evening and go over basic systems, then a full day with you the next day.
The skipper is required to give you a thorough briefing on all aspects of the yacht and dinghy in addition to assisting you with planning an itinerary for the trip and advising you how to contact the base, the return to base procedures and the emergency assistance procedures. We suggest that you attend the scheduled chart brief that will be supplemented by the skipper during his or her time with you on the yacht. We also suggest that you make it clear exactly what you want to cover: anchoring, docking, etc.
The skipper fee does not include food or beverages for the skipper and this is your responsibility. We suggest that you discuss this on the first day with your skipper and establish whether you'll provide cash for meals, whether you've included him or her in your provisioning or whether you'll accommodate him or her as part of the group for meals ashore.
The skipper must have his or her own cabin. We prefer not to put the skipper in the bow due to the shared head and size of the cabin. If you expect your skipper to stay in the bow, please let us know well in advance so that we can choose the appropriate (small) skipper.
For one-day check out skippers, it's your responsibility to get the skipper back to the base. If you prefer not to come back to the base you must pay all expenses (ferry, taxi, etc.) to get him or her back to the base.
The average tip for a skipper is 15-20 percent of the skipper’s fee. This is, of course, at your discretion.
Cost guide: Approximately EUR 1.25 per litre
Fuel station location: Uturoa
Cool boxes are available at the base on a first come first served basis at no additional charge. Please sign these out and return them clean and undamaged, otherwise there will be a charge for replacement. Only one per boat.
Banks and money exchange
The French Colonies of the Pacific (CFP) Franc is the currency used in French Polynesia.
Keep around CFP 20,000 cash during the cruising time (for moorings, water, etc.).
EUR 1=CFP 119.33
Euros and US dollars are accepted throughout the Leeward Islands.
In the main town of Uturoa (three miles from the base) you will find several banks with ATMs.
Banque de Tahiti: 8am-12pm and 1pm-3.45pm
Banque de Polynésie: 7.45am-3.45pm
Banque Socredo: 7.30am-11.30am and 1.30pm-4pm
Credit card information
Visa and MasterCard are accepted in most of the larger restaurants and supermarkets. Payments with American Express are limited.
Currency can be exchanged commission free at any high street TUI retail travel agent on production of your Sunsail invoice. You can pre-order your currency from a TUI travel agent by telephoning them in advance on 0870 9005154 to find your nearest branch.
The official languages of the Raiatea Tahitian and French. English is spoken in the tourist areas.
Cost of living in Raiatea
Prices are in general higher than average. For example, a meal in a restaurant costs between CFP 2000 and CFP 6000 (USD 20/USD 60).
Bora Bora Yacht Club
Tel: 689 4067 6047
The Yacht Club is situated just northeast of the entrance of the pass in Bora Bora. There is an array of services on offer including delicious waterside dining, bar, live music weekends, mooring buoys, water, wireless Internet access, rubbish disposal, hot showers, bicycles, laundry, book ex-change and boutique.
Tel: 689 87 34 98 38
Open every day. Friday is Polynesian Night. Reservations required.
Tipping is standard and expected in all restaurants and bars and for other services undertaken during your holiday. The rule of thumb is generally 10-15 percent of the amount charged. Some establishments automatically add this onto the bill.
There is an excellent central market in downtown Uturoa, located between the docking area and the main road. You'll find inexpensive produce, wonderful fruit and vegetables. Markets are open six days a week with limited hours on Sunday. Mon-Sat from 7.30am-6pm and Sunday 6am-11.30am.
Beside the ship dock "Gare Maritime Building" is a shopping centre with a couple of restaurants, boutiques, jewellery shops and an arts and crafts village where you will find hand painted dresses and pareos, woven hats and bags, woodcarvings and shell jewellery.
A post office is located in Uturoa three miles from the base. The post office is open Mon-Fri from 7.30am-3pm during the week and from 8am-10am during weekends.
Stamps, post cards and letterbox are available at the base.
VAT is included in prices, accommodation taxes exist for hotels but for charter there is city tax of CFP 100=USD 1 per person.
Tel: 689 40 66 20 00
Located 2.5 miles from the marina on the west side. The fantastic location means you can catch a beautiful sunset and Bora Bora view.
PK 2 , Apooiti Bay
B.P. 397, 98735 Uturoa
Telephone: +689 66 33 47
Fax: +689 66 33 08
Located by the base and comprised of 22 bungalows, Sunset Beach organises kite boarding, snorkelling and scuba diving.
Electrical, phones and music
The standard voltage on all yachts is 12 volts. In order to use electronic equipment that is 220 volts you will need an inverter suitable for use in a cigarette lighter.
The VINI networks everywhere around and if you have an extension for your own mobile phone you can use it in French Polynesia. Otherwise you can buy a SIM card to have a local number.
Internet access is available at the base. You can find wireless Internet access zones on each island. You can also buy a data sim card for 3G Internet.
All boats are fitted with a radio and CD player. If you wish to listen to your iPod whilst sailing you will need to bring along an I-trip or FM radio transmitter. You can also find USB or jack plug onboard, just bring the wire.
The Leeward Islands have many activities to offer such as scuba diving, snorkelling, tours of islands in 4-wheel drives, deep sea fishing, visits to vanilla plantations, black pearl farms to visit, maraes (holy places), horseback riding and trekking.
Tahiti Pearl Regatta takes place in May over four days. This handicap race with non-spinnaker divisions is open to all charter boats. There are legs from Raiatea to Tahaa and Bora-Bora.
Dancing and singing
“July” (Tiurai) is a month of festivities with dancing and a singing contest on all islands.
Foreign and International licenses accepted. All the main car rental companies are present at the airport. You will find small car rental companies that offer very competitive daily rates.
- Avis /Tahiti, Tel: 689 40 41 93 93
- Avis/Raiatea, Tel: 689 40 66 34 06
- Herz, Tel: 689 40 66 35 35
We offer a wide range of food and drinks packages to suit your party’s needs.
Hawaiki Nui Vaa’ is the biggest local canoe race with around 100 canoes participating each year. It is a three days race held each year around the end of October and a nice typical event to see. A lot of sailing boats follow this race each year.
Bora Bora diving centre-Top Dive
Hemisphere sub in Raiatea Marina Apooiti, Tel: 689 40 66 12 49.
Mahana Dive Club in Huahine.
We have a range of snorkelling gear which you may wish to use. We are limited on children’s sizes so if you have your own you may wish to bring them with you.
The newest way to experience the water. Experience gliding on the water's surface; this is as close as it gets to 'walking on water' and is suitable for all ages.
Most of the lagoon fishes can be affected by ciguatera disease, so it's better not to eat them.
Offshore fish such as bonito, tuna and mahi mahi are edible. Crabs and lobsters are rare but taste very good.
Health and safety
Illness or injury
If you get ill and visit the doctor or hospital during your trip contact a member of Sunsail staff as soon as possible on either your lead boat or at our base. If you need to make a claim for curtailment due to illness, ask the base manager for assistance and contact your insurer’s emergency medical service immediately.
Your insurance company will assist with travel arrangements, advice and payment of bills.
Obtain receipts for any medication, treatment or transport you have to pay for and submit with your claim.
All yachts are equipped with adult life jackets and harnesses. We leave it up to you to decide when personal safety equipment should be worn.
We have a limited supply of children’s life jackets (age 4+ only). If you have your own children’s life jacket we would encourage you to bring it along.
We suggest that children who are not strong swimmers should not be allowed in a dinghy without a life jacket or buoyancy aid and that they should wear a buoyancy aid or harness when on deck.
Children under the age of 16 should not operate an outboard engine and should be supervised at all times when in the dinghy.