Leaving the boat in Taravao, Tahiti

It’s time to fly home! Where’s a good place to leave our boat in the Society Islands while we go home for a few months? You know, to visit family, work, get married, the usual stuff! 🙂

We chose Port Phaeton in the town of Taravao, which is one of the best anchorages in French Polynesia. It is nearly landlocked,  deep in a bay sheltered by numerous reefs and headlands. It is sheltered from every wind angle, especially the tropical summer storm winds from the NW, and the wintery maramus from SE.

During the summer season (Nov-Apr), occasionally tropical depressions and storms (and very rare cyclones) make their way to Tahiti. However, during the winter season (May-Oct) the weather is usually mild, with the only problem being periodic fronts with drizzly rain and gusty winds.

Taravao is located in the isthmus between the two lobes of Tahiti, which are called Tahiti Nui (“big Tahiti) and Tahiti Iti (“small Tahiti”). In this regard, Tahiti is similar to Maui or Catalina island, with an isthmus separating two lobes.

The anchorage in Port Phaeton, Taravao. The small marina and boatyard can be seen in the back left.

Locals refer to Tahiti Iti as “Presqu’ile”, which means peninsula in French. The presqu’ile has a notoriety for being wet; precipitation is higher because it is east-facing into the trade winds. This is one of the downsides of Taravao- it is more wet than Papeete, which is in the drier (lee) side of the island. In contrast, Papeete’s anchorages and marinas are not very protected from the summertime tropical storms, which hit it square on from the NW.

One of the local liveaboards in Port Phaeton offers a boat watch service, with a weekly visit to check the boat and provide ventilation by opening hatches. We’re seeing if he does a good job 🙂

The Carrefour grocery store is the large building on the foreground, right side. Taravao is second largest town in Tahiti, offering a number of services including a hospital and hardware stores, acting as a crossroads between Tahiti Nui and Tahiti Iti.

Pros/Cons of Taravao vs. Marina Taina (Papeete)


+ Excellent protection from any wind

+ Excellent holding ground

+ Convenient shopping (Carrefour, hardware stores)

+ Low theft risk, rural environment

– increased rain

– less boat services available

– less social activities, no bar

– 1 hour to airport, can cost $100 for taxi


Marina Taina (near Papeete)

+ right next to airport, 15min bus to downtown, access to specialty boat work

+ moorings available

+ bars like Pink Coconut and Casablanca

+ across from Moorea

– congested with boats, urbanized environment

– not protected from NW storm wind

– very rolly during big swells (inside the lagoon)

Getting ready for the flight on French Bee, the new budget airline flying from SF to Tahiti! Amazing!


6 thoughts on “Leaving the boat in Taravao, Tahiti

  1. Ah, my tropical love birds! Sweet fiances!
    May your wings catch the right winds and your travel go as planned. I am so happy that I get to see you on the Mainland soon!
    Diyana AKA “DD”

  2. How did the boat watcher work out? Did you just stay on anchor? We may want to do a similar thing. Have been to that bay before. Lovely spot. I think there used to be a bus to Papeete.

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