Wednesday, 11 December 2013 8:12 AM
The South Pacific is well-known for being home to some of the world’s most beautiful and unspoilt tropical islands and, naturally, it lends itself incredibly well to sailing holidays. Read on to find out more about island hopping in this stunning region.
Where to travel to
If you want to have an island-hopping sailing holiday in the South Pacific then Tonga and Tahiti are two wonderful options. Neither of these is what you’d describe as a budget holiday destination either, so you can expect plenty of luxurious little extras as you’re cruising around.
Of course, you can up the opulence onboard your yacht by choosing a crewed charter, which will see you provided with a captain and chef for the duration of your trip, so you won’t need to do a thing if you don’t want to.
Firstly, however, you need to decide which destination you’d prefer to explore by boat – Tonga or Tahiti? We’ve put together a brief overview of both these wonderful spots below.
Tonga is made up of 171 islands and is situated between Tahiti and Fiji. The country is perfect for sailing holidays, with the isles close enough together that the majority of navigation is line-of-sight, while there are reliable trade winds for most of the year.
You’ll typically begin a sailing holiday here on the main island of Vava’u, where you’ll get your first experience of Tongan hospitality – the nation has even been nicknamed the Friendly Islands after Captain Cook praised the welcome he got when first arriving on these shores.
From here, it’s easy to reach some of Tonga’s other islands, with Pangiamotu one that you certainly shouldn’t miss. This isle is a short sail from Vava’u and is home to one of Tonga’s most pristine beaches – Hinakauea. As well as the gorgeous palm-fringed sands, there’s another reason to come here – for a traditional Polynesian feast.
Locals cook up all kinds of delicacies (including lobster and beef) in special underground ovens, providing you with a feast to remember.
Kapa Island is another place you should stop on your sailing trip of the country, with this home to one of Tonga’s most beautiful natural attractions, Swallows Cave.
This grotto got its name due to the swifts that nest in its roof, although there’s much more to see here than just the birds. The cave itself is full of impressive stalactites and stalagmites and opens out to the sea, so you can explore by snorkelling or walking, depending on what you fancy.
Tahiti is, of course, in the wonderful French Polynesia, which is made up of 118 islands spread between five archipelagos. Most yacht charters will focus on just one of these groups and one of the best is that containing Tahiti, as well as Bora-Bora, Huahine and Raiatea.
This is known as the Society group and sailing between its isles is a real delight. Set out from Tahiti to pay a visit to Bora-Bora, which is one of the most picturesque spots in the world. This island is encircled by a protective barrier reef, which makes the waters close to shore calm and ideal for swimming or snorkelling.
Moor up in one of the lagoons and then head ashore to pristine white sand beaches where you can top up your tan and enjoy the scenery.
From here, make sure you stop at Raiatea, which is home to a host of fascinating cultural and historical sites. There’s no better way to gain an insight into Polynesian culture than by spending a day or two exploring the likes of Taputapuatea Marae – a large archaeological complex that dates back more than 1,000 years. The site was once the centre of East Polynesian religion and spirituality.