So you have planned a sailboat vacation in French Polynesia! What do you take?
The less you can take on a boat the better! If possible, soft sided bags are better, because once you unpack on the boat they can be folded up and stored more easily. If you are flying inter-island to your boat on a another island, like Raiatea, these flights have stricter weight limits than international flights. If your bags are overweight, you just pay the difference for excess baggage, usually not too expensive. If you have a PADI card, that will give you an extra 11 pounds. Most sail boat companies offer snorkeling equipment, and many islands have scuba diving shops. If you want to take your own equipment, that is always possible.
When you first arrive to French Polynesia from another country, don’t miss your opportunity to purchase an extra bottle or 2 of wine and liquor at the small duty free store in the Faaa airport near the baggage claim. This will be much cheaper than prices on the islands.
I encourage you to plan a few days on the island of Tahiti before or after your sailing trip. Download my list of Top Experiences not to be Skipped on the Island of Tahiti
Here is a packing list for 10 days to get you started. Pack according to your taste, and adjust based on the number of days, and what you do before and after boating. Let me know if there is something you find useful that I have missed on the list.
- 2 swimsuits
- snorkeling gear if you don’t want to use what is provided
- quick dry bath towel
- a few hair clips to keep the wind from blowing in your face
- dry bags – various sizes, one for cell phone for example, a larger one that is also a backpack to keep a camera dry if you go ashore.
- phone/camera/chargers/external disks/computer + extra batteries + adapters
- underwater case for phone/camera
- water shoes
- cheap flip flops
- nicer flip flops
- sturdy shoes if you plan on hiking
- sailing gloves if you want to actively participate in sailing. fishing gloves
- short socks – to prevent blisters from flippers when snorkeling or hiking
- lycra t-shirt & pair of leggings, for sun protection when snorkeling, dries quickly
- long sleeved shirt & light weight pants for sun protection on the boat
- hat/cap with strap so it doesn’t get blown off
- windproof/waterproof jacket for heavy winds and rain
- 1 skirt
- 1 casual nice outfit to go out in
- 2 pairs of shorts
- 3-5 tops
- 3-5 pairs quick drying underwear
- 1-2 bras
- large scarf or pareo (or buy one locally)
- insect repellent
- sunscreen, reef friendly (check out this guide for sunscreen)
- polarized sunglasses with strap
- powerful, waterproof flashlight – incase you need to find your boat at night – even better if it is a frontal head lamp that will leave your hands free
- any prescription medications you need
- ziplock bags with your over the counter medications (aspirin, waterproof band aids, seasickness medication, etc.)
- toiletries, preferably environmentally friendly
- backpack for any day excursions – there are ones that are dry bags as well
- a reusable ‘shopping bag’ – most grocery stores and markets don’t provide bags
- PADI card if you want to go scuba diving
- If you like fishing, you can bring a fishing reel
- a good book – there may be spots where you won’t have internet connection
- download a good gps based application on your phone to be able to follow where the boat is going
Depending on your charter agreement, if you are bareboating (doesn’t include a captain and a cook) here are few suggestions for the comfort of your trip.
You will want a good knife that cuts well – if there is not one on the boat, buy one for the trip. Check that you have sufficient plastic chairs to be able to sit around the main sitting area, you can always ask for a couple extras. If you are sailing during the rainy season, ask for 2 towels per person from the boat rental company as sometimes it can be difficult to dry them quickly. There should always be a thermometer on board. Check to see if the refrigerator on board makes ice – if not, you will need to plan to purchase ice every 2-3 days.
Keep lots of Tahitian Limes (citron) and some fresh ginger (gingembre). Combine lime juice with ginger puree, some honey to taste and some ice for a natural concoction to prevent seasickness. (You must take it well before hitting the open ocean). The limes are used to squeeze on coral scrapes to prevent infection. And great for cocktails too.
I would love to hear about your trip and what you found the most exciting.