Leg 5 | Tahiti to Suwarrow, Niue, Vava'u & Tonga
World ARC 2020
May 2nd to June 8th
May 2nd 2020
June 8th 2020
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Leg 5 of the World ARC is a quintessential Sailing the South Pacific Adventure.
Spanning 38 days, 11 unique islands in four different groups, along with three ocean passages.
Starting out in Tahiti, we will cruise, snorkel, hike, and kitesurf the Society Islands of French Polynesia, including Bora Bora. We will then make a 690 mile passage to the remote Suwarrow Atoll of the Northern Cook Islands. A very special place to visit, dive, snorkel, fish, and explore. Then a 540 mile sail to the island nation of Niue.
And then finally a 230 mile sail to Vava’u in the Kingdom of Tonga, to explore the stunning island group of 40 islets. The ocean passages will allow for plenty of blue water sailing instruction, while the island visits offer endless water and beach activities, on this epic 1,460 mile journey.
Society Islands, The Leeward Island Group: Tahiti, Mo’orea, Huahine-Iti, Ra’iatea, Taha’a, Bora Bora & (Optional) Maupiti
We begin this expedition departing Papeete for Mo’orea, and sail through the majestic islands of The Leeward Group of French Polynesia. Our first sail is to Huahine Iti and Huahine Nui 87 nm northwest of Mo’orea, then on to Ra’iatea and Taha’a, and Bora Bora with an optional excursion via flight to Maupiti.
Our World ARC Expeditions are about
Suwarrow & Niue
Departing the Polynesian Islands we sail toward Suwarrow in the Cook Islands. Considered a National Park of New Zealand, this low lying coral atoll consists of a series of small islets surrounding a 60 mile long lagoon. The setting for Tom Neale’s “An Island to Oneself”, he spent many years as a castaway on this island.
Sailing on to Niue, approximately 540 nm to the southwest, we arrive in this isolated island of coral origins. Having no rivers or lakes, the water remains crystal clear year round. Caves, sheltered rocky coves, secret beaches and the Huvalu Rainforest are just a few of the highlights here.
The Kingdom of Tonga is the only remaining monarchy in the South Pacific. Comprised of three groups of islands, we visit Vava’u, a group of roughly 50 islands, approximately 435 nm southeast of Fiji. Offering exceptional cruising through Vava’u’s protected waterways, the smaller islands are surrounded by white sands and vibrant coral reefs.
The waters around Vava’u are incredibly clear with visibility near 40m. This island group is host to migrating humpback whales between June and November, making whale watching and diving excursions a priority, as well as kitesurfing the sandbars near Kenutu, Taunga and Mauna.
(Schedule is weather dependent)
Arrival times 12:00 hrs - 23:00 hrs. Arrive Fa’a’a International Airport, (PTT), and make your way to the marina, a short cab ride from the airport. Get settled, meet your fellow crew members, and learn your way around the boat.
Mo'orea - Image courtesy of The Sandy Feet
Day 2 to 3
Briefings & Training, final Preparation & Planning for the Ocean Passage
We will depart for the short sail to Mo’orea approximately 10 miles from Papeete. Mo’orea is the heart shaped island of Tahiti, and voted the third best island in the world by Condé Nast Traveler magazine. This is a hiker’s paradise, with eight sizable mountain peaks looming over a crystal clear lagoon, Mo’orea is a rugged paradise. Hiking trails of various degrees of difficulty wind through rainforests for unbelievable views of the lagoon.
For a more authentic understanding of the local culture, you may want to book an excursion with Sam at Mo’orea Maori Tours to see how the locals live.
Day 4 to 16
Sail the Society Islands of Huahine, Ra’iatea, Taha’a, & Bora Bora
The best preserved ancient remains of Polynesian temples can be found on the island of Huahine Nui and Huahine Iti. A short distance from the neighboring islands, we explore this island and coral reef not often visited by tourists. Snorkeling abounds here, and Avapeihi Pass is a definite must do, or try free diving in the coral lagoon.
Ra’iatea, the sacred island, is the birthplace of Polynesian culture. Home to the most important sacred temple in all of Polynesia, Marae Taputapuatea, an open-air temple representing the interface between the human world, and the world of the gods. It is a UNESCO heritage sight and well worth the visit on this island.
Taha’a, the vanilla island, shares a lagoon with Ra’iatea. The only access to Taha’a is by boat. There are plenty of diving options here. If sharks are your thing, get up close and personal with grey sharks at The Rairas on Ra’iatea’s east coast, or for the more experienced diver, try Octopus Hole on Taha’a. Several dive trips and snorkeling trips are available with Hemisphere Sub.
Octopus Hole - Image courtesy of Hemisphere sub
Sailing to Bora Bora from Taha’a, we rendezvous with the World ARC fleet before exploring our final island in the Societies, Maupitu, an optional excursion.
Described as the most beautiful island in the Pacific, Bora Bora is over seven million years old. Two towering peaks of black rock dominate the island, Mount Otemanu and Mount Pahia, hiking here is greatly rewarded!
The islands of Bora Bora are the eroded remnants of the slopes of a crater, enclosing the central part of an ancient volcano. The lagoon is teeming with marine life, offering snorkelers the chance to see as much as divers. In fact, looking down over the side of your boat you will see an abundance of colorful coral, rays and tropical fish. Due to the fragile nature of the marine life here, guides are required to snorkel throughout the lagoon.
Inside the lagoon to the north of the island, you will find the perfect spot to kitesurf. Motu Mute, where the flat water extends a good distance inside the lagoon, providing calm, crystal clear waters to launch and ride while watching rays and sharks below.
Another perfect spot is Matira Point. This spot requires a is slightly more advanced kiting ability due to the reef and rock in some areas.
While anchored at Bora Bora, you have the option of catching one of the many flights every week for a visit to Maupiti Island. Often overlooked on a visit to Polynesia, less populated and less commercial than other islands nearby, it is still a gem in the Leeward Group. Due to the difficult conditions to enter the lagoon via yacht, we encourage you to take the short flight from Bora Bora. Visitors are captivated by Maupiti and find it hard to believe a paradise like this exists.
Visit the Manta Ray Cleaning Station, where the giant Manta Rays swim to meet fish that clean parasites from their bodies with Sammy Maupiti Tour or snorkel the coral garden, said to be some of the best snorkeling in all of Polynesai.
A visit to the island would not be complete without a hike up Mount Teurafaatiu, with views as far as Bora Bora on a clear day. Another unforgettable experience is walking the short distance across the lagoon to Motu Auira with it’s pristine beaches. Visit Cruising World for an excellent article on the island.
Mount Teurafaatiu - Image courtesy of Cruising World
Day 17 to 37
Sail to Vava’u, Tonga via Suwarrow and Niue
We sail 690 miles to our first stop of Suwarrow. A stopping point for ships crossing the Pacific, it is named after the Russian ship Suvarov. Today, for half the year, a caretaker and his family live on the atoll. Declared a National Park of New Zealand, this northernmost atoll of the Cook Islands is remote with only the lucky few making their way to explore it’s shores. Atlas Obscura has a great article on Suwarrow.
While docked at Anchorage Island, we can reach the other islands in this atoll by dinghy. You can snorkel with pods of false killer whales, large and very inquisitive animals. Looking more like a dolphin than killer whale, found in groups of 10 or more, they are gregarious and social creatures.
Should the winds be favorable, kite board along the shores of ….
Heading southwest for 540 miles, we visit Niue, a true jewel in the South Pacific. Often referred to as “The Rock”, Niue is a self governing island, in association with New Zealand, residents are citizens of New Zealand. One of the largest raised coral atolls in the world, Niue is host to some spectacular features, hidden secrets and stunning beauty. With three days to explore the island, you will beg for more time in Niue.
Incredible diving and snorkeling, whether underwater caverns and arches or colorful marine life and coral gardens, we connect with Magical Niue Sea Adventures for amazing excursions. Due to the crystal clear visibility in the waters around Niue, the diving and snorkeling is considered some of the best in the South Pacific.
If caving is your passion, Niue is home to some of the worlds most extensive cave system. Easy to explore on your own, visit caverns like Avaiki, where the first canoe landed or Anapala, a chasm of 155 steps to what was formerly the source for fresh water for the island.
Sailing another 230 miles to Tonga, we land in Vava’u. An archipelago of more than 50 islands, the lagoon attracts many yachties sailing the South Pacific. During the months of June & July through November, Humpback whales migrate through this area, with many tour groups giving you the option of swimming with these gentle giants. If we are lucky, maybe we can time it just right.
Vava’u offers several terrific kiting options as well. This article has great information on kitesurfing beaches and the skill level required. You may prefer kayaking, or SUP any number of coves and beaches as we sail throughout this chain of islands.
Trip review, cleanup
It has been a spectacular adventure. Sailing the Polynesian Islands and venturing to far away places that you may only have dreamed of. Now, it’s time to put the ship back in shape, do our debriefings, and say goodbyes, until the next time.
The schedule above represents a typical itinerary and should only be used as a guide as actual itineraries may change and are always subject to weather and local wind conditions.
All 3rd-party activities, such as scuba diving, kite lessons, and on-shore dining are arranged directly between you and these independent providers.