As with most iconic activity-based destinations, it is only the perfect day or the outrageous days that find their way into the media. Tahiti is an amazing surf destination. It is about halfway between South America and Australia, this barrel rich French part of Polynesia’s most notorious islands chain it know for its crisp clean barrels and it’s the wave of death Teahupoo (actually surprisingly only one person has died here and that was in 2000) personally I have seen Teahupoo at is worst (best) during code red in 2011, in a lifetime of photographing surfing I have never seen any even come close to the magnitude and power of that wave on that day. But was a once in a lifetime event, but it is that which is plastered all over the media. Most days surfing in Tahiti is simply described as mellow fun.
Unlike a lot of surf destinations around the world Tahiti’s locals are welcoming and friendly. They love the fact that you have some to share in their wave abundance and if treated with the respect you will make local friends in no time!
Tahiti is actually 118 islands spread across five archipelagos. Possibly every island has some sort of wave at some time of the year. Historically they were only accessible by a match at the reef pass but to this day there are numerous locals and water taxi and access to most of the breaks.
While their respective worlds rotate in distant hemispheres, France and Polynesia clasp hands throughout French Polynesia’s sunny specks of land, scattered across the warm South Pacific, halfway between South America and Australia. Tube-rich Tahiti is French Polynesia’s most famous island, and while it is known for its romantic verdancy and the sensational death pits of Teahupoo, there are several surf spots on the island. For years Tahiti has hovered at the frontline for moneyed aficionados of shallow reef-pass barrels, undeniably gracing influence to today’s large number of Tahitian surfers, some of them elite tube maestros. French Polynesia, actually 118 islands spread across five archipelagos, is one of the world’s most expensive tourist destinations, and the tight Tahitian line-ups can be crowded and hostile, but aside from these pitfalls, the island is one of the world’s most exotic and beautiful places to surf if you can swing the funding and good chance of reef rash.
There are a few breaks around the main city and as you would expect these do get more crowded, Takapuna seeing it close enough to aisle out too and fairly consistent not to mention only the five minutes from Papeete. Father up the coast there is the black sand beach break of Paparoa get a lot busier with kids and families continuing on that same road (there is only one) and you will arrive at Teahupoo. Which is a very long paddle but doable and can get crazy but normally only when it get really big.
Unlike beach breaks which most of us are used to riding , most of the waves in Tahiti are reef based, which often means they are shallow and if you fall you don’t bounce off the sane budget scratched up by the coral. It swarth spending some time watching hte local to see how to avoid this. Another issue not often discussed is water flow. A lot of the reef-based waves are in a pass. Where water travels from in the lagoon out to open after and it can be a lot more like a river than a rip, once again keep an eye on the locals to know where to go and where to sit.
Best Surf Seasons in Tahiti
March – June
From March to June, the southern hemisphere comes alive, putting up consistent south swells that create some great surf options in Tahiti
Once again there is consistent swell throughout the whole f winter right up until October
AS summer arrives things start toy quieten down a,little especially towards the edn of October this is also the rainy season but it’s still warm dn if you want to hunt around there is always swell so where
Summer November to march is basically the Tahitian summer and surf is smaller and less consistent
The bottom line for surf travel is don’t always make it about the waves. If you just focus on the surf you will fail to see what an amazing place any surf destination can be. The trick is to love where you are and then add great surf as the cheery on the cake. Tahiti has a huge amount to offer and great waves for everyone are just a part of the package.