The Islands of Tahiti is reputed as one of the best surfing destinations in the Pacific Ocean. If you’ve never tried surfing before, you can learn how to catch a wave and ride it to the beach, during your vacation.

The first references to surfing come in the descriptions made by early explorers, such as James Cook during his visits to Hawaii and Tahiti in the 18th century. An entry in his journal in 1777 reads: ‘I could not help concluding that this man felt the most supreme pleasure while he was driven on so fast and so smoothly by the sea.’ In Polynesia, surfing is part of the ancestral tradition and there has always been a hierarchy in the sport. In ancient times, the best boards and best beaches were reserved for the ari’i chiefs and other members of the ruling class. There is still a possessive aspect to surfing, so when you visit a beach for the first time, be polite and pleasant and the local surfers will be pleased to welcome you. A ‘Ia ora na‘ with a smile goes a long way. The best places to learn to surf are where the wave breaks directly onto the beach, as opposed to on the reef. Tahiti has plenty of surf beaches where the surf clubs offer beginners courses, and they’ll soon have you up and riding like a pro. Experienced surfers will enjoy a ‘surf trip’ to the Tuamotu Islands, where there’s an exceptional choice of surf spots.

The right place at the right time

The best way to learn how to surf is to take a few lessons. There are many surfing clubs that give courses for beginners, especially in the Society Islands. Tahiti has the most surf spots, including many that are suitable for beginners, especially on the northwest and northeast coasts. However, you need to have some experience before trying to ride the waves in Moorea and elsewhere in The Islands of Tahiti. The local surf clubs will be able to tell you which waves are suitable for your level. The most famous wave in Tahiti is known as ‘jaws’ at Teahupoo. Considered the heaviest surfing wave in the word, it is very dangerous and strictly reserved for top class surfers. There are excellent surf spots in Taapuna, Papara and Mahina. Beginners will enjoy the beaches at Orofara and Taharuu where the waves can reach between 1,5 and 2 meters high.

The best period for surfing depends largely on the orientation of the beach in relation to the ocean swell. Beaches such as Papenoo in the north of Tahiti have the best conditions from November to March, whereas the beaches in the south, like Taharuu, can be surfed all year round. The water temperature in Tahiti is 25°C, so you don’t need a heavy wetsuit, and beginners, who tend to spend quite a lot of time in the water, won’t get too cold.

Other watersports in Tahiti

The warm, clear waters and the trade winds that blow in The Islands of Tahiti create perfect conditions for almost all watersports. Kitesurf, windsurf, sailing, surfing, paddleboard, kayak, and the latest craze, foil, are just some of the many nautical activities you can try during your vacation.

Like any sport, surfing has its own rules and regulations. When you first start, it’s vitally important that you pay attention to your instructor. The waves are powerful and the boards travel at speed, so accidents can easily happen if you’re not extremely careful. Once you’ve mastered surfing, you might like to try the latest craze in watersports, foil. A long fin under the board makes it rise out of the water at a certain speed, and you have the sensation of flying just above the waves.


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