Surfing in Tahiti is a dream for all surfers: experience freedom and adrenaline. With a heavenly setting and almost transparent water, the Queen Island of French Polynesia has many great spots. However, the risk exists and it is essential to keep in mind.
Tips & Warnings
Surfing in Tahiti Is a Local Tradition
Polynesian people have a special relationship with the sea and the ocean. Source of abundance and place of ancient legends, the ocean is demanding: it gives but it can also take. Although Polynesian society has modernized, this relationship is strongly rooted in the local culture.
Surfing in Tahiti and in the wider Polynesia is more than a sport or a leisure activity: it is a way of life and a philosophy. Polynesian children practice surfing from a very young age and later on, some of them will become internationally renowned champions. They always keep an intimate relationship with the sea, with the elements, where respect and humility are the keys to success.
Therefore, a dispute exists with some tourists who believe they have the right to surf freely on the spot of their choice. The issue is both sporting and cultural. In response, many Polynesians apply localism. If you want to surf the waves in Tahiti, it is important to understand this and to respect the codes of conduct and priority. Interacting with the locals is essential: learn by talking to them and observing them.
Surfing in Tahiti Can Be Dangerous
In Tahiti, waves vary in size, generally between 1m and 2.5m depending on the season. They are particularly impressive during the southern winter, from May to October. These passing waves are powerful and hollow. They break violently on a very shallow reef. Falls are to be expected.
Without technical skills, the experience can be perilous and more or less serious injuries are possible. Never go on waves if you don’t have the appropriate level. Beginners and surfers of intermediate level will stay on less ambitious spots but on which they will take pleasure.
For your safety, we recommend that you wear water shoes and a helmet. On the other hand, you will not need a wetsuit, given the temperatures in the water. The risk of shark attacks is almost insignificant. However, we recommend that you avoid the area around the diving spots because of the crowds.
Surfing for Beginners in Tahiti
Orofara, Spot on the East Coast
The beginners will go in priority on the black sand beaches of Papenoo to taste the joys of surfing. The spot is a “beach break” left and right, where the waves break on a sandy bottom. Often, these waves do not exceed one meter and they will please a lot the children and the people wishing to discover the surfing without danger.
Therefore, the site is quite crowded and the atmosphere is good. This spot is ideal for young surf schools and hosts several of their competitions.
Papara, Spot on the West Coast
Here is a nice “beach break” left and right for beginners and intermediate levels. On one of the most beautiful beaches in Tahiti, Taharuu delights surfers with accessible and calm waves. Beware of pebbles on the shore.
Close to the Tahiti golf course, the site is perfectly set up for families who enjoy this black sand beach for picnics and socializing. At the end of the week, expect a few people and wait on the line-up. The mood is vacation and the atmosphere is warm.
Spots for Experienced Surfers
Taapuna, the Polynesian Spot
Go to the district of Punaauia and discover one of the favorite spots of the local champions. After a 20 minute paddle to reach the pass, you will find yourself facing Moorea in an incredible setting. The currents are strong and the corals are low to the water. The site is only for experienced and professional surfers.
Taapuna is an impressive left reef break. The waves are powerful and tubular. They are less hollow than in Teahupoo and allow several maneuvers before breaking on the reef. The mastery of the fast take-off is mandatory, under penalty of heavy falls on the corals.
Teahupoo, the Wave of Tahiti
One of the most famous surf spots in the world is located on the peninsula of Tahiti. This left reef break is both fascinating and monstrous. The waves are powerful, hollow and can sometimes reach a height of ten meters. The gigantic tube closes quickly with force and crash. The incredible natural scenery and the clarity of the water show an almost dry coral bottom. Teapuhoo is only for champions because any fall is potentially dangerous.
Teahupoo became a legend in 2000 when American Laird Hamilton managed to dominate the Millennium Wave. Since then, the site has attracted visitors from all over the world who flock not to surf but to watch the champions compete against the forces of nature. It is a unique experience to live aboard a boat that will take you closer to the peak.
Surfing Competitions in Tahiti
If you want to see the best surfers performing, Tahiti hosts several international competitions each year. The Tahiti Pro is a stage of the world championship and takes place in August in Teahupoo. Less known but more authentic, the Taapuna Master is the Polynesian surfing competition, gathering surfers from all the islands. Many water cabs are available to attend the events.
The major event coming up will of course be the 2024 Olympic Games. Indeed, the French Olympic Committee has decided to organize the surfing events in Tahiti on the spot of Teahupoo. This great initiative will give the Polynesian champions the opportunity to practice their passion at home on one of the most beautiful waves in the world. A competition you shouldn’t miss under any circumstances!
Prepare Your Trip to French Polynesia
Tahiti still has many challenging and rewarding surf spots. You can then discover the sites of the other islands, especially Huahine which is the cradle of surfing in Polynesia. If you don’t surf, you will discover an extraordinary culture and way of life: the South Sea Islands. Contact us to organize your stay!