Sailing Tahiti and New Caledonia
October 27, 2003
There are few islands in the South Pacific that have the beauty, charm and awesome windsurfing and kiteboarding conditions of Tahiti and New Caledonia.
The women, the bread, the food, the wine, the climate, the beaches and the wind are all awesome.
Tahitians call the sport of kiteboarding "fly surfing" because of their French affiliation. For reasons only known to them, (when you boost,
you FLY?) the Tahitians have been using flysurfing as their term of choice on the islands since day one. Overall, the kiteboarding, kitesurfing,
kiteflying, and flysurfing conditions on Tahiti and her islands are excellent, but they vary from island to island.
The Society Islands of French Polynesia are commonly referred to as "Tahiti" by many, although that is a misnomer because Tahiti is really just
one of over 130 different islands of the 5 separate archipelagos (group of islands) that comprise French Polynesia as a whole. The island of Tahiti
itself just happens to be located in the windward group of the Society Islands archipelago.
In fact, Tahiti is the largest and most famous, and the other Society Islands include Bora Bora, Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa, Maupiti, Tetiaroa, and
a few others. Tahiti is the island with the most consistent kitesurfing conditions in French Polynesia on a year round basis. Good old Venus
Point is a mainstay of the best kiters on the island, but there are many other islands, spots and conditions worthy of knowing.
Winds: No matter where on the globe you're talking about, the WIND is the first and foremost key to any windsurf and kiteboarding destination.
Similar to the Hawaiian island chain, the French Polynesian islands get a steady flow of "South Pacific tradewinds." Depending on their
direction and the season, these "tradewinds" are called either the Toerau or the Mara'amu. The Mara'amu are commonly thought of as being
best for kiting but the Toerau can be good too - it all depends on the mood of the wind.
Best time of year? The best tradewinds for kiteboarding are the south-easterly blowing Mara'amu and are USUALLY most consistent during the Polynesian
winter months (dry season) of June through September. When they blow, average winds are between 15 and 25 knots/ hour, so it's recommended to bring a
quiver of 2 kites or more.
Most of the island's kitespots are in the lagoons, well protected from the deep open waters of the Pacific. This means there are no waves, no
sharks, (really - well not big ones), and in most kite spots, the lagoons are a perfect non-intimidating depth of between 3 and 15 feet. On super
powerful days, you'll get some chop, but not much. If you WANT waves you'll have to venture out to the passes where the surfers are, but
that isn't really recommended for most kiters unless you're extremely confident due to the inherent dangers of mixing coral, waves,
wind, kite, and lines.
"The Largest Lagoon in the World" - New Caledonia is situated in the heart of the South Pacific, 1500 kms east of Australia. This land of contrast
is composed of a group of islands, The Main Island, Loyalty Islands, Isle of Pines, Belep and a myriad of small islands. The barrier reef
stretching 1600 kms and encircling the mainland island is the world's largest lagoon, and one of the most beautiful.
Cooled by the Pacific Ocean and the trade winds, New Caledonia enjoys a soft, sunny climate. From the central mountain range to the warm tropical
waters you will discover flora and fauna which people come from all over the world to discover. With an incredible mixture of ethnic groups, New
Caledonia is a land with many traditions, customs and different cultures. The blend of Melanesian and French cultures enhanced by Polynesian makes
an exciting yet harmonious lifestyle.
Climate: "Land of eternal spring," New Caledonia is blessed with a pleasant semi-tropical climate all year round. The east coast of the island is a
tropical area with a more humid climate, while the west coast features a drier, more temperate zone. The warm season, from September to March, has
temperatures averaging between 25-27C, with short occasional rains. The cool season, from April to August, has temperatures averaging between
20-23C, but water temperature stays warm enough for swimming. January to March is the rainy season, while September to November is the dry
season with October having the least rainfall.
New Caledonia is a windsurf and kiteboarding culture - each day the wind comes up and the water becomes populated. From right in the heart of the
city beaches to out in the more remote villages the wind blows.
New Caledonia offers good quality wind conditions all year and there is an abundance of local talent - both on and off the water!
If you haven't been - you should.
Courtesy of New Zealand Adventure