The Cost of Sailing in French Polynesia
The Cost of Sailing in French Polynesia

Planning a sailing trip to French Polynesia? Don't forget to budget for boat maintenance, provisioning, and fees to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey.

The Cost of Sailing in French Polynesia

French Polynesia, a collection of 118 islands and atolls in the South Pacific, is a dream destination for many sailors. With its crystal-clear waters, vibrant marine life, and lush landscapes, it’s no wonder that this paradise is on the bucket list of many who are leaving the rat race behind and setting sail with their families.

However, sailing in French Polynesia can be expensive, and it’s essential to budget accordingly to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down the costs associated with sailing in French Polynesia, from boat maintenance and provisioning to fees and permits, so you can plan your adventure with confidence.

Table of Contents

  1. Boat Maintenance and Repairs
  2. Provisioning
  3. Fuel and Water
  4. Fees and Permits
  5. Communications and Internet
  6. Healthcare and Insurance
  7. Entertainment and Activities
  8. Transportation and Travel
  9. Miscellaneous Expenses
  10. Conclusion

Boat Maintenance and Repairs

One of the most significant expenses when sailing in French Polynesia is maintaining and repairing your boat. The harsh marine environment, combined with the remote location of many islands, can lead to increased wear and tear on your vessel. It’s essential to budget for regular maintenance, as well as any unexpected repairs that may arise during your journey.

Some common maintenance tasks and their approximate costs in French Polynesia include:

  • Haul-out and bottom paint: $2,000 - $4,000
  • Engine service: $500 - $1,000
  • Sail repairs: $200 - $500
  • Rigging inspection and replacement: $1,000 - $3,000

Keep in mind that these costs can vary depending on the size and type of your boat, as well as the specific services required. It’s also worth noting that labor costs in French Polynesia can be higher than in other cruising destinations, so be prepared to pay a premium for skilled technicians.


Provisioning is another significant expense when sailing in French Polynesia. While you’ll find a variety of fresh produce, meats, and other staples at local markets, imported goods can be quite expensive due to the remote location and high import taxes.

To save money on provisioning, consider the following tips:

  • Stock up on non-perishable items before arriving in French Polynesia, as these can be much cheaper in other countries.
  • Shop at local markets for fresh produce, as these are often more affordable and offer a better selection than supermarkets.
  • Buy in bulk when possible, as this can lead to significant savings on items like rice, pasta, and canned goods.
  • Be flexible with your meal planning and adapt your recipes to incorporate local ingredients, which are often cheaper and more readily available.

On average, expect to spend around $800 - $1,200 per month on provisioning for a family of four, depending on your dietary preferences and how much you dine out.

Fuel and Water

Fuel and water are essential resources when sailing in French Polynesia, and their costs can add up quickly. Diesel prices in the region are relatively high, averaging around $1.20 - $1.50 per liter. For a boat with a 200-liter fuel tank, this equates to approximately $240 - $300 to fill up.

Water can also be expensive, particularly on more remote islands where resources are scarce. Expect to pay around $0.50 - $1.00 per liter for potable water, with prices varying depending on the location and availability.

To minimize your fuel and water expenses, consider the following strategies:

  • Invest in a watermaker, which can convert seawater into potable water and reduce your reliance on expensive water sources.
  • Plan your sailing routes carefully to minimize motoring and take advantage of favorable winds and currents.
  • Conserve water by using saltwater for tasks like washing dishes and laundry, and only using freshwater for drinking and cooking.

Fees and Permits

When sailing in French Polynesia, you’ll need to budget for various fees and permits associated with cruising in the region. Some of the most common expenses include:

  • Long-stay visa: If you plan to stay in French Polynesia for more than 90 days, you’ll need to apply for a long-stay visa, which costs around $200 per person.
  • Bond exemption: To avoid paying a bond upon arrival in French Polynesia (which can be several thousand dollars), you can apply for a bond exemption through a local yacht agent. This service typically costs around $300 - $400.
  • Port and anchorage fees: Depending on where you choose to anchor or moor your boat, you may be required to pay fees ranging from $10 - $50 per night.

It’s essential to research the specific fees and permits required for your journey and budget accordingly to avoid any unexpected expenses.

Communications and Internet

Staying connected while sailing in French Polynesia can be both challenging and expensive. Internet access is limited in many areas, and when available, it can be slow and costly. Expect to pay around $50 - $100 per month for a local SIM card with a data plan, with prices varying depending on the provider and data allowance.

Satellite phones and SSB radios can also be used for communication, but these options can be expensive to set up and maintain. If staying connected is a priority for you, be sure to budget for the necessary equipment and service fees.

Healthcare and Insurance

Healthcare in French Polynesia is generally of a high standard, but it can be expensive for non-residents. It’s essential to have comprehensive travel and medical insurance to cover any potential medical expenses during your journey.

In addition to medical insurance, you’ll also need to budget for boat insurance, which can vary depending on the size and value of your vessel, as well as your cruising area. Expect to pay around $2,000 - $5,000 per year for boat insurance, with prices varying depending on your specific coverage requirements.

Entertainment and Activities

While much of the appeal of sailing in French Polynesia lies in the natural beauty and tranquility of the islands, you’ll also want to budget for entertainment and activities during your journey. From guided tours and cultural experiences to dining out and water sports, there are plenty of ways to enjoy your time in this tropical paradise.

On average, expect to spend around $200 - $500 per month on entertainment and activities for a family of four, depending on your interests and preferences.

Transportation and Travel

While your boat will be your primary mode of transportation in French Polynesia, you’ll also need to budget for occasional land-based travel, such as car rentals, taxis, and inter-island flights. These costs can vary widely depending on your specific needs and travel plans, so be sure to research and budget accordingly.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Finally, don’t forget to budget for miscellaneous expenses, such as laundry, gifts, and souvenirs, and any other personal items you may need during your journey. These costs can vary widely depending on your preferences and habits, so be sure to factor them into your overall budget.


Sailing in French Polynesia is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but it’s essential to budget carefully to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. By considering the various expenses outlined in this guide, you can plan your adventure with confidence and make the most of your time in this tropical paradise.