The Society Islands are the western most group of islands in French Polynesia. Some say Captain Cook named them Society Islands when he arrived in the mid 1700s. They say he chose the name to pay homage to the Royal Society of England who sponsored the first scientific survey of the islands. If you go buy Cook’s journal it states they were named as such because they “lay contiguous to one another”.
The most well known of the islands are Tahiti and Bora Bora but there is so much more to see here. There are a total of fourteen islands that comprise the Societies. They are grouped in two groups … The Windward Islands and the Leeward Islands.
The Windward Islands are Mehetia, Tahiti, Tetiaroa, Moorea and Maiao.
The Leeward Islands consist of Huahine (a personal favorite), Raiatea, Taha’a, Bora Bora, Tupai, Maupiti (Don’t miss it!), Maupihaa, Motu One and Manuae.
As you can see the islands are spread over a great distance, 1590 square kilometers to be exact. The point here is that unless you plan on spending a couple of years sailing the Societies you are unlikely to visit them all. And, if you are on a 90 day visa you will certainly feel the push to keep moving.
On Dazzler we visited five of the islands….Tahiti, Moorea, Huahine, Bora Bora and Maupiti. For us, Tahiti turned out to be a bust. It was great for provisioning and catching up with other cruisers but after months of laid back island living the hustle and bustle of this busy place was not all that appealing.
We absolutely love Huahine and would tell you that you are crazy if you don’t really work hard to stop at Maupiti! Moorea and Bora Bora were very nice as well be the other two are our favorite islands in the Societies.
Checking In With The Authorities
Unlike in the Marquesas or Tuamotus you are required to check in with the Gendarmes as as you move about the Societies. The marinas in Papeete will assist you with checking in with the port authorities and gendarmes. Papeete Marina was great to work with as they completed all the paperwork and forwarded it on for us. Checking in here also covers you for Moorea.
At the other islands we checked in with the Gendarmes. For more information on where to find them you can see the individual island pages.
Banking & ATMs
We recommend bringing cash to the smaller islands. Maupiti, for example, does not have an ATM and the “bank” is only open one day week for a few hours. Cash is definitely king in the islands.