The Tuamotus chain of close to 80 atolls is a cruiser’s paradise. People everywhere dream of seeing them and for good reason. The waters here are simply spectacular, crystal clear and teaming with life.
The trick in the Tuamotus is getting into and out of the atolls. With the Pacific Ocean beating upon the shores of these narrow atolls it can’t get pretty dicey moving in or out. The worst experience for us was going into Fakarava. At one point we had incoming waves crashing just feet behind Dazzler’s stern as we were pitching and rolling side to side 25-35°. We had Dazzler’s engine running full on and were literally making 1 knot of headway in the strong outcoming current. It was a pretty scary experience but one which sharpened our skills. We highly recommend using the Soggy Paws Guestimator. Download it when you have good internet and USE IT! After our tumultuous entry into Fakarava we used it every time and never had another issue. Oh yeah, one other tip, don’t be so determined to get to an anchorage that you push through a place at the wrong time. Unless you’re trying to outrun weather you can always heave to and wait for the right time.
CLICK HERE to download the most up to date Soggy Paws Tuamotus Guestimator and Instructions. Look under the French Polynesia section for the “Tuamotus Current Guestimator”. They have an Excel version as well as a Numbers version for Mac.
Proisioning in the Tuamotus is slim pickings at best. We really recommend that you stock up before making the crossing with all the things you can to get you through until you reach Papeete, Tahiti. That’s going to be the first place to find real grocery stores with lots of variety.
That said, you won’t starve in any of these places. There are small magasins in the Tuamotus that provide the basics in canned goods, some frozen meats and vegetables. One thing that sort of surprises us is that you will never find a lack of snack foods like potato chips and cookies etc…
You aren’t likely to find large amounts of fuel in most of the atolls so it pays to fill up in Nuka Hiva before heading to the Tuamotus. You can find fuel in a few of the larger atolls such as Fakarava and Rangiroa but be prepared because it’s pretty pricey out there. And, there’s no guarantee as to the quality of the fuel either so you’re really taking your chances when you get fuel from some of these places.
On some atolls you will find pensions. These are guesthouses and small hotels. They often times will offer dining but you should not count on it. Most require that you contact them ahead of time so they can arrange to have supplies to cook.
Some of the larger atolls do have proper restaurants but don’t expect them to be open all the time. On Sundays most all of them are closed unless they are connected to a large resort. And, even if a restaurant has opening hours on the sign it may be closed. There doesn’t seem to be a real rhyme or reason to it all so you just have to be flexible!
Money & Banking
Be prepared to have cash on hand when traveling throughout the Tuamotus. While there are some banks and ATMS and businesses may accept credit/debit cards, it’s not uncommon for the machines to be down due to power and/or internet failures. We highly suggest planning ahead and bringing cash from Nuka Hiva as we did. That said, you will find ATMs and banks on the larger atolls such as Fakarava and Rangiroa. There are some on the smaller ones but being prepared seems the prudent thing to do.
For Information on the atolls we visited, click on the images below:
For More Photos Of The Tuamotus Cruiser’s Paradise Click On The Image Below.
We highly recommend downloading the Tuamotus Compendium from the Soggy Paws website before you leave the land of good internet. It provides lots of waypoints, anchorage information and more. Click below to download their compendium.