Raiatea Ferry

Raiatea, known as the ‘Sacred Island’, is not just a key cultural landmark in French Polynesia but also a vital gateway for exploring the enchanting Leeward Islands. With the Apetahi Express, travelers can embark on an unforgettable journey to uncover the mystical allure of Tahaa, the romantic vistas of Bora Bora, and the lush, wild landscapes of Huahine. One can also sail all the way to Papeete, Tahiti. This comprehensive guide explores the nuances of discovering Raiatea by ferry, from planning your trip to what to expect during your island-hopping adventure.

A small ferry in the port

Introduction to Raiatea and Apetahi Express Ferry Services

Raiatea, regarded as the cradle of Polynesian civilization, offers more than just historical riches. Its strategic location makes it a central hub for ferry services that connect to various islands in the archipelago. Apetahi Express provides reliable, efficient, and speedy ferry services from Raiatea, making it an excellent starting point for adventurers looking to explore by sea.

Key Routes and Destinations

  • Raiatea to Tahaa: The closest neighbor, a short 45-minute ride away. Tahaa shares a lagoon with Raiatea and is perfect for a day trip or a few hours’ visit.
  • Raiatea to Bora Bora: A journey of about 1.5 hours brings you to the iconic shores of Bora Bora, known globally for its luxurious resorts and breathtaking lagoons.
  • Raiatea to Huahine: This route, taking roughly 1.5 hours, opens up the less trodden paths of Huahine, with its rich history and lush forests
  • Raiatea to Tahiti: This voyage takes approximately 6 hours and makes a stop in Huahine on the way.

A boat in the middle of the ocean

Planning Your Journey on Apetahi Express

Scheduling and Tickets

Apetahi Express operates a well-timed schedule that caters to both locals and tourists. The frequency of trips varies depending on the destination:

  • Multiple daily ferries to Tahaa due to its proximity and popularity for day trips.
  • Daily services to Bora Bora and Huahine, typically in the morning to allow travelers full days of exploration.

Tips for Booking

  • Check the Schedule: Always verify the latest ferry schedules on the Apetahi Express website as times can vary slightly with seasonal demands.
  • Book in Advance: Especially during peak travel seasons, securing your spot on the ferry early is crucial as these routes are popular and can fill up quickly.
  • Prepare for the Weather: The journey is part of the adventure. Clear skies mean stunning sea views, but always prepare for the possibility of rough seas.

Onboard the Apetahi Express: What to Expect

Comfort and Services

Apetahi Express ferries are equipped for comfort, offering seating indoors and outdoors. Refreshments are typically available for purchase, including snacks and drinks, making the journey pleasant and relaxing.

Enjoying the Views

As you travel between islands, the ferry offers expansive views of the Pacific Ocean, framed by the silhouettes of distant islands and often accompanied by the sight of marine life such as dolphins and, if you’re lucky, whales.

Discovering Raiatea by Ferry: Island Highlights

Raiatea: The Cultural Hub

Begin your exploration on Raiatea itself. Visit the ancient Taputapuatea Marae, a UNESCO World Heritage site that is pivotal to understanding Polynesian culture and history. The island’s lush valleys and rivers offer numerous opportunities for hiking and exploring the island’s natural beauty.

Tahaa: The Vanilla Island

A short trip from Raiatea, Tahaa is enveloped by the same lagoon and is famed for its cultivation of vanilla. Touring a vanilla plantation to see how the world’s best vanilla is grown and processed is a must. The coral gardens and pearl farms are also significant attractions, providing insights into the local economy and lifestyle.

Bora Bora: The Jewel of the Pacific

Arriving by ferry gives you a unique perspective of Bora Bora’s famous turquoise lagoon and majestic Mount Otemanu. While known for luxury, there’s plenty to explore economically, from snorkeling in crystal-clear waters to enjoying the local cuisine at one of the traditional eateries.

Huahine: The Garden Island

Huahine, with its deeply indented bays and ancient fish traps, is a testament to the ingenuity of traditional Polynesian society. Its lush forests and untamed landscapes make it ideal for those seeking adventure and solitude. Huahine’s archaeological sites provide a fascinating glimpse into the past, making it a compelling stop for history buffs.

Additional Activities and Experiences

Cultural Immersion and Workshops

Many islands, including Raiatea and Huahine, offer cultural workshops that allow visitors to dive deeper into Polynesian traditions such as weaving, dance, and ancient fishing techniques. These workshops provide hands-on experiences that are both educational and enjoyable.

Ecotourism Opportunities

The Leeward Islands are ripe with opportunities for ecotourism. From sustainable pearl farms in Tahaa to protected marine areas around Bora Bora, visitors can learn about local conservation efforts and the importance of preserving Polynesia’s natural resources.

Adventure Sports

For the more adventurous, there are numerous water sports to indulge in. Kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and kite surfing are excellent ways to enjoy the islands’ beautiful lagoons while getting a bit of exercise.

Planning Tips for Your Trip

Pack Accordingly

For day trips, bring only what you need but include a change of clothes, swimwear, and a towel, plus extra sunscreen and insect repellent.

Stay Hydrated and Protected

The Polynesian sun can be fierce, so regular reapplication of sunscreen and plenty of water are essential to ensure you enjoy your day comfortably and safely.

Respect Local Traditions

Polynesian communities are welcoming but also hold deep respect for their traditions and environment. Participate with sensitivity and awareness of the cultural significance of the places and communities you visit.


Discovering Raiatea by ferry with the Apetahi Express is an enriching experience that offers more than just beautiful landscapes and serene waters. It’s a journey through history, culture, and adventure that provides a deeper understanding of Polynesia’s heart and soul. Each island stop offers unique experiences that together weave a comprehensive tapestry of Polynesian life. Whether you’re exploring the sacred marae of Raiatea, the vanilla-scented air of Tahaa, or the iconic lagoons of Bora Bora, the journey is sure to fill you with awe and appreciation for this incredible part of the world. The Leeward Islands of French Polynesia await to tell their stories, share their beauty, and create unforgettable memories as you travel from one enchanting island to another. Welcome aboard the Apetahi Express, where your Polynesian adventure begins.

Our Top FAQ's

Apetahi Express is a ferry service that operates between the islands of Raiatea, Tahaa, Bora Bora, and Huahine in French Polynesia. It offers a reliable and efficient means of transportation for both locals and tourists looking to explore these islands.

The ferry ride from Raiatea to Tahaa takes approximately 45 minutes with Apetahi Express, making it an ideal short trip for day explorers and those looking to enjoy a quick visit to Tahaa’s vanilla plantations and pearl farms.

No, it’s not possible to take a day trip from Raiatea to Bora Bora with Apetahi Express. The ferry takes about 1.5 hours one way, but it returns the following day so you will need to spend the night. You can spend a night exploring Bora Bora’s famous lagoons and beaches before returning to Raiatea the following day.

When discovering Raiatea by ferry, must-see attractions include the Taputapuatea Marae, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and exploring the lush landscapes through hiking. Raiatea serves as a great starting point for visiting neighboring islands like Tahaa, known for its vanilla plantations, and Bora Bora, famous for its luxurious resorts and stunning lagoons.

For a comfortable trip on the Apetahi Express, bring sunscreen, a hat, plenty of water, seasickness pills if prone to motion sickness, a camera for photos, and a light jacket or shawl in case of cool breezes or rain. Also, carry local currency for small purchases.

Tickets for Apetahi Express can be booked through Far and Away Adventures when you are packaging it with a hotel stay or cruise package. It’s advisable to book tickets in advance, especially during the peak tourist season, to ensure availability.

Yes, when visiting sacred sites like Taputapuatea Marae in Raiatea, dress modestly, refrain from touching sacred objects, and always follow the guidelines provided by local guides. Showing respect and sensitivity to these cultural sites is paramount.

Besides exploring the cultural and historical sites, you can engage in various water sports such as snorkeling, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. Each island offers unique opportunities for adventure sports, ecotourism, and cultural workshops that teach traditional Polynesian crafts and practices.

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