How To Sail From California To Tahiti

How To Sail From California To Tahiti | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

July 4, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • It will take roughly 30 days to sail from various ports in California to Tahiti
  • There are not many places to stop along the way so you will need to plan accordingly
  • Hawaii and Marquesas are two spots to stop even though they are slightly off course
  • High performance boats or ones in good condition are ideal for this type of sailing
  • Plan for plenty of food, water, and fuel to accommodate you and your crew for this trip

Sailing adventures can vary by your needs and desires. One sailing trip you should consider is how to sail from California to Tahiti.

Sailing from California to Tahiti requires careful planning and stops along the way to places like Hawaii and Marquesas. The rhumb line distance in total ranges from 3,500 to 4,000 nautical miles depending on if you have to go out of your way based on sailing conditions.

In my experience, you will need an adequate amount of sea sailing knowledge in order to make adjustments sailing from California to Tahiti. The trip is estimated to take around 30 days but you should prepare for more.


Table of contents

Places to Stop from California to Tahiti

There is no way around having to stop on this long journey. You should consider planning out a trip that is worth 30 days and make stops within that time frame. This west coast route is customizable to some degree so take that into account for your own sailing journey.

If your average sailing speed is around six knots and you did not stop you could make this in roughly 23 days. But that is clearly hypothetical and your average sailing time will greatly vary. Prevailing wind patterns will make a difference so plan for good and bad days of wind conditions.

Ports in San Diego

Ports in San Diego
Ports in San Diego

San Diego is one of the options to consider if you happen to be in that area. There are plenty of west coast options like San Francisco but consider your ideal starting location.

San Diego is a great spot since it is further south in California and offers a great downwind approach to Tahiti. While you should not attempt the straight shot to Tahiti from here it will save you time on the Pacific Ocean since the conditions will be favorable.

Ports in Hawaii

Ports in Hawaii
Ports in Hawaii

Hawaii will be your first major stop and likely the only one to make that is separating you from Tahiti. From San Diego to Hawaii is around 2,260 nautical miles and assuming your average boat speed is around seven knots then you can expect to reach it in about 14 days.

This will be one of the larger parts of the trip so expect to bring as much fuel and food as you can. The Hawaiian Islands will be a great place to stop and stretch your legs since there are plenty of things to do.

Ports in Marquesas

Ports in Marquesas
Ports in Marquesas

Marquesas only has two ports to choose from in your trip towards the South Pacific Ocean. Since you are sailing offshore most of the time it would be best to stop here from Hawaii. Keep in mind that these islands are fairly remote and you might not find everything you need to restock.

The trip from Hawaii to Tahiti is roughly 2,400 nautical miles but there are not any stops unless you choose Marquesas. The good news is that you should have reliable Polynesian trade winds for your main sailing route to Tahiti. This is just under 1,000 miles from French Polynesia to Tahiti but is a crucial stop along the way.

Ports in Tahiti

Ports in Tahiti
Ports in Tahiti

Tahiti has a handful of ports to choose from depending on where you plan to make your entrance. Once you get there you should consider staying a night or two just to enjoy the local area.

After you have settled in Tahiti or a nearby area you should explore some of the smaller islands. There are excellent opportunities to surf and diving spots to see the Polynesia reefs. You could also consider checking out an Airbnb that are within the islands or ones that have beautiful views to give you some time off of your boat.

Best Time to Sail from California to Tahiti

The Pacific Ocean is a lot less calmer in comparison to the Atlantic Ocean for the United States. So places like San Francisco or other various Californian cities are going to have different sailing conditions on average than places near Baltimore in Maryland.

Each location requires the right skills since the weather conditions will change. Experienced sailors must be able to respond in plenty of time and plan out their actions for a safe passage the entire trip.

Sailing in California

You want to sail in California around the same time the conditions are favorable in Tahiti. The two share the same ocean so there is not a lot to worry about in terms of random conditions appearing.

Northern California is best from June to September and Southern California is best all year long. Depending on where you plan to start will have some impact on your ability to sail but just remember that these conditions are likely best throughout the year no matter what.

Sailing in Hawaii

The best time to reach Hawaii is the month of June. The temperatures are the most comfortable and the bad weather seasons have not quite arrived yet. Hurricanes are still a threat around July and the months before June could be a lot cooler.

The North Pacific hurricane season is roughly June to November so it is best that you travel slightly earlier around this region around May. This would put you on par with heading to Tahiti but keep in mind that you might have to stay a while if hurricane issues persist on the travel back.

Sailing in Polynesia

Sailing around Tahiti is going to have a little different climate in comparison to California where you just left. The winter months are a lot warmer and bring on a lot of rain than the summer months.

So from November to April you can expect around 80 degrees on average and plenty of rain. The best time to sail in this region altogether is anywhere from May to September. Staying dry is likely one of your bigger concerns here as well as the sun.

How to Plan for This Trip

Sailing long distances requires thoughtful planning. Many sailors have done the trip across the Pacific but they likely needed all the details in place first before trying it. Since sailing directly is not something you can do here you will need to plan out your trip based on your ability to sail and the type of boat you have.

Bring Plenty of Food and Water

You will need food for about 30 days and these will likely be canned goods or something that is quick to make. A freezer can only hold so much so consider your refrigerator options and how much fresh food you can store. Having a desalination device to turn saltwater into freshwater is also something to consider.

First Aid Supplies and Radio

You will need to have all the first aid and safety gear no matter what sailing adventure you plan to go on. You will be spending most of your time at sea without the ability to stop and get help. You also need a good working marine radio to contact someone for help or to stay up to date on weather updates.

Extra Fuel

Keeping extra fuel on board is key for long distance travels and if you need to use your motors. You need to make sure you are able to store these safely without the risk of spills and wasting precious fuel. Your fuel consumption will vary based on how much you consume and the size of your boat.

Condition of Boat

You should always do preventative maintenance on your boat. Before big trips like these you need to completely look it over and make adjustments as necessary. Do not put off costly repairs that can put you in danger.

How To Sail From California To Tahiti
Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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