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Tuamotus / Rangiroa / Tiputa
(votes: 1)
Type Anchorage
Country French Polynesia
City Tiputa
Available places 50
Max depth 10 m
  • WiFi
  • Shops
  • Port of entry
Views: 2430

For boats

Rangiroa is 45 miles long and 15 miles wide, and is the largest Tuamotu, and the second largest atoll in the world. This is also most tourist atoll on Tuamotus. There are two passes, but one anchorage that yachts seem to favor, S of the Tiputa pass.
General about tides and currents on Tuamotus:
The majority of the atolls have at least one break in the reef called pass. But only some passes are wide and deep enough to permit a cruising sailboat to enter through them.
The current runs strong in and out of these passes. How strong is current depends on a lot of
factors including the moon cycle, wind and wave conditions outside, how big the atoll is, how
narrow the pass is, which way the pass faces, and how many passes atoll has.
If the wind opposes the current, there can be large standing waves. And if there are strong
winds or large swell, there can be as much as 8 knots of current. So it is always best to aim to enter the pass at slack or near-slack tide.
Some passes are east-facing, and these passes will be dicey on the outgoing current. Some
passes are west-facing, and these passes will most dicey on the incoming current.
Entering / leaving the atolls become danger when:
1. A strong wind opposing a strong current. This is just classic wind-against-sea and can
always produce uncomfortable and/or dangerous conditions. It is best to try to plan
your arrival at an unknown pass in mild conditions and in good light.
2. When the wind is blowing hard (over 20 knots) out of the SE thru West
3. When the wave heights are high (over 1.5 meters) from the SE thru West.
Strong winds and/or waves from East push a large volume of water over the reef into the lagoon, and the only way for this huge volume of water to get out is through the pass. In this conditions (strong wind for several days) there may be NO SLACK AT ALL.
In  Tidal Tables or any other Tide software or information available in internet on Tuamotus there are only few points with information about HW and LW (the biggest atolls). If you are between them you can use a simple interpolation to calculate HW and LW time. It works, not very precise but it does.
So, there is no easy way to predict current or slack water in passes, but you can follow this tips:
  1. Slack is about 1-2 hrs after HW and LW
  2. Never sail through the pass during the night
  3. Observe the water and waves in the pass when approaching from the see by binoculars
  4. Just try to enter / leave, but if the current is to strong go back and wait until condition will change (usually 2-3 hours)
The atoll and the pass
There are two passes into the lagoon of Rangiroa. Passe Tiputa is 200m wide and at least 15m deep. Looks like very safe, but there is a strong current, up to 6kn, and sometimes outgoing current and incoming waves do the pass rolly and danger (big standing waves).
Second pas is located 6NM NW (called Pass de Avatoru). It’s 200m wide but only 4m deep. Because it’s more N is a little more quite and with less current, but also less use by sailors.
Pass de Avatoru seems to me to be far easier and shorter. However once through you
then have to go five miles east inside lagoon, usually against the wind and waves. Under ideal conditions it would be best to enter through the east pass and exit through the west, especially if you heading W or SW (Tikehau or Tahiti or Bora Bora).
The village Tiputa is located on both sides of the Tiputa pass. The second large village of Avatoru is located on E side of Avatoru Pass.
The most safe anchorage is on the W side of Tiputa pass. This anchorage is more protected from NE-E ans SE winds. The bottom in sandy with some corals and the depth about 10-15 meters. I recommend to anchor at position:
14 58.100S and 147 38.219W
If strong SE wind is blowing, anchoring become rolly but still safe. There is room for many boats.
Dinghy landing
Dinghies can be landed at the concrete wharf on the western edge of the Tiputa pass, or they can be landed on the beach just west of the wharf and tied to a tree. When landing at the wharf, it helps to use a stern anchor to keep the dinghy from getting caught under the wharf. Also, make sure to leave room for the water taxis which come and go from here. If
it's a day when the supply ship is in, wharf traffic is very busy.
The wharf
There is a main wharf used by supply ship which coming every few days. Bu when it’s free you can moor there for a while (for fueling or boarding or moving heavy stuff). Do not stay there to long. Be care there is some swell.
There is some room inside the harbour, but this place is occupied by many locals boats, so sailors do not berth there.
Rangiroa is the Port of Entry for boats. No other islands should be visited before reporting to the officials in Rangiroa (if you didn’t check in on French Polynesia).
Yachts can now clear in or out of FP with the “gendarmes” offices (French Police) which deal with Immigration and Customs formalities.
The Gendarmerie in Rangiroa is located in the village of Avatoru. It is about 10km from the harbour of Tiputa. Take a taxi or ride to get there. Only captain with all passports have to go.
There is the official source from the Government of France:
French Polynesia is part of the European Union (as an overseas collective of France) but not of the Schengen Area Agreement and has its own visa rules. These rules closely follow those of mainland France with some exceptions that are specific to FP.
UE sailors
All European Union sailors don’t’ need a visa, and the procedure is easy going. You all have to visit Gandarmerie with your passport, a captain have to fill up the customs form, and send a copy to Customs in Papeete (there is a post office, the address is on the form). That’s all, you are allowed to stay on Polynesia for 2 years. Prepare a list with quantity of strong alcohol, wine, beer, cigarettes, cigars, you have on boat (for customs form).
Non EU sailors
You need a “Visa On Arrival” which is good for 90 days. Applying for a 90-day visa does not help with the bond or your check-in process. If you wish to stay longer than 90 days in French Polynesia, you should apply for a “Long Stay Visa”. Anyway all the crew has to visit Gandarmerie personally with the passport.
The French Polynesia Bond.
French Polynesia requires all non-EU visitors to either prove that they have a paid way out of
the country, or pay a bond on arriving in French Polynesia. This bond basically is the guarantee that the French government doesn’t have to pay to fly indigent people home. There are 3 ways to satisfy this requirement:
1. Show an airplane ticket out of the country
2. Pay the bond (roughly the equivalent of an airplane ticket out of the country) – about 2000 USD. The bond is refundable when you leave, with time and paperwork. Even if you have obtained a long stay visa, you must pay a bond.
3. Arrange with an agent to “guarantee” you. Essentially the agent guarantees that THEY
will pay to fly you out of the country, and so you essentially pay for an insurance policy
with the agent – cost about 200USD per person.
All detailed information you will get at Gandarmerie office.
Not easy to buy. The easiest way is to buy fuel directly from the supply ship (coming every week). They sell fuel in 200l barrels only.
There is a petrol station in Avatoru where you can buy a diesel and gasoline, but it’s far away and you need own jerry cans. Take a car or taxi to get there.
No official tap point on the wharf. You can buy some water in Dive Center or groceries (10CPF per liter). This water is not drinkable.
Bottles available in the groceries. No possibility to refill no Polynesian bottles.
There is a bank in Avatoru (10km from Tiputa). There is an ATM on the Airport. Payment in US dollars is mostly accepted in many places and groceries.
The town has two groceries, located 200m from the wharf. More products than on other islands, but still not many vegetables and fruits. Baguette available in groceries.
Airport is located at the middle of the island, about 5km from the Tiputa. Easy access by taxi. One or two flights to Papeete every day.
Local Tax
1-2 times a week a local policeman come to the boats and collect local tax for garbage. It’s 1500 CPF.

For crews

 No WC or shower on shore.
Rangiroa should be amazing beauty place on Tuamotus. Most visited by tourist and many sailors with great potential. But, she disappointing. Beautiful, but a bit of fallen. The
main hotel on the island, the Kia Ora, is the only paradise place in the village. Worth to visit.
Snorkeling or diving in the pass is great attraction here, but do it only on incoming current or slack. There is a place called ‘Aquarium”, it’s located along W coast of island Motu Nuhi Nuhi (small tiny island S of the Tiputa pass). Good place for snorkeling and diving. There is few small buoys used by diver’s boats, but you can moor there.
WiFi: most of restaurants or snack bars has a free WiFi. Visit one of them and enjoy.
Water taxis run between wharf and the town of Tiputa on the east side of the pass (300
XPF per person each way). If the weather is well (no big waves) it's easy enough to take your own dinghy, and there is also a wharf on that side where you can land a dinghy. There are a couple more magasins in Tiputa. There is also a post office with an ATM.
There is at least 3-4 diving offices. One dive is about 70-80USD. I get information that diving there is worth to.
There is few small pearl shops – most of them closer to the Avatoru.


Anchorage - no fees
Berthing to the wharf – no fees
Taxi from Tiputa to Avatoru – 500CPF if a mini bus, or 1000-1500 if a cab.
Water taxi to the other side of the pass – 300CPF each way.
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