Getting a Long-Stay Visa
Unless you are an European Union citizen, the only way you cruise in French Polynesia longer than 90 days is by applying for a Long Stay Visa. This process is relatively complicated and must begin several months before setting sail. For a complete explanation, see this info from the French Consulate in Los Angeles. Extensions beyond 90 days CANNOT be accomplished after you arrive in the islands. (Visas are for people, of course, not for boats. Your boat can remain in the islands for at least two years.)
PLEASE NOTE: Different embassies and consulates seem to administer Long Stay Visa requests in subtly different ways. Generally, the Los Angeles consulate has a not-so-friendly reputation; the San Francisco consulate has a very friendly reputation; and the Seattle consulate does not handle Long Stay requests (you must go to S.F.).
It is our understanding that you are supposed to apply to the consulate closest to your home. However, the French Embassies in both Panama (Panama City) and Ecuador (Quito) will process requests as long as you have been traveling away from home for more than three months.
Click here to read updated details on getting a Long Stay Visa, from longtime San Diego-based cruisers, Chuck Houlihan & Linda Edeiken, aboard Jacaranda.