For the visitor, Tahiti means unlimited possibilities:
- Relaxation at the surprising number of restaurants around Papeete and at the enjoyable roulottes along the waterfront in Vai'ete Square.
- Excitement of shopping along the waterfront and in the Public Market of Papeete for Tahitian collectibles such as pareu, monoi oil, artwork, music CDs, precious native wood carvings, and beautiful Tahitian Pearls.
- Exploration of the pristine interior and beautiful coastline by 4x4 excursion, guided nature hikes, escorted tours, or rental car.
- Discovery of the lagoon waters by diving, snorkeling, sailing, surfing, deep-sea fishing, outrigger canoeing, or guided catamaran tours.
- Enjoyment of the beachside resorts featuring luxurious spas, spectacular shows, fine restaurants, and the full range of rooms, suites, and bungalows.
Some of the most popular activities and sites for visitors include:
Shopping at the Public Mart
Discover the true heart of Papeete - 155 year old public market - called Le Marché. Shop from hundreds of stands filled with Tahitian-made crafts, oils, vanilla, fruits, and flowers. The perfect place to find everything imaginable from all the islands. Open everyday except holidays, the market is especially colorful and lively on Sunday mornings when locals stock up for a day of family gatherings. Located two blocks from the waterfront and easily reached by Le Truck or by taxi from the resort.
Evenings at Vai'ete Square
Enjoy a unique and informal dinner or a memorable post-dinner dessert at Vai'ete Square. Here, dozens of colorful roulottes, or food wagons, host a great variety of island cuisine and desserts. The boardwalk atmosphere is an informal and lively setting not to be missed.
A favorite among visitors for over 100 years! The route takes in more than 71 miles of dramatic coastline scenery with wave-pounded cliffs, peaceful beaches, and brightly colored churches. Popular stops include many overlooks, waterfalls, and ancient sites. An extended tour takes you to the peninsula of Tahiti-Iti.
Museum of Tahiti
The Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands is considered to be one of the best and most beautiful museums in the South Pacific. Polynesian history is carefully recorded and presented. Highlights include rare collections of art carvings and historical artifacts. European arrival is also presented and put into context.
James Norman Hall Home
The James Norman Hall Home celebrates one of Tahiti's most famous resident authors. Hall co-authored Mutiny on the Bounty and wrote many other fables of the South Seas. The home is carefully maintained as it was when Hall lived in Tahiti from 1920 to 1951. Visitors enjoy seeing his original writing desk, art collection, and library with over 3,000 books. Guests are invited to the garden tea room where refreshments are provided under the shade of a giant mango tree.
The Gauguin Museum
**Closed for renovations, expected to re-open June 2016, Gardens are still open.The Gauguin Museum is dedicated to Paul Gauguin's life during his years on Tahiti and in the Marquesas, the museum sits within the beautiful Harrison Smith Botanical Gardens and features exhibits and memorabilia from the late painter himself, including sketches, copies of documents , block prints, and reproductions of many of his most famous paintings.
The Pearl Museum is the only museum in the world devoted entirely to pearls. The unique presentations describe and demonstrate the history and practice of cultivating pearls as well as their place in art, history, mythology, and religion.
Shopping in and around the Vaima Center
Many shops popular with visitors are located in and around the Vaima Center. This four-level, block-square shopping center has everything from boutiques, pearl shops, book stores, newspaper stands, restaurants, coffee shops, and banks. Along the waterfront in either direction are located many unique shops with antiquities, made-in-Tahiti products, music, and art.
Safari Into the Island's Interior
Within the unpopulated and lush jungle-like interior of Tahiti Nui is an unspoiled world of towering waterfalls, deep flower-filled valleys, large lakes, and colossal green peaks rising over one mile above the valley floor. This hidden treasure of Tahiti is best explored by a guided 4X4 safari, breathtaking helicopter tour, or on a hiking trip led by a naturalist.
Tahiti's only course, the Oliver Breaud International Golf Course is located on the southern side of Tahiti Nui. This 6944-yard, par 72 course features two man-made lakes and sprawling fairways. Formerly a cotton plantation, the course was recently renovated and now includes a new clubhouse, driving range, pool, restaurant, pro shop, and tennis courts.
Adventurous travelers will love the exciting guided tours that lead into rugged interior. Stops can include spectacular waterfalls and natural pools (some in which you can swim), mountain peaks with panoramic views, archeological sites , grottos, and lava tubes.
The island of Tahiti is perfect for both beginning and advanced divers. Highlights include shallow waters, oceanic drop-offs, sunken ships and planes, bright coral walls, and schools of smaller species.
For the horse enthusiast Tahiti has a number of first-class riding stables. Experienced riders can saddle-up the island's New Zealand and Marquesan horses, while private lessons are available for the beginner. Rides in the mountains are often accompanied by picnic lunches.
In the heart of the waterfront area, visitors find a newly renovated and peaceful oasis. Crowned by a massive banyan tree, the park is named in honor of the French explorer and navigator, Louis Antoine de Bougainville (1729-1811) and features running streams and lush vegetation.
Adjacent to the Gauguin Museum, this lush and manicured garden features hundreds of varieties of tropical trees, plants, and flowers including bamboo, bananas, palms, and hibiscus. The garden was originally planted by American botanist Harrison Smith who moved to Tahiti in 1919.
At the tip of a beautiful peninsula lined with black-sand beaches, this area was the historic landing site of many of the early explorers including Captain Cook and Captain William Bligh. Tahiti's only lighthouse, built in 1867, stands within a park popular with locals for community events and festivals.
Other activities and sites in Papeete and around the island:
- Deep sea fishing
- Lagoon excursions on outrigger canoes or powerboats
- Notre Dame Cathedral of Papeete
- Papeete Town Hall
- Drive to the Belvedere overlooking Papeete
- 4X4 Safari from Faa'a into the high mountains
- Tomb of Queen Pomare V and Royal Family
- Arahoho Blowhole
- Waterfalls and walking trails at Faarumai
- Vaipahi Gardens
- Maraa Fern Grotto
- Marae Arahurahu
- Surfing sites at Teahupoo, Papara and Taapuna
- Guided hike to the top of Mt. Aorai
- Guided hiking trips into the remote Pari Region of Tahiti Iti
Guided or self-guided itineraries including these and other sites can be reserved or planned by your travel arranger before you travel or at the activities desk of your resort or cruise ship.