Find the most dynamic of French Polynesia’s sun and sand in Tahiti, the biggest of this archipelago’s 118 islands. Its main city, Papeete, is a hub for local culture, traditional cuisine and provides access to the island’s natural marvels.
Tahiti Nui refers to the busy northwestern areas of the island. Get around by hitching a ride with friendly locals, or hire a car and explore the coastal highways. The relatively untouched southeastern side is called Tahiti Iti and can only be reached by boat or walking.
In Papeete, discover the fascinating history of South Pacific black pearls at the Pearl Museum. Find local jewellery at Quartier du Commerce and then sample tropical fruits at Marché Municipal.
Try Tahitian cuisine, which blends ingredients from France and the South Pacific together. Though much of the island is expensive, some of the best meals are found downtown in roulottes, cheap food trucks that serve local dishes. The poisson cru, a fish cured in lime juice and coconut milk, has an especially remarkable flavour and goes well with a drink at a waterfront bar. For some local entertainment, attend one of Les Ateliers “Te Oro” dance workshops.
One of Tahiti’s best treasures is its mountainous natural beauty. Hike through tropical forests to Mont Aorai and feel the vapour of waterfalls in the Faarumai Valley. Take a jeep tour to Mont Marau or see ancient Polynesian constructs a Marae Arahurahu. The Heiva I Tahiti festival is held here in July.
Travel 16 kilometres (10 miles) west of Papeete to Punaauia, where the Museum of Tahiti provides details of local history and the picturesque coast looks out onto Moorea Island. Mataiea, 51 kilometres (32 miles) west of Papeete, has a fascinating Botanical Garden that houses tropical plants from around the globe.
See the colourful marine ecosystems around Punaauia and Papeete with scuba diving or snorkelling tours. Alternatively, see local fish from dry land at the Lagoonarium. Surfers will want to catch a ride at Teahupo’o, which is famous for reef breaks and whale sightings.
Papeete is home to the island’s only international airport, and has semi-regular flights to Auckland and the major hubs of Europe, North America, South America and Northern Asia.
Situated near the airport, this hotel is within 6 mi (10 km) of Place Jacques Chirac, Black Pearl Museum, and Cathedrale de L'lmmaculee Conception. Papeete Market and Port de Pape'ete are also within 6 mi (10 km).
Located on the west coast of Tahiti, in Punaauia, this resort is situated on the edge of a lagoon. The property is just two minutes from the Taapuna surf spot, 5 minutes from Tahiti airport, 10 minutes from the ferry terminal for Moorea, 2 minutes from a mall and a marina, and 10 minutes from Papeete's center.
Located on the waterfront, this family-friendly resort is within 6 mi (10 km) of Place Jacques Chirac, Papeete Market, and Parc Bougainville. Black Pearl Museum and Museum of Tahiti are also within 6 mi (10 km).
Nestled on the beach, this Arue hotel is within 3 mi (5 km) of James Norman Hall Home, Black Sand Beach, and Tomb of King Pomare V. Pointe Venus Lighthouse is 2.6 mi (4.2 km) away.
Situated in the business district, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Port de Pape'ete, Papeete Town Hall, and Papeete Market. Black Pearl Museum and Cathedrale de L'lmmaculee Conception are also within 15 minutes.
Set on one of Tahiti's few sand beaches, this west coast resort offers views across the lagoon to Moorea and is just 15 km from downtown Papeete and less than one km from the Museum of Tahiti.
Located in the heart of Papeete, this hostel is steps from Papeete Market and Papeete Town Hall.
Situated in Teahupo'o, this lodge is 5 mi (8 km) from Maui Beach and 12 mi (19.3 km) from Motu Nono. The Water Gardens of Vaipahi and Tahiti International Golf Course are also within 25 mi (40 km).