If exotic Tahitian meets French cuisine, jaunts off the beaten path, black sandy shores and untouched natural beauty are your idea of a dream destination, look no further than Papeete, Tahiti.
Located in Tahiti Nui (the larger part of the island), the busy port city is undergoing a Renaissance of sorts and is the perfect place to disconnect or explore. Filled with scenic vistas, majestic waterfalls, secluded lagoons, colorful people and bustling food markets, there is plenty to do before you hop back on your cruise and depart to one of its more famous counterparts (Bora Bora being the most popular).
Spend a few days in Papeete and experience all the city has to offer:
Shop the Markets
The popular indoor market Marche de Pape’ete covers an entire city block and images of the fresh produce and fish stalls could fill a foodie’s Instagram for a month. Sample food from the mobile les roulottes (caravans in French, food trucks in English) and experience the local cuisine such as poisson cru (the classic ceviche is an island favorite) and poe (a dessert made from the root vegetable taro and sweetened with coconut milk and bananas). And be sure to try the Hinano lager, the traditional beer of Tahiti. Last but not least, rum drinks (known as the “Tahiti drink”) filled with pineapple and orange juice, passion fruit, vanilla and sugar are the pride of Papeete and a staple at cocktail hour.
Shoppers can pick up a pãreu or two for the beach along with Marquesan wood carvings, art, handicrafts or check out the local shops for the island’s famous black pearls.
Musée de la Perle Robert Wan
Tahiti and pearls are synonymous and what better place to get an education than a visit to the Robert Wan Pearl Museum. Visitors can learn all they need to know about the process of cultivating pearls at this tiny museum and the pearl magnate’s fabulous – and expensive – collection of pearls is worth the price of admission. Highlights include a view a pearl covered book that once belonged to Charles II of France and a copy of the prayer beads (designed with pearls) given to Pope John Paul in 1987.
Tour the Island
Heralded as one of the island’s most popular tourist attractions, the natural wonder known as Tiarei Arahoho Blowhole is a powerful eruption that is waiting for its close-up. Best seen by a tour as its unmarked on the narrow shoulder of a mountain road, the phenomena can best be explained by a battering surf crashing against the rocks that results in a geyser-like mountain of sea water.
Other nearby points of interest include fantastic waterfalls, colorful tropical flowers and manicured landscapes at the Vaipahi Gardens and the impressive three waterfalls at the Cascades of Faarumai. Visitors can also enjoy the breathtaking views from Venus Point where Captain Cook set up camp in 1769 and an observatory to mark the transit of Venus across the sun (an event that happens once a century).
A Welcome Respite
Take a moment out of your day to stop and smell the roses and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature at the Pā’ōfa’i Gardens. Rich with lush landscaped spaces, ornamental fish ponds and walking trails, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy a local cup of coffee. Or watch the world go by at Bougainville Park, a tropical oasis that comprises the area between Boulevard Pomare to Rue du General de Gaulle. Be sure to grab a delicacy or two from the les roulottes and delight in a picnic.
A Bit of History
Tour the co-author of Mutiny on the Bounty at the James Norman Hall Museum (La Maison de James Norman Hall) and see how a family lived the good life in paradise. The former World War I army pilot and prisoner of war moved to Tahiti in 1920 and penned several novels about the island with the biggest being his 1932 book turned film. The house is now an exact reproduction of their home filled with the author’s typewriter, memorabilia, manuscripts and heirlooms. One of the three Oscars won by Hall’s son cinematographer Conrad L. Hall is also in display.
Experience Papeete, Tahiti for yourself on board a Regent Seven Seas Cruise.