Papeete is the bustling capital of French Polynesia, nestled on the northern edge of Tahiti, overlooking coral reefs, distant islands and the South Pacific Ocean. This multicultural city features a lively harbour, downtown marketplace and shops selling iconic Tahitian black pearls.
Things to do in Papeete
You’ll find numerous opportunities for outdoor recreation beyond the city limits, where the metropolis gives way to verdant forests, cascading waterfalls and rugged coastline. Explore immersive hiking trails, chill out on white-sand beaches or embark on a jeep safari through the forests. You can also don some snorkelling gear to discover a fascinating underwater world of vibrant corals and fish or take a surfing lesson with Tura`i Mataare Surf School.
Much of your sightseeing takes place along Nanuu Bay, where you’ll find the Robert Wan Pearl Museum. This museum takes you on a journey through the history of pearl farming and jewellery making via photos, artefacts and rare pieces. It’s positioned next to the Pā'ōfa'i Gardens, where you can walk along trails past shady trees and decorative fish ponds.
For a true taste of local cuisine and culture, head to Place Vai'ete, a popular meeting spot that’s filled with food trucks and locals in the evenings. Just across the road is the Manua Exquisite Tahitian Art, where you can see elaborate wood carvings and traditional artwork. Don’t forget the ONO'U Tahiti Museum of Street Art, home to incredible murals and 3D wall sculptures.
Are you visiting Papeete in July? Join in the annual Heiva I Tahiti celebrations, which include authentic Polynesian dance, food and music. Alternatively, visit Le Marché, a busy market with stalls selling vanilla beans, monoi oil, black pearls and other Tahitian goods.
Getting around Papeete
Papeete is accessible via flying into Faa'a International Airport, which is about eight kilometres from the city centre. Papeete is ideal for exploring on foot, but you can also catch taxis and the hop-on-hop-off Le Trucks.