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Cruise Diva Goes Ashore in Tahiti
Sights to see & things to do

Papeete & the Island of Tahiti

By night, Tahiti’s largest city appears charming and exotic. Daytime views reveal a bustling business and commercial center. Leave Papeete behind in a 4X4 to climb a rugged road and explore the mountainous central portion of the island, following a stream through lush valleys punctuated with dozens of waterfalls. The "back side" of the island is a huge contrast to both the city and the island's interior—the less populous coastal areas are prettier and the view across to "little" Tahiti Iti proves its beauty exceeds that of the larger Tahiti Nui. 


Cruise ships dock immediately across the street from Boulevard Pomare in the heart of Papeete. Stop at the Tahiti Tourist Board right at the pier for maps and information. Getting around is easy, either by tour, rental car, or Le Truck—the public bus service. The only way to see the island’s interior is by touring in a 4X4—vehicles similar to Range Rovers with two bench seats in the back, each seating six to eight passengers, four to a side facing each other. Leave the driving to locals, as they know the rugged road up the mountainous central portion of the island. Following a stream through lush valleys punctuated with dozens of waterfalls, 4X4s make stops to examine the wide variety of plant species and for a swim in the cool, clear stream.

By car or a comfortable air-conditioned bus, set off for a “circle island” tour of Tahiti—roads generally run along the coast and the sea is almost always within view. Plot your way to historic and scenic sites; Point Venus, the spot where Captain Cook first landed, the impressive Arahoho Blowhole, black sand beaches, across a narrow isthmus to the smaller Tahiti Iti where Fort Taravao stands guard, the lovely gardens of Vaipahi with its cascading waterfall, and Maraa Grotto, caverns overhung with cool ferns.

Don’t overlook museums that highlight the heritage of Polynesia, including the Paul Gauguin Museum, the Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands, and the Marae of Atahurahu. Be aware that the "works" of Gauguin are reproductions. For the adventurous, helicopter tours are also available. Lagoonarium de Tahiti consists of four fish parks, exhibits of tropical fish, and a shark pen. The Grands Ballet de Tahiti is an evening show of authentic dances and songs.  


Lafayette Beach, about three miles northeast of Papeete has black sand and limited facilities. Further along the coastal road is Tahara’s Beach, an excellent black sand beach for swimming. Another good beach for swimming is located in Mahina, near Point Venus.


Ambling down Boulevard Pomare visitors are enchanted by French-inspired fashions and exotic merchandise displayed alongside more mundane every-day goods. Side streets leading from the main thoroughfare are crowded with shops and vendors selling everything from black pearls to bright pareus (sarongs). Covering an entire block, Papeete’s colorful two-story Municipal Market is the place to find local products, vanilla, soaps, souvenirs and gifts, flowers and fruit. Upstairs in the crafts section is a huge array of pareus, baskets, shell jewelry, and the inevitable tee-shirts.

The center of pier side action isn’t merchandise but food. Les roulouttes are mobile restaurants set up in the waterfront parking lot after dark. It's the least expensive place to eat in Papeete and the smells are inviting to say the least.

Back to Tahiti Ports of Call

Cruise Diva's  Focus on Tahiti with reviews, cruise line info, tourism links, & more.

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