The 10 Best Things To Do In Papeete

Imagine stepping off a plane and being greeted by the warm, tropical breeze of the South Pacific. You’ve just landed in Papeete, the vibrant capital of French Polynesia, nestled on the island of Tahiti. It’s a place where the buzz of market life, the allure of turquoise waters, and the charm of Polynesian culture blend into an exotic cocktail of adventure. Let’s dive into the top things to do in this island paradise that will make your trip unforgettable.

Explore the Papeete Market

First up, you can’t miss the Papeete Market, known locally as Marché de Papeete. It’s the beating heart of the city, where locals and tourists alike flock to soak up the authentic Polynesian vibe. Stroll through aisles brimming with fresh fruits, handcrafted goods, and the catch of the day. It’s a feast for the senses, and you’ll find it hard not to be charmed by the vibrant colors and the friendly banter of the vendors.

Take a Stroll Along the Waterfront

Next, make your way to the waterfront. Here, you can meander along the promenade, taking in the views of Moorea Island on the horizon. The waterfront comes alive in the evenings, with food trucks (roulottes) serving up delicious local fare. It’s the perfect spot to savor a plate of poisson cru, the Tahitian version of ceviche, under the stars.

Visit the Pearl Museum

Tahiti is synonymous with pearls, and the Robert Wan Pearl Museum is a testament to this precious gem. It’s the only museum in the world dedicated to pearls, and it offers a fascinating insight into the history and cultivation of Tahitian black pearls. You might even find yourself leaving with a souvenir that’s both beautiful and steeped in local tradition.

Discover the Art at the Paul Gauguin Museum

Art enthusiasts will Revel in the Paul Gauguin Museum, nestled in the lush gardens of the Vaipahi. Although the original works of this famous painter who once called Tahiti home are not on display, the museum offers replicas and exhibits that tell the story of his life and his love affair with the island.

Relax at Parc Bougainville

For a moment of tranquility, head to Parc Bougainville. Named after the French explorer, this park is a serene oasis in the middle of the city. It’s the perfect place to unwind with a book or simply enjoy the shade of the ancient trees.

Experience the Local Cuisine

Food is a window into the soul of a culture, and Papeete’s culinary scene is a delightful mix of French, Chinese, and Polynesian influences. From upscale restaurants to street-side snacks, there’s something to tantalize every taste bud. Be sure to try the local specialty, ‘ma’a tinito’, which is a savory dish made with pork, beans, and macaroni.

Attend a Traditional Polynesian Show

No visit to Papeete would be complete without experiencing a traditional Polynesian show. The InterContinental Tahiti Resort hosts one of the best, with vibrant dancers and musicians showcasing the rich heritage of the islands. It’s an explosion of color, rhythm, and passion that’s bound to leave you spellbound.

Go Snorkeling or Diving

The crystal-clear waters around Papeete are a diver’s paradise. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a snorkeling newbie, the lagoons teem with marine life just waiting to be explored. Join a tour or rent some gear and discover the underwater wonders for yourself.

Take a Day Trip to Moorea

While not technically in Papeete, a day trip to the nearby island of Moorea is a must. Just a short ferry ride away, Moorea offers stunning landscapes, from its jagged peaks to its peaceful bays. It’s an idyllic escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Shop for Local Crafts

Last but not least, indulge in some retail therapy. Papeete has a range of shops selling local crafts, from intricate wood carvings to colorful pareos (sarongs). These make for perfect mementos of your time in Tahiti or gifts for loved ones back home.


  • What’s the best time of year to visit Papeete?

    The best time to visit Papeete is during the dry season from May to October when the weather is cooler and less humid.

  • Is Papeete suitable for families?

    Absolutely! Papeete offers a range of activities that cater to all ages, making it a great destination for families.

  • How do I get around Papeete?

    You can explore Papeete on foot, by bike, or by using the local buses known as ‘Le Truck’. Taxis and car rentals are also available.


In conclusion, Papeete is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered. From the bustling market to the serene parks, the cultural shows to the underwater escapades, there’s something for everyone in this Polynesian capital. The 10 best things to do in Papeete offer a glimpse into the island’s soul, where tradition meets modernity, and nature’s beauty is around every corner. So pack your bags, bring your sense of adventure, and get ready to create memories that will last a lifetime in the heart of French Polynesia.

Whether you’re snorkeling in the lagoon or sipping on a coconut at the market, Papeete’s charm is undeniable. It’s a city that invites you to immerse yourself in its rhythm, and by the time you leave, you’ll carry a piece of Tahiti in your heart. So, when you’re planning your next getaway, remember the vibrant spirit of Papeete is calling. Will you answer?

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