How to Spend One Day in Papeete

August 19, 2015 by

Animal Encounters, Australia & the Pacific, Beach & Water Adventures, City Tours & Sightseeing, Places to Go, Suggested Itineraries, Things to Do


When people talk about vacationing in Tahiti, they aren’t necessarily talking about staying on the island of Tahiti itself. Tahiti is the largest of the islands in French Polynesia, which many people commonly refer to collectively as Tahiti. Flights typically arrive to the capital city of the island of Tahiti, Papeete, early in the morning to allow for travelers to make connections to neighboring islands or spend a few hours before embarking on a Paul Gauguin cruise. If you’re looking for things to do in town, here’s how to spend one day in Papeete:

Full-Day Jeep Safari to the Inner-Island

Jeep safai into the jungle of Tahiti.

Jeep safari into the jungle of Tahiti.

If you’re scheduled to embark on a cruise in the evening, consider a full-day Jeep safari of Tahiti’s inner-island. You venture truly off the beaten path into the rainforest that many tourists never see in Tahiti. You’ll see archaeological sites, stunning landscape, and learn about the flora and fauna of Tahiti’s rainforests. Take in views from atop Mount Marau at 3,600-feet, photograph Tiarei Arahoho Blow Hole, and visit three waterfalls in Fa’arumai Valley.

Tahiti Island Tour

Point Venus lighthouse.

Point Venus lighthouse, the camp of explorers like Captain Cook and William Bligh.

If you’re more interested in learning about Tahiti’s interesting history, consider taking a Tahiti island tour that includes both the natural and cultural sites that are important to understanding Tahiti’s history. This is a great primer before you embark on your cruise as you’ll have a good foundation of knowledge and preparation for many of the stops you’ll be making.

On a Tahiti island tour, you’ll visit the Paul Gauguin Museum, see the Arahoho Blowhole and waterfalls of Fa’arumai, Mara’a Grotto caves, and walk around Venus Point, the famous spot where explorers like Captain Cook and William Bligh set up camp.

Whale Watching

A humpback whale breaching.

A humpback whale breaching.

If your trip to French Polynesia occurs between the months of August and October, consider a whale watching tour, as thousands of humpback whales migrate during this time of year. Guides share details about the humpback whales and their migration patterns. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and seabirds as well. Plus, this 3.5-hour tour is available in the mornings or afternoon, which is helpful depending on your flight arrival time.

Dolphin Watching

Playful dolphins in the waters of Tahiti.

Playful dolphins in the waters of Tahiti.

If you’re visiting outside of whale watching season and hope to spend some time on the water with marine life, consider a Tahiti dolphin watching tour. The two-hour cruise is more than just dolphin watching; after seeing the dolphins at Fisherman’s Bay, snorkel in a beautiful lagoon with lots of marine life and a few shipwrecks. You’ll also get to see some of Tahiti’s famed surfing spots – Taapuna Pass and Sapinus.

Papeete City Tour

Papeete waterfront.

Papeete waterfront.

For those looking to explore the best of the capital city itself, consider a Papeete city tour. Shop at the traditional Papeete Municipal Market and Vaima shopping center, and learn about the architecture and history of Papeete’s Notre Dame Cathedral and Papeete City Hall. For travelers interested in purchasing one of Tahiti’s famed black pearls, this tour includes a visit to the Black Pearl Museum. This is a great opportunity to learn how the pearls are cultivated and what you should look for when purchasing your own Tahitian pearls.

– Contributed by Erin de Santiago

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