Thanks to its supply of fresh water, Papeete has long been a gathering place – the name means “water basket.” Today it’s the main population center of the Polynesian islands. The bustling city meets the sea on a long, walkable waterfront. Peruse the lively Marche de Papeete, where local venders sell food and handicrafts, and dine at enticing restaurants serving French and Polynesian cuisine. Popular local dishes include poisson cru (raw fish with coconut milk and lime).
Papeete cruise visitors who have a purchase of Tahitian black pearls in mind may want to stop by the Robert Wan Pearl Museum to learn the history of the baubles. For quiet time, walk to one of the city’s gardens. Mother Nature is close at hand in the island’s interior, where jungles and waterfalls are accessible on hiking and Jeep excursions. Or head to a black-sand or white-sand for lounging time or snorkeling among colorful tropical fish. Some beaches are popular with surfers, lessons available.
popular shore excursions
West Coast Highlights
Departing Papeete, your tour will take you along the West Coast of the island of Tahiti. Your drive will lead you to the south of the island, to the Vaipahi Gardens where rare species of precious wood and tropical flowers can be found. Then visit Arahurahu Marae imagine the Polynesian customs of meetings and ceremonial gatherings in this sacred temple. Religious rituals, weddings and military victories were celebrated here. There is a short walk to reach this quiet and beautiful site. Stop at the Maraa Grottoes, as you take the short walk on the trail, you will come across the largest underwater cave in Tahiti. Enjoy the lush vegetation that surrounds its entrance. Story says that Paul Gauguin enjoyed the waters here, so those interested in his work will be particularly appreciative of the natural features and atmosphere that inspired his later pieces.