Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia

Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia

Papeete is the capital of French Polynesia, located on the island of Tahiti, in the Pacific Ocean.

Marche du Papeete, Tahiti’s colourful main marketplace is located behind the waterfront.

Vaima Center is a modern four story mall, which features a Pearl Museum. Gift ideas include intricate wood carvings, coconut oil, coffee and mother of pearl shells.

The Museum of Tahiti has displays about Polynesian history and exhibits of artefacts.

The Cathedral of Notre Dame de Papeete, consecrated in 1875, was restored in 1987. The nearby Protestant Temple de Paofai was built in 1873.

The Gauguin Museum is a fascinating portrayal of the artist’s life and works. It is located an hour away from Papeete. Note: There are only a few original woodcarvings and minor prints by Gauguin, all the paintings are copies, which are displayed in open air buildings. Nearby is the Harrison W. Smith Botanical Garden.

The Lagoonarium is located around 6 miles from Papeete and features tropical fish and daily shark feeding.

Take a driving trip in the smaller part of the island, Tahiti Iti, where it is lush and mountainous.

Divers can explore a long sunk cargo ship and Catalina flying boat airplane.

Moorea is only a 30 minute ferry ride away, where snorkelling in the lagoon is a fun pastime.

For golfers, the Olivier Breaud course is set in the Atimaono complex, once a sugarcane plantation with a rum factory attached.

At the Sofitel Maeva Beach, you can rent kayaks and jet skis.

Mahana Park, Paea, has a lovely white sand beach, watersports and restaurant.

Taharuu is a black sand beach popular with local surfers.

The disabled cruiser visiting Papeete 

Where You’re Docked

Cruise ships dock in the heart of Papeete, alongside a charming waterfront esplanade.

Numerous shops, restaurants and a tourist information centre are all located in this part of Papeete.

Car hire is available along with a modern bus system operating every 20 minutes or so.

Taxis are available on the main boulevard, agree a price before setting off.

Good to Know

Heavy traffic 

Getting Around

On foot: 

By car: 

By bus:

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

The local currency in Papeete is the French Pacific franc. A good rule of thumb is that 100 francs equal U.S. $1. In Papeete, vendors in the market and shops generally accept U.S. dollars, but be sure to ask about their exchange rate. There are several banks on the main drag in Papeete with ATMs, and there’s also an ATM at the airport. Look for Bank of Tahiti ATMs, which are compatible with the Cirrus and Plus networks used by U.S. banks.


Although French and Tahitian are the official languages, locals in the touristy areas and shops speak some English. If in doubt, bring an English/French phrase book. Greetings of “bonjour” or “ia ora na” (Tahitian) are usually met with a smile, and thank you (“merci” or the Tahitian “mauruuru”) goes a long way in any language.


For a genuine local experience, check out the stands selling French pastries, sandwiches and rice plates (with chicken or fish) in the Marche.

Shrimp, mahi mahi served in sauces flavored with curry, herbs or local fruits as well as steak dishes are popular with both locals and visitors alike. Salads, sandwiches, pizzas and pasta are also available.

Points of Interest

  • Papeete – a seven-

Papeete Accessible Excursions

Whether your cruise ship stops in 

Papeete Accessible Guided Tour

This 4 hour accessible