It’s a pleasure getting to know Papeete (also spelled Pape’ete), the vibrant capital of French Polynesia, on the island of Tahiti. The city’s mix of Polynesian and French culture is on display in the cuisine and architecture, and the natural beauty is 100 percent South Pacific. Here’s how to make the most of a day there.
Get an overview of the city and optimize your time by joining a guided tour. You’ll see markets, gardens and parks, churches, museums, and hidden places you might otherwise overlook. See the sights by vehicle, on foot, or for the more adventurous, by Segway or e-bike. As Papeete can be hot, be prepared with plenty of water, a hat, and sunscreen. At the end of your tour, grab a light lunch at the Municipal Market, and don’t forget to try some of the delicious local fruit.
After lunch, head out onto the water to appreciate Tahiti’s spectacular natural beauty. A dolphin-watching cruise is a fun excursion that travelers with a range of interests will enjoy, including kids. Your chance of spotting dolphins is good, but even if you don’t manage to catch a glimpse, cruises typically include time for swimming and snorkeling at a sheltered spot. You might also check out some skilled surfers at play.
At night, dozens of food trucks set up along Papeete’s waterfront, and there’s no better place to enjoy an inexpensive local dinner and, sometimes, live music. Try a variety of delicacies—think fresh seafood, crepes, frites, and more. If you’re in the mood to celebrate, sample some of the local punch made with rum, lime, and sugar.