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Tahiti is the biggest and most famous island in French Polynesia. For over two hundred years Tahiti has been a destination that allured travelers from all over the world. Papeete is bordered by an aqua-blue sea and gorgeous beaches laced with palm trees. The landscape is downright magnificent, and the people are friendly and helpful.
 
Although historians are not entirely certain exactly when and how the Polynesian people arrived on Tahiti, some facts are known. Around three thousand or four thousand years ago they left Southeast Asia, and we know that they were fabulous sailors and navigators. Arriving in present day Tahiti about 300 AD, they settled on this island and others in what is now French Polynesia. These islands were originally ruled by all-powerful chieftains, who commanded large fleets and ordered human sacrifices. But rest assured that the island is much more friendly now! Among the first European visitors to Tahiti included Samuel Wallis in 1767 and James Cook in 1769. They returned to Europe with tales of a tropical paradise run by savages and full of beautiful women. It was no coincidence that soon after, every man in Europe was determined to visit this mysterious and alluring island. The islands became French Polynesia in 1842 when the French out maneuvered the British and took control.
 
As the 20th century began, French Polynesia became unified into the French Pacific settlements. At this time, a program of fast-paced commercial expansion was instituted, and Chinese workers were made to work on cotton and vanilla plantations. As WWI began, almost one thousand Polynesians were sent by the French to fight the Germans. Currently, Tahiti is leading the charge in an attempt to gain independence from France. But at the same time, the citizens are welcoming, and everywhere you go in Papeete is a place of beauty and tranquility. Scuba diving, exploring, and dining in the fabulous Tahitian restaurants are among the most pleasurable activities. The food in the city is delicious, and all of the beaches accessible from Papeete are gorgeous and offer a plethora of water sports. Tahitians adore beauty contests and celebrations, so festivals and grand parties seem like weekly events.
 
Docking & Local Transportation
Cruise ships dock at Port de Plaisance in the Papeete Harbor. Immediately you are catapulted into the hustle and bustle of life of Papeete, and the excitement of the area becomes evident. The Papeete Harbor is a beautiful mass of water, and you will land right next to the Tourism office, a perfect location to find out everything that you want to know about Papeete and Tahiti.
Most Tahitians travel around by using the local le truck service. These vehicles are large buses that are constantly transporting people around the island. Out of Papeete, le truck travels most everywhere on Tahiti. Papeete to Maeva Beach is a popular route, and the fare is a modest $2.
 
Taxis are a popular means of transportation as well, but they are occasionally hard to obtain in the morning and early evening. The two largest gathering points for taxis are Centre Vaima (689/42-60-77) and near the market on Boulevard Pomare (689/42-02-92). Taxi fares are set by the government, but keep in mind that rates increase by 30 percent or more between the hours of 8pm and 6am. A trip within Papeete will usually cost around $10, but a trip to the south coast can reach $100 or more, so be sure and straighten everything out before your departure.
 
Things to See and Do
Papeete is the capital of French Polynesia (Tahitian Islands) - an overseas country in the French Republic. Papeete is one of the most unique cities in the South Pacific and is located on the Tahiti Island, which is not only the main among the 118 islands and atolls in French Polynesia but also one of the most beautiful and romantic destinations on the earth. With its international airport, Papeete serves as the gateway to the country, in addition to being the seat of administration as well as the center of economics and politics in the country. When it comes to Papeete sights, it is bestowed with a majestic surrounding that consists of lush green areas, abundant valleys, towering mountains like Mount Marau, stunning beaches and magnificent coves and bays. Its vibrant nightlife and extraordinary shopping choices also deserve a special mention.
 
Robert Wan Pearl Museum
Stepping into this museum would take you to the amazing world of pearls and jewels. The museum throws light into the complete history that pertains to pearls and takes you to a journey that covers everything from the beginning of pearl farming as well as its production to techniques now used to farm pearls. It has a number of unique pearl items on its display, the prominent being the world’s largest Tahitian pearl. Entry to the museum is free and it is open everyday except for Sunday from 09:30 to 17:00 hrs.
 
Tahiti Lagoonarium
A tour to Tahiti as well as French Polynesia is considered incomplete without taking a tour to this marvelous lagoonarium that is about 12 km west of Papeete. Located within the Captain Bligh Restaurant and Bar, Tahiti Lagoonarium is a not to miss attraction, especially for marine life lovers. It is actually an aquarium beneath the water, with more than 1,000 species of wonderful marine life that includes colorful tropical fish, sea turtles, and reef sharks.
 
Municipal Market
Alternatively known as Marché Papeete, Municipal Market is one of the most exuberant areas of the city. From food items including fresh fruits and vegetables and fish to handicrafts, handbags, hats, and jewelry, an interesting selection of items can be shopped from this extensive, bustling market area.
 
Point Venus
This is an astounding, romantic spot that is situated about 10 km from Papeete. With its unbelievable surroundings and park-like setting that is close to the beach, it serves as a wonderful picnic spot. Further, it is also credited to be the spot where Captain James Cook first observed the planet Venus’s transit across the sun in 1769
 
Papeete is a fabulous city to explore because of its diversity. There is a plethora of notable attractions and fascinating sites. Tahiti features museums unlike anywhere else in the world, and many of the interesting locations are quite close to the port.
 
The Lagoonarium (689/43-62-90) is seven miles west of Papeete, and is a wonderful place to catch up on all of the marine life that you may have missed during your snorkeling or diving adventures. It is a reenactment of these great activities, but without the effort of swimming in a sea full of wild creatures. Usually the expeditions are more satisfying and adventurous, but the Lagoonarium is truly marvelous. It is a large viewing room underneath the water, and pens with sharks, turtles, and glorious tropical fish surround you on all sides. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children.
 
The Municipal Market in Papeete features a dazzling array of fresh fruits, vegetables, and items only known to inhabitants of Tahiti. Tourists will marvel at the stunning assortment of food and handcrafts. The unwritten law of the land is that your nationality dictates the type of commodity that you sell. During lunchtime a Tahitian string band plays, and early every Sunday morning the area is transformed into a produce market. During this time, the market resembles a festival with all of the excitement and energy in the air.
 
Point Venus is a romantic, scenic area just six miles east of Papeete. This is where the transit of the planet Venus across the sun was first observed in 1769 by Captain James Cook. Have a picnic, enjoy the beach and park-like setting, or visit the handcraft shop and souvenir stand.
 
Water Sports
Aquatica is the place to go for water sports activities. They offer an extensive list of activities, and are bound to have something that you will find of interest. Their scuba diving package includes a dive with a guide to ensure safety and all of the equipment. The snorkeling locations are fun as well, and gear can be rented, although you are always better off bringing your own. Even still, the Aquatica staff can point you in the direction of the very best snorkeling sites on Tahiti. Kayaks can be rented as well. Jet skiing can be a quite entertaining way to spend a half-hour or so. Call for more information (689/53-34-96).
 
Outdoor Engagements
The Olivier Breaud International Golf Course (689/57-40-32) is an extravagant eighteen-hole, 6,950 yard masterpiece. Covering William Stewart's cotton plantation, this is a scenic area of grand proportion. You will find a driving range, pool, restaurant, bar, locker rooms, and clubhouse on site as well. Numerous exciting and picturesque hiking trails exist on Tahiti, and you can discover them all with Iaora Tahiti Ecotours. The hike to the top of Mount Aorai and the glorious cross-island Papenoo Valley-Lake Vahiria route are two of the best. Do not attempt to hike long distances unguided, as downpours can occur at any time and obstruct trails, making it difficult to find your way back.
 
Dining and Nightlife
Auberge du Pacifique (689/43-98-30), in downtown Papeete, has been Tahiti's most esteemed restaurant since 1974. In 1987, France honored owner Jean Galopin with "Master Chef" honors for his extraordinary combination of French and Tahitian cuisine. The food is scrumptious, and you are invited to walk down to the wine cellar and pick out your own bottle for the meal. At night, the roof opens up so you can have dinner under the stars. Casablanca Cocktail Restaurant (689/43-91-35) is a favorite with tourists because of its fabulous seafood and nightly live music shows. A great place to catch a Tahitian Dance Show is Captain Bligh Restaurant and Bar (689/43-62-90). Typically, shows are held Friday and Saturday nights at 8:30pm. Interested in a little gaming after a hard day of outdoor fun? You are in luck, because there are three casinos on Tahiti. Perhaps the best is inside Hotel Royal Papeete (689/42-01-29), and tell the doorman you are an overseas visitor, that way you will get in for free.
 
Shopping
The Papeete shopping scene is always bustling with activity. Tourists flock the markets and wish to get their hands on the most famous black pearls. Read on to find out about the popular shopping spots in Papeete.
 
The Marche Municipale is a city market in Papeete. This market will give you an insider’s view into the culture. This is a tin building filled with several shops and stalls that sell the freshest produce. The building offers tourists a chance to buy several souvenirs and local arts. Sarongs, shell jewelry, antiques this place has it all. The Marche Municipale is a highly economical shopping area in the whole of Papeete. The highly energetic atmosphere will keep you entertained and give you a shopping experience like never before.
 
Center Vaima step into this true Tahitian shopping mall. This shopping center has been around since 1977 and is considered to be the best shopping place in Papetee. Center Vaima, has several branded stores like Nike and Billabong. But the shopping center is most famous for its book stores. There are several stores that offer a wide selection of books from various genres. The pearl shops in Center Vaima are also a popular tourist attraction.
 
The Robert Wan museum lays out the history and the art of making the most famous Tahitian pearls. It gives you a glimpse into the process of deriving the exotic black pearls that the region is so popular for. After the guided tour you can head to the in house jewelry store and buy unique ear rings, pendants, made from pearls.
 
At the Sibani Joallier, you will be treated to some of the finest jewelry in town. The store is famous for its pearl creations and the prices quoted are highly competitive. Papeete has several stores that sell pearls, it could be difficult to decide on which on to buy from. You can trust Sibani Joallier for the quality. The designer watch range, adorned with pearls should not be missed.
 
Tahiti Pearl Shop is located on the Papeete waterfront. This is a newly opened store and showcases the Tahitian cultured pearls like never before. The designs are a unique blend of the local craftsmanship with a touch of modernistic patterns. The customers are given a free hand in picking pearls of their choice and are also involved in the design process.








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