Home » Destinations » South Pacific » Papeete, Tahiti

Papeete 17°32’S 149°35’W

Tahiti Nui, also known as French Polynesia, is made up of 118 fabulous coral and volcanic islands in five far-flung archipelagoes, each with their own particular character:
the Society Islands, the Marquesas, Tuamotus, Gambiers and Australs, as well as Clipperton atoll.
Tahiti is the largest island with Papeete as the capital of the Territory situated on the Northwest coast with a harbour sheltered by reefs.
It is situated in the South Pacific Ocean half way between California (6,200 km) and Australia (5,700 km).
Tahiti is now the busy hub of French Polynesia. Most of the activity is centered around the city of Papeete. It’s the part of the island most visitors see, if only in passing: Papeete’s Faaa Airport handles all international flights and many inter-island planes, and many of the cruise and freighter excursions begin at Papeete’s harbor. As the only real city in French Polynesia (pop. 100,000), Papeete can teach you a lot about life in the South Pacific. And while you will experience some traffic jams and noise, it’s relatively clean, safe and efficient for a city in the developing world.
Cargo ships, ferries and large cruise ships are also part of the mix, as are the roulottes (snack trucks) parked along the waterfront. Just a few blocks inland is the Papeete Market, which is a must-see. Catering to both tourists and residents, it includes handicrafts, flowers and fresh-food items. There’s lots of local color, people sitting on the floor making flower leis, tables full of brilliantly colored fish, locals drinking Hinano in the upstairs bar/restaurant. The craft items are largely souvenir grade, but it’s a good place to pick up small knick-knacks and woven-straw items.

For pricier fare, you’ll find galleries, pearl shops and designer-clothing stores on nearby blocks, especially near Vaima Centre. The Vaima complex is also home to the Robert Wan Pearl Museum, which explains the pearl-growing business and gives you yet another chance to make a purchase.
Papeete is one of few places in French Polynesia where things remain lively well into the night. Try to visit at least one of the clubs or discos to watch the locals cut loose on the dance floor.

Tahiti has one big advantage over other islands as far as visitors are concerned: It has a frequent, reliable and inexpensive form of public transit. These small, open-sided buses follow set routes and can transport you short distances in and around Papeete or all the way around the island. They’re safe, fun and a great way to immerse yourself in local life.

Out of Papeete, along the north shore of the island one can make a stop at Point Venus, on the outskirts of Papeete. Matavai Bay, which is enclosed by the point, was used as an anchorage by many of the early European ships to reach Tahiti. Captain Cook built a fort on the point during his first visit to the island. The black-sand beach near the point is now a popular seaside destination. Farther east is the Arahoho Blowhole, where water from incoming waves explodes through a hole in the rocks.

If you continue along the coastal road, you’ll reach the town of Taravao, where the two portions of the island meet. If you continue to circle Tahiti Nui, you’ll soon reach the Gauguin Museum, which details the artist’s life and has some reproductions of his work. The wonderful Harrison Smith Botanical Garden is right next door. It has a lovely miniature forest of Tahitian chestnuts and other examples of local plantlife. From there, the road circles back toward Papeete. About 9 mi/15 km from the city, you’ll reach the Museum of Tahiti and Its Islands, which has good historical and cultural displays.

General Information Tahiti

Area: 4167 sq km (1609 sq miles).
Population: 231,500 (2000).
Population density: 55.6 per sq km.
Capital: Papeete (Tahiti Island).
Population capital: 25,553 (1996).
Language: The official languages are French and Tahitian.
Other Polynesian languages are spoken by the indigenous population. English is widely understood, mainly by islanders accustomed to dealing with foreign visitors.
Religion: Approximately 55 per cent Protestant and 34 per cent Catholic.
Time: Gambier Islands: GMT – 9.
Marquesas Islands: GMT – 9.5.
Society Archipelago, Tubuai Islands, Tuamotu Archipelago (except Gambier Islands), Tahiti: GMT – 10.
Electricity: 110/220 volts AC, 60Hz. US-style two-pin plugs are in use.
Currency: French Pacific Franc (CFPFr) = 100 centimes.
Country Code: + 689 ~
IDD Access Code: 00 ~

How to get there

Tahiti Tourisme
Pomare Boulevard
Paofai Bldg, entry D.
P.O. BOX 65
Papeete
Tahiti French Polynesia
Tel.: + 689 50 57 00
Fax: + 689 43 66 19
E-mail: tahiti-tourisme@mail.pf
Internet: www.tahiti-tourisme.com

Weather

Tahiti has a temperate climate.
Two main seasons: humid (hot and wet) from November to March, cool and dry from April to October.
The temperature, which is always very pleasant, is cooled by the trade winds of the South Pacific Ocean that blow throughout the year.
The average ambient temperature is 27° C, and the waters of the lagoons are a fairly constant 26° C.
The Austral and Gambier, which are situated more southern, enjoy cooler temperatures.

Marinas

MARINA TAINA
PK9 Punaauia
PO Box 13003 Punaauia
Tahiti – French Polynesia
Tel.: + 689 41 02 25
Mobile: + 689 77 82 25
Fax: + 689 45 27 58
E-mail: marina@mail.pf
Internet: www.marina-taina.com

Airport

French Polynesia is readily accessible by air from most parts of the world; the exception is the rest of the Pacific.
All international air traffic comes through Faaa Airport in Papeete, but a redevelopment of the airport in the Marquesas island of Nuku Hiva might soon change this situation.

Cruise ships regularly call into the region and it’s also a favourite among yachties.
There are distinct sailing seasons in this part of the Pacific.

Basic contact information for airports to get in Papeete:

TAHITI
Country Code: + 689 ~
IDD Access Code: 00 ~
Time Zone: GMT – 9/10

TAHITI-FAA´A AIRPORT (PPT)
Tahiti Airport, French Polynesia, BP 117, Papeete, Tahiti
Tel.: + 689 861051
Fax: + 689 861059

Additional Information

Car rental:

AVIS PACIFICAR
Rue des remparts, PPT
P.O. BOX 4466
98 713 Papeete
Tahiti
Tel.: + 689 54 10 10 / 54 10 11
Fax: + 689 42 19 11
E-mail: avis.tahiti@mail.pf
Internet: www.avis-tahiti.com

Tahiti-Faa’a International Airport
Tel.: + 689 85 02 84
Fax: + 689 86 61 13

Quai Gallieni, PPT (ferry to Moorea)
Tel.: + 689 43 88 99
Taravao
Tel.: + 689 57 70 70

DANIEL RENT-A-CAR
PK 5, 500 Faa’a, in front of Tahiti-Faa’a International Airport
P.O. BOX 1445
98713 Papeete
Tahiti
Tel.: + 689 82 30 04
Fax: + 689 85 62 64
E-mail: tahiti.safari@mail.pf

Tahiti Faa’a International Airport
Tel.: + 689 81 96 32

HERTZ RENT-A-CAR
Tipaerui, in front of the stadium W. Bambridge, PPT
P.O. BOX 1617
98713 Papeete
Tahiti
Tel.: + 689 42 04 71
Fax: + 689 43 49 03
E-mail: hertz@mail.pf

Tahiti Faa’a International Airport
Tel.: + 689 82 55 86

ROBERT RENT-A-CAR
Av. du Général De Gaulle, PPT
P.O. BOX 1047
98713 Papeete
Tahiti
Tel.: + 689 42 97 20
Fax: + 689 42 63 00

EUROPCAR INTER-RENT
Avenue du Prince Hinoi, PPT
P.O. BOX 4366
98713 Papeete
Tahiti
Tel.: + 689 45 24 24
Fax: + 689 41 93 41
E-mail: fmeuropcar@mail.pf

Tahiti Faa’a International Airport
Tel.: + 689 86 60 61

Hotel Tahiti Beachcomber InterContinental Resort
Tel.: + 689 86 51 10

Hotel Le Méridien Tahiti
Tel.: + 689 47 07 07

Sheraton Hotel Tahiti
Tel.: + 689 86 48 48

TAHITI RENT-A-CAR
Chez Pierrot & Jacqueline
Tahiti Faa’a International Airport
P.O. BOX 1855
98713 Papeete
Tahiti
+ 689 81 94 00
+ 689 81 07 77

TAHITI AUTO CENTER
PK 20, 200 Paea
P.O. BOX 669
98713 Papeete
Tahiti
Tel.: + 689 53 33 33
Fax: + 689 53 33 46
E-mail: tahitiautocente@mail.pf

Sorry

Your browser is too old to optimally experience this website. Upgrade your browser to improve your experience.