Cultural Hotspots In Papeete, Tahiti
Spend a couple of days exploring the main island of Tahiti and you won’t leave disappointed. Papeete is full to the brim with cultural stops to keep your itinerary full, and this is only scratching the surface.
PUNA'AUIA, FRENCH POLYNESIA
This museum is a must visit, not only for its display of Polynesian artefacts and temporary exhibitions, but to take in its beautiful botanical grounds, too. The Museum is working to preserve the Polynesian heritage and culture of the Islands of Tahiti by acquiring and restoring important collections and cultural practices. During our visit, the Tiki exhibition was on display—an emblematic figure of the Marquesas islands, and said to each have their own cheeky spirit imparted on you when in their presence. The heritage and ancestry of the Islands is something the locals really hold onto, often speaking about the significance of nature, spirituality and community wellbeing. Give yourself a couple of hours at this place to really take it all in.
AVENUE DU RÉGENT PARAITA, PAPEETE, ÎLES DU VENT, FRENCH POLYNESIA
This place can be a little difficult to find, so look for the decorative columns at the front and you should be okay! This is the capitals art school campus, educating and advocating the importance of arts and culture in Tahiti with around 40 students currently enrolled in a variety of art disciplines. The body support their students, local artists and invited international artists to participate in regular group shows within their gallery space, as well as displaying an impressive archival collection of historic artefacts and 3D-printed replicas, so be sure to knock on their door to be shown around!
BP4588, PAPEETE 98713, FRENCH POLYNESIA
There is a real community spirit here as people come for their daily goods and visit their friends, so to get a real vibe for Papeete be sure to visit this market around lunch time. Many locals, young and old, flock to the take-away food stalls on the ground level and socialise around the tables. Walk up the stairs to the second floor and enjoy some good people watching over the fruit stands to take it all in. Pick up a bunch of mini bananas for a quick snack too!
PAPE'ETE, FRENCH POLYNESIA
On the second floor of the Papeete Market you'll find this gem of a cafe. Though we didn't have enough time to enjoy a sit down meal here, we did make a quick pit-stop for one of their refreshing smoothies which is a must have! Cafe Maeva prides itself on offering vegan, gluten free and non-dairy options, so it's a safe bet for those with dietary requirements. It is buzzing at lunch time with tables filling fast, but rest assured they have delicious salads to take-away too!
AVENUE GEORGES CLEMENCEAU, PAPEETE, ÎLES DU VENT, FRENCH POLYNESIA
Wandering around the city of Papeete I was drawn to the large scale murals scattered throughout the streets. It was only a month prior to my visit that the annual Ono'u Tahiti Graffiti Festival took place—an international event that invites contemporary urban and street artists from around the globe to participate. Started by local Sarah Roopinia in 2014, the Festival adds colour and beauty to the streets of downtown Papeete, like an outdoor gallery to be enjoyed by all. I recommend hiring a car and seeing how many you can find along your trails.
BOULEVARD DE LA REINE PŌMARE IV, PAPEETE, ÎLES DU VENT, FRENCH POLYNESIA
Tattoo's in Tahiti are taken really seriously—so seriously in fact, if you walk into Tikahiri with an idea based on aesthetic alone you may be rejected. The marks you see on locals around the Islands of Tahiti hold lifetime significance, either representing their life to date or what they wish for in their future to come. Every symbol holds a meaning, and you can visit Tikahiri Tattoo Shop to learn more about the cultural heritage and dive into their 'tattoo bible' of endless and inspiring symbols.
HA'APŪPUNI, FRENCH POLYNESIA
A short and easy drive around the coast, east of downtown Papeete and through the only tunnel on the island, you'll see the turn off to cascades de Faarumai—three beautiful waterfalls to be found a short walk from the end of this quiet village street. If you're visiting Papeete and only see the pool of your hotel, you are surely missing the true beauty this island beholds. As someone who hasn't seen a lot of waterfalls in my lifetime, the sheer scale when you come around the bend is breathtaking. If you only have time to see one waterfall during your stay, make sure this is it.
PAPENO'O, FRENCH POLYNESIA
Driving along the coast, north-east of Papeete, you'll wind your way along some beautiful coastline, some of which is great for surfing. Pull over at Papeno'o to watch some locals on their boards and take in the scenery. People are constantly coming and going from cars, scooters and bicycles for a good stretch of road—it's a haven of activity in the afternoon and worth getting involved.
BP 2851 PUNAVAI, PUNA'AUIA 98703, FRENCH POLYNESIA
If the surf beach isn't really your thing, Manava Suite Resort has all the calm. With impressive suites looking out to their infinity pool for sunrise and sunset, you can return here to rejuvenate and escape the hustle bustle (if there is such a thing in Tahiti anyway!)
BOULEVARD DE LA REINE POMARE IV, PAPEETE, ÎLES DU VENT, FRENCH POLYNESIA
Eat like a local and head to the Papeete food trucks, or better known as "Roulottes". Serving up a wide variety of food options from seafood, burgers, crepes and Thai, everyone in your party is sure to find something they like. Tables and chairs are set up in the square adjacent to each vendor where table service is available or you can order takeaway. It is particularly busy of a weekend with more trucks on site, so head there of a Friday or Saturday night for the best vibe.
PUNAVAI, PUNA'AUIA, ÎLES DU VENT, FRENCH POLYNESIA
You won't find this place online if you tried, you might be sent to another city, but it's so popular it doesn't really need to be. Set on the same street as the Manava Suite Resort just a short 5 minute walk away, enjoy some seriously tasty Thai dishes for dinner and French crepes for dessert from this family run business. The staff are incredibly welcoming, portion sizes are generous, and the setting is nice and cosy—a great way to end a busy day exploring!