Popular Tahiti (Papeete) Shore Excursions
Marche du Papeete: For local color, nothing beats the Marche du Papeete, Tahiti's main marketplace (located a block behind the waterfront). You can buy everything from flowers to fruit and fish or crafts and gifts. (Corner of Rue Colette and Rue de 22 Septembre, Papeete; (689) 40 43 67 15; open daily, Mondays 5 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday 4 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sundays 3 a.m. to 9 a.m.)
Museum of Tahiti: The Museum of Tahiti (near Le Meridien hotel) is located on an area that was once a sacred religious site. The museum presents displays about Polynesian history and exhibits of artifacts. The entrance fee is 600 francs for permanent exhibits only, or 800 francs including temporary exhibits. (PK 15, Punaauia; (689) 40 54 84 35; open Tuesday to Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Lagoonarium: This aquarium's underwater viewing room is surrounded by tropical fish, reef sharks and sea turtles. The Lagoonarium is located about 10 miles southwest of Papeete. (PK 15, Punaauia; open daily)
Tahiti Iti; The smaller section of the island is connected to the main island by an isthmus. A good option for a day's driving trip, it is lush, mountainous and verdant. (PK 0, opposite Papeete at the southeast side of the island)
Cathedral of Notre Dame de Papeete: See beautiful stained glass and Polynesian symbols of culture in this central downtown cathedral, which was consecrated in 1875 and restored in 2005. (Avenue du Marechal Foch at Rue Jean d'Arc, Papeete)
Temple Protestant de Paofai: A 10-minute walk from Papeete's Notre Dame Cathedral, the Protestant Church of Paofai was built in 1873. Women wear beautiful hats to Sunday morning services. (Boulevard de la Reine Pomare IV across the street from Jardins de Paofai, Papeete)
Cascades de Faarumai: A short walk through a lush forest of bamboo, mape (Tahitian chestnut) trees and ferns leads to the first of three waterfalls in the Faarumai Valley near Papeno'o. Stand at the base of the 262-foot Vaimahuta waterfall to feel the warm mist on your face. (Between Papeno'o at PK 18 and Tiarei at PK 25)
"The Wrecks": In Faa'a near the airport you can dive "The Wrecks" and see colorful fish swim alongside a long-sunk 16-foot Cessna airplane and two boats. Just south near Paea are two other dive site wrecks: an airplane and an old schooner. (PK 5, Faa'a and PK 22, Paea)
Moorea: If your ship isn't calling at Moorea, it's only a 30-minute ferry ride away and a world apart. Snorkeling in the encircling lagoon makes for a delightful day trip. The Papeete ferry terminal is adjacent to the cruise terminal downtown. (Boulevard de la Reine Pomare at Avenue du Chef Vairaatoa, Papeete)
Olivier Breaud International Golf Course: This course is set in the Atimaono complex, once a sugarcane plantation with a rum factory attached. It welcomes players for the annual Tahiti International Open on the PGA circuit. (PK 35, Papara)
Nearest to Papeete: At the beach at the InterContinental Hotel in Faa'a, near the airport, you can rent kayaks, Jet Skis and snorkelling gear from water sports operators or take a guided tour. When you get hungry you can find a snack or cocktail at one of the InterContinental's upscale restaurants and bars.
Beach as Destination: La Plage Vaiava, locally known as "PK 18 beach" because of its location on the west coast road, is one of the island's largest white sand beaches (most are black sand or rocky). Near Mahana Park just past Punaauia, this beach is popular for swimming or snorkelling with the colorful tropical fish in the coral reef. You can rent water sports gear here. The small parking lot gets crowded by the afternoon, so arrive early -- especially on Sundays.
Best for Surfers: Head to the black-sand Taharuu Beach on the south coast at Papara (PK 35) to watch local surfers ride the barrel waves. Families and tourists gather at this fairly protected beach with good swimming conditions. There's a playground, snack bar, restroom and showers onsite.