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Best things to do in Papeete

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Where in the world: South Pacific  /  French Polynesia  /  Society Islands  /  Tahiti  /  Papeete

Top 15 things to do in Papeete

1. Municipal Market

Shop for a variety of goods including locally sourced food and handcrafted goods at Municipal Market, an attractive covered market hall. Locals and tourists flock here for their shopping needs and to enjoy the feast of colors. Dedicated vendors attend stalls selling a rich diversity of products, pearls and wood-carvings to vanilla and perfume. Take time to see the impressive floral displays used in the traditional dances of French Polynesia, and to sample the freshly cooked local cuisine on offer from the numerous food carts. Bring cash in local currency, as most vendors do not accept foreign denominations.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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2. Papeete Roulottes

Indulge at Papeete Roulottes, a charming waterfront cluster of food trucks offering local and international cuisine. Locals and tourists alike flock here for the diverse selection of reasonably priced fare made fresh throughout the day. Chinese, Japanese, Belgian, French, and Italian--you have your pick of the world's most popular cuisines in the outdoor cooking environment. Browse the variety of colors, smells, and tastes before making your decision.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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3. Musee de la perle et Bijouterie

Learn about the history of pearl cultivation and its cultural importance to the country at Musee de la perle et Bijouterie, an informative and interesting set of exhibits and displays. Discover the processes of grafting, selecting, and farming pearls, and the historical and cultural context of the pearl industry in French Polynesia. The world's first museum focusing solely on pearls, the venue displays some of the finest pearls, and pieces created using them, in a relaxing and educational environment. Head to the boutique gift shop and let the knowledgeable staff assist you in finding a present or memento to take home.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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4. Paofai Gardens

Stroll around Paofai Gardens and soak up Papeete's laid-back coastal ambiance. These well-maintained public gardens sit next to the bay and include a paved path that meanders past flower boxes and trees. Relax on the ample green space, admire the ships coming into dock at the harbor, and watch locals go canoeing during their lunch breaks. With a playground for the kids and numerous picnic tables, the gardens make a peaceful place for family activities.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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5. Arahoho Blowhole

Get splashed by the waves at Arahoho Blowhole, a strange geological highlight of Tahiti's coast. Long ago, liquid lava cut a tunnel through the volcanic rock of the coast here, which now allows seawater into its confined space. When a wave comes in, it gets trapped and is forced up and out through the "blowhole," spraying the surrounding area and looking much like a volcanic geyser. Stand on the viewing platform and get covered in the warm seawater as you snap photos of the impressive and unusual natural spectacle. Note that the attraction remains closed until early 2016.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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Tours including Arahoho Blowhole:

6. Notre Dame Cathedral

Enter a bright, warm, and welcoming church at Notre Dame Cathedral, whose late 19th-century structure represents one of the last remaining examples of early colonial architecture in Papeete. With its yellow exterior and red steeple, the gentle palette of colors blends in with the locale and the atmosphere of the town. Inside, the art and design represent both European and indigenous sensibilities, creating a synthesis that feels contemporary and engaging. You're encouraged to go in and look around, but do remember that it still functions as a place of worship.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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7. Tomb of King Pomare V

Take in a piece of Tahitian history at Tomb of King Pomare V, the final resting place of the island's last monarch. Pomare V (1839-1891) originally ordered that the tomb be built for his mother, Queen Pomare IV, but towards the end of his life, he had her remains exhumed and arranged for his own to be interred there. Set just back from the sea, the tomb's coral rocks are now covered in foliage, and its red wood embellishments are faded--both reminders of the monarchy's grandiose history and the passage of time.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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8. Bougainville Park

An attractive green space set in Papeete's bustling center, Bougainville Park offers a welcome bit of respite. The lush vegetation and ample shade make this a great spot for a picnic. Alternatively, simply go for a stroll and do a bit of people-watching as the locals go about their daily lives. Surrounded by an array of shops, cafes, and restaurants, the park also boasts an impressive ocean view.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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9. Boat Tours & Water Sports

Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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10. Belvedere Lookout, Moorea

See panoramic views of Moorea at Belvedere Lookout. With uninterrupted sights of Cook's Bay, Opunohu Bay, Mt. Totui, and the lush vegetation of Opunohu Valley, the viewpoint offers great photographic opportunities. From sunrise to sunset, the extensive panorama takes in much of the island and its coastline. Bring a picnic with you, or head to the souvenir and snack stand before heading further into the hills or making your way back down. The point is easily accessible by car or on foot, as well as being a stop-off destination for a range of tour groups.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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Tours including Belvedere Lookout:

11. Tahiti Lagoon Paradise, Tahiti

Tahiti Lagoon Paradise runs private cruising and snorkeling tours that ensure lots of chances to spot dolphins, whales, turtles, and tropical fish. It's the ideal opportunity to sightsee at your own pace, on an exclusive tour that starts and ends at your convenience. All tours include all the needed snorkeling gear, with free pictures of the experience sent to you by email within 24 hours. Visit the website for contact details, information about all available trips, and booking instructions.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
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12. Tahiti Safari Expedition, Arue

Suggested duration: 8 hours
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13. Lagoonarium, Moorea

Swim with rays, sharks, and tropical fish at Lagoonarium, a protected underwater environment off the coast of Moorea. Take a three-minute boat trip out to the reserve before plunging beneath the waters to inspect the marine life so abundant in French Polynesia. An untouched coral garden provides the backdrop for your views, and the helpful and friendly staff remain on hand to inform, entertain, and assist you during your experience. Bring your own snorkeling gear, or rent what you need. An onsite cafe serves food, although you are also welcome to bring your own picnic.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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15. Ganesha Art du Pacifique

Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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