Popular in Papeete
Papeete anchors the island of Tahiti and all of French Polynesia as the hub of industry, government and, yes, dining, shopping and culture. It has it all – from sailor bars and shantytowns to exquisite boutiques for black pearls.
The city itself runs about seven blocks squared along the harbor with plenty of French colonial charm to spare. A central market offers a cavernous space for fresh fruits and vegetables, raw,“catch of the day”fish, local meats, shelves of delicious noni juice, and other potions and notions.
Best to find a sidewalk bistro facing the water and order up some Poisson Cru, or“Ia Ota,”(basically raw fish marinated with lime juice and soaked in coconut milk). Or better yet, head to the roulottes around dinnertime. A fleet of food trucks – Tahiti’s answer to street food along the waterfront – offers a variety of inexpensive options, from crepes to steak frites to island-inspired fruits de mer, with plenty of picnic tables linking the waterfront.
Should art be of interest, activities on the island can wax cultural. The Paul Gauguin Museum near the Botanical Gardens offers an intriguing collection of documents, photos, reproductions, sculptures, engravings and sketches for a rare peek into the artist’s personal life. Then, there is the Pearl Museum for everything you ever wanted to know about pearls – and Tahiti’s lava-laced black pearls.