How to Spend 3 Days in Papeete
Many travelers to French Polynesia pass through Papeete because the main international airport is there. The little South Pacific capital is worth more than just a fly-by visit, though. With three days in Papeete, you have time to see the sights, explore the island of Tahiti, and even get out to neighboring Moorea. Here’s how.
Day 1: Get to know Papeete
Papeete is a chilled-out town that combines elements of French and Pasifika culture. In the morning, stop by the lively Municipal Market, the old churches, and the tropical parks and gardens with their French je ne sais quoi. A guided tour is a good way to see the city’s highlights while learning about the culture and history of the islands. After lunch, while away the afternoon on a dolphin-spotting tour, a snorkeling trip, or a sunset cruise. Then at dinnertime, head to the food trucks along the waterfront, and get your fill of fresh seafood or crepes before getting the party started with some local rum punch or Tahitian wine.
Day 2: Explore Tahiti
Tahiti is only one of the French Polynesian islands. It’s the largest, though, so there’s a lot to see beyond Papeete—including miles of black-sand beaches (with a few special white-sand ones), and a mountainous, forest-clad interior. Spend your second day beach hopping on your own or on a guided tour, stopping at waterfalls, blowholes, and a famous lighthouse along the way. At night, sit down to a luxurious dinner at a fine-dining establishment back in Papeete.
Day 3: Take a day trip to Moorea
Just 28 miles (45 kilometers) northwest of Tahiti, Moorea is a major destination in its own right, where the geology and geography are quite different from Tahiti’s. Spend day three on this island paradise, being as active or relaxed as you wish. Go on a boat tour around Moorea’s coastline, stopping to swim and snorkel in sheltered lagoons, or enjoy the thrill of an off-road 4x4 adventure into Moorea’s mountainous interior. Visit pineapple and vanilla plantations inland, or just kick back on a white-sand beach. Joining a guided tour is an easy way to travel between Papeete and Moorea, but ferries are also available to independent visitors.