The Dish on Papeete

What to know about Tahiti’s capital

Be a savvy consumer when shopping for Tahiti’s famous pearls – not all pearls are of the same quality, regardless of price.
Home to Tahiti’s international airport, Faa’a Airport, there’s a good chance you’re going to enter French Polynesia through Papeete. And, if you’re not jetting straight off to a luxurious resort, there’s a lot to see in Tahiti’s capital.

The narrow streets of Papeete are lined with shops, many of which sell the pearls that Tahiti is famous for. While they make beautiful souvenirs from your vacation, remember that pearl quality can vary considerably, so take care when making purchases.

Take a stroll through the city’s daily market, where fresh produce such as fruit and fish are on display. Later, in the evening, the waterfront Place Vaiete is the place to be, with food vans called roulottes selling fresh dishes that visitors should be sure to taste. The roulottes are also reasonably priced – and a good bargain can be hard to find in Tahiti, where most consumer items are imported, and thus fairly expensive.

Taxis can also expensive in Papeete, but there is a public transportation system that is much more affordable. Known as Le Truck, it’s a good way to get around Papeete – just keep in mind that it does not run throughout the night. Luckily, if you do need to take a taxi, distances are relatively short in compact Papeete, so the cost of a ride should remain manageable.

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