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Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Tahiti, 2023
While wide, white-sand beaches are often the object of vacationers' affections, but don't let Tahiti's lack of them deter you. The largest island in the French Polynesia's Windward Islands, Tahiti one-ups those garden variety shorelines with black-sand beaches, formed from the erosion of volcanic materials. Tahiti is home to the raucous capital of Papeete, where cultures from all over Polynesia mix. Papeete, where you'll find the region's only international airport, is where most travelers land, and the city itself is worth exploring. City tours are available—including bus and Segway tours—and include stops at highlights such as the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral, the Municipal Market (Marché de Papeete), and the bust of Pouvanaa a Oopa. Then, it's time to experience some of Tahiti's natural phenomena in the mountainous, rainforested interior—tours via 4WD, either self-drive or guided, are popular. Be sure to hit island landmarks such as the scenic lookout at Taharaa, beaches of Matavai Bay at Venus Point, and the Arahoho Blowhole (Trou de Souffleur de Arahoho). The west coast of the island is home to ancient Polynesian temples, where you can learn the history of the Polynesian people. Further insight into the South Pacific's flora and fauna can be found at the Vaipahi Gardens. Water sports are a major draw, and floating in the cerulean waters among the abundant marine life is part of the package, whether on a sunset cruise, a whale-watching cruise, or a ride out to watch the surfers tackle the Teahupoo waves.
Tahiti is not overflowing with historic monuments, which makes Papaeari (or Papeari stand out even more. It is the island’s oldest village, settled somewhere between AD 400 and 500. It is also known by art lovers for its association with Paul Gauguin, who lived in the area. It is a great place to relax and enjoy island life on the quieter southern coast.
#2- To'ata Square (Tahua To'ata)
To'ata Square (Place To'ata) is the main hub for cultural events, performances, rock concerts, and festivals in Papeete, including the annual Heiva Festival, the largest annual cultural festival in Tahiti. Anchoring the square is a 5,000-seat pavilion with an outdoor stage. Onsite snack bars sell light bites and drinks in the evenings.
#3- Museum of Tahiti and the Islands
The Museum of Tahiti and the Islands (Musée de Tahiti et des Îles represents one of the world’s most important repositories of cultural and natural studies concerning the Polynesian archipelago. It is divided into four sections, covering nature and anthropology, habitations and artifacts, social and religious life, and the history of French Polynesia. The permanent exhibition room is currently closed for renovations, but a temporary space with major pieces is open.
#4- Vai'ete Square
Located in downtown Papeete, Vai'ete Square (Place Vai’ete) is a nice place to take a relaxing waterfront stroll during the day. At night, however, the atmosphere becomes much more lively as colorful food wagons (roulottes) offering local cuisine and decadent desserts open to the masses.
#5- Paofai Gardens
Stretching from To'Ata Square to Vaiete Square, Paofai Gardens (Waterfront Esplanade) are ideal for scenic strolling. Watch boats sail by as you enjoy snacks from vendors selling fresh juices, popcorn, and French pastries, who enhance the Parisian feel of the park.
#6- Robert Wan Pearl Museum
Established by local entrepreneur Robert Wan, Robert Wan Pearl Museum (Musee de la Perle Robert Wan) explores the role of the pearl in art, history, and literature. Exhibits reveal how pearls get from the sea to the display case and how ocean jewels were associated with religious rites and coveted as status symbols.
#7- Bougainville Park
This small park with a tranquil stream, benches, lush vegetation, and an enormous banyan tree providing shade to visitors was named after Louis Antoine de Bougainville, a French explorer who believed he had discovered Tahiti and claimed it for France, unaware that less than a year prior it had been discovered by Samuel Wallis.
#8- Papeete Town Hall
This butter-cup yellow building is surrounded by palm trees, a pond, and manicured gardens. The Tahitian flag flies proudly atop Papeete Town Hall, while inside, crystal chandeliers, glass furnishings, historical artifacts, and pink Italian marble give the space an air of grandeur.
#9- Arahoho Blowhole
Perched along the rocky coast of Tahiti and bordered by a scenic black sand beach, Arahoho Blowhole is one of the island’s most visited natural wonders. As waves crash against the shore, a powerful geyser-like eruption sends spectacular plumes of water into the air, wowing visitors and creating the opportunity for some impressive photos.
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