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Papeete Top 10

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Captain James Cook set up his observatory at Point Venus, one of the loveliest spots on the island. The transit of Venus, which happens maybe once a century, lets observers here see the planet move across the sun. (That’s the official reason for...
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Rue de l'École des Frères de Ploërmel, Papeete, French Polynesia
Polynesian culture is very much an ocean culture. There simply wasn’t that much that couldn’t be found somewhere along the beach or in the water. Plus, going inland was serious work. But what those elders could have done with a four-wheel-drive...
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Unnamed Road, Vaira'o, French Polynesia
It’s sort of an unwritten rule: All movies filmed in the Pacific have to include at least one seriously dramatic steep waterfall with quiet pools to cool off in. So odds are good that somewhere on late-night TV you’ve come across Tahiti’s Vaipahi...
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PK.20 Baie d'Opunohu, PK.20 Opunohu Bay, Papeotai 98729, French Polynesia
Moorea is the Polynesia most people hope to find. A short ferry ride from Papeete, Moorea is best enjoyed by taking a journey to its interior. There is a ring road around the island, but about all you see are houses or hotels. Better to get into...
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Pape'ete, French Polynesia
All of the South Pacific waters have some amazing shades of blue, but those of Tahiti might take the prize. Book a snorkel or float trip out to the reef. The Polynesian languages had different words for waters inside the reef—not too deep, lots of...
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Papeari, French Polynesia
At the beginning of the 20th century, a physics professor in Massachusetts inherited a ton of money. He promptly headed for the South Pacific, settling there and founding what’s now the Harrison Smith Botanical Garden. Maybe Smith had a slight...
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To see how one family worked out their idea of living in paradise, head to the James Norman Hall Museum (La Maison de James Norman Hall). Hall was the coauthor of the book Mutiny on the Bounty, and with the book’s bounty, he bought a swath...
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Puna'auia, French Polynesia
Somehow, while Europeans were still afraid of falling off the edge of the earth, the Polynesians explored and settled the Pacific, sailing about in giant double-hulled canoes known as pahi. They also found time to make really cool art. At the...
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Pā'ea, French Polynesia
Life across Polynesia was once defined by ritual power. In many places, chiefs were too sacred to actually look at, and if you helped bury a chief, you’d not be allowed to utilize your hands for nine months or more. The 'Ārahurahu Marae, a sacred...
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Another one of Tahiti’s "I can’t believe it’s real" spots is the Maraa Grotto: impossibly lush freshwater pools, small caves and the dripping grotto itself, ringed by ferns, which Paul Gauguin mentioned in his letters home (taking time away from...