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The Best of Papeete

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Colorful and chaotic, at least by Tahitian standards, Papeete is Tahiti's capital city and a cultural hub worth exploring. It's undergoing a bit of a renaissance these days, with an infusion of graffiti street art brightening once gray buildings. Sip cappuccino at a chic sidewalk café while soaking up a rapid-fire French soundtrack, shop the vibrant market for everything from flawless pearls to bright parae, or catch a world-class dance and music performance.
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Avenue du Maréchal Foch, Papeete, French Polynesia
Inside Papeete's Vaima Center, the new Museum of Street Art Tahiti is dedicated to graffiti and other street art. Sarah Roopinia and Jean Ozonder curated the museum. The duo also founded Festival Ono’u, Tahiti's international street art event,...
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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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Avenue du Général de Gaulle, Papeete, French Polynesia
Bougainville Park is a tranquil, tropical oasis in the middle of the Papeete's concrete jungle. Stretching from Boulevard Pomare to Rue du General de Gaulle, it makes for a lush and cool picnic (or roulettes take-away) spot. If you're traveling...
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Rue Cook, Papeete, French Polynesia
If you are planning a visit in July, make sure it corresponds with the annual Heiva, which started back in 1881. The festival, which runs for a week and is held at Place To'ata in Papeete, is an iconic Polynesian cultural event showcasing dance,...
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'Ārue, French Polynesia
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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BP 343, Papeete 98713, French Polynesia
Restaurant l’O à la Bouche has better-than-usual seafood—try the papio (small amberjack) cooked with fruit. The joint's not much on ambiance or views, but it's run by a chef who cares and who can offer a delicious taste of both...
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Pīra'e, French Polynesia
Set on a hill some 2,000 feet above Papeete, with impossible views of the sea and Moorea beyond, O Belvédère is the place locals take visitors for thrilling sunsets and good food. The restaurant and bar have the air of a tree...
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56 Avenue du Commandant Destremau, Papeete 98713, French Polynesia
Tahitian black pearls are the one must-have. Here, you’ll find the highest quality and original designs that feature the strange deep shimmer of black pearl (and prices that seem one digit too long).
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25, Rue Colette, BP 3396 PPT, Papeete 98713, French Polynesia
If you have a design in mind, there’s a good chance the Tahiti Pearl Market can make it in a few hours. It’s great fun to sort through the loose pearl bins to find the perfect specimen.
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Pā'ōfa'i, Pape'ete, French Polynesia
Galerie des Tropiques is where local artists show their stuff. Take a few minutes to learn the difference between high-quality and low-quality items, and then get shopping. You'll find some very nice carvings here, and plenty of pearl and...
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Pape'ete, French Polynesia
Café Maeva serves excellent French coffee, smoothies, pastries, and proper meals up on the second floor of Papeete's popular Le Marché shopping complex. Come for the good breakfast menu or wait for...
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The islands of Tahiti have given the world a lot of popular ideas: This is the birthplace of the overwater bungalow, of surfing, the tattoo, and also . . . the food truck? Yep! Well, maybe not officially, but dozens of years before food trucks...