8 Best Things to do in Tahiti
Morning, noon and night
Tahiti is a dream vacation destination with black-sand beaches and verdant gullies nestled between tall mountains. Tahiti cruises port into Papeete, which big and bustling compared to anything else in French Polynesia, but a tiny city by most standards. Many of our cruise itineraries include overnights in this colorful city. There are countless things to do in Tahiti, from morning into evening hours, from unwinding on the beach to seeing a fire dancing show.
Here are the eight best things to do in Tahiti, categorized by morning, noon and night.
Expect to arrive at Papeete’s port around 8:00 a.m. Polynesians rise to greet the sun and the city will be awake and thrumming as you disembark.
1. Breakfast. Tahitian cuisine blends Chinese, French and Polynesian influence. Typical meals include both raw and cooked food. Try firi firi, a coconut-based donut, especially tasty when dipped in coffee. Swing by a roulette (food truck) for chocolate-banana crepes. Sample roasted pork or fried fish if you’re in the mood for savory.
2. Papeete Municipal Market. A brief and pleasant walk from the port, the Papeete Market is an open-air shopping destination with stalls selling sarongs, shell necklaces, vanilla and produce. Morning is peak time for this lively attraction.
3. Faarumai Waterfalls. Take in paradisal valleys, a top thing to do in Tahiti. The Faarumai Waterfalls are three crystal cascades a 30-minute drive outside Papeete. It’s a short stroll to the first waterfall, a dramatic chute from a high cliff. Wind through a forest of mape trees and thick greenery to find the second two falls. Wear bug repellent as the mosquitos will be in full force.
Midday heats up in Tahiti. It’s a great time to unwind at a beach (bring your own water) or grab lunch at one of the many amazing eateries in town. Tahiti also has several great museums, including the Museum of Tahiti and the James Norman Hall House.
4. Hit the beach. With shocking blue waters and long stretches of sand, hitting the beach is high on the list of things to do in Tahiti. When it’s lunchtime and the sun is high, take a refreshing dip or explore the calm seas on a traditional-style canoe. Snorkel the reefs or relax on a beach blanket. Go to the east coast for black-sand beaches and the west coast for white sand. Plage de Toaroto offers water activities and amenities, such as restrooms and showers. Lafayette is a long stretch of black volcanic sand that contrasts beautifully with the cerulean water.
5. See the Water Gardens of Vaipahi. Stroll through this fragrant oasis, discovering Tahiti’s lush vegetation and colorful lily pads.
6. Cool off at the Maraa Grotto. The Marraa grotto, a natural lava cave, is a popular stop on island tours. Lush tropical ferns dangle from the top and the water invites a dip. Wear proper shoes and tread carefully, as the paths are slippery.
Papeete’s restaurants, bars and dance clubs cater to the night owls, especially along the neon Boulevard Pomare. Watch breathless as performers twirl fire and partake in traditional dance. Or do as locals do and kick back with a few Hinano beers and a tangerine sunset.
7. Dine Over Water. Dining out is one of the best things to do in Tahiti. One of the best places to eat is an open-latch roof bungalow situated over a breathtaking lagoon. Savor the views and course after course of delectable fare.
8. Dinner and a Show. There are excursions with dinner and evening dance shows if you’re looking for a sophisticated night out. Feast at a buffet with straight-from-the-water fresh lobster, oysters and sashimi. Then watch a performance with traditional stories and dance.