Tahiti is the largest of the 118 islands and atolls that make up French Polynesia.
Papeete is the main city of French Polynesia.
Papeete's Faaa airport is the starting point of any travel to French Polynesia, and depending on your flight and itinerary you may have to spend 1 night in Tahiti either upon arrival or departure.
Tahiti isn't the best island to stay on for your vacation or honeymoon but it is enjoyable to visit for a day or two.The 402 sq. miles of Tahiti's surface area consists of mountain peaks reaching over 7,353 ft into a lei of wispy clouds. The deep green valleys are covered with rainforests and soft ferns, with waterfalls cascading into cool rivers and streams leading to flat coastal land, with fields of taro and flowers.
Around Tahiti-Nui (big Tahiti), a 71 miles road winds between the mountains and the sea. And on the peninsula of Tahiti-Iti (little Tahiti) the road continues down each coast for 12 miles. An interior road leads past dairy farms and citrus groves to a panoramic view on the Plateau of Taravao -- the isthmus that connects the two islands.
Although the geography and environment of Tahiti is very attractive and comparable to the other islands, the large local population and all that implies doesn't make this island an ideal vacation destination for longer than a couple af days.The other islands nearby (Moorea, Bora Bora, Huahine,Tahaa) are peaceful oasis of beauty and romance far more suitable for vacations or honeymoons than Tahiti.
Tahiti, however, offers enough interesting excursions and sites to make it worth a short stay. You can visit the Harrison Smith Botanical Gardens, learn something of the history of the islands at the Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands, view the undersea world at the Lagoonarium and go to he Gauguin Museum were you'll see a displays of some of the artist's paintings. The museum is open everyday from 9 am to 5 pm.
Activities include golf at Tahiti's spectacular American designed championship golf course, island adventure tours , helicopter excursions , horseback riding , tennis , snorkeling , scuba diving , sailing , surfing , wind surfing , deep sea fishing ,water skiing and day trips to the atoll of Tetiaroa (Marlon Brando's) to name just a few.Papeete, the capital and commercial hub of French Polynesia, hosts the government offices, hospitals, banks, airline and travel agencies, boutiques and black pearl shops, etc.. The Central Market (Marché Central) is a must, located 1 block behind the waterfront. You will see traditional Tahitian crafts, flowers, fruits, fish, etc.. The waterfront is attractive, with a tree lined promenade along a marina with an international yachting community.
International cargo freighters, copra ships, luxury liners and sailing yachts share the harbor. There are several excellent restaurants (this is a little France after all) with menus featuring French , Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese and American choices (there is now a MacDonald :-( , in addition to local specialties (upstairs in the Central Market, nice lunch fare with a local band - a popular place). Prices vary to fit just about any budget, starting at about US$12 for a main course. If you are on a budget or want to get into some local color, there is also some good food to be had on the waterfront parking lot in the center of town. This is where, after 6 pm, you will find the "roulottes", about 2 dozen licensed food trucks offering a variety of inexpensive but fresh and well prepared dishes. This is funky dinning on hard stools amongst locals, tourists, airline crews etc..where the sights are almost as good as the food.
A busy small city, Papeete hums with happy sounds in a tropical atmosphere with French flavor and a Tahitian easygoing disposition.
The best hotels/resorts are located outside of Papeete, bordering the lagoon.The Tahiti Intercontinental: Still the best five star resort, with a choice of rooms and overwater bungalows.
Le Meridien: A deluxe resort, 40 minutes outside of town, past the airport, with rooms and overwater bungalows.Upscale with a Euro design, and largest of all.
The Sheraton: Located at the edge of town on the waterfront. Good choice of accommodation but no bungalows. A good quality/value ratio.
The Radisson: the newest hotel, located on the other side of town from the airport on a black sand beach. 5 star accommodation.
The Sofitel Tahiti: a recently renovated 4 star hotel, conveniently located near the airport and 15 minute from town.
The Royal Tahitian: 2 stars, just outside of town opposite the airport on a black sand beach. A pleasant, smaller hotel with nice rooms at garden level. A swimming pool and beach side restaurant make this hotel a good value.
Le Mandarin: budget hotel in the heart of Papeete, Ok amenities and excellent location near the Market and the waterfront.
There are other small hotels in town, such as Prince Hinoi and Royal Papeete on the waterfront or Te Tiare.