Tahiti On a Budget
Top Tourist AttractionsNatural beauty and outdoor vistas are some of the best sights in Tahiti. Almost everywhere you turn, a postcard-picture-perfect opportunity presents itself. But if you can tear your gaze away from the beautiful beaches, turquoise waters, and majestic volcano views, there is more to see beyond the natural wonderland.
Le Marche is the large two-story Papeete's market place where you can browse and shop for a wide variety of items. Buy your lunch here and maybe pick up some Monoi. Monoi is the local Tahitian oil, used for tanning and moisturize your skin. Also buy a pareu. This is typical Tahitian clothing that can be tied into many different ways (a cover-up, a dress, shorts, a shawl). It can also be spread out as a picnic cloth or a beach towel. Created with traditional designs and bright tropical colors, they are inexpensive and make the perfect souvenir. This is especially good for getting to know Tahitians as every Tahitian knows how to tie one. Le Marche is also the place where you'll find jewelry as well as calendars, postcards, cups, ripe fruits, scented soaps, vanilla beans, dance costumes, woven hats and bags and shell necklaces, and much more.
The Arahoho blowhole on the North side of Tahiti Nui is an area where a blowhole in the shore has formed on the road and whose waves crash inside the rock cliff. This is an interesting and unique sight to experience.
Tomb of King Pomare the Fifth. The tomb of the only king of Tahiti, when it was a monarchy.
Pointe Venus Lighthouse, with a black sand beach and clear blue water by a fishing reef, is popular among Tahitians and tourists alike for it's beautiful landscape and tranquil environment.
The Botanical Garden at Papeari, on the west coast made by Harrison Smith, lies alongside the Gauguin Museum in the magical setting of the Motu Ovini. Explore the beautiful grounds of the botanical gardens - with wild palm trees, lily ponds and lotuses around every corner. The highlight though is the mape forest, simply enchanting. Also known as the Tahitian Chestnut, the roots of this incredible tree will swirl in any direction until finding some water.
Arahurahu Marae is a restored religious site containing various stone block structures dedicated to the old gods and where important ceremonies used to take place.
Museums. It is interesting to visit the Museum of Tahiti and the Islands which has a rich collection of very old pieces and reconstructed historical scenes. The Black pearl museum as well as the Gauguin museum are fun to see if you want to get out of the heat.
Islands and Regional InformationPapeete
The capital city and the administrative center. Once a sleepy town, today its harbor is busy with cargo freighters, copra ships, luxury liners, and ocean-going yachts. There are sidewalk cafes, shops overflowing with French fashions, shell jewelry and handicrafts and a wide variety of restaurants serving Tahitian, French, and Asian cuisine.
Location of the international airport built on the lagoon. Apart from the airlines check-in counters, there is an information counter, a snack bar, a restaurant and vehicle rental offices and shops. Nearby, in a special Tahitian-style house, artisans sell flower leis and shell necklaces.
ActivitiesThere's so much to do in Tahiti, your only problem will be deciding where to start! Explore the Papenoo Valley on a 4X4 Safari Tour. If you've imagined Tahiti to be filled with giant waterfalls cascading down from lush volcanic peaks - imagine no more! Venture into the uninhabited interior of Tahiti and you'll never forget this day. The drive takes you along the Papenoo River, crossing streams, climbing up to gorgeous vistas and down to waterfalls that are straight out of a magazine cover.
Visit ancient Polynesian temples. Though it's been well over 150 years since Tahitians have converted to Christianity, evidence of their mysterious and deeply spiritual ancient religion is still present throughout the island. Pay a visit to one of the ancient marae in Tahiti, with Marae Arahurahu on Tahiti's west coast being the best. Admire the sacred tiki statue and have a look at the ahu - the altar reserved only for the highest Polynesian priests.
Hike the mighty Mount Aorai. Tahiti's greatest jewel is the hike up to the summit of Mount Aorai - the third highest peak in this island of giants. It's a challenging and sometimes scary climb, but the views are breathtaking. There are also other hiking and trekking options around the island, if you don't quite feel this daring.
Take a Tahitian dance lesson. Learn how to sway your hips to the sounds of the Tahitian drums and the ukulele. You'll learn the basics of this traditional art with movements that make up the Oritahiti (rapid, rhythmic dance) and of the Aparima (slow, sensual dance).
Participate in a wide range of nautical activities: surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling (most resorts will provide you with the equipment for free), cannoning, stingray and shark feedings, water sports, deep sea fishing, kitesurfing...you name it.From July to October, you can go whale-watching. In July, catch the country's most spectacular festival; the percussion and dance-heavy Heiva.
Popular FoodsAs you might imagine, Tahiti dining maintains a certain quality standard commensurate with its reputation and image as a tropical paradise in the Pacific. Hotels, resorts, clubs, and restaurants in Tahiti offer a multitude of varieties of cuisine influenced by the cultures that make up the demographics of this French Polynesian island chain. Uniquely Polynesian, French, Chinese, and Vietnamese dishes are all available at Tahiti restaurants, as well as other European fare, such as Italian. Tahiti restaurants are well known for offering fine seafood dishes caught from the water that very day. Besides the local catches of fresh fish that are served every day, tourists enjoy jumbo shrimp, clams, crab legs, mussels, oysters, scallops, and more. The freshness of the seafood cannot be denied and tourists who like to fish can bring their catch in to be filleted at the dock and cooked that evening. And you can't mention Tahitian food without bringing up the many succulent fresh fruits indigenous to the Pacific islands. The islands are brimming with coconuts, mangoes, papayas, pineapples, limes, oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and other citrus fruits. Many traditional Tahitian dishes incorporate the flavors and accents of these fresh fruits. The main island dish to try is the "poisson cru" ("raw fish" in French.) It is a fresh fish marinated with lime juice and coconut mixed with vegetables. Many varieties can be found all over including Poisson Cru Chinois (Chinese style), Poisson Cru Ananas (pineapple style).
TransportationArrival by air is the main way to get to Tahiti. Tahiti is served by Faa'a International Airport, which is close to the main city of Papeete. All international flights will land in Tahiti. The national airline carrier then operates flights to all of the other islands.
The most common form of transportation around Tahiti is by car. The former There are some public busses that run to downtown areas. Other means of transportation include scooter or bike rentals. The ferry or catamaranwill take you to Moorea and other adjacent islands. Boat rentals or yacht charters are also available, but can be expensive.