Though often used to describe the 118 islands and atolls that make up French Polynesia, Tahiti is actually an island on its own, and the largest island in French Polynesia. Chances are you’ll spend some time on the big island between flights. Despite not being as exotic as some of the outer islands, Tahiti is beautiful enough to deserve at least a few days of exploring. If you can only spare 3 days in Tahiti, here’s an itinerary to help you make the most of your time.
Heading off to French Polynesia? In-depth island guides to all 5 archipelagos await you, including sample itineraries and essential travel tips & tricks.
Additional Tahiti Travel Guides
Check out these additional resources for planning a trip to Tahiti.
Where to Stay in Tahiti?
Most of the recommended places to stay in Tahiti are in and around Papeete, except for Vanira Lodge for those who wish to experience solitude in Tahiti Iti (the “far side” of Tahiti). If you’re staying outside of Papeete and not in one of the places listed below, double and triple check the location of the accommodation as some places are located in the mountains. Such accommodations might have great views but will require having a car.
For a luxury stay in Tahiti, the best resort is the InterContinental Tahiti Resort which is not too far from the airport in Fa’a. It’s perfectly situated to offer the best sunset views in Tahiti with a breathtaking panorama of Moorea. Next door, the Sofitel Tahiti Ia Ora Beach Resort and the Manava Resort in Punaauia are good options, and the Hilton Tahiti is set to open soon. On the other side of Papeete, en route to the east coast, the Le Tahiti by Pearl Resorts is another solid option.
If you prefer to stay at hotels in Papeete, the Tahiti Nui Hotel or the Sarah Nui Hotel are your current options. The former is the best hotel in the city, located within a short walk of the central market and evening food market in Place Vaiete.
For a pension stay, the best in Papeete is by far Fare Suisse. They offer free transfers to/from the airport or ferry terminal, the breakfast is amazing, and the rooms are very well-furnished. Slightly out of town, along the west coast, Pension de la Plage and Relais Fenua are recommended options.
Here’s a list of all Tahiti accommodations that can be booked online.
3 Days In Tahiti Itinerary Map
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Day 1: Papeete
Spend your first day exploring the ‘big city’. Papeete feels very busy and congested at times, but it certainly has its charm. In a vast ocean of remote islands, Papeete feels as cosmopolitan as Paris.
Start your day off in the Papeete Market, one of the best markets in the South Pacific. Grab a coconut at the entrance and enjoy the ukulele tunes to get you into ‘Tahiti mode’. You can find here everything: from heavenly scented monoi oils to black pearls and nice-looking pineapples. The market is open daily from the early hours of the morning until about 5 pm and on Sundays until about 9 am.
Here’s what it feels like to stroll around the Papeete Market
From the market, let’s begin a walking tour of Papeete. Highlights include the Notre Dame Cathedral, Papeete Town Hall, Queen’s Pond, and the Paofai Gardens. After major renovations, Papeete’s waterfront has received a major facelift. Its boardwalk now features a few cafes and restaurants where you can pause and enjoy the city vibe.
If it’s raining (or if you need a bit of air conditioning), visit the Tahiti Pearl Museum. Learn about the Tahitian black pearl industry, how these beautiful gems come to be, and maybe even buy your female loved one the ultimate souvenir from French Polynesia!
At night, work up your appetite and head to Place Vaiete. After 6 pm, the square will be filled with hungry locals and a few roulottes (food trucks). Choose from some chow mein, sashimi, or the national dish – poisson cru. The atmosphere is great, the portions are huge and you’ll be telling your friends about this dinner back home. If you’re looking for a restaurant setting, make reservations at either Zen Cafe (sometimes also called Mahou Cafe) or L’api’zzeria.
Have a look at this one day in Tahiti travel itinerary for more details.