Though Tahiti is often the name used to describe the 118 islands and atolls that make up French Polynesia, it is in fact the largest island in the French territory and it’s as beautiful as its name suggest. Tahiti is often overlooked by beachbound tourists but it’s a true paradise for nature-lovers. Here’s a recommended itinerary for spending 5 days or less in Tahiti. It covers the major highlights of the big island, plus a few adventurous surprises!
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The Islands of Tahiti are among the last places to be colonized by mankind, 118 islands, each with its unique personality.
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Additional Tahiti Travel Guides
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How to Spend 5 Days in Tahiti?
Here’s a quick overview of what this itinerary contains. Of course, mix and match the order of the days according to how much time you have and what interests you the most.
- Day 1: Papeete walking tour
- Day 2: Hiking
- Day 3: West coast road trip
- Day 4: East coast road trip or Tetiaroa
- Day 5: Papenoo Valley 4X4 excursion
5 Days In Tahiti Itinerary Map
All places mentioned in this sample itinerary can be found on this map. Simply click on the image to open in Google Maps:
Where to Stay in Tahiti?
As you would expect from French Polynesia’s main island, Tahiti has a large variety of accommodations in all categories. The resorts are all located outside Papeete, primarily along the sunnier and drier west coast just west of the airport. Few hotels exist in Tahiti, and the “proper” ones are centered in Papeete, as are hostels. Pensions (bed & breakfasts) and vacation rentals are spread throughout the island. I highly recommend checking out the Tahiti Travel Guide for specific recommendations and information.
Day 1: Papeete Walking Tour
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 at 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 p.m. and on Sundays until about 9 a.m. The market is also a good place to buy some snacks and food to go. You’ll find a large selection on the bottom floor of the market. On the top floor, Cafe Maeva is a good spot for a sit-down meal.
Here’s what it feels like to stroll around the Papeete Market
From the market, let’s begin our walking tour of Papeete. Highlights include the Notre Dame Cathedral, Papeete Town Hall, Queen’s Pond, and the Paofai Gardens. The boardwalk along sections of the waterfront has now been fully renovated and includes not only great views but also dining options.
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!
For lunch, head to Patachou, a cafe that is tucked inside a narrow pedestrian alley. They serve delicious local dishes and the usual favorites. The portions are big, and the price is very reasonable. Another solid option is Cafe Maeva. The original restaurant is on the upper floor of the market but it has since branched out and now has another location in the adjacent streets. For a quick and cheap meal, you’ll find many options inside the market that offer food-to-go.
Dinner & Drinks
At night, work up your appetite and head to Place Vaiete. After 6 p.m., 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. If you’re not after street food, keep walking from Place Vaiete towards Place Toata. On the way, you’ll pass several lagoon-front restaurants in Place Jacques Chirac. Place Toata is a popular evening hang-out spot, and it’s home to several good and unfussy dining options.
For a nightcap, head to Les 3 Brasseurs to wash things down with a glass (or a five-liter pitcher) of Tahiti-made brew. Choose from five different flavors and mingle with the young local crowd. A recently-opened rooftop bar is now a happening nightlife spot in Tahiti. You might need to book a table in advance but try your luck if it’s not too busy this evening. Other nightlife options include Cafe Maeva (not their market branch) and Le Retro, by Place Vaima shopping center. These spots should have live music on most evenings, but if it’s a party you’re looking for, perhaps Au Piment Rouge is for you.