Full information to crusing from Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia

Admit it. You’ve dreamed of jetting off to Tahiti to commerce in on a regular basis life for a luxurious cruise round French Polynesia. You’ve dreamed of visiting Bora Bora, the house of the overwater bungalow, and also you’ve heard tales of the great meals vans in and round Papeete that serve unimaginable native delicacies. You need to go pearl purchasing in Taha’a and climb Belvedere Lookoutin Moorea. A wide range of cruise strains might help you obtain all of these goals from the Tahiti cruise terminal.

Being the one worldwide industrial port in French Polynesia, Port Autonome de Papeete on Tahiti accommodates a variety of vessels, from cruise ships to cargo freighters to luxurious yachts. It’s additionally the biggest cruise port within the French abroad territory and serves about 2 million cruisers yearly (pre-pandemic).

Along with multi-night cruises, Papeete port can be the embarkation level for normal ferries to Moorea and Bora Bora.

Regardless of the continued coronavirus pandemic, the area is welcoming worldwide guests. Right here’s the whole lot it’s worthwhile to find out about French Polynesia’s reopening.

For extra cruise information, critiques and ideas, join TPG’s cruise publication.

Port Autonome de Papeete
BP 9164 Motu Uta
Papeete, Tahiti 98714
French Polynesia

Tip: In case you’re touring to Papeete from america, you’ll fly from Los Angeles, San Francisco or Honolulu. The mainland’s flight period is about eight hours, whereas it’s a couple of six-hour journey from Hawaii. These are long-haul flights and — particularly when you began from the East Coast — you’ll be drained while you land. You should definitely arrive just a few days earlier than your cruise embarks so you’ll be able to take pleasure in a lodge and recover from your jet lag.

Who sails from Papeete?

Paul Gauguin Cruises
Photograph courtesy of Paul Gauguin Cruises

Two cruise ships — Paul Gauguin Cruises Paul Gauguin and Winstar Cruises’ four-masted luxurious motor-sail-yacht Wind Spirit — homeport out of Papeete. Usually, these ships provide seven-night or longer itineraries to neighboring islands in French Polynesia and past.

Paul Gauguin Cruises (owned by Ponant) makes a speciality of French Polynesia cruises. It’s all the road presents. Its voyages discover the Society and Prepare dinner islands in addition to the Marquesas and Tuamotus. The 332-passenger Paul Gauguin additionally sails to Fiji and Tonga and typically calls on Melanesia and Indonesia’s ports.

The seven-night Tahiti and Society Islands itinerary sails round-trip out of Papeete and calls on Huahine, Taha’a and the personal Motu Mahana in addition to overnights in Bora Bora, Moorea and Papeete.

Windstar’s Wind Spirit is the epitome of small-ship cruising, with simply 148 passengers per crusing. Its hottest French Poly itinerary is its seven-night round-trip cruise out of Tahiti that calls on Moorea, an in a single day in Raiatea, Taha’a and the personal Motu Mahana, an in a single day in Bora Bora and a day in Huahine.

Windstar Cruises’ 148-passenger Wind Spirit sails in French Polynesia. (Photograph courtesy of Windstar Cruises)

In 2022, Windstar’s Star Breeze yacht can even sail greater than a dozen seven-, 10-, 11- and 18-night voyages from Papeete.

Aranui 5, a blended cargo (passenger/freight) ship, additionally homeports in Tahiti and takes passengers from Papeete to the Marquesas archipelago, Tuamotu Islands and Bora Bora within the Society Islands.

Ferries are additionally obtainable on the Tahiti cruise port and so they commonly carry passengers to neighboring Moorea and Bora Bora.

Regardless of the few ships that homeport right here, Papeete can get busy, as it’s a port of name for ships of many cruise strains. In 2022, for instance, the next strains plan to name on Tahiti: Carnival, Cunard, Holland America, MSC Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Princess, Royal Caribbean Seabourn and Silversea.

Associated: Discovering award availability to Tahiti

Nearest airport

Faa’a Worldwide Airport (PPT)

Welcome to Tahiti French Polynesia FAAA PPT Airport
Welcome to paradise! (Photograph by Darren Murph/The Factors Man)

The Port Autonome de Papeete lies roughly 3 miles east (about 15 to twenty minutes) of the Tahiti-Faa’a Worldwide Airport (PPT), which is the one worldwide airport in French Polynesia.

5 airways fly out of U.S. airports, together with:

  • Air France from Los Angeles (LAX) — Ebook with money or Flying Blue miles or miles from any SkyTeam companion.
  • Air Tahiti Nui from Los Angeles (LAX) — Ebook with money or American Airways AAdvantage miles.
  • French Bee from San Francisco (SFO) — Ebook with money.
  • Hawaiian Airways from Honolulu (HNL) — Ebook with money or Hawaiian Airways or American AAdvantage miles.
  • United from San Francisco (SFO) — Ebook with money or United MileagePlus miles or miles from any Star Alliance companion.

Air Tahiti Nui, Air France and French Bee additionally fly out of Vancouver (YVR), Canada.

Associated: Finest airline bank cards

Cruise line transfers

As Paul Gauguin cruises are all-inclusive, costs already embrace a flight from LAX to Tahiti on Air Tahiti Nui round-trip airport/pier transfers. (Word: In case you desire to guide your individual flights, ask for the cruise-only fare.)

In case you booked your cruise with Windstar Cruises, ask about shopping for transportation from the airport or lodge to the port until you booked your pre-cruise lodge by Windstar Simple Stays, which takes care of your transfers to and from the ship terminal.

In case you’re crusing on Aranui 5, you’ll be able to prepare to get to the port through taxi.

Resort shuttles

Paul Gauguin’s Prolong Your Journey program features a pre-/post-cruise lodge keep in addition to transfers from the airport to the lodge and from the lodge to the cruise port. Other than that and Windstar’s Simple Stays program, you’re hard-pressed to search out inns providing shuttle service to the pier until you’re prepared to pay for personal or group transfers.

Automotive leases

You may as well hire automobiles on among the different Society Islands, comparable to Moorea. (Photograph by EQRoy/Shutterstock)

In case you prefer to discover by yourself, you’ll be able to hire a automotive, SUV or scooter on Tahiti from a neighborhood company like Ecocar Ecoscoot Tahiti Aeroport.

Day by day rental price begins from round $40 for an “financial” automotive, such because the Fiat Panda, which seats 4 individuals. Price consists of insurance coverage, limitless mileage, an toddler or little one seat and even free supply throughout restricted hours (topic to availability).

Impartial van and automotive providers

It’s additionally attainable to guide a non-public automotive or van in your transportation wants on Tahiti. Marama Transports Touristiques is an efficient alternative since its autos can accommodate teams of eight or extra. Its fleet consists of Hyundai and Mercedes minivans, Porsche SUVs, Land Rover 4WD autos, Mazda 4x4s and Chrysler 300 sedans.

Taxi and ride-hailing providers

In case you’re not touring by rental automotive or van in Papeete, your finest different could be a taxi; ride-hailing providers aren’t obtainable right here but. What’s good about taxis in Tahiti, and even in neighboring Moorea, is that the rates are regulated (warning: PDF hyperlink) by the federal government, so that you’ll know what the journey ought to value earlier than you even get into the taxi.

Taxis cost a minimal of 1,000 XPF (about $10) any time of day. The per kilometer worth in the course of the day (6 a.m. to eight p.m.) is 130 XPF (about $1.50); at night time (8 p.m. to six a.m.), it’s 230 XPF (round $2.50).

Extra expenses might apply for baggage, uphill rides and lengthy ready instances.

Public transportation

Le Truck transportation is out there on many French Polynesian islands. (Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Artistic Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic)

Tahiti has a bus service known as “Le truck.” It operates on an everyday schedule on a route that primarily follows the shoreline. Buses function from Mondays to Saturdays solely, so when you arrive on a Sunday or throughout public holidays, you’ll have to rearrange alternate transport upfront.

With a largely native clientele, the buses solely take CFP francs, so be certain that to have sufficient money to pay in your fare beforehand.

The place to remain

With Tahiti’s inside being a mountainous paradise, vacationers ought to search lodging alongside the shoreline. You’ll discover inns from Mahina to Pa’ae, however most congregate in and round Papeete’s downtown space, which is conveniently close to the cruise port.

One lodge, the InterContinental Resort Tahiti, even presents airport views for you AvGeeks!

Word that many Tahiti inns are bookable through money or Final Rewards factors through the Chase journey portal.

Screenshot courtesy of Chase

Cheap lodge close to the port

Tahiti Airport Motel (98702 Faa’a): From about $105–$135 per night time (about 5 miles from the port).

Full-service inns

InterContinental Resort Tahiti (B.P 6014, 98702 Tahiti): From 50,000 IHG Rewards Membership factors, although we don’t see any availability in 2021. When award bookings are open, use your IHG factors or switch your Chase Final Rewards factors to your IHG account.

The InterContinental Resort Tahiti (Photograph by Summer time Hull/The Factors Man)

Manava Suite Resort Tahiti (P.Okay 10.5 Côté Mer 98703 Puna’auia): From about $235 per night time.

Le Tahiti by Pearl Resorts (Lafayette Seaside PK 7, 98701 Arue): From about $290 per night time.

Sofitel Tahiti la Ora Seaside Resort (Tamanu P.O. Field 380595, 98718 Punaauia): This lodge is briefly closed as a result of coronavirus pandemic. From about 10,000 Accor Reside Limitless factors.

Associated: Dreaming of French Polynesia: How I’m reserving Tahiti (once more) on factors and miles

The place to buy close to the port

The cruise port in Motu Uta doesn’t have any retailers on its premises, so that you’ll have to go to close by institutions. Fortuitously, there are numerous retailers shut by.

Marche de Papeete (Papeete Market)

Marche de Papeete (Photograph by EQRoy/Shutterstock)

Only a stone’s throw away from the waterfront stands Marche de Papeete (BP4588, Papeete), the native public market that has been promoting an assortment of native Tahitian merchandise and produce for greater than 150 years. Additionally serving as a cultural heart of kinds, the Papeete Market supplies an inside look into the Polynesian islands inside its two ranges.

On the bottom flooring, distributors promote recent fruits, native greens and flowers, handcrafted gadgets and extra. Be looking out for vanilla beans, black pearls and monoi merchandise (soaps, shampoos, lotions and oils), that are constructed from a combination of gardenia tahitensis and Nucifera coconut oils. In case you arrive round 4 p.m., you must spot some colourful fish being introduced in from fishing boats.

The second flooring is reserved for artisans promoting tifaifai wall hangings or quilts, pareos, carvings, embroidered gadgets and different handicrafts. There are additionally distributors hawking their merchandise, comparable to leis and Tiare Tahiti flower crowns, outdoors the market.

In case you’re feeling hungry, an on-site cafeteria serves native dishes. Early Sunday mornings are a good time to seize breakfast right here. That would embrace some coconut-flavored donuts known as firi firi, pua’a roti (roasted pork) and chao pao, that are stuffed steamed buns.

The Papeete Market is open from 7:30 a.m. to six p.m. day by day and till 9 a.m. on Sundays, which may get a bit busy as Tahitian households drop by the market to buy elements for his or her Sunday feast.

Vaima Procuring Heart

Vaima Procuring Heart on Avenue du Marechal Foch, about 2 miles away, is a Tahitian mall the place you’ll find varied items (together with pearls) and providers at affordable costs. (You possibly can see the mall from the cruise terminal and it’s a couple of 30-minute stroll.) The mall additionally options Le Kiosk Tahiti (Papeete 98714), which sells atlases, stamps, vacationer maps and memento playing cards.

A bit of additional away however nonetheless inside a 10-minute drive is Champion at Rue du Basic de Gaulle, behind the Temple Protestant de Paofai. The Champion Grocery store sells recent pastries when you’re feeling peckish, in addition to spices and different merchandise; plus, it has longer working hours — till 7:30 p.m. Additionally, there are three Carrefour supermarkets in Tahiti: Carrefour Arue, Carrefour Faa’a – Pacific Plaza and Oasis Carrefour Arue.

The place to Tahitian purchase pearls

In case you’re on the hunt for pearls, strive Tahia Beautiful Pearls at Boulevard de la Reine Pomare IV (about 1.5 miles from the cruise port). The shop options jewellery adorned with Tahitian pearls, 18-karat gold and pave diamonds. The Tahiti Pearl Market (Rue Colette, BP3396 PPT, Papeete), about 1.5 miles from the port, is one other great spot to search out some pearls. The family-owned institution means that you can decide your pearls and the design you need, with the ultimate product obtainable inside just a few hours.

Close by drugstores

For any drugstore-related purchases, you’ll be able to head to Pharmacie du port (1 Rue Paul Gauguin), Pharmacie Prince Hinoi Papeete (Avenue Prince Hinoi Papeete) and Pharmacie Fariipiti (Papeete 98714). All are inside 2 miles of the port.

The place to eat

Tahiti’s delicacies highlights the recent seafood and produce which are considerable on the island. Fish, comparable to mahi mahi, tuna and grouper, are mainstays in restaurant menus. As well as, Tahitian delicacies additionally options French and Asian influences.

Considered one of Tahiti’s prime eating places is Le Lotus on the InterContinental Tahiti Resort, 6 miles from the cruise port. Set in an over-the-water constructing, Le Lotus serves French and Polynesian delicacies, that includes freshly caught seafood (catch of the day), meat dishes and a collection of French wines. The romantic ambiance, one crammed with candlelight, dwell piano music and spectacular sundown views, is ideal for an evening out — particularly when you’ve acquired one thing to have a good time.

One other restaurant that mixes good meals with an incredible sundown view is O Belvedere. From its perch some 2,000 ft above Papeete, take within the metropolis’s sundown views under and even Moorea past. The restaurant has a treehouse ambiance, with its outside terrace even constructed round a tree trunk. A “must-order” is the home specialty: fondue Bourguignonne served with six sauces. With its location in Pira’e about 4 miles from the port, it’s good that the restaurant supplies round-trip transportation from inns and again, or to the airport you probably have a flight to catch.

You don’t have to go far to eat good meals, although. Come night, head to Place Vai’ete (369 Boulevard de la Reine Pomare IV), a portside plaza about 2 miles from the port, to participate in maybe the preferred ritual of Papeete: roulettes or meals vans. At 6 p.m., colourful meals vans begin rolling in and, inside a couple of minutes, distributors begin whipping up large parts of dishes from recent elements for the crowds, locals and vacationers alike, which have began to collect.

food trucks tahiti
Meals vans in a bustling Papeete park on Tahiti, French Polynesia (Photograph by Darren Murph / The Factors Man)

You’ll discover all kinds of meals right here at reasonably priced costs, from recent Polynesian fish dishes to French classics, in addition to pizza and burgers, Thai curries and Chinese language stir-fries, comparable to “chao mein.” Should-tries embrace the poisson cru, a Tahitian specialty of recent uncooked fish with coconut milk and chilly greens just like poke or ceviche; brochettes or kebabs; and steak frites and poulet frites—charbroiled steak and rooster, respectively— with french fries. In case you’re not right here for a meal, seize a crepe or waffle and benefit from the sundown.

To order, merely go as much as the truck and as soon as your meals is prepared, take it to one of many plastic tables. Don’t overlook to convey money (the native forex is Pacific Francs), because the roulettes don’t settle for bank cards.

Associated: Consuming your means by Tahiti’s famed meals vans

Sights to see

Whereas a identified honeymoon vacation spot, Tahiti’s sights and sights additionally welcome your complete household. Cruise passengers passing by the island have loads of choices, from purchasing and eating to sightseeing and outside actions. Right here’s what we advocate.

Level Venus (lighthouse and seaside)

Undoubtedly one of the crucial lovely locations in Tahiti, Level Venus wasn’t named after the Roman goddess however after a historic occasion that transpired in 1769, when Captain James Prepare dinner and the remainder of the crew of Bounty noticed the transit of the planet Venus — a once-in-a-century occurring — from the positioning.

Nevertheless, the lighthouse, Phare de la Pointe Venus, wasn’t constructed till a couple of hundred years later and stays to be Tahiti’s sole lighthouse. It stands a number of ft away from Pointe Venus Seaside, whose black sand is a well-liked setting for picnics. In case you’d prefer to have a memento of your go to, check out the on-site memento store, and seize a chunk to eat on the snack bar when you’re feeling peckish. Level Venus is on the northernmost a part of the island, greater than 8 miles from the cruise port.

Faarumai Waterfall

A mountaineering and sightseeing journey in a single, the journey to Faarumai Waterfall takes you thru the village of Tiare on Tahiti’s north coast. Roughly 15 miles from the cruise port, Faarumai Waterfall really consists of three cascades (Faarumai Waterfall is also referred to as The Three Cascades).

To see the primary one, Vaimahutu, you’ll should hike by a mape (a sort of chestnut) forest for about 325 ft. The second and third falls, Haamarere It and Haamarere Rahi, respectively, are virtually facet by facet and will be accessed after a 20-minute stroll. Parking and admission are free. Nevertheless, swimming is prohibited so simply benefit from the view. Don’t overlook to convey insect repellent to keep away from stinging mosquito bites.


There are various pretty gardens to discover when on the island, together with:

Water Gardens Vaipahi

Water Gardens Vaipahi (Photograph by Dariya92300/Shutterstock)

Maybe the most effective place to benefit from the island’s tropical flora is on the Water Gardens of Vaipahi (Teva I Uta), alongside the southern coast of Mataiea, roughly 30 miles from the cruise port. The backyard options greater than 75 tropical plant species, together with unique flowers, from all over the world, in addition to winding streams, springs, swimming pools, waterfalls and a lily pad. The crops are marked with indicators in each English and French.

This tranquil place can be sacred to Tahiti’s Nice Teva clan, who imagine their deceased souls should be purified by the waters of Vaipahi. The well-maintained and quiet surroundings is an efficient place to meditate or just loosen up amid nature. A stroll alongside one in every of its three paths, starting from a 1.2 mile/one-hour stroll to a 3.1 mile/two-hour stroll, will probably be invigorating. Admission is free and there may be parking obtainable on website.

Paofai Gardens

In case you’d moderately keep near Papeete and the cruise port, head out to Paofai Gardens as an alternative. It’s by the boulevard, so there’ll nonetheless be visitors noises, nevertheless it’s a peaceable sufficient place for a stroll alongside the waterfront. There are paved strolling paths, and the realm options planter bins with some blooms and a number of other timber. Alongside the shore, you may discover some pirogues (outrigger canoes), and when you’re timing is true, i.e., afternoons and Sunday mornings, you may catch native groups working towards racing on them.


There are additionally some very fascinating museums on Tahiti.

Museum of Tahiti and The Islands

If you wish to be taught extra about Tahiti and French Polynesia, usually, the Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands (Musee de Tahiti et des Iles) in Puna’auia is an efficient place to take action. Right here, concise and easy-to-understand displays discover Tahiti’s geography and pure historical past, its pre-European tradition, the results of colonization and its pure wonders. There are shows in English, too. Should-sees embrace its assortment of formality gadgets, canoes, tattooing tools and statues of wooden or stone depicting varied divinities known as tiki.

After you go to the museum, step outdoors to look at surfers on the water or Moorea past. Or, peruse the reward store, which different guests stated was glorious.

Robert Wan Pearl Museum

Pearl pioneer Robert Wan’s Pearl Museum (56 Avenue du Commandant Destremau, Papeete 98713) isn’t solely a spot to study pearls. Right here, you should purchase them too.

The museum options myriad treasures, comparable to a duplicate of the rosary beads with 57 pearls that had been offered to Pope John Paul II in 1987 and Charles II of France’s pearl-encrusted prayer guide. In the meantime, the retail part presents jewellery, single pearls and, in fact, Tahitian black pearls of the best high quality and authentic designs. It additionally sells pores and skin merchandise with extracts of nacre, the mother-of-pearl shell. The museum supplies free excursions for teams of two or extra. Allow them to know of your go to a minimum of 5 days upfront.

Associated: 3 beautiful islands in French Polynesia that can make you overlook about Bora Bora

Backside line

With a paradise island setting, Tahiti is the right place to loosen up and unwind, albeit for just a bit bit. Cruisers who stopover right here might need to keep nearer to Papeete as a consequence of time constraints, however those that’d like to increase their keep may have the remainder of the island to discover. And, for the uninitiated, Tahiti is a good place to be taught extra about Polynesian tradition.

Featured picture by NAPA/Shutterstock

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