Tahiti is not just an island - Tahiti has always been a state of mind. The bustling capital of Tahiti and her islands, Papeete is the chief port and trading center, as well as a provocative temptress luring people to her shores. Immortalized in the novel "Mutiny on the Bounty," who could blame the men of "HMS Bounty" for abandoning their ship in favor of basking in paradise? And what would Modern Art be without Tahiti's influence on Gauguin and Matisse? Today the island is a charming blend of Polynesian "joie de vivre" and Gallic sophistication. But venture out from Papeete and you find a landscape of rugged mountains, lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls and deserted beaches.
Contrasting with other French Polynesian ports, Papeete's coastline initially greets you with a vista of commercial activity that graciously gives way to both black and white-sand beaches, villages, resorts and historic landmarks.
More about Tahiti (Papeete), French Polynesia Points of Interest
A drive of Tahiti is the best way to see the outlying sights and a bit of old Polynesia away from Papeete's bustle, including Tahara'a Hill, Point Venus, Arahoho Blowhole and the Faarumai waterfalls.
Tahara'a "One Tree Hill"
Historical site of a lone tree with brightly colored flowers used by Captain Cook as a navigational landmark, this promontory offers spectacular views of the surrounding area.
James Norman Hall's Home
The American writer and co-author of the "Bounty Trilogy" lived in Tahiti for over 30 years. The museum is an exact replica of his house and stands a few yards from the sea overlooking Matavai Bay.
Explorers Bligh, Wallis and Cook anchored their ships at Point Venus. It was here that Cook's expedition observed the transit of the planet of Venus across the sun in 1769.
Museum of Tahiti
Considered one of the best museums in the South Pacific, the museum tells the story of Tahiti and her islands featuring exhibits on Polynesian history, culture, environment and ethnology.
Tomb of Pomare V
The last king of Tahiti, Pomare V, is buried in this tomb constructed from coral slabs and lava rocks in a tower-like shape that resembles a Grecian urn.
Some of Tahiti's most beautiful spots are accessible only by 4WD. Journey into the island's heart as you travel unpaved trails up the Papenoo Valley crossing rivers with photo stops of the numerous waterfalls on the island.
The valley of Faarumai is home to Vaimahuta, one of the most photographed and breathtaking waterfalls on Tahiti.
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3.25 hours | Tahiti (Papeete) | PPT-130
Tahara'a "One Tree Hill"
Tomb of Pomare V
Explore Tahiti's highlights on this half-day excursion. Your tour begins with a scenic drive to the Monument of Captain Bligh, erected by the National Geographic Society in the early 1960s to commemorate the naval feats of Captain Bligh. You'll continue along the scenic east coast of Tahiti, passing the famous Papenoo surfing beaches along the way. You'll drive to Tahara'a "One Tree Hill" for a spectacular view of Matavai Bay, and continue to Point Venus, where Captain Cook landed in 1769. Your tour continues to the Orofara Lookout Point, the Tomb of Pomare V, the last king of Tahiti, and passes the city highlights.
This half-day tour unveils Tahiti's history and natural beauty. Your tour begins with a scenic drive along the scenic east coast of Tahiti to Tahara'a "One Tree Hill," where you'll witness a spectacular view of Matavai Bay. You'll also see the Monument of Captain Bligh, erected in the early 1960s to commemorate the naval feats of Captain Bligh. Next, you'll travel to Point Venus, now a park and black-sand beach recognized by locals as the most popular on the island. Your tour continues to the James Norman Hall Museum with over 3,000 books representing seven generations of American literature. Before returning to the ship, tour city highlights and you'll make a photo stop at Orofara Lookout Point and at the Tomb of Pomare V, the last king of Tahiti.
A grand tour of Tahiti's most spectacular highlights begins when you board an air-conditioned motorcoach for a half-day adventure with lively English-speaking narration and a stop for a refreshing beverage. Travel to the top of Tahara'a Hill for a panoramic view of Matavai Bay. Photograph Point Venus where Captain Cook set up an observatory, and get wet at the Blowhole of Arahoho, where a natural phenomenon forces pounding waves through a lave tube. Soak up local color as you drive through a series of small villages, cross into the flower-laden village of Papeari, and pause for a beverage at a waterside restaurant with a magnificent view of Tahiti's peninsula. Next, delight in the fragrant blooms at the lush gardens of Vaipahi, complete with a sparkling waterfall, and explore Mara'a Fern Grotto Caves, originally visited by Capt. Cook on his first expedition in 1769. Relax on the return to the ship.
Follow the west coast of Tahiti though the district of Punaauia. Stop at the ancient "Marae Arahurahu" - considered to be one of the most significant archeological sacred stone temples of the island and continue through the districts of Paea & Papara to the district of Mataiea - the home village of Paul Gauguin from 1891 to 1893. Visit a private colonial home originally built early 1920s by a known English writer, Robert Keibel followed by a photo stops at Vaipahi Gardens with its picturesque waterfall and the Fern Mara'a Grotto Caves to view the fresh water spring pool. Finally stop at the Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands, set into a coconut grove with a picturesque view of the lagoon and Moorea in the background. This ranks as one of the best museums in the South Pacific that focuses on Polynesian history, people, language and culture.
Board a 4WD vehicle and witness breathtaking views of the east coast of Tahiti and the Papenoo Valley. Your first stop is "One Tree Hill" for a fabulous view of Matavai Bay. Next on your itinerary is a short coastal drive and then a turn inland at the mouth of Papenoo River to begin your ascent up the largest valley on the island. The view of the surrounding mountainsides carved by centuries of erosion and covered with rich, thick, multi-green rainforest will awe you. The adventurous drive crosses rivers and includes photo stops at numerous waterfalls. You're welcome to take a swim in one of the natural pools of the river (if water levels permit) before stopping at a panoramic viewpoint for refreshments. You'll retrace your path down the valley and pause at a famous surfing and black-sand beach before returning to the pier.
Snorkel, swim and relax in the warm waters of Papeete's lagoon with a three-hour excursion that begins at the pier, just steps away from your ship. Your sailing catamaran waits for you at the pier. After boarding, you'll head out across the amazing cerulean sea with Tahiti's spectacular emerald-covered volcanic peaks off in the distance. Unwind in this magical atmosphere, enjoy seasonal fruits, feel the warmth of the never-ending sun and the brisk, salty breezes as the ship makes its way to the dive site. After receiving safety and snorkeling instructions, plunge into the clear, shallow waters teeming with colorful corals and marine life. Enjoy this time for adventure or to simply take a dip before climbing back aboard for the leisurely sail to the pier.
You'll drive to Tahara'a "One Tree Hill" and witness a spectacular view of Matavai Bay before traveling to Venus Point, Tahiti's northernmost extremity. Your tour continues to Arahoho Blowhole, where waves crashing through the volcanic basalt rock create the famous blowhole. You'll drive past Maraa Grotto and witness the giant elephant ear ferns and taro that grace its entrance. You'll continue past the Vaipahi waterfalls and gardens, then drive by an ancient marae (temple) where traditional Tahitian rituals were held before the advent of Christianity. Finally stop at the Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands, set into a coconut grove with a picturesque view of the lagoon and Moorea in the background. This ranks as one of the best museums in the South Pacific that focuses on Polynesian history, people, language and culture. After your visit, enjoy a Polynesian-style lunch buffet before your return drive back to the pier.