Why go to Tahiti (Papeete)?
A rugged island with plenty of adventurous activities and shopping
Beaches are black sand or too far from the port for a swim
A mix of French and Tahitian culture makes this a perfect stopover before or after a cruise
Tahiti (Papeete) Cruise Port Facilities?
Cruise ships dock in the heart of Papeete, Tahiti's capital city, alongside a waterfront esplanade. A new, two-storey cruise terminal is planned, and completion is expected sometime in 2020. The building will streamline the entry from the ship to the port along Boulevard Pomare, which incidentally was the family name of the island's kings and queens, when it was ruled by a royal family until the late 19th century.
Good to Know?
In Papeete, trying to cross the multiple lanes of traffic can be tricky; there are pedestrian zones and a few traffic lights, but we recommend exercising caution. Just because a car has slowed down or stopped for you does not mean scooters, cruising down the same road, will. Traffic jams with significant delays around Papeete are common during rush hour because only one road accesses the city.
In Tahiti, places of interest are identified by a 'number' location, rather than a street address. Locals us the PK, or "point kilometre" system on the main road that circles the island. Papeete is located at PK 0. The distance marker numbers increase from that point as you drive along either the west or east coast. The PK numbers climb to PK 55 on the west coast road and to PK 60 on the east coast road until they join at the junction with Tahiti Iti, at a town called Taravao. The PK numbering on Tahiti Iti restarts at 0. It then climbs to about PK 18 on the south coast road and PK 19 on the north coast road.
On Foot: Numerous shops, attractions and restaurants are within easy walking distance from the cruise ship dock at Papeete. The municipal market, a post office and a tourist information centre are all located within a few hundred metres of the port.
By Car: Europcar, EcoCAR, Avis and Hertz have offices in Papeete. It's best to hire a car at the airport, which is 6.6 km south-west of the cruise terminal, as you can then drive it to your accommodation if you're staying overnight or for a few days before your cruise leaves.
By Bus: A modern (though not air-conditioned) bus system has all but replaced the open-air Le Trucks. During the day, you can catch buses about every 20 minutes at official stops (called arret le bus in French). The bus terminal is located a few streets behind Boulevard Pomare. Ask for directions at the tourist office near the port.
By Taxi: Taxi fares are set by the government and are posted on a board at the Centre Vaima taxi stand on the main boulevard. Make sure you and your cab driver agree on a price before setting off; few have meters.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
The local currency in Papeete is the French Pacific franc. On currency exchange sites, it might be referred to as XPF, while local shops often use the abbreviation CFP. In Papeete, vendors in the market and shops may accept U.S. dollars, but be sure to ask about their exchange rate. The airport and several banks on the main street in Papeete have ATMs. Look for Banque de Tahiti ATMs, which are compatible with the Cirrus networks; the other two main banks are Banque de Polynesie, and Banque Socredo.
Although French and Tahitian are the official languages, locals in the tourist areas and shops speak some English. If in doubt, bring an English/French phrase book. Greetings of "bonjour" or "ia ora na" (Tahitian) are usually met with a smile, and thank you ("merci" or the Tahitian "mauruuru") goes a long way.