Tahiti Islands

Great sightseeing, spectacular mountains, surfing and the exciting capital of Papeete

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Tahiti is the largest and most populated town in French Polynesia and the country is often referred by its name. Papeete is a busy port town with just under 100,000 people. Despite terrible traffic congestion and extortionate prices in its boutique shops, the town has enough to merit a day in town, especially to eat at the roulettes night market. Notre Dame Cathedral in the heart of Papeete. Papeete has many alfresco restaurants and lively bars. The colourful Papeete Market has many tourist trinkets including excellent handcrafts, sarongs and oils. The upstairs restaurants serve fresh raw tuna, a local delicacy.

There are several large hotels between here and the airport, the Intercontinental being the most elaborate although most beaches are man made. The beach at Punaaula on the west coast is one of the few white sand beaches on Tahiti. The traffic along the coastal here can be terrible at times. The Meridien Hotel has the finest beach front of all the Tahiti hotels and just around the point is the sweeping white sand beach of Punaauia. Local bus (Le Truk) forms part of the traffic jam at Paea Village that extends all the way to Papeete. Local buses are cheap and serve the west coast frequently. The reconstructed Marae Arahurahu is easily accessible from the coastal road, is impressive to look at, is often busy but is not a place of high importance.

Black sand beach at Papara where there's good winter surf. Mt. Ivirairai at 1696 metres is one of the high points along the south coast and backdrop to the Atimaono Golf Course.

The protected Matavai Bay beneath Venus Point has good swimming in winter and beach surf in summer. There are nice views from here to Papeete. The black sand beach at Tiarei is one of several black sand beaches around the island. The black sand beach at Papenoo which has some of the islands best surfing breaks. Arahoho Blowhole is a popular tourist attraction on the north coast along with Faarumai waterfalls which are just inland. The Papenoo River and valley road are great for exploring - here you'll find several excellent hikes with panoramic vistas, tropical rain forest and waterfalls. Several tour companies offer day trips.

The rugged mountains of Tahiti Iti from Tautira Village at the end of the coastal road. There are good walking tracks along the coast and inland through valleys to the southern coast of Tahiti Iti. The remote and rugged coast of Pueu on Tahiti Iti's north shore is location of Punatea Village. The mountains of Teahupoo on the south coast of Tahiti Iti. Teahupoo has several international surfing tournaments on its world renowned reef break. There's a good walking track beyond the coastal road here that extends for about 12km along the coast. There are a few small budget guesthouses along this coast but no hotels.

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