Located on the western side of Opunohu Bay, Papetoai (Papeto'ai) is frequented by visitors who want to explore the village's art and shopping center, with plenty of shops, restaurants, and art galleries along with historic attractions. The beaches here are also worth checking out, with calm, crystal clear waters, ideal for snorkeling.
Papetoai has a rich history, and was once the seat of the Pomare I government when he conquered Moorea in 1790, and where the conversion to Christianity took place. Additionally, it is home to the oldest European building in use in the South Pacific, an octagonal church established by the London Missionary Society in 1822. Nearby, you'll find the tomb of the first missionaries.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Papetoai is one of the best places on the island to pick up handicrafts or souvenirs.
- Bring cash, as not all vendors accept credit cards.
- The roads here are well-maintained and are wheelchair- and stroller-friendly, but some shops have steps up.
How to Get There
Papetoai is located on the northern coast of Moorea, next to Cook’s Bay. It's right on the coastal road, meaning the local bus (Le Truck) passes right through town. The Moorea airport is about a 20-minute drive away, while the ferry terminal with connections to Papeete takes about half an hour to reach by car or taxi.
When to Get There
Papetoai is a year-round attraction, though like the rest of French Polynesia, there are better times of year to visit than others. Although many people do come to the island around Christmas and New Year’s, December and January are also the wettest time on the island. For dryer weather, plan to visit between May and October.
Shopping and Dining in Papetoai Area galleries such as Galerie API, Arts Polynesiens and Atelier Stanley Haumani and allow people to browse creative works done by local artists. Boutiques such as Paki Paki, Dany Creations, Carole Boutique, Woody's Sculpture sell local handicrafts, jewelry, clothing, shells, and books. After you're done exploring, local restaurants such as Le Papayer and Le Bateau can give you a taste of Polynesian and international fare.