Tahiti is not overflowing with historic monuments, which makes Papaeari (or Papeari stand out even more. It is the island’s oldest village, settled somewhere between AD 400 and 500. It is also known by art lovers for its association with Paul Gauguin, who lived in the area. It is a great place to relax and enjoy island life on the quieter southern coast.
Watch fishermen bring in the daily catch, which may end up on your plate, during a visit to Papaeari. Hike in the hinterlands, stroll black sand beaches, or travel west along the south coast to reach Atimaono, home to Tahiti’s only golf course. Vaipahi Falls (also known as the Water Gardens of Vaipahi), waterfalls found among the nearby jungle, are a popular attraction where visitors can relax and swim. Some guided tours of the island include a stop here.
Things to know before you go
- The southeastern part of Tahiti is generally quieter and less crowded than other areas.
- If you plan to visit the falls, remember to bring insect repellent since visitors report plenty of mosquitoes.
- Some tours to the gardens include a stop at the Maraa Grotto where visitors can swim in the pools.
How to get there
Papaeari is on Tahiti’s south coast, on the opposite side to Papeete. It is close to the isthmus that connects Tahiti Nui (the main island) with Tahiti Iti. Vaipahi Falls is a little over an hour’s drive south of downtown Papeete.
When to get there
Overall, the best time to visit Tahiti is from May through October, when it is the least humid. The months of June, July, and August tend to be the busiest. During the summer (November through April), it’s hot and rainy. But the islands usually aren’t affected by tropical storms, and hotel rates remain high year round.
Located about 15 minutes by car from Papaeari, Taharuu Beach is a picturesque beach on Tahiti’s southern coast that features volcanic black sand and plenty of room to relax and watch the surfers. It also offers ideal conditions for swimming, making it a popular spot for families. There's no charge to access this beach.
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- Notre Dame Cathedral (Cathedrale de Notre Dame)
- Faarumai Waterfalls
- Arahoho Blowhole (Trou de Souffleur de Arahoho)
- Museum of Tahiti and the Islands (Musée de Tahiti et des Îles)
- Vaima Shopping Centre
- Marché de Pape'ete (Pape'ete Market)
- Bougainville Park (Parc Bougainville)
- Robert Wan Pearl Museum (Musee de la Perle Robert Wan)
- To'ata Square (Tahua To'ata)
- Vai'ete Square (Place Vai'ete)
- Papeete Town Hall (Mairie de Papeete)
- Territorial Assembly (Place Tarahoi)