The spiritual capital city of French Polynesia is full of surprises, from exotic fruit and tropical vegetation to its famous black pearls.

Papeete is a port city on the west coast of the island of Tahiti known for its rare black pearls. These exceptional gems are sold in market stalls around the city and at the Black Pearl Museum. Visit the charming waterfront to experience the highlights of French Polynesia’s capital city, including a market and the impressive town hall.

The Black Pearl Museum is the ideal place to see the city’s most famous export. Learn about the science and nature behind the pearls. See exhibits of pearls in vibrant hues of gold, silver, blue and green. You can purchase your own in the museum shop or from a vendor.

French Polynesia is also renowned for exotic fruit, such as nono, breadfruit, carambolas and soursops. Try these tasty and healthy treats at Papeete Market. Examine handmade items across two floors of the large indoor market. Haggle with vendors over hats, handicrafts and fragrant oils.

Relax under the shelter of a banyan tree in Parc Bougainville. Enjoy a traditional Tahitian picnic of tropical fruit and native fish. Kids can play on the swings in the playground.

The majestic Papeete Town Hall is the city’s architectural highlight and a fine example of French colonial design. See its brightly colored façade and admire the clock tower that seems to hover over the city. Relax in the site’s well-kept gardens. Visit Tahiti’s oldest Catholic church, the Cathédrale de l’Immaculée Conception. The church, which blends Gothic and Colonial styles, represents France’s presence on the island in the 1800s.

Learn about French Polynesia’s turbulent nuclear history at the Place du 2 Juillet, 1966. The tranquil park memorializes 30 years of nuclear tests in the area.

Fly into Papeete via Faa’a International Airport, just a 15-minute drive from the city centre. Papeete enjoys a mild, tropical climate year-around but it is best to avoid visiting during December and January, the wettest months. The landmarks around  Papeete’s waterfront present a carnival of bright colors and enchanting aromas.

Guide to Exploring Papeete

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