2 Activities You Must Do While Visiting Papeete

Published: May 29, 2019.
Written by: Andree - Destination Specialist, Calgary

Are you a foodie? Do you love walking around a new destination to find awe-inspiring art?

Papeete should be next on your list of places to travel.

Where is Papeete? You will find this capital city located in French Polynesia, on the island of Tahiti, rich in history and filled with local artisans.

Papeete means water basket. The name comes from the history of Tahitians filling their calabashes (containers) with water. Papeete is known for its food trucks but probably not what you may envision as a food truck. Locally known as Les Roulottes, Papeete’s food trucks serve up local cuisine. When out exploring, be sure to do some shopping to pick up a souvenir from the amazing craftsmanship of Papeete’s sculptors and jewellers.

1. Les Roulottes

Papeete is the birthplace of the food truck so come and taste its origins. Where can you find Les Roulottes? Vaiete Square, from sunset to late at night, you will find the people of French Polynesia frying, grilling and cooking tons of delights. Since this city is influenced by the French, you’ll find many classics like croissants, ham-filled galettes, crepes and of course frites (French fries). Do you not feel like French food? Don’t worry, les roulettes also serve up Asian inspired dishes and kabobs.

Guess what? The food trucks are open every day! Bite into an ethnic variety of foods from this beautiful waterfront location.

2. Local Markets and Shops

Do you love shopping? Wander through the many markets and shops to enjoy the intricate artistry of Papeete. The markets are filled with treasures expressing the creativity of the French Polynesian people.


Papeete artists use materials from the earth to carve and create gorgeous sculptures. Bone, wood and stone are some of the elements used in Tahitian art. Beautiful wooden bowls, furniture and Tiki statues can be found on the Island. If you are lucky enough, you may even come across some artwork from the famous 19th-century artist, Paul Gauguin. Imagine heading home with one of his art pieces.


Tahiti is known for its pearls. Tahitian pearls are extremely valuable due to their naturally dark colour and large size. Local pearls are among the largest in the world and originate from the waters surrounding French Polynesia. Black pearl farmers take very good care of each individual oyster allowing it to produce beautiful masterpieces. Their gentleness comes from a respect for the land and ocean.

If you want a rare gift, shop the local artisan markets of Papeete for some unique black pearls. Boulevard Pomare is the main street in this city where you can find rows of black pearl shops. Jewellers take extreme care when crafting beautiful jewellery from these rare gems to ensure every piece stands out in its own way.

Black pearls of Tahiti tell a story as each one is a unique shape and slightly different colour.

Bringing back a necklace made out of black pearls is like bringing back a legend from Papeete.

After visiting Tahiti, the Black Pearl will no longer have you thinking of Johnny Depp and the Pirates of the Caribbean, instead, you’ll be reminded of all the treasures from Papeete in French Polynesia.

Written by: Andree (Destination Specialist)

Papeete is the first place travellers visit when coming to Tahiti—flights from North America land on this island. I’d love to help show you how great the rest of French Polynesia is by building an itinerary that includes perhaps the islands of Moorea, Bora Bora or even Huahine.

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