After more than two months of visting remote islands and villages you are sure to welcome the sight of Papeete, Tahiti and all of the “land of plenty” things you can find here! Whether it’s large, well stocked grocery stores, amazing vegetable markets, shopping or a great restaurant you will find it in Papeete.
Papeete Harbor is a very busy port with private yachts, charter boats, ferries and commercial ships. As a result it is very well lit and moving around at night isn’t completely out of the question.
All movement inside the harbor should be approved by Port Control. Contact them ten minutes before you arrive at Papeete Pass on VHF 12 and wait for approval before proceeding. If you are heading south to Maina Taina you also need to have approval to pass the airport. They ask that you contact them five minutes prior to your arrival to the entrance of the zone. NOTE: Port Control prohibits all nighttime movements in the airport zone. See map below. (Click on it for a larger view.)
Prior to 2019 you could anchor around the Papeete area but this has changed and not just here either. The new ‘no anchor’ rules affect Bora Bora and South Fakarava. They have also severely limited anchoring in Moorea and Huahine. Their intentions are good in that they are trying to preserve the reefs and prevent the accumulation of abandoned yachts but, until they install a sufficient number of moorings it is going to make it difficult for yachties during high season.
With the removal of anchorages you are left with moorings and marinas which will be in high demand so always have a plan B. If you do take a mooring we highly recommend diving it as the word out there is that many are not being maintained even though they are charging for them.
Since this is a fluid environment with changes happening quickly we recommend that you follow Noonsite as they are tracking this situation and providing up to date reports.
There are three main marinas in Papeete. Depending upon the time of year you arrive it can be quite crowded. We arrived the third week of June and PPJ boats were everywhere. It seems everyone was trying to get here in time for the big PPJ event at Moorea so they stopped here first to provision. We got really lucky because we wanted to stay in Papeete Marina at the same time everyone else was headed to Moorea for the big party. Timing is everything!
Tahiti Yacht Club
This is the easternmost marina in Papeete. The first day we we arrived in Tahiti we couldn’t get into Papeete Marina so we stayed at TYC. We grabbed a mooring right in front of the boatyard and main buildings. It took a bit to find out who to talk to about paying for the mooring as no one seemed to be able to point us in the right direction. When we finally did find the right person, he told us that since we only planned to be there a night or two he wasn’t going to charge us. We’re guessing with the shortage of available spots nowadays that is unlikely to happen again.
The marina is a bit east of town so you’ll want a taxi or bus to get you to the main shopping areas. A taxi is $30 XPF one way.
The showers here did not have hot water when we stayed. The lights and showers have a timer on them which can be reset and doesn’t cost anything. The issue is that the switch is across the room from the shower. We both ended having the lights go off while we were in the shower. Fortunately neither fell as we fumbled our way across a strange room in the dark. Aside from the timer thing we can say they were clean and sufficient.
There is a little restaurant/bar called Coconut Station near the marina office where we had a few beers after we spent the afternoon supply hunting. It has a nice view and was a good place to chat with some of the other yachties.
To learn more about reserving a space at Tahiti Yacht Club you can contact them directly.
- Email: email@example.com
- Phone: +689 40 42 78 03
- VHF: channel 6
Papeete Marina (Downtown)
Since we had a lot of provisioning to do and parts to locate we moved here and were pretty happy we did. It’s so close to restaurants, shopping, banking etc… But, with that comes some big city noise even into the night but everything’s a trade off right??? We didn’t find it to be to annoying and the benefit of being within easy walking distance of everything made it completely worth it.
They do have locked gates and guards which is nice. Of course we always keep our stuff locked up just in case. The marina office, laundry & showers are located outside of the locked gates and a few hundred yards down the street but we didn’t find it to be an issue. At the office they will also help you to check in with the Port Captain, coordinate laundry pickup, taxis and more.
NOTE: You cannot make reservations. It is highly encouraged that you contact them via email prior to arriving in the area. Their email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Located a little over 7 km west of Papeete Marina, this is the largest marina and can handle boats of all sizes including mega yachts. They have a very large mooring field as well. We only stayed on a mooring one night here so we can’t tell you too much about it.
It is a full service marina with haul out facilities, fuel dock, pump out station etc… There are also three restaurants located at the marina. We had appetizers at the Italian restaurant and they were pretty good.
It appears they will take reservations but we advise you to contact them directly They can be reached on VHF 9, via email at: email@example.com or via telephone at: 689 41.02.25
Tahiti does have a public bus system however we did not utilize it. We used a taxi on a couple of occasions but since we moved to the Papeete Marina we were within walking distance of everything. Be aware, taxis are not cheap!
Well, here you are back in the land of plenty so provisioning is fairly easy. They have some very nice grocery stores and you won’t want to miss the Papeete Market. This two story, open air building is filled with vendors who will sell you everything from fresh fruits, veggies, meats and fish to every sort of trinket and beads you can imagine. We went there several times during our stay as it was finally a chance to get some really good, fresh vegetables. We even were able to get some pomplemouse here. It was the last time we saw it on our trip west.
Polynesia Trading Company is a big box store that actually sells some American products including Kirkland brand. It was the first time we saw Kirkland paper towels since we were in Nuka Hiva! They are open from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 12 pm on Saturday and closed on Sunday.
We were on a mooring at Marina Taina when we stopped here for some provisioning. You can see from the map where we tied up Sparkle. There’s little fishing shack there on the point and we asked them for permission to tie up. They agreed and said they’d watch her. When we came back we gave them a few buck to thank them for making certain she was safe.
As you can see on the map below there are many markets in the area. We stuck to the larger, more well stocked markets as we were doing major provisioning and it was easier to go to one or two places than five or ten. Champion is a little longer walk from the marina but has just about anything you could want. We even found iceberg lettuce here! The meat selection is outstanding and they offered very good deals on liquor. We bought all of our beer and liquor here.
The Premium Market which is directly across from the marina is a good option as well. The point here is that you will be able to do some great provisioning in Papeete.
(CLICK ON MAP FOR LARGER VERSION)
Papeete probably has as many restaurants as they do markets so there’s sure to be something out there that suits your taste. Here are a list of our favorites.
- Bora Bora Lounge is hands down our favorite restaurant in Papeete. Aside from the great location and views of the harbor, the people and food here are AMAZING! Isabella, the manger and possibly owner by now, is truly a gem and a wonderful ambassador for Tahiti.
They offer free WiFi, live music and even have misting fans to keep you cool on a hot afternoon. Whatever you do, do not miss the BBL and if when you stop, please tell Isabella that Captain Dan & Jilly said, “Hello!”
- Les 3 Brassers is just a stone’s throw from BBL on the opposite corner. They are known for their brewery and many types of beer. They also have a pretty good menu and the food was enjoyable.
- L’api’zzeria is a great little Italian restaurant west of the marina. It’s a little bit of a walk but the food was excellent and it has a very nice atmosphere. We ate here twice and enjoyed it both times.
- Roulotte Trucks are a fun way to have great food and really good prices. Each night around 1800 a dozen or so Roulottes will open up at the Place Vai’ete on the harbor front. Here you can get a variety of Asian dishes, poisson cru, steak and frites (fries), ice cream and more. On a warm clear evening this is a very nice treat. It’s great for those times when not everyone in your party is hankering for the same thing. Everyone can choose from a different truck and you can all enjoy beautiful harbor views and warm tropical breezes. The prices are excellent as well so you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank.
Here’s a map of the restaurant locations from above. Click to enlarge it.
Marine Parts & Hardware
Finding marine parts and other hardware items here is obviously more likely than it is in the remote islands but it’s not always as easy as it sounds. Just because it’s a big city and there are lots of stores doesn’t mean you are going to find everything you need. Of course many of the stores are happy to order parts for you but that’s often times too costly and/or takes too long. We found that the best thing to do is check out as many different stores as you can. If one doesn’t have that particular item, another just might. Here’s a list of some of the marine stores in the area.
Ocean 2000 Marine Supplies is one of the largest marine stores and has a good supply of fittings, electronics etc…
- Address: 120 Av. Du chef Vairaatoa, Papeete, TAHITI
- Phone: (+689) 40 83 83 93
- Fax: (+689) 40 83 83 94
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Opening hours: Monday-Thursday: Morning – 7:30 am-11:30am, Afternoon – 1:00 pm-4:30pm
Friday: Morning – 7:30 am-11:30am, Afternoon – 1:30 pm-3:30pm, Saturday: 8:00-11: 00
- Sunday: Closed
Sin Tung Hing Marine may be the largest marine store here and has everything from boats, trailers and motors to resins, hardware, electronics, fishing gear, oils and fluids etc..
- Address: Pape’ete 98714, French Polynesia
- Hours: Monday-Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, Saturday 8:00 am to 12 pm, Closed on Sunday
- Phone: +689 40 54 94 54
Polynesie Marine is one of the smaller stores that has outboard motors, fishing equipment, props and a limited number of fittings.
- Address: Pape’ete 98714, French Polynesia
- Hours: Monday – Friday 8:00 am–4:30 pm, Saturday 8:00 am to 11 am. Closed on Sunday.
- Phone: +689 40 58 47 47
We were in need of R134 Refrigerant for our house refrigerator. We’d used our last can in Fakarava and this is something you don’t want to be without. The issue wasn’t finding R134, it was that the orifice on their cans were to large. We needed something to fit an America fitting. We went to close to a dozen stores including marine stores, auto parts stores etc… trying to locate it. We finally find it at a tiny auto parts store in the Marina Taina area.
Tang Auto Equipment is the place. They are open Monday – Friday 7:30 am – 12:00 pm & 1:00 – 4:30 pm. Saturday 7:30 am – 12:00 pm. Closed on Sunday.
Banking & ATMs
There are banks everywhere so you won’t have an issue there. Here’s a map of the ones in the downtown area.
There’s plenty of shopping to be done in the downtown area. Of course since this is the tourist area you can expect that it’s not going to especially cheap but hey, you only live once right? We did a little shopping along the strip picking up a few new Polynesian styled shirts and pareos. Dan bought me a beautiful black pear necklace and we picked up some black pearls for the kids. Whether you’re a diehard shopaholic or you just like to browse you will find plenty of brightly colored patterns, trinkets, beads and a plethora of other things to keep you busy.
We got pearls for Dan’s daughters at the Tahiti Pearl Market and were pleased with the price and quality. Of course we could have saved a little money by purchasing them in the Tuamotus where they are actually being farmed but if you missed them there this is a good spot.
Hairdressers and Nail Salons
By this time we both needed haircuts and Jilly definitely was ready for some pampering with a pedicure.
Rvolution Coiffure is just down the street from Papeete Marina. Seb, the manager, gave Jilly a new cut and a new outlook on life!!! She claims this is the best haircut she’s ever had! They are closed on Sunday & Monday and open 8:00 am – 5:00 pm the rest of the week. Click on the map below for a larger view and the location of Rvolution Coiffure.
Nail Salons are on almost every corner. Make absolutely certain you have negotiated the price and know what you are getting. We thought we did but when Jilly’s pedicure was done they tried to hit us up for more money saying the nail polish costs more. We didn’t back down and they finally agreed to take what we had agreed to up front. Even with this “misunderstanding” it was worth it. After a new haircut and pretty new toes Jilly was feeling less like a boat wench and more like a lady for a change.
There is a visible criminal element in Papeete that you should be aware of in order to stay safe. With Dan’s background he has a pretty keen sense when it comes to this sort of thing. We saw a good amount of gang markings and tagging which is an indicator of the criminal element. Locals will tell you crime is very low but the visual signs would seem to indicate otherwise. That said, crimes against tourists seem to be mainly petty theft so keep your valuables locked up.
Our advice….stay as much as possible in the waterfront district and don’t wander more than three blocks from there. If you need to go to the commercial district where the marine suppliers are located and you want to walk then make absolutely certain you take the main streets. One street in either direction could land you in trouble. And be especially vigilant as to where you go after dark. Of course that goes for just about every place in the world doesn’t it?
Tahiti Cruisers Guide
In a city with 27,000 or so people there are obviously lots of resources and we certainly can’t list them all on our site. We do highly recommend downloading the Tahiti Cruisers Guide by Julien Demont, a local French sailor living in Papeete. Many cruisers provide information to help keep his guide updated. It’s a PDF and a great resource that can tell you where to find everything from ice to marine supplies to ear drops! It’s definitely a guide you should download before you leave for this part of the world.
Tahiti is definitely the land of plenty as far as the islands go. We definitely found the things we absolutely needed and some we didn’t!