Tahiti

The coastal road that circles the exterior of both Tahiti Nui and Iti is measured in pointe kilometrique markers, known as PKs. PK0 begins in Pape'ete and markers go in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions, meeting in Taravao, which is PK60 counterclockwise and PK54 clockwise.

The west coast has the most sights and the most traffic; it's wise to set out early on a driving tour to avoid peak-hour traffic. Grab a map so you know whether a sight is at PK10 clockwise or counterclockwise. While the distances are not far, there is quite a lot to see on the west coast—beaches, surf breaks, museums, gardens and an excellent golf course—and it may take much longer than you think.

Tahiti Nui also has a handful of short interior roads. While a standard car can access the roads to the Belvedere lookout, the Three Waterfalls, and the start of the walking and 4WD trails in the Papenoo Valley, it's not possible to cross the island from north to south, or south to north, without a 4WD.

The PK marker system also operates in Tahiti Iti, beginning in Taravao, the town at the isthmus. There are two roads: the north road of 18 km (11 mi) from Taravao to Tautira and the south road, also measuring 18 km (11 mi) from Taravao to Teahupoo. The southeast and east coasts of Tahiti Iti can only be accessed by boat, bicycle, or foot. There is one inland road, leading from near Taravao up onto the Taravao Plateau and Taravao's lookout, also called the Belvedere.

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  • 1. Arahoho Blowhole

    Tiarei | Geological Site

    Look out for the signs denoting the French name trou du souffleur. However, you won't miss it because the blowhole is right on—and under—the...Read More

  • 2. Faa'a

    Town/Village

    Pronounced Fa-ah-ah, this town is a commune (municipality area) of greater Pape'ete and houses the international and domestic airport, the...Read More

  • 3. Gauguin Museum and Botanic Gardens

    Taunoa | Museum/Gallery

    These two sights are side by side. The museum has 25 small original works by the famous artist who lived in Tahiti and the Marquesas Islands...Read More

  • 4. House of James Norman Hall

    Arue | House/Mansion/Villa

    The life of this American adventurer, WWI hero, and novelist is displayed at the beautifully restored house where he lived with his wife and...Read More

  • 5. Lafayette Beach

    Arue | Beach–Sight

    There's plenty of room for everyone at this black-sand beach at Arue, stretching for a whopping 2,624 feet (800 meters). It's on the edge of...Read More

  • 6. Le Belvedere

    Pira'e | Viewpoint/Scenic Overlook

    Like most French Polynesian volcanic islands, Tahiti has a belvedere or lookout that can be accessed by car (the word means beautiful view...Read More

  • 7. Le Lagoonarium

    Puna'auia | Zoo/Aquarium

    You can't miss this open-air aquarium in a fenced -off part of the lagoon as there's a huge model of a shark at the entrance. Here you can swim...Read More

  • 8. Maeva Beach

    Beach–Sight

    This picturesque stretch of white sand lies just west of the Sofitel Tahiti Maeva Beach Resort. To get there take L'Truck from Pape'ete and...Read More

  • 9. Mahana Park

    Paea | Beach–Sight

    A mile or so west of Toaroto Beach is this family-friendly beachside park complete with a little restaurant. The stretch of white sand is lovely...Read More

  • 10. Mahina, Papenoo, and Tiarei

    Town/Village

    These three towns stretching from around PK10 to PK25 are more of interest for their black-sand beaches and the natural wonders near them: look...Read More

  • 11. Maraa Grotto

    Park/Playground

    This park, with meandering pathways leading to ferny grottoes (caves), has lovely gardens and crystal clear pools. You can walk into the caves...Read More

  • 12. Marae Arahurahu

    Paea | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Beautifully restored and maintained, this ancient religious site is the most spectacular on the island and is used as a backdrop for historical...Read More

  • 13. Mataiea

    Town/Village

    Paul Gauguin lived in a bamboo hut (long-since gone) on the banks of the Vaihiria River in Mataiea between 1891 and 1893. A museum in his honor...Read More

  • 14. Oliver Breaud International Golf Course

    Papara | Sports Venue

    The only golf course on the island, this 6,944-yard, 72-par course is set on a former cotton and sugar cane plantation. It's the venue for the...Read More

  • 15. Papara

    Papara | Town/Village

    This sizeable town produces much of Tahiti's vegetables and has Tahiti's only golf course (the Olivier Breaud International) along with a good...Read More

  • 16. Papeari

    Town/Village

    Tahiti's oldest village is home to the Paul Gauguin Museum and the adjacent Botanic Gardens. There are great views from here to the majestic...Read More

  • 17. Papenoo

    Beach–Sight

    This black-sand surfing beach stretches for a few hundred yards and is highly rated among the world's surfing fraternity. The waves get a little...Read More

  • 18. Pira'e and Arue

    Town/Village

    Extending from PK2 to PK7, these eastern suburbs of Pape'ete have some very interesting sights. However, signage is seriously inadequate and...Read More

  • 19. Plage de Toaroto

    Beach–Sight

    This is the official name for the lovely stretch of white sand just west of the Le Méridien Resort in the Puna'auia area. It has good snorkeling...Read More

  • 20. Pointe Vénus and Lighthouse

    Nautical Site/Lighthouse

    This point on Matavai Bay has major significance: it is the place where Captain Samuel Wallis landed in 1767 and where James Cook watched the...Read More

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