Take it All in
3 Days: Check into your resort (those with a pool and beach a few miles out of Pape'ete are ideal) and then take L'Truck into town. Wander around the town, checking out the lively city market (Le Marche)—make sure you venture upstairs—Notre Dame Cathedral, the town hall, the Presidential Palace, and the waterfront. At night take a seat at one of the roulottes (food trucks) at Place Vaiete for a cheap and cheerful dinner. On day two climb aboard a 4WD for an excursion to the interior that crosses over the old volcanic crater and visits waterfalls and sacred sites. Relax with an evening spa treatment at your resort. On day three, rent a car and drive around the west coast visiting the Maraa Grotto, museums, and botanical gardens and beaches. Or explore the lagoon by Jet Ski, water-ski, or go scuba diving or fishing.
5 Days: With two additional days, you can relax in near solitude on Tahiti Iti on your fourth day. Take L'Truck there or rent a car and check into a groovy pension. On your last day, watch the surfers at Teahupoo, take a half-day boat tour, or hike along either the north or south coast (the mountain views are stunning) before you're get ready to head home.
Parlez-vous Francais? Brush up on your French before you arrive in Pape'ete, as this is the mother tongue—the majority of people on the street speak only French and all signs are in French. However most shopkeepers, especially the pearl shops, speak English.
Go West Young Man (or Woman). If time is limited and you're renting a car, hit the west coast rather than the east. There's more to see and exploring museums takes time so you'll need several hours. If you have two days, circle the whole island, including Tahiti Iti.
Take the Bus. If you want to save money, take L'Truck. Check with the tourist office in Pape'ete for schedules, as operation can be erratic and don't operate on Sundays.