Travel Spotlight: Papeete

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By June Ramli

This was hard to write because this means that I have finally lived my pipe dream of travelling solo to Tahiti.
After two years of lockdown I decided to do the unthinkable and just head to Tahiti as a solo traveller.
The deal was sweetened when I managed to find a discounted ticket on Air Tahiti Nui and I grabbed it without hesitation. 
When one travels to Tahiti from Sydney, it would be a codeshare flight to New Zealand by Qantas and onward to Tahiti by Air Tahiti Nui.
Flying Air Tahiti Nui was a surreal experience.
It was a fleet of new aircrafts and one of the stewards that day had appeared on the flight advertisement. 
On boarding Air Tahiti Nui, we were given white Jasmine flowers to put on our ears.
The whole flight smelled absolutely awesome because of these flowers.
The flight to Tahiti was rather bumpy since we were flying through open sea, with wild turbulence.
But nevertheless, I arrived in one piece. 
We were greeted by nice Tahitian music and though the immigration queue was long and snaky when it got to my turn, I was done in a jiffy. 
I went in and had the task of looking for my luggage. 
The Faaa International Airport in Tahiti is very laid back and not fancy looking and I easily located my bags within minutes.  

I went out and got into a cab and Wendy, my driver drove me to my hotel, the Kon Tiki Tahiti, in 20 minutes.
The journey had cost me 2000 XFP.
By the way there is no Uber in Tahiti, in fact there isn’t any rideshare, they only have cabs and the mode of payment is cash.  
So, make sure you bring some XPF when you visit Tahiti to cover the cab ride and the rest you can withdraw from Bank of Tahiti with your Australian bank card. 
If cash isn’t your thing, fret not as your credit card usage is widely accepted in most shops and markets.
If you are unable to speak French, no worries since English is widely spoken too. 
As for the travel Sim cards, it’s best you get them at the Vodafone store in the city centre which is only a stone throw away from the main market. If you opt for the travel sim card which you can get in the airport, the credit runs out fast. 

Once I arrived at Kontiki Tahiti hotel, the check-in was smooth and if you pay with a credit card they will hold a deposit. 
I opted for Polynesian cabins with shared bathrooms.
The reason being all other rooms were fully booked and I had to stay for 12 days. 
This hotel is strategically located in front of the ferry and close to the city centre in Papeete with nearby markets and shops.  
There were cleaning ladies cleaning the bathroom every hour and the toilets were clean. 
After checking in,  I got myself some dinner from a pizzeria next to the hotel. 
By the way, the bar scene in Tahiti is really pathetic, they hardly have any great DJs and they only listen to stereo music and sip cocktails all day long! 
The next morning, I walked around and discovered a nice bar and some food trucks but didn’t have the guts to try it due to cleanliness issues.
I heard about ‘day passes’ which five star hotels sell for a fraction of the cost  so you can chill at their property without staying there. Great way of promoting the property. I got two day passes, one for the Intercontinental Hotel in Bora Bora, Tahiti and the other for their sister property at Papeete.
I utilised these passes to take product photos for my skincare and haircare products. 
As for the rest of the 12 days, I spent discovering Papeete, rekindling my love for the French language and just walking around aimlessly doing nothing.
Although Tahiti is known as a premier honeymoon destination, I didn’t find many couples, just a few in Bora Bora. 
The Tahitians are nice and pleasant people and they can spot tourists from a mile away.
They will look you in the eye and exchange pleasantries either in French or English or just by shaking their head and flashing their sweet smile.
I never got cheated while I was there!
I did a bit of shopping, I purchased some materials from a French speaking Chinese trader and got it sewed in Papeete. 
I bought two sets of Tahitian Black pearls earrings at Robert Wan that came with certificates, too.
On the whole Papeete is a pretty laid back city with limited sightseeings.

Everything closes on a Sunday and shops operate from morning till noon on a Saturday.
But if you are a sassy businessman or woman this would be a great place to start a business which is sure to bring you great returns.

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