Papeete is the main city on the island of Tahiti and the commercial center of all of French Polynesia. It has all of the conveniences of a big city and many of the problems. It has a bad reputation for traffic, noise crime and high prices. All of these are true is some respects but none are out of line with most cities of this size in the world.
Papeete also has charm, friendly people, nightlife, marine supplies and access to all kinds of food and provisions. Tahiti is the gateway to French Polynesia for most tourists but few spend any time here so the locals are not indifferent to foreigners, in fact they are quite warm and welcoming. Most businesses have someone that speaks English so it is easy to get things done.
NautiSport has been able to handle all of our boating needs and actually save us money in the process. Francois Jounot, the Marine Supplies Manager, ordered us a Profurl NC32 furler and we ended up paying $1,050 US out the door which is $150 below the Westmarine catalog price. He imported it duty free and we received it from France in 2 weeks. His number is (689) 50.59.53.
Papeete has a great indoor open market. It is busiest from 5:00 AM to 7:00 AM Sunday mornings. This is when the local farmers and fisherman show up and the locals come to get their weekly groceries. We got ourselves up at this hour and went to check it out. Hellen and Fran from Cape St. James hunted for bargains which were everywhere. Furi Furi's are a local pastry and, though we didn't try them, they sure looked good.
The market has produce, bakery goods, meat and fish. The products are sold at individual stalls varying is size from very small to pretty big. Some are there semi permanently and have products available at more reasonable hours and others only show up Sunday morning with their spaces taken by souvenir sellers during the week.
The fresh produce and fish are the real highlight of the market. Reef fish are widely available but you should talk to a local about the risk of poisoning from these fish before you buy a string. The deep water fish like tuna and mahi mahi are safe, fresh and reasonably priced. It was too early in the morning even for some of the vendors.
In Papeete harbor you have the choice of anchoring in front of the Protestant temple with a stern line to shore or anchoring in front of the Yacht Quay with your stern tied closely to the Quay. The Quay offers free water and power (220v 50 cycle) for an extra charge. The Quay is $9.50 a day and the anchorage is $3.50 a day. We chose the anchorage because it is quieter and cheaper There has been thefts from boat decks or from unlocked boats mostly by young kids that play in the water. Locking up and putting away tempting items on deck seems to eliminate the problem.
The Quay allows you to get off of your boat more easily using a plank if you can find one. Hellen contemplates here trip down the plank on to Madjk.
Papeete has a large celebration for Autonomy the week before Bastille Day. This celebration includes a large dancing, singing and oration competion which takes place in a large open theater 5 nights a week for 2 weeks. We attended one night enjoyed the show including another performance by the singing group featured in the Tahiti page.
When we returned from checking in on our arrival we found a boat hanging out in front of us and our stern line was slack. The boat Amelia had hooked our anchor chain and she was unable to free it. Karen had been driving for 1 1/2 hours keeping boat off of the beach and trying to figure out what to do. I put on snorkel gear and freed the anchor and then we got both boats re-anchored. As it turned out this represented Karen's completion of her circumnavigation though she must make port above the equator to make it official. Karen will be the first American woman to circumnavigate single handed and we have the honor of saying that she tied the knot hanging on our anchor. Congratulations Karen Thorndike! She is pictured below with Hellen and a nice shot of Morea to fill the space.
Hellen also got a tatoo in Papeete. Check it out.