Papeete Market, Tahiti’s Bazaar

Papeete Market

Papeete Market from the balcony

The best things in French Polynesia are free, from the sunsets over Moorea, the shimmering beaches of Bora Bora, and the striking scenery of Tahiti. No admission is charged to one of Papeete’s top sights, the teeming central market a block away from the waterfront. This colorful municipal market was completely rebuilt in 1987 on the site of an older market building. Downstairs on the main floor you’ll see Tahitians selling fish, fruit, root crops, and breadfruit; Chinese gardeners with their tomatoes, lettuce, and other vegetables; and French or Chinese offering fish, meat, and bakery products. Several stalls selling shell necklaces are also here, plus takeaway food vendors to one side. If you’re arriving on Tahiti after an overnight flight or boat trip, it’s good to know that starting at 0400 you can get coffee at the market stalls downstairs for just over a dollar.

French Polynesia’s largest handicrafts market is upstairs on the balcony, with pareu, Marquesas woodcarvings, and every kind of curio. Surprisingly, it’s often cheaper to buy your handicrafts here than on the outer islands where they are made! There’s also a large cafeteria under a thatched awning upstairs where you can get a self-service meal and listen to local musicians at lunchtime. It’s great fun taking photos of the fish and vegetable vendors below from the balcony. The flower displays outside the market also make nice photos and everyone is friendly. Papeete Market is always an enjoyable introduction to Tahiti and French Polynesia.

(Text from Moon Tahiti published by Avalon Travel – reproduction prohibited.)