Thanks to its supply of fresh water, Papeete has long been a gathering place – the name means “water basket.” Today it’s the main population center of the Polynesian islands. The bustling city meets the sea on a long, walkable waterfront. Peruse the lively Marche de Papeete, where local venders sell food and handicrafts, and dine at enticing restaurants serving French and Polynesian cuisine. Popular local dishes include poisson cru (raw fish with coconut milk and lime). For quiet time, walk to one of the city’s gardens. Mother Nature is close at hand in the island’s interior, where jungles and waterfalls are accessible on hiking and Jeep excursions. Or head to a black-sand or white-sand beaches for lounging time or snorkeling among colorful tropical fish. Some beaches are popular with surfers.
Accommodations: Star Breeze