Although this gorgeous South Pacific island of Tahiti has its share of beautiful coves, black sand, and lush, unspoilt mountainous landscapes full of cascading waterfalls and dramatic coastal blowholes, do not expect some kind of laid-back desert(ed) island settlement when you cruise into the main port and capital, Papeete.
One stroll around its harbour-full of private yachts, across roads packed with expensive cars, or past its streets-full of chic boutiques, designer label stores and pulsating bars and nightclubs, and you could believe yourself to be in the French Caribbean or even the French Riviera.
It is a lot of fun, though. Especially around the cosmopolitan city market which is permanently busy with Tahitian, French, Indian, and Chinese furiously trading their wares. As it was his enthusiastic portrayal of Polynesian beauty that contributed so much to our knowledge and appreciation of Tahiti, a visit to the Paul Gauguin museum (and botanical garden) in Port Phaeton is always popular.