View through the palm trees of the beautiful black sand beach and the waters of Papenoo, Tahiti

Papeno’o Black Beach, Tahiti, French Polynesia

This remote Black Beach the north coast of Tahiti is very popular with local surfers so a week day visit is recommended. There’s parking space on the side of the road. Surfers: the river break provides both letfs and rights; this spot is known locally as ‘L’Embouchure’, the river mouth. From the sea, the view to the lush valley is stunning. The valley itself makes a fantastic excursion on a dry day (with a 4wd or a driver if you lack off road experience), with spectacular waterfalls and trek possibilities.

 

Papenoo, Black Beach, Thaiti, French Polynesia.
Papeno'o, Black Beach, Thaiti.

The best view to contemplate in all its splendor this fantastic black beach, is the headlands located at the eastern end of Papeno’o, where time itself evaporates in the pulse of the waves crashing to the shore before the green fur of the volcanic cliffs ruffled by the caress of the trade winds.

Tahiti
Tahiti.

Where is Tahiti in the world?

In the South Pacific, Tahiti is the largest island in French Polynesia and where its capital, Papeete, is located.

Papeeno Beach, thaiti
Papeno'o Black Beach, Tahiti.

What is the continent of Tahiti?

Oceania, an insular continent, formed by the continental shelf of Australia, the islands of New Guinea, New Zealand and the coral and volcanic archipelagos of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.

What is the official language of Tahiti?

French, as in the rest of French Polynesia and Tahitian, a Polynesian language, spoken mainly in the Society Islands, where Tahiti is located.

How to get to Papenoo Black Beach?

Papeno’o river is at P.K. 17. What? P.K. stands for Point Kilométrique (kilometric point) and is indicated by the kilometer stone on the side of the road. P.K. 0 is at the Cathedral of Pape’ete. Normally the P.K. number goes with the name of a town/village or a well known landmark, so you know whether going clockwise or anticlockwise from P.K. 0, and c/mer or c/montagne (sea or mountain side). In our case, i’ts clockwise, but everybody knows that!

How to get to Tahiti?

Tahiti has the only international airport in all of French Polynesia, Faa’a International Airport.
It has regular direct flights from Auckland, Easter Island, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Paris, Santiago de Chile, San Francisco, Sydney and Tokyo.

Thaiti
Tahiti.

Things to do In Tahiti?

Surf

 there are probably still to be discovered surf spots in a region that boasts nearly 120 islands, but let’s focus on the known ones, as they are plenty. Tahiti island has around 25 spots alone, conveniently reached by the coastal road. Mo’orea, the Tuamotu archipelago and Huahine island are other world famous locations.

Scuba Diving

The Tuamotus are the hottest diving destination in French Polynesia at the moment with lots of shark action and big pelagics in general. Hiva Oa in the remote Marquesas, further to the Northeast, is growing in popularity and is the place to go for manta rays sightings. Many dive sites in these locations require a good deal of experience, less so in Bora-Bora, Mo’orea or Tahiti.

Other Water Sports: snorkeling, kayaking, jet skiing, stand up paddle, kite surfing, windsurf…. pretty much anything you can think of!

Hiking 

With so much going on both above and under water in French Polynesia, it might be easy to completely miss what the submerged land has to offer. Don’t make that mistake and put your boots on! The climbs may look forbidding but the vegetation, the waterfalls and the out of this world scenery are worth any sacrifice.

Teahupoo is undoubtedly the most challenging break in Thaiti, with waves of up to 8 m crashing against a shallow coral reef. The Billabong Pro surfing competition is held there annually.

thaiti surf
Tahiti Surfer.

Catalina PBY-5A wreck, Tahiti.

This dive site holds two wrecks: you will have, one of the few occasions of diving in a wrecked seaplane, sculled in 1962 after it was deemed beyond repair following a bad  landing in Raiatea.
The plane sits on the sand, at about 20m deep. A little further, you will find the Orohena wreck, a wooden schooner, at around 25m.

thaiti avion diving
The Catalina Plane Wreck, Tahiti.

The Blowhole of Arahoho

This hole on the side of the road before Tiarei at P.K. 22 will blow sea water like a geyser if the swell conditions are right, and is a nice little peculiarity. There is parking space and a nice little black sand beach a bit further, making it a nice stop on the way.

The Blowhole of Arahoho
The Blowhole of Arahoho, Tahiti.
The Blowhole of Arahoho draw
Draw. The Blowhole of Arahoho, Tahiti.

The 3 waterfalls of Faarumai.

Located in the town of Tiarei, a short walk through the forest will lead you to the first fall, Vaimahutu. There are 2 more, nearly side by side, a 20 minutes hike further, called Haamarere Iti and Haamarere Rahi, respectively. Hiking boots and insect repellent are highly recommended.

Tahiti tow waterfall and lagoon
2 & 3 Waterfall, Haamarere Iti & Haamarere Rahi. Tiarei, Tahiti.

Point Venus Lighthouse

Point Venus Lighthouse is at the tip of the homonymous headland, around 5km/3mi North from Pape’ete. Built in the late 1860’s, this iconic Tahitian landmark was named after the observatory Captain Cook set up to observe the transit of Venus across the Sun in 1769, as part of the the international scientific community effort to accurately measure the distance from Earth to the Sun.

Pointe Venus Lighthouse
Point Venus Lighthouse, Tahiti

The Museum of the Black Pearl.

Also called the Robert Wan Museum.
The Black Pearl of Tahiti or simply Tahitian Pearl, popularized by Robert Wan, is farmed from the black lip oyster (Pinctada margaritifera) and is considered as one of the most valuable commercial pearls in the world, for their guaranteed natural dark colors, from grey to iridescent green/blue and black, as well as their thick nacre which by law cannot be inferior to 0.8mm. Once prohibitively expensive, the increase in production means a good strand sells at an average 3.000 usd.

THAITI BLACK PEARL
Black Pearl, Tahitian Pearl.

Whales and Dolphins Watching

Since 2002, the whole of French Polynesia waters – nearly 5 million km²/2 million mi² – is a Marine Mammal Sanctuary. Humpback Whales visit the Society Islands from August to October to birth their young, and you can actually swim ‘with them’ (scuba diving is not allowed). Make sure to book your tour with an accredited operator that respect government regulations.

The acrobatics-lover Spinner dolphins are residents of the Society Islands, Northern Tuamotu and Marquesas islands. They socialize and rest after their night hunt in the shallower waters of lagoons and passes.

Other cetaceans you might encounter in French Polynesia are Sperm Whales (mainly in the Tuamotus, possible to see in Society & Marquesas Islands – Austral winters); Beaked Whales (Society Islands); Short-Finned Pilot Whales (Marquesas, Tuamotu & Society Islands); Melon-Headed Whales (residents in Marquesas & society Islands); Bottlenose Dolphins (residents in Marquesas & Tuamotu passes) and even Killer Whales (Tuamotu, Marquesas & Society Islands), to name but a few…

Humpack Whale jump at the ocean pacific, Tahiti.
Humpack Whale jump at the Ocean Pacific, Tahiti.

Where to Stay in Tahiti?

Accommodation in Tahiti can range from the most luxurious 5-star hotels with overwater bungalows to small family pensions.

Family hotels are divided into four categories and are ideal for travelers who prefer local experience and simplicity.

Airbnb Tahiti

Bed and breakfast
Bungalows, with private or shared bathroom.

Family vacation homes
Furnished bungalows with private bathroom and kitchenette.

Family guest houses
Furnished bungalow with private bathroom and kitchenette + breakfast and dinner service.

Family hotels
Room with private bathroom + full board and a la carte menu.

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