Traditional Tahitian handcrafts include intricate carvings of stone; wooden drums, bowls, platters, and sculptures carved from precious native woods; and elaborate hats, purses, and mats woven from coconut and pandanus leaves. Tahiti also offers handmade quilts called tifaifai crafted from traditional designs by the island matriarchs or “mamas”, Pareu (akin to Polynesian sarong) cloth wrappings, and Monoi oils which are used in natural skin products created from the oils of tree fruits and fragrances extracted from the Tiare flower.
Black pearls are among the most sought after items in Tahiti. These cultured pearls range in size and shape and the colors vary from the darkest black to shimmering shades of green, blue, bronze, eggplant, or even pink.
One of the best placed to shop is the public market, Le Marche, located in the heart of Papeete. The first floor of this indoor market has an abundant supply of tropical fruits and vegetables and fresh fish from the lagoon. The second floor is dedicated to Tahitian art and crafts, and boasts the largest selection of colorful pareus (sarongs) anywhere.
Bargaining and haggling over prices in markets and stores is not customary.
The cuisine of Tahiti and her Islands includes a delectable array of fresh fish, exotic tropical fruits and vegetables, with a Polynesian influence and unmistakable French flair. Not to be missed is poisson cru – fresh fish marinated with lime and coconut, mixed with vegetables. Parrot fish, ahi, mahi-mahi and other fresh fish are often served in a delectable light sauce made from vanilla beans and coconut milk.
A great way to taste authentic Tahiti cuisine is a stop at a Roulottes, or catering truck, that gather at the wharf in downtown Papeete each evening. Hungry visitors can wander among the dozens of Roulottes to choose local fare and partake of unbelievably delicious meals including stir fry, curry, roast pig, and flaming cr√™pes.
Another way to sample authentic Tahitian cuisine is to attend a Tahitian feast called a tamaaraa. At the feast, traditional Polynesian singing, dancing, and celebration greet visitors. Native Tahitian dishes of fish, roasted pork, and chicken are cooked and served from an underground oven called an ahimaa. Visitors to Tahiti will receive a final touch of Tahitian tradition as the tamaaraa concludes with a full Polynesian show complete with exotic costumes and dancing.
Polynesian conviviality bears witness to the joie de vivre in these islands, forged by the abundance of fruits of the land and of the sea. Tahitian cuisine is natural, comprising fresh produce with exotic flavours, and has adapted to the tastes and habits of the tourists who continue to come to visit Polynesia (especially the Asian and European influences). Fish of all kinds, cooked in all sorts of ways (tuna, bonito, mahi mahi, dozens of varieties of fish from the lagoon…) are of course the basis of the cuisine.
The most popular dishes remain unquestionably raw fish ‚ÄúTahiti style‚Äù, marinated in lemon and coconut milk and “chevrettes” (local freshwater prawns), and Chinese food, which is very popular, including the ‚Äúma’a tinito‚Äú (a mix of pork, kidney beans, pota and macaroni).