There are no shopping malls or large department stores in French Polynesia, only small local boutiques and street vendors. The island of Tahiti offers the greatest selection. The best place to start is the local marketplace, Le Marché, open daily from 5:00AM to 6:00PM. While most shops are closed on weekends, Sunday is the perfect day to visit Le Marché. There's also Le Centre Vaima in downtown Papeete, and the adjacent Musée de la Perle, which tells the history of Tahitian pearls and explains their cultivation process.
Popular purchases include black pearls, vanilla beans, scented oils and soaps, woven hats and bags, woodcarvings, tifaifai quilts, and the colorful pareo (sarong). Please note that bargaining over prices is not customary in Tahiti and can likely be perceived as rude.
Stores are typically open Monday through Friday from 8:00AM to 11:30AM and 1:30PM to 5:30PM, varying by 30 minutes or so. Most of the shops in Papeete are also open Saturday morning but closed on Sunday. Banks are always closed on Sunday with limited hours on Saturday.
There are dry cleaning services available in Papeete, but most hotels have a laundry service on the premise. If you foresee needing frequent access to laundry facilities, stay at a resort like Legends Resort Moorea, which provides a washer and dryer in every villa.
Le Kiosk in front of the Vaima Centre on boulevard Pomare in Papeete sells international newspapers and magazines. The daily newspapers, La Dépêche de Tahiti and Les Nouvelles, are published in French. The Tahiti Beach Press is a weekly English magazine devoted to the news and interests of Tahiti's tourist industry. Establishments such as hotels and restaurants that advertise in the publication usually give it away for free.
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