too city for me. I loved Moorea, and playing on the water in a kayak, and the grass huts, and the fish, and the beauty everywhere!!! Loved Moorea. Papeete was too much city for my taste. People were super kind.
Loved Papeete! So laid back, a beautiful port area to wander around. Had an amazing time in the market!! Was a decent size with everything there imaginable! Bought fresh coconuts outside the market from a couple of ladies selling them. Cut the tops off for us and gave us straws, was awesome!
I love Papeete as a place to spend twenty four hours or less before leaving for the outer islands. Walking along the waterfront and through the central city is relaxing and then continuing the walk in the outskirt residential areas along the hills provides panoramic views and some history lessons. However, the lure of Tahiti are the outlying islands, not Papeete. I would not spend any extra time there.
Papeete (and the island of Tahiti in general) is much more urban and feels more crowded than the other nearby islands, but is still a great place to spend a day or two before you fly out. Unlike some other touristy places, there isn't much of a "central" area - all the hotels are pretty self contained, but there is a higher concentration of shops near Vaire Square (Place Vaire) if you want to do some shopping. Remember it is still an island mentality, tourists or not - shops close at 5.