Papeete is the capital of French Polynesia and the most important 'urban centre'. It is the main transport hub of the islands and the best place to start exploring the archipelago.
Papeete has a very colourful market and a number of museums, the most popular being the Museum of Tahiti and Other Islands with its comprehensive collection of cultural artifacts, and the Musee du Coquillage. The Gauguin Museum traces the life and works of the French painter who made French Polynesia home, and the Tahiti Perles Centre features the rare and lovely Pinctada Margaritifera, the Tahitian black pearl.
There are also many art galleries and craft shops to wander through.
The Harrison Smith Botanical Gardens reflect the variety of plants Smith brought to Tahiti and propagated to diversify the local vegetation and diet of the local people. Mataoa Garden is also worth visiting.
Virtually every sport and motorised and non-motorised watersport is available in or around Papeete. One of the more popular beaches is Bain Lot, and the new golf course is of high international standard. There are also hiking excursions to the interior of Tahiti and day trips to outer islands.