A Circle Island Tour, or a drive around Tahiti, is the best way to spend a day seeing the island's outlying sights and a bit of old Polynesia away from Papeete's bustle. It can be done even if you're staying on Moorea.
The road around Tahiti Nui is 114km (72 miles) long. It's 54km (32 miles) from Papeete to Taravao along the east coast and 60km (40 miles) returning along the west coast. If your car has a trip meter, reset it to zero; if it doesn't, make note of the total kilometers on the odometer at the outset.
On the land side of the road are red-topped concrete kilometer markers (pointes kilomètres in French, or PK for short). They tell the distance every kilometer between Papeete and the Isthmus of Taravao; that is, the distance from Papeete to Taravao in each direction, not the total number of kilometers around the island. The large numbers facing the ocean are the number of kilometers from Papeete; the numbers facing you as you drive along are the number of kilometers you have to go to Papeete or Taravao, depending on your direction. Distances between the PKs are referred to in 10ths of kilometers; for example, PK 35.6 would be 35.6km from Papeete.
Avoid Rush Hour & Check on Road Work -- If you drive yourself around Tahiti, avoid getting snarled in morning and evening weekday rush hours. Landslides between PK 44 and PK 45 on the east coast can close the round-island road, so ask the car-rental agent or the staff at the Tahiti Manava visitors bureau if it is open all the way around.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.