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Tahiti International Airport, Faaa
Tahiti International Airport, Faaa
Location of the commune (in red) within the Windward Islands
Location of the commune (in red) within the Windward Islands
Location of Faaa
Coordinates: 17°33′04″S 149°35′51″W / 17.551°S 149.5974°W / -17.551; -149.5974Coordinates: 17°33′04″S 149°35′51″W / 17.551°S 149.5974°W / -17.551; -149.5974
Overseas collectivityFrench Polynesia
SubdivisionÎles du Vent
 • Mayor (2014-2020) Oscar Temaru
34.2 km2 (13.2 sq mi)
 • Density860/km2 (2,200/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC−10:00
INSEE/Postal code
98715 /98704
Elevation0–1,493 m (0–4,898 ft)
(avg. 7 m or 23 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

Faaa (also Faa'a or Fa'a'ā; IPA: [fa.a.'a]) is a commune in the suburbs of Papeete in French Polynesia, an overseas country of France in the Pacific Ocean. Faaa is located on the island of Tahiti, in the administrative subdivision of the Windward Islands,[1] themselves part of the Society Islands. At the 2017 census Faaa had a population of 29,506, making it the most populous commune on Tahiti and in French Polynesia.[2] Faaa has many mountains inland that can reach 1,500 m (5,000 ft). Mount Marau is an extinct volcano in the inland limits and can be seen from nearby Moorea. The area of Faaa is 9 m (30 ft) above mean sea level on average.

Faaa has a long history. Captain James Cook landed on Faaa when he came to Tahiti on his expedition. The commune is the political stronghold of independence leader Oscar Temaru who has served three times as president.


In 1988 Faaa succeeded Papeete as the most populated commune in the urban area of Papeete and in French Polynesia. Despite having more inhabitants than Papeete, the urban area is named after Papeete and Faaa is considered a suburb of Papeete due to Papeete's historical importance and status as administrative capital of French Polynesia. The Papeete Urban Area has a population of about 130,000.


Faaa is the political stronghold of independence leader Oscar Temaru, who served three times as president of French Polynesia in 2004, 2005–2006, 2007 and 2011-2013.


Historical population



Faa'a International Airport is a major airport located in the north of Faa'a commune, some 5 km (3.1 mi) southwest of the center of Papeete. The airport is the only international airport in French Polynesia. Travellers from other islands must come to this airport for international flights. Some of the international flights from the airport go to Los Angeles, California; Tokyo, Japan; and Auckland, New Zealand. The airport is easily accessible from downtown Faaa. Airport shuttles and Tahiti buses come to the parking lot. There are coconut trees and a Tiki in the parking lot. Flowers from local farms are sent to the airport to be given to arriving passengers.

Freeways and roads[edit]

Tahiti's West Coast freeway runs through the commune from Papeete to Teahupoo. There are many other roads in Faaa. The Tahiti transportation bus runs around the Papeete area. There is little road traffic in Faaa. There are bridges over the many canals and small rivers that flow through Faaa. Many of the residents of Faaa have Ford or Toyota trucks. Vehicles are available in the town center of Papeete. There are few car dealers in Faaa. Residents who have cars for sale often park on the street with a for-sale sign showing the price and a contact number. Most of the streets are paved.

Location and geography[edit]

Faaa is located in northwestern Tahiti. Just 6 kilometers (4 mi) south of the town center of Papeete, the runway for Faa'a International Airport is built on coral reef since there is limited flat land. There is a slight bay south of the airport where the roads and freeways move inland. Downtown Faaa is about 6 m (20 ft) above mean sea level. Faaa is in northwestern French Polynesia. The Papenoo River is fairly close. Faaa extends inland about 15 km (9 mi). Mount Orohena is in the mountains of Faaa. The mountain is the highest point in French Polynesia at 2,200 m (7,300 ft). Tahiti Iti is just to the southeast of the commune. Moorea, which is Tahiti's sister island, is located just 15 km (9.3 mi) across the Pacific Ocean. Many people can see Mount Tohivea which is the tallest mountain on Moorea at nearly 1,200 m (4,000 ft). Los Angeles, California is located 6,616 km (4,111 mi) northeast, Santiago, Chile is 3,400 km (2,100 mi) east, and Sydney, Australia is located 3,200 km (2,000 mi) west. Easter Island is not too far east of Faaa. There are some viewpoints in Faaa to see Moorea. Moorea appears as a gray mound with mountains across the Pacific Ocean. The Faaa Nature Park is a major park in the mountains. New Caledonia is located not too far to the west of Faaa.

Nearby communes[edit]

Moorea-Maiao on Moorea is located just across the Pacific Ocean 15 km (9.3 mi) away. Vaitape, Bora Bora is 218 km (135 mi) away and is the largest commune of Bora Bora. Uturoa is a closer commune on Raiatea. Papeete borders Faaa on the north and Papera borders Faaa on the south.


Faaa lies in a tropical climate zone and thus experiences very little seasonal variation.

Cyclones have struck Faaa about 10 times, causing major damage to the neighborhoods low and flat.[citation needed] Houses flipped over and some flooding took place in downtown Faaa. The surges were about 9 m (29 ft) tall.[citation needed]

Climate data for Faaa
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 34.1
Average high °C (°F) 31.0
Average low °C (°F) 24.2
Record low °C (°F) 19.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 253.7
Average precipitation days 12.87 11.87 9.77 8.00 7.80 5.57 5.10 4.70 4.57 7.07 8.80 13.97 100.09
Source: Meteo France[3][4]


The University of French Polynesia is in central Faaa. Students from many other islands come to this university since it is the only one in the territory. It is a relatively small university with around 2,000 students. There are elementary, middle, and high schools located inland in the neighborhoods. Most of the schools are in separate buildings, each of them being one class. There are about five classes per grade at elementary schools. Some families have their children go to school in other countries like the United States or New Zealand. If they were to have their students go to California for education, they would usually go to the University of California, Los Angeles in Los Angeles. The main subject at the schools in Faaa is math.

History of Faaa[edit]

Early settlers[edit]

Faaa was first settled by travelers from Asia who arrived in canoes in the year 700. At that time, the settlers from Asia made small houses from grass and wood. Faaa had only 400 residents. They fished from the beach and from their canoes. The settlers made spears from the charcoal on the beach. Soon, many more settlers came from Asia, swelling the population to 700 by the year 1220. Some of the people fed on breadfruit and bananas from banana trees. The settlers kept moving inland from the beach. They looked across the ocean and saw Moorea, which had also been settled. Some of the settlers on Tahiti paddled their canoes to visit Moorea. By 1300, Faaa had about 1,000 residents. Faaa had many grass houses along the beach, many close to one another. Some of the residents left open spaces to let their kids play. Some of the early Tahitians made small fires from leaves to stay warm during winter. By the 1330s, 1,300 residents had settled in Faaa. Most of the settlers moved their houses inland as the beachfront was flooded during cyclones and high tides. The Tahitians moved into the small valleys close to Mount Orohena. Many of the early Polynesians had canoed to Moorea and back many times. They had been careful of the many stonefish in the water.[citation needed]

European contact[edit]

European settlers came during the 1500s. Captain James Cook was the first European visitor. He first came to Moorea but then sailed to Tahiti. The Tahitians were all wondering who he was and why he was here. Then he left Tahiti and went exploring other islands in the Pacific Ocean. He later reached New Zealand and the eastern coast of Australia. Then Charles Darwin came on his expedition to Tahiti. During the late 1800s, Faaa had a population of 2,000 residents. Some of the residents went to California to go to the California Gold Rush to search for a new life. Faaa was part of the Kingdom of Tahiti until the annexation of 1880. Many buildings made from wood were along the coast of Faaa. Some small markets selling bananas and other fruits were busy. Residents from Moorea came to get fruits from the markets. Farms could be found in the mountains of Faaa.

Modern Faaa[edit]

During the early 1900s, Faaa's population had grown to 5,000. Many markets had more choices and even some toys for kids. Some bigger boats were made for the new Faaa Port. The boats sailed from Faaa onward to other communes on Tahiti such as Arue and Teahupoo. Downtown Faaa was very busy and public beaches were formed on the waterfront of Faaa. There was a big field in the north of Faaa and Faa'a International Airport was built here in 1962. One of the first airplanes was Air Tahiti, which first went to other islands in French Polynesia. The international airlines such as Air Tahiti Nui were incorporated in the late 1990s. Air Moorea runs several flights daily between Tahiti and Moorea. In 2007 one flight crashed into the lagoon and 20 people died. Don the Beachcomber lived here part of his life. The Moorea ferry was also created after the flight and still sails to Moorea each day. Today, Faaa has a population of nearly 30,000.


The area of Faaa is first settled by early Polynesians
Faaa has many grass houses along the beach and inland
Faaa's population grows to 1,500
Captain James Cook is the first European to land on Tahiti
Many Faaa residents leave for the California Gold Rush
Faaa has more than 5,000 residents
Faa'a International Airport opened
Air Tahiti Nui is founded
Air Moorea crashes while going to Moorea

Parks and recreation[edit]

There is one long coastal beach park with 3 playgrounds per kilometer and concrete spaces where Tahitian dancers dance. Coconut trees dot the coastline and can be up to 12 metres (40 ft) tall. There are many more parks in the neighborhoods of Faaa. The usual park in Faaa has a playground, open grass spaces, and trees and only a few have Basketball courts. School parks have mainly open grass spaces and a few trees. There are about 170 parks in Faaa. Hiking trails can be found in the mountains of Tahiti. It is part of the Faaa Nature Park. There are viewing points viewing the Papeete Area. The harbor can also be seen with the Aremiti Ferry coming in and out of the harbor. Mape trees grow in the park. The hiking trails are made of dirt and are 1.2 m (4 ft) wide. Sometimes the mape tree roots grow on the trails making them dangerous at those points. Many birds fly over the trails and some rivers run through the park. Birdwatching is very popular among the tourists. There is a visitor center near which starts the main hiking trail. Moorea can be seen across the Pacific Ocean from some of the viewing points. Souvenir shops are found in the mountain parks. Postcards are very popular for the tourist coming to Faaa. Other souvenirs at the shop are towels, small tikis, and Tahitian card games. There are also hiking trails in nearby communes of Tahiti and Moorea.


The Carrefour market, located in the commune

Air Tahiti has its head office on the airport property in Faaa. There are many supermarkets in Faaa. The supermarkets mainly sell bread, milk, fruits, and ice cream. There is also one of the largest malls in French Polynesia in downtown Faaa. It has a clothing store a market, and a souvenir shop.[5] The now defunct Air Moorea had its head office in Faaa.[6] Many people that work in other communes such as Papeete or Teahupoo live in Faaa. There are businesses like McDonald's that are close to the public beach. The port of Papeete has many workers that live in Faaa. Many other people that work in Papeete or Teahupoo live in Faaa. McDonald's is a popular restaurant in Faaa that is close to the beach, just off Tahiti's west coast freeway. The port of Papeete has many workers who live in Faaa. There is a Carrefour market in the commune.


Farms in Faaa are usually found in the mountains to the east. The farms are all more than 300 m (1,000 ft) above mean sea level far from the coastline. The farms in the mountains have Tahitian flowers growing in the fields. The flowers get picked and are usually sent to Faa'a International Airport to greet the passengers that have just arrived. There are many tractors on the fields that plow the dirt. Banana trees are plentiful throughout Faaa and also a major export to other islands. The main islands that get imported from Faaa are Moorea, Huahine, and Raiatea. Many strawberries are also found in the farms. Potatoes, apples, and raspberries are all other major fruits grown at the farms of Faaa. School lunches usually contain fruits from these farms. The Moorea juice factory is a major juice factory on Moorea that exports its juice to Faaa.


Ace is a major hardware store in Faaa. It is made up of more than one building. There are 3 of these buildings.One of the buildings is for supplies and objects needed in houses. Another one of the 3 buildings is for Wood supplies and Wood Glue. The third building is for cement mixers and screws. Other major hardware stores are the Faaa Supply Store. It is made up of one building for mainly supplies and cement mixers and another for wood. Other hardware stores of Faaa are Polymat, Polywood, and Polybuild. Ace delivery trucks are found throughout the neighborhoods of Faaa.


Faaa is full of cell phones. Faaa has major industrial valleys far inland. These areas have hardware industries as well. Ace is close to a store a lot like Circuit City. Dishwashers and refrigerators are the main goods found inside the store.


World Championship Tour[edit]

The surfing world champions of Teahupoo have been to Faaa. Teahupoo is a reef break, making big waves. The swells usually break to the left but sometimes break to the right. The big swells cause Teahupoo to become a major place for the World Championship Tour (WCT). People such as Mike Stewart and Ben Severson are the boogieboarding champions of Teahupoo. The first surfing champion of Teahupoo to win an award was in 1999.

Other sports[edit]

Soccer games (in Faaa, it's called football) is a major sport played at the school parks. The parks have chairs set in a field and people can easily see the game. The soccer fields are relatively small.

Other major sports played in Faaa are tennis and basketball.


The name Faaa is sometimes spelled Faa’a in Tahitian, using the apostrophe to represent the glottal stop, as promoted by the Académie Tahitienne and accepted by the territorial government. Most people in the commune say it with two syllables when it's really three syllables.[7] This apostrophe, however, is often omitted.

Music of Faaa[edit]

The nose flute (vivo) is a popular instrument throughout French Polynesia. Tahitian drums (toere) are also popular and are made from hollow trunks of trees and animal skins. The residents of Faaa can take lessons at the University of French Polynesia.


There are art museums in the mountains of Faaa. The mountains of Tahiti and other islands have inspired Paul Gauguin. Some paintings can be found in the museums which are a very popular tourist attraction. The Musee de la Perle is a major art museum in nearby Papeete. The house of James Norman Hall used to be a mansion in Arue. It is now a renowned museum that is a major tourist attraction. Art galleries are found throughout the island of Tahiti and there are 10 right in Papeete.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Décret n° 2005-1611 du 20 décembre 2005 pris pour l'application du statut d'autonomie de la Polynésie française, Légifrance
  2. ^ Répartition de la population en Polynésie française en 2017, Institut de la statistique de la Polynésie française
  3. ^ "Données climatiques de la station de Faaa" (in French). Meteo France. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
  4. ^ "Climat Polynésie française". Meteo France. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
  5. ^ "Préambule Archived 2012-07-16 at Archive.today" Air Tahiti. Retrieved on 2 February 2011. "Société Air Tahiti Société Anonyme au capital de 2 760 000 000 CFP Siège social : aéroport de Tahiti - Faaa BP 314 - 98713 Papeete – Tahiti – Polynésie Française ."
  6. ^ "La Compagnie Archived 2011-09-03 at the Wayback Machine." Air Moorea. Retrieved on 26 February 2010.
  7. ^ I.S.S. - www.iss.pf - teiva, kaimana. "Académie Tahitienne - Fare V?na'a". Farevanaa.pf. Retrieved 2010-10-18.