Generally our advice for visitors arriving into Tahiti would be that there isn’t really a huge advantage to gain from hiring a car here, because the island only has a small number of driving routes.
As it happens, if you are heading out of Papeete town, you will actually see that the entire network of roads in Tahiti can be summarised as a figure-of-eight which has then been bitten off in the north-west corner. By all means, this is the sort of place where you might want to go on a driving tour as part of a morning or an afternoon excursion, and you will have absolutely no problem at all extending that out to make it a full day with lengthy stops to take pictures, but for anything more than this, a hire car is just going to be an extra cost, and quite possibly a substantial one at that.
As a lush tropical island, it goes without saying that hiring a car in Tahiti will have little appeal when compared with activities based around watersports or just relaxing on the beach, although you might want a car to drive between different beaches, if you can’t reach them easily on foot or by using local minibuses.
For staying anywhere in or around Papeete itself, local buses and taxis are more than adequate, and there’s really no need for any sort of hire car if you want to start hiking inland. The island itself is compact enough for most trekking excursions to be managed out and back within the same day, using only short journey in a road vehicle at each end.
Yet Papeete is also the natural gateway for all the other wonders that make up French Polynesia, including thoroughly spectacular atolls like Bora Bora, just a short flight away.
Should you rent a car in Tahiti? Whether you continue onwards from Papeete by boat or by light aircraft will depend on which island you are trying to get to, but needless to say, a hire car isn’t needed anywhere else in French Polynesia either, because the other islands have even fewer roads to drive on than Tahiti does!
Should you rent a car in Tahiti? No.