Best places to visit in Bora Bora
Far from the United states of America, Bora Bora is a little gem in the sea, in the middle of French Polynesia. Travel to one of the most beautiful dream destinations in the world.
You can't wait to dive into what's going to fill your time on vacation in Bora Bora: what activities will you choose? Snorkeling with stingrays and sharks, sailing on the lagoon, surfing, kitesurfing, a "dolce farniente" on Matira beach, spa, hikes, diving to explore the underwater world, helicopter flight… There are plenty of ideas and fun things to do!
With all those choices of activities, cruises, and the huge resorts with overwater bungalows, we sometimes forget that Bora Bora Island can also be visited. The Pearl of the Pacific doesn’t lack unique and fascinating tropical places. Start your adventure here to enjoy the perfect vacation : follow the guide !
Shopping in Vaitape
From the United States of America, Bora Bora is 8 hours of international flight to French Polynesia and 1 hour of inter-island flight away. Most people travel to Bora Bora by plane, but if you like traveling by sea, you should take the ferry to Vaitape for a day-cruise to enjoy the water. In fact - in 2023 - two lines, Apetahi and Vaeara’i, serve the Leeward Islands according to a precise schedule.
From the motu (islet) Mute, where you will be landing, shuttles will await you to directly take you to your hotel by boat to start your trip. If you are staying on the main island, you will be taken to Vaitape Wharf. During your trip, take the time to visit and enjoy this small town. There are more and more facilities and shops. You will find all key services and many excellent shops, where you can buy perfumes, ready-to-wear and local creations, Tahitian pearls (the traditional gift to buy during every trip in French Polynesia), various souvenirs to bring from your vacation, and of course, some of the most renowned restaurants on the island.
In vaitape, you can also rent a car or a scooter to enjoy the island without a guide : Matira beach, the views of the sea and Mount Otemanu, and the various restaurants.
Loop around the island, from one tip to another
Take a scooter or a car to stop in every spot around the island and discover many things during your trip. They are called Raititi, Matira, Ofu O Rau, Fiti'u'u, Ta'ihi, and Pao Pao, like the bay that gives its name to Moorea. They are adjacent to the high island of Bora Bora - from north to south - like futile protections. These are the tips of the island, which offer a series of observation spots overlooked by the Mount Otemanu, and provide spectacular views of the sea, the blue lagoon and the motu.
They look like peninsulas and are ideal stops for a swim and some snorkeling in the most beautiful lagoon in the world. Sometimes only a few meters above the lagoon, they were once impressive vertical cliffs before being affected by erosion and mining subsidence. Bora is one of the oldest islands of Polynesia.
The reef's motu
In Bora Bora, life is organized around the lagoon. Travel is done mostly by boat. I have always enjoyed taking a boat trip, especially for tours on this blue lagoon.
The water is so transparent that you believe you can see the sea bottom without being able to calculate the distance to it. The very pure reflections will make you lose your sense of proportion. All kinds of boats (motor boats, sailing canoes, catamarans) will be offered by the service providers who will drop you off at one of the many motu around the island. There, you will be picnicking, swimming, snorkeling, admiring the panorama, enjoying the fine sand, and having a regenerating nap in front of Mount Otemanu, one of the most famous mountains of French Polynesia. It will provide you with a glimpse of Polynesian life, and you will experience the Tahitian simple happiness feeling.
Scuba diving is also a must-do activity in Bora Bora. Take advantage of your trips to the motu of the island to dive in the Polynesian sea. Along the reef or in the island's Coral Gardens, it's a whole different experience than snorkeling: other species of fish and sharks roam the deeper parts of the lagoon. Add scuba diving to your list of activities in Bora Bora if you want to experience the adventure and explore the most beautiful spots of the island!
The Marine Museum
We often forget two things when we are in Bora Bora: firstly, it might rain, and secondly, there could be a museum on the island, in Vaitape. But do not imagine one like the Marine Museum of Paris, Amsterdam, or Tianjin (China): It is a small private museum with collections assembled by enthusiasts. The exhibition on Polynesian maritime history, complete with explanations of famous European ships, is enticing. By the way, you know what? Even if the weather is nice, it is worth a visit.
On the top of Bora Bora
Far from the snorkeling days with sharks and rays, plan at least half a day of hiking on the island with a guide to admire the lagoon from one of the mountain peaks.
If you are athletic and trained, I recommend Pahia, in the district of Nunu'e. Otemanu is the most iconic climb because of its deep cave (contact a guide to know how to reach it). Pohue is worth the trip, and Pōpoti is perfect for families wanting to discover the island from its heights.
Enjoy Matira beach
Along with Mount Otemanu, Matira Beach is the best-known image of Bora Bora, and one of the most famous beaches in French Polynesia.
This wide harmonious white beach - with slight wave noise and salty spray - is globally famous and often edited on postcards and videos, but no photo can compete with the beauty offered by nature. However, I encourage you to send postcards showing its turquoise color variations during your trip: in today's digital world, you cannot imagine the pleasure one feels when receiving a letter with a photo from French Polynesia - particularly from Bora Bora - when, in our place of residence, the white landscape is not made of sand but snow.
In Matira beach, you can snorkel in the lagoon to meet some fish and stingrays underwater, or just enjoy the sun while listening to the sound of waves. There also are some restaurants near the beach. Matira beach can be the perfect spot for a whole day !
Lunch or dinner in a luxury hotel
During your trips around the island, stop at some restaurants to enjoy the polynesian traditional food. About twenty restaurants in Bora Bora are renowned for their tasty dishes and quality food. They are all located on the main island, on its periphery near the beach (Yacht Club, St-James, Bloody Mary, Lucky House…), or on the heights (Villa Mahana).
Some of the hotel restaurants are also worth a look at. The overwater bungalows and the beaches of these resorts are not the only thing to enjoy here : located on the motu, in 5-star establishments, or in the island's palaces, the restaurants are critically praised. Take time for a good meal at one of these restaurants during your stay: the inventiveness of the chefs, the delicious food, the quality of the dishes, and the beauty of the place will make it a tasty memory.
Tupai, the heart atoll, to discover by helicopter
You don't feel like leaving Bora Bora, which I fully understand. I invite you to look at a remarkable tour, especially if you are here for your honeymoon; Tupai Atoll.
It is a wonder of nature: a heart-shaped island in the ocean. Tahiti Nui Helicopter invites you on its tours to discover it from the sky before dropping you off on its mythical beach. Trust me, your kisses there will have an intensity you won't find anywhere else in the world!
After spending some time on the beaches of Bora Bora (Matira Beach) and its motu, do you want to swim underwater and enjoy the splendid blue of the sea, in one of the most beautiful natural swimming pools in the world? During a boat trip, don’t forget to stop at the lagoonarium. Some lagoon tours with guides stop there.
The lagoonarium is located all the way to the east of Bora Bora, on the reef. This underwater place brings together the biodiversity and the colors of a giant aquarium surrounded by nature. A specific combination of coral heads - also known as madreporic rocks - and currents carrying nutrients and oxygen allows this fantastic density of colorful fishes. Here, you will meet stingrays, sharks, and all the colors of fish you can imagine. Explore the ocean floor by swimming with your mask and snorkel, not far from the most beautiful resorts with overwater bungalows of the island. Your tropical adventure is sure to surprise you! Underwater, everything is beautiful.
Bring your sunscreen - reef-safe and ocean-friendly - to protect your back; you will spend hours in the water that will seem like minutes.