Luxurious honeymoons, sparkling blue waters and beautiful white beaches; the island of Bora Bora conjures up a thousand fantasies. After recently visiting this legendary island, I can confirm that all the rumours are true. Bora Bora is a real slice of paradise. It’s even more heavenly than I imagined, with friendly locals and delicious food to boot.
Here are a few tips about what to do in Bora Bora, based on my own experiences. I’ve also explained everything you need to know about getting to Bora Bora and where to stay on the island, from luxury overwater bungalows to locally run guesthouses.
French Polynesia’s International Airport is located on the island of Tahiti, and there are several different flight routes from the UK. Most people arrive in Bora Bora on an Air Tahiti flight and you can fly in directly from Moorea, Tikehau, Tahiti and Huahine, among others.
Arriving by helicopter from Tahiti is another option. It’s not cheap, but it’s pretty unforgettable! Most of the five-star hotels have their own helipads, which means you can arrive on the island in style.
If you’re travelling from Raiatea or Taha’a, you can also take the seaplane to Bora Bora. There’s only one seaplane in French Polynesia, with one scheduled flight per day to Bora Bora from Raiatea, via Taha’a. If there are a few of you travelling together, it’s a wonderfully affordable option, and every single seat has great window views.
Paul Gauguin’s Tahiti and the Society Islands cruise stops in at Bora Bora too, which is a brilliant way to see the island if you’re short on time. It represents excellent value for money, and luxury small-ship cruising is one of the best ways to explore a handful of islands in one trip.
Contrary to popular belief, Bora Bora isn’t exclusively home to five-star resorts with celebrity price tags. There’s actually a wealth of accommodation on the island, ranging from tiny locally run pensions to mid-range boutique resorts, as well as some of the most luxurious hotels in the world.
Your choice will be influenced by your budget, but there’s more choice than you might imagine and several really affordable options. Here are some of my suggestions.
For me, Le Meridien stands out for its beautiful views of Mount Otemanu, and the huge glass floors in the overwater bungalows. While it’s certainly ‘high end’, I would describe the hotel as offering laid back luxury. Think chilled music at the beach bar, friendly staff and relaxed restaurants.
The hotel is also home to a little turtle sanctuary which takes in rescued turtles from all over French Polynesia. During your stay at Le Meridien, you can help out at the sanctuary for an hour or even a whole day, making it perfect for animal lovers.
Modern and beautiful, the Conrad Bora Bora Nui is tucked away at the southern end of the atoll, perfectly positioned for maximum peace and privacy. The overwater bungalows are large and airy, making them the ideal choice for honeymooners.
Personally, I loved the big overwater hammock where you can spend the afternoon relaxing and enjoying some fresh seafood from room service – bliss! There are some great snorkelling spots near the black lava rocks here, where shoals of colourful fish dance through the water. It’s also a fantastic place to catch great sunset views out towards the ocean.
If you’re looking for a more affordable overwater bungalow in Bora Bora, the Maitai is the answer! This small four-star resort is tucked away on the main island with 13 overwater bungalows. Every bungalow has a section of glass floor, allowing you to gaze down into the crystalline waters.
They are much more simply furnished than the five-star resorts, but they are far more affordable and they have a lovely Polynesian vibe. The Maitai also has fewer facilities than the flashier resorts, but paradise is still on your doorstep.
There are two other Maitai properties in French Polynesia, one in Rangiroa and one in Huahine. You can usually combine these three resorts at a special rate and we can help you put together a great island-hopping holiday.
This tiny ‘pension’ (guesthouse) is one of the most popular choices for budget-conscious guests travelling to Bora Bora. Situated on the outer motus surrounding the atoll, the eponymous hosts take great care of their guests, so staying here is paradise found.
While the garden bungalows might lack A/C and refrigerators, you’ll be more than compensated by spectacular views over the lush peak of Mount Otemanu, as well as pure white beaches. Here, you’ll find a quiet harmony with nature and warm welcome, so if you want to experience the hospitality of Bora Bora, it’s a wonderful place to start.
Pension Alice and Raphael is the only guesthouse of its kind in Bora Bora, so it sells out fast. If you would like to stay at the pension, it’s best to book as early as you can, in order to guarantee availability.
For many people, a holiday to Bora Bora is simply about relaxing on the beach, enjoying the hotel and taking a well-earned break. However, if you want to get out and explore this incredible atoll, there are plenty of exciting activities on offer.
Taking a helicopter tour is a great way to take in breathtaking views over Bora Bora without having to jostle for a window seat. You can choose between two tour options - Shades of Blue and Heart of Tubuai.
I think the Shades of Blue tour gives you the best panorama of the perfectly pure lagoon, while the Heart of Tupuai reveals the spectacular island of Tupuai. Close by to Bora Bora, Tupuai is formed into a beautiful heart shape, adding an extra layer of romance. We can book either of these tours as part of your stay – just ask us for advice.
The calm, clear waters of Bora Bora’s lagoon are perfect for stand-up paddleboarding. If you’ve never tried stand-up paddleboarding before, there’s no better place to learn. Glide across the crystal lagoon, watching dozens of tropical fish dart around below you and soaking up the scenery. It’s a great way to explore and a peaceful way to spend an afternoon.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a total novice, Bora Bora is a brilliant location for diving. I tried an introductory dive with TopDive and believe me, it’s one of the best places to give diving a go for the first time.
An intro dive is a one-to-one experience with the instructor who controls most of the parts of your dive – you just have to get used to breathing from the air tank and adjusting to the change in pressure in your ears. The friendly staff took our group out into the deeper areas of the lagoon and showed us exactly what we need to do for the short dive, as well as answering all of our questions.
During my intro dive, I saw dozens of different reef fish and even glimpsed a manta ray as it soared through the ocean beneath me. It was a fantastic experience and trying out a dive in the calm waters of the lagoon is perfect, especially for anyone nervous in the water.
If you’re a more experienced diver, there’s plenty of diving to get your teeth into! It’s a real underwater wonderland. You can dive with shoals of rays, glittering butterflyfish and pink anemones under the beautiful waters of Bora Bora’s lagoon.
The snorkelling opportunities in Bora Bora are wide-ranging but it’s important to know whether snorkelling is a priority for your trip before you choose your hotel. Several hotels are very close to natural corals that teem with colourful fish, so you can snorkel straight from your door. Others are based around white sandy beaches with beautiful clear waters but no snorkelling spots nearby.
If you’re staying at a hotel that doesn’t offer direct access to good snorkelling spots, we can easily add a tour for you. You’ll head off into the lagoon, enjoying views of the towering Mount Otemanu as you go, towards a coral garden somewhere in the lagoon; jump in and you’ll soon be surrounded by stingrays and reef sharks, it’s just amazing.
We are experts in putting together tailor-made holidays to Bora Bora, multi-stop trips that include French Polynesia and round the world flights. We can help you plan the trip of a lifetime. To get the ball rolling, give us a call on +44 1273320580 or send us a quote request by email.