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Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora is a volcanic island in the Society Islands archipelago of French Polynesia. The Polynesian island in the South Pacific is ranked at the top of the list when it comes to most remarkably beautiful in the world. Best time to travel is in May.

Keep in mind that Bora Bora is a tremendously pricey destination. Everything (catering and activities) ranges from "expensive" to "indescribably expensive."
Bora Bora is an island in the Leeward group of the Society Islands of French Polynesia, an "Overseas Country" financially assisted by France in the Pacific Ocean. The island, located about 230 kilometers (140 mi) northwest of Papeete, is surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef. In the center of the island are the remnants of an extinct volcano rising to two peaks, Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu, the highest point at 727 meters (2,385 ft).... Read more

Bora Bora, French Polynesia


Bora Bora is a volcanic island in the Society Islands archipelago of French Polynesia. The Polynesian island in the South Pacific is ranked at the top of the list when it comes to most remarkably beautiful in the world. Best time to travel is in May.

Keep in mind that Bora Bora is a tremendously pricey destination. Everything (catering and activities) ranges from "expensive" to "indescribably expensive."
Bora Bora is an island in the Leeward group of the Society Islands of French Polynesia, an "Overseas Country" financially assisted by France in the Pacific Ocean. The island, located about 230 kilometers (140 mi) northwest of Papeete, is surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef. In the center of the island are the remnants of an extinct volcano rising to two peaks, Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu, the highest point at 727 meters (2,385 ft). The original name of the island in the Tahitian language might be better rendered as Pora Pora, meaning "First Born"; an early transcription found in 18th- and 19th-century accounts is Bolabolla or Bollabolla.
The major settlement, Vaitape is on the western side of the island, opposite the main channel into the lagoon. The products of the island are mostly limited to what can be obtained from the sea and coconut trees, which were historically of economic importance for copra.


The history of Bora Bora shows that the island’s first settlers back in the 4th century were Tongan people. The first European explorers who visited the island were led by James Cook. However, before this island of Bora Bora was already sighted by other explorers. The history of Bora Bora also indicates that in 1842 the island became a colony of France under the leadership of Admiral Abel Aubert Dupetit Thouars.
During World War II, the United States picked Bora Bora as a base for military supply, oil depot, airstrip, and seaplane base. They also constructed defensive fortifications around the island. Luckily though, no combat took place here, and the presence of American troops seemed to be accepted by the opposition forces. According to the history of Bora Bora, the United States Military Base officially closed on June 2, 1946, following the end of the war. However, many Americans refused to leave the island as it had become close to their hearts. Some Americans were even forcibly asked to leave following complaints from their families on the mainland. The abandoned base became French Polynesia’s only international airport until Faa'a International Airport opened in 1962 in Papeete, Tahiti.
Today, the island of Bora Bora relies largely on tourism and because of this seven luxurious resorts were built over the past few years. Hotel Bora Bora was the first to build bungalows that stand over the water using stilts which are now a given of every resort on the island as these bungalows provide spectacular sights of lagoons and mountains.


The climate in Bora Bora and the surrounding Islands is considered to be tropical. Unlike most places the seasons can be divided into two seasons: the wet season and the dry season. The wet season (Polynesian summers) runs from November till April with an average run falls off 3/4ths of the yearly precipitation. During these times the humidity levels can be at an all-time high. The storms during these months are frequent and unpredictable. The rainfall is about 1800 mm or 71 inches! And the weather is 86 °F or 30 °C the dry season running from May to October this is when tourism is at its peak on the Island. During these months the temperature is a few degrees lower, and rain is rare. The best time weather-wise with the least risk of storms is in the Winter months. The very best part about the weather in Bora Bora is that the water temperature hovers in the mid-80s (30 °C) on average. However, during this high tourist season (May - October) tourist prices skyrocket, and there are many more people around.

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Bora Bora, French Polynesia: Port Information

Cruise liners anchor offshore, and cruise passengers are tendered to the center of Vaitape. One will find tourist facilities close to the pier.

Get around Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Vaitape is the only "town" of any size of the island. At the southern tip of the main island, Matira is the location of the largest beach as well as several hotels and restaurants. The central part of the island is extremely mountainous, tough to access and not inhabited (and furthermore devoid of roads of any kind).

The way you get around in Bora Bora depends greatly on your accommodation and its location. Several resorts are located on motus and not on the main island, hence the need for boat transportation to get anywhere. Boat transfers from those motus resorts to the main island or between the resorts and the airport are usually provided. Accommodations located on the island also provide a transfer to and the Airport ferry quay.
On the main island, there is only one sealed road. Public transport on the island is limited, consisting of a single bus that goes halfway around the island and back approximately every hour. Taxis are also available.
Operators of activities and restaurants sometimes (but not always) provide a transfer to and from the accommodations - be sure to ask when booking.
Renting a bicycle, moped or a car can be an option if you plan to have your freedom on the main island. The road around the island is 31 km long and can be driven comfortably in an hour – two hours with stops.

What to see in Bora Bora, French Polynesia

The island of Bora Bora is a volcanic caldera. This geography has produced a lagoon, well protected from waters by the surrounding motus (islets). The lagoon, and the tropical underwater life, including sharks and rays, provide fantastic opportunities for many forms of water-based recreation, ranging from swimming, through snorkeling and to scuba and other options if you truly want to immerse yourself in this unique environment.
In addition to the sights under the surface of the lagoon, the dominating and unusually shaped peak of Mount Otemanu which reaches 728 meters above sea level, and its smaller neighbor Mount Pahia are also worthy attractions. The combination of the beautiful lagoon and these impressive peaks provide an almost endless supply of opportunities to take travel photos which will leave your friend back home cursing you for sharing them.
Very few go to Bora Bora for the historic relics. However, if you have seen enough of the lagoon, you might want to take a peek at the few WWII remains and the archeological Polynesian relics in one of the tours of the island.

  • Bora Bora Lagoonarium. A certified diver acts as an underwater guide as you swim and come face to face with the turtles, sharks, stingrays and numerous other fish which call the lagoonarium their home. As the "...rium" name implies, this commercial aquarium is a captive, enclosed zoo-like environment, preventing free movement beyond the confines of the establishment. For those that are not into diving, there is a little submarine. Numerous travelers that have voted this as an all-time favorite.

What to do in Bora Bora, French Polynesia

There are comparatively more activities in Bora Bora to keep you occupied than in other islands of French Polynesia. Being practical while lazing under the sun in a white sand beach, a good book will be in every case a very useful item to bring. As weird as it may sound it sometimes rains in Bora Bora (and sometimes even a lot). The vast majority of the activities take place outdoor, and there are no cinemas, libraries or museums to visit.
There are many activities that are cost-free, like swimming in the lagoons, swimming with dolphins, shark and ray feeding, and enjoying the famous sunset. Most destinations are aquatic oriented, that may also include scuba diving and snorkeling. Besides the water activities, there are many other activities like parasailing, deep-sea fishing which is one of its kind in the world since Bora Bora is home of over 500 species of marine wildlife. There is also family hiking and climbing trails. On the relaxation part, the island is filled with natives specializing in ritual massage services. There are also private lagoon cruises, bus tours, and many Motu hangouts. The island also offers flightseeing, along with helicopter tours.

Water activities

The tropical sea sometimes reaches 86F (30C), making it perfect for various water activities. Swimming in the lagoon in clear warm water has the advantage of being free and can be very enjoyable. The beaches of Bora Bora are not huge by any standards, nor are they crammed with people. The most famous beach, Matira Beach is at the southern tip of the main island.
You do not have to pay a lot to enjoy Bora Bora. Just like swimming, snorkeling is possible in many areas close to the shore, and even in Matira Beach, you will be surrounded by multicolor tropical fish in seconds and shallow waters. Just remember to get out and put on sunscreen from time to time as the sun is strong and you will get burned badly if you stay in the water for an extended period.
Several companies operate snorkeling tours in the lagoon, bringing you by boat farther off the coast:

  • Shark & Ray Snorkel Safari. Shark and Ray feeding is typically done in shallow waters inside the lagoon. Approximately 10-20 sharks, as well as 10-15 Rays, will approach the boat and swim nearby, largely avoiding any snorkelers courageous enough to swim near.
  • Shark Boy (Book by Bora Bora Pearl Resort).
  • Jourdain Tetuanui, ☎ +689 677 934. Offering many and varied services from the water taxi to tours, fishing to feeding.
  • Windward Islands Yacht Charter. One of the worlds largest yacht charter companies can take care of all charter requirements, from bareboat to luxury yacht in French Polynesia. Operating from different offices worldwide (UK, USA, Hong Kong, Dubai, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, and Switzerland).
  • TopDive Scuba, Vaitape.
  • Nemo World Scuba, Matira.
  • Aquasafari. If you do not have a diving license, but still want to enjoy the underwater scenery, this is an option. You do not need to know how to swim to wear the undersea breathing apparatus, and children from 8 are accepted.

Jet ski tours around the interior island are well worth the effort as they allow to appreciate the scenery from various viewpoints, although they do inflict noise and pollution.
Kiteboarding is getting popular at the Southern tip of Matira.
Scuba Diving is fun.

Land activities

The island is about 20 miles around, and bikes and small cars are available for rent at various sites. It is well worth the investment to ride the perimeter of the island.
The Jeep tours are well worth a trip. You'll have a good time climbing through some rough trails on the island, and you'll get some breathtaking views. Also, you'll tour the American WWII ruins, such as gun emplacements and bunkers.
It is possible to access the summit of Mt. Pahia by foot, although neither the staff at City Hall nor the Gendarmerie will tell you how if you do not have a guide, as even adept hikers have gotten lost or been injured. To access the trailhead, head 100 m (330 ft) north of the cross-street into Vaitape harbor. There will be an arcade of shops to your right. Look for a dirt road between the antique dealer and snack toward the north end of the arcade. Head up the dirt road about 150 m (465 ft) and look for a small grass field on your left that is just before the last house on the drive. It is wise to ask the owner for passage, as you must traverse privately-owned property to access the trail, which will initially appear faint but become more defined after the first 10 m (33 ft). Continue along the trail until you reach a fork, which will have two other trails heading north and south (through a plantation and an open field, respectively), and the main trail up to the top due east. Make sure you are well-provisioned, as the 600 m elevation gain takes place over a relatively short distance, and be sure to identify the trees or rocks with white-red-white striping that will show you the way. Some of the latter sections can be precarious, so make sure you keep your grip and be courteous to those who may be downstream of falling rocks unintentionally loosed by your foothold. The rope climb at the end is exciting! If you want more, head south along the uncommonly-traveled trail for iconic views.

What to eat and drink in Bora Bora, French Polynesia


The island of Bora Bora is heavily influenced by the French culture hence the rich local and French cuisines. They also have a wide selection of international restaurants.

Matira and surrounds

  • Bounty Snack. Very reasonably priced but excellent Tahitian restaurant.

Pofai Bay

Bloody Mary's, on the western shore of the main island, at the southern tip of Pofai Bay, roughly halfway between Nunue and Maitra Beach. One of the most famous restaurants in Bora Bora, it is known for its American flavor. Some visitors might be a little surprised by the service (speed over quality...). Outside they have a pair of big boards with the names of all of the famous people who have eaten there, e.g., Pamela Anderson, Pierce Brosnan, Carlos Delgado, Marlon Brando, and Janet Jackson.
Service general begins with the arrival of a "shuttle service" from your hotel's drop off point. Patrons then decide their meal while looking directly at the current "meat" selections. After selecting your meal, you are seated at a table lodged in the sand w/ a stool. Service will come asking for your drink choice at this point. Food will be served later. As everyone arrives/leaves at the same time, plan on being there for at least 1.5 hours.

Unknown locations

  • Kaina Hut. An authentic Polynesian restaurant with all tables set on a patio covered by a thatched-roof.
  • La Villa Mahana. A small French restaurant with only 5 tables. Serves the best French food on the island, by an amazing chef. Make reservations.
  • Sunset Boulevard. A new concept of the restaurant where you can eat on boats, actually there is a little catamaran called the "Lady Borabora" which is for VIP, and there is a bigger one who can take up to 12 passengers. The service is pretty good; they put some upbeat music that makes you enjoy more your holidays. They are specialized in sushis; maybe this is the best Sushi bar/restaurant in Bora.
  • Matira Pizza. 11:00-14:00; 16:00-19:30. A small pizza shack that provides a multitude of different pizzas at reasonable prices. They are located on the main road between the Sofitel Marara and Matira Beach. Place the order for pizza, then walk south to Tiara Market for beverages.


If you're looking for nightlife and drinking, one of the most popular drinking venues on Bora Bora is Bloody Mary's. Bloody Mary's is essentially an American-barbecue fish and steak restaurant. Besides drinking Bloody Mary's, the chef will chargrill steak and fish to order.
The island's sole nightclub is Le Récife Discothèque, about 1 km (1/2 mile) north of Vaitape (tel. 67.73.87), which opens only on Fridays and Saturdays at 23:00 and closes at 03:00.

Shopping in Bora Bora, French Polynesia

The rich culture has influenced the shopping market greatly. Travelers have their choices of art galleries, studios, shops that are set up in traditional and modern settings. They also have an abundance of jewelry and black pearls.
Taking into account the costs of everything in Bora Bora, which sometimes defy imagination, it is a perfectly sound choice to forget the common sense of the traveler and buy as much as possible (including groceries) before getting there. Keep that option in mind if you want to self-cater.
In case you do need something while on the island, you can find a medium-sized general groceries store in Vaitape (called Chin Lee) with a reasonable choice of food and drinks. A smaller grocery store near Matira beach can be helpful if you stay in the area and you do not want to get back to Vaitape, but the choice is much more limited.
The "specialty" of Bora Bora is Black Pearls. Commonly known around the world as Tahitian Black Pearls, the pearls of Bora Bora are indigenous to the remote lagoons of French Polynesia in the South Pacific. Today, the Tahitian Black Pearl has become an exotic gem sought after by celebrities and pearl aficionados alike. The most popular place to buy and make your Black Pearl Jewellery is The Farm at the Bora Bora Pearl Company.

Safety in Bora Bora, French Polynesia

The crime rate is low. However, pickpocketing occurs.
Use your common sense like in any other place in the world.
Take precautions against mosquito bites.
Use sunscreen.
Drink only bottled water. 
Vaccines are not required.

Language spoken in Bora Bora, French Polynesia

The main languages that are spoken by people in Bora Bora Island are French and Tahitian although most inhabitants that inter-act with visitors have a good comprehension of the English language. Most tourists that visit the island are Americans, Japanese and Europeans.
Some keywords for in the local language in Bora Bora include:

  • Hello - Ia Ora na (yo-rah-nah)
  • Goodbye - Nana (nah-nah)
  • Yes - E (ay)
  • No - Aita (eye-tah)
  • Man - Tane (tah-nay)
  • Woman - Vahine (vah-he-nay)
  • Child - Tamarii (tah-ma-ree-ee)
  • Friend - Hoa (ho-ah)
  • Polynesian - Ma' ohi (mah-o-hee)
  • Big - Nui (new-ee)
  • Small - Iti (ee-tee)
  • Morning - Poipoi (poy-poy)


6:11 am
May 23, 2022


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27.2 °C/81 °F
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27.43 °C/81 °F
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