Bora Bora, a French Polynesian paradise

Bora Bora. Classic French Polynesian paradise.

Bora Bora is the crown jewel of French Polynesia. It is a classic atoll – a mountain in the center, surrounded by coral reefs with numerous islets (motu). Nature has provided an ideal place for recreation, coral reefs protect the central island from the tumult of the Pacific Ocean.

Bora Bora Island.

The island of Bora Bora – one of the paradises of our planet

Where is it

Bora Bora is located 270 kilometers northwest of Tahiti in the South Pacific.

Geographic coordinates (-16.497491, -151.735024)

What is Bora Bora

It is undoubtedly the most famous island in the South Pacific, and the main island of French Polynesia. Bora Bora is one of the few places on earth that everyone dreams of seeing at least once in their lifetime. It is not a romantic fantasy, it is a romantic reality. No wonder it is a world famous honeymoon destination for newlyweds.

Weddings on Bora Bora.

It is the dream of many couples.

It is the epitome of a tropical paradise. Not without reason, the writer James Michener (author of Tales of the South Pacific) called it “the most beautiful island in the world.” And the 18th-century British navigator James Cook called it the “Pearl of the Pacific.”

The central island of Bora Bora stretches 9 km. long and 5 km. wide. Its area is about 38 km2 . There are 3 main peaks: Otemanu (727 m), Pahia (661 m) and Mataihua (314 m).

There are a large number of luxury hotels, diving centers, golf courses and tennis courts. More than in the rest of French Polynesia.

Houses above the Bora Bora lagoon.

Hotels with bungalows on stilts above the water of the lagoon are especially noteworthy.

Culture and Customs

The main languages in Bora Bora are French and Tahitian. But many people speak English, especially the hotel staff. Polynesians tend to behave in a relaxed way. This is their philosophy of life, which is called “Aita pea pea,” which means “don’t worry.” If the locals don’t rush anywhere, try to go with the flow and enjoy life unhurriedly.

Locals on Bora Bora.

This lifestyle is called “Aita pea pea.

The Protestant missionaries who arrived in the 19th century had a strong influence on the local religion. Now Christianity plays an important role in the local culture. You can visit Eglise Protestante Maohi (Protestant Church of Maohi) in Waitapa. The history of the church goes back to the 18th century.

Since 1946, French Polynesia became an overseas territory of France. But it has a lot of autonomy, which is manifested in many ways on the islands. For example, it has its own currency and taxation. The official currency is the French Pacific franc (CFP). One U.S. dollar is equal to about 103 CFP.

Climate of Bora Bora

The island has a tropical climate. The average air temperature is +27 o C and the water temperature in the lagoon is + 26 o C. Almost all year round there is excellent sunny weather. But there is no exhausting heat, because a fresh breeze blows from the ocean.

Island climate.

Bora Bora – the land of eternal summer. But here too, there is some division into seasons. Distinguish the dry and wet season. The dry season lasts from March to November. Precipitation during this period is very low. The wet season (December to February) has more rain. During this period, bright exotic plants (although they bloom all year round) are at the peak of blooming.

The best way to get acquainted with this amazing place is to book an introductory tour. You won’t get bored on it. It is better if it is a two-hour mini-tour around the area, which you can buy directly on the spot. By the way it comes out cheaper than booking it in advance.

The tour includes a jeep ride and a visit to the “Coral Garden”. You will also be shown feeding stingrays and sharks, talk about the local flora and fauna, learn how to properly wear a pareo and break coconuts.

Famous houses above the island's lagoon

Famous houses over the lagoon.

Want to see more, feel free to rent a boat. She will get you to any of the motu. And if you rent a boat, you can visit the nearby islands. For comfortable travel on land is better to use electric cars and bicycles.

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Very well developed diving services in Bora Bora. Especially interesting will be to visit the Lagoonarium.

And you want to see how the billionaires rest? Then you are on the island Laucala, which is part of the Fijian archipelago.

What to do in Bora Bora

As a rule, the main activity here is a relaxing beach vacation.

White beaches

That’s what most tourists come here for.

Relax in your bungalow soaring over the pristine lagoon or take a leisurely bike ride through the countryside.

When you have some energy, head out to explore the underwater life in the lagoon and Coral Gardens. For a taste of the local culture, take a walk on Waitapa. And be sure to visit Mount Otemanu.

And we’ll tell you a little more about Bora Bora’s main attractions.

Matira Beach

Matira Beach is the largest beach on the island.

Matira Beach

Matira Beach

The water here is crystal clear and the sand is soft and gentle. The beach has all the necessary infrastructure. However, you will not be able to swim with a snorkel, as it is quite shallow. But in the evenings you will definitely enjoy the beautiful sunsets.

Excursions by jeep

If you want a break from the beach, then go explore the island on four-wheel drive jeeps. There are several tour companies here that offer such tours.

You will not only discover the secluded corners of the island, but also learn about its historical and cultural heritage and get acquainted with local legends.

Excursions include everything from cultural expeditions and romantic sunset tours to wild jungle safaris. In addition, most of the guides are locals. And they are always willing to share the secrets of the island.

Coral Gardens

On a small piece of land to the east, you’ll find a magnificent coral reef.

Bora Bora Coral Gardens

The depths here are usually shallow and the water is crystal clear.

Tourists usually have a guide who knows how to behave in these areas. Scuba diving among the corals is very exciting. You can see stingrays, moray eels, and even black tip reef sharks.

Experienced travelers recommend visiting the coral gardens as a group. Sharks and stingrays are not prone to aggression, but can sometimes be overly curious about single divers.

Boat Tours

This great trip will introduce you to the small islets surrounding the lagoon. As you may remember, they are called motu.

Interesting fact – on one of these motu, called Mut, is the local airport with a fairly decent airstrip

Feeding sharks and rays

Thanks to the crystal clear waters surrounding Bora Bora, it’s easy to see marine life. Take a snorkeling excursion and not only see the sharks and stingrays, you can even feed them.

Bora Bora Island Sharks

You will have the opportunity to interact very closely with the local black tip reef sharks and rays in their natural habitat.

You may think this is scary, but many tourists say it is not. In fact, the sharks are small, the stingrays are safe, and the depths are shallow.

We highly recommend you read about Stingray City in the Cayman Islands. The stingrays there are quite large and dangerous, but they behave like cute pets with people

Lagunarium

The Bora Bora Lagunarium is a natural aquarium on a small mout east of the main island.

Bora Bora Lagoon

In fact, it’s just a part of the lagoon enclosed by a net. Stingrays, turtles, barracudas, various exotic fish, and even small sharks make it their home. You can even swim with them.

Mount Otemanu

Mount Otemanu is one of the two peaks of an extinct volcano located in the center of the island. The mountain is 727 meters high.

Otemanu, the highest mountain on the island

It is the highest point on the island.

A trip to Bora Bora would not be complete without a visit to this breathtaking mountain. We won’t even tell you what the views are from the top.

If you like hiking tours, you can also conquer the second peak of Pahia.

Waitape is the capital city of Bora Bora.

This is the main town in Bora Bora. And it’s definitely worth a few hours of your time. Along the main street you will find many eateries, souvenir stores and even churches. By the way, this main street is incredibly transformed on Sunday mornings. That’s when booths pop up selling everything from clams to doughnuts.

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Waitape, capital of Bora Bora Island

Let’s face it, Waitape is just a big village. But that doesn’t take away from its tropical charm.

If you’re looking for an unusual souvenir, visit the Maison Sibani store. Here you can buy beautiful black pearl jewelry.

And don’t forget to try the local dishes in one of the restaurants in the city. Many travelers praise the St. James restaurant for its large menu and equally large portions.

Bora Bora

Bora Bora is a volcanic island of the Society Islands archipelago in French Polynesia.

General Information

Spend all your savings in a few days on an incredibly luxurious island? It’s quite possible here. However, a well thought out plan in advance will allow you to enjoy the truly majestic nature and cut your budget a little bit. But always remember that Bora Bora is incredibly expensive. Everything here (restaurants and entertainment) is divided into “expensive” and “very expensive.”

Bora Bora is one of the Leeward Islands of the Society Islands archipelago in French Polynesia (an overseas community, constituent country of France, in the Pacific Ocean). The island, which is 230 km (140 miles) northwest of Papeete, is surrounded by a lagoon and barrier reef. At the center of the island is an active volcano, rising at two points, Pahia and Otemanu; the highest point is 727 m (2,385 ft). In Tahitian, the island’s name is properly pronounced “Pora Pora,” which means “first born.” Early records from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries indicate that the name of the island is Bolabolla or Bollabolla.

The most populous region of Waitape is at the western end of the island, opposite the main channel of the lagoon. Food on the island is limited to what is harvested from the ocean and coconut trees. As of August 2007, the population of the island was 8,800.

The Polynesian island in the South Pacific is considered one of the most beautiful places on the planet. The best time to visit the island is in May. The most convenient way to arrive is by plane to Tahiti and then to Bora Bora in less than an hour.

The main languages spoken on the island are French and Tahitian, although many residents also have a good command of English because of their frequent interaction with visitors. Most tourists are Americans, Japanese, and Europeans.

Here are some key words in the local language:

  1. Hello – Ia Ora na (yo-rah-nah).
  2. Goodbye (bye) – Nana (nah-nah).
  3. Yes (yes) – E (ay).
  4. No (no) – Aita (eye-tah).
  5. Man – Tane (tah-nay).
  6. Woman – Vahine (vah-he-nay).
  7. Child – Tamarii (tah-ma-ree-ee).
  8. Friend – Hoa (ho-ah).
  9. Polynesian (Polynesian) – Ma’ ohi (mah-o-hee).
  10. Big (big) – Nui (new-ee).
  11. Small – Iti (ee-tee).
  12. Morning – Poipoi (poy-poy).
  13. Beer – Pia (pee-ah).

If you decide to come to Bora Bora Island, don’t panic about lodging and gear – there are plenty of free activities such as swimming in the lagoons, swimming with dolphins, feeding sharks and rays and just enjoying a beautiful sunset. Scuba diving and snorkeling can be included in most places. In addition to water activities, there are others like parasailing, deep-sea fishing, which, by the way, is number one in the world, as there are more than 500 species of marine life on Bora Bora Island. Family hiking and mountain climbing are also popular here. In addition, there are individual lagoon cruises, bus tours, and other activities. Sightseeing is also offered on the island (by helicopter if you wish!).

Locals

About 9 million people live on Bora Bora. People here are very reverent about the culture, myths, and traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation and left behind by the Tahitian gods. Traditional songs and dances are popular here. The locals are eager to share their culture with newcomers. The pace of life here is quite relaxed. People live by the philosophy of “aita pea pea,” which means “don’t worry.” The main language of the island is French, as well as Tahitian. English is also spoken in many hotels, beaches, stores and other tourist spots.

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How to get there

By air

Tahitian Airlines has several departures (from Tahiti). Flights are usually full, so it would be wise to book a ticket. You can do this, for example, in this section of Travelasque.

The airport is on an island north of the main island. Transportation to the main island or to your accommodations, which are on other islands, is by boat. To get to lodging on the main island, you will need to take a ferry to Waitape, where small buses carry commuters constantly. Tahitian Airlines provides a free shuttle service from the airport to the main village, Waitape.

Waitape is the arrival point of the ferry from the airport and the only “town” in size. Matira, the southern part of the main island, has the largest beach, as well as several hotels and restaurants. The central part of the island is mountainous; it is uninhabited and hard to get to (plus it is devoid of any roads).

How you get around Bora Bora depends mostly on where you live. Several of the beaches are on islets off the main island – hence the need for a boat to go anywhere. Usually visitors are provided with a shuttle from the islets to the main island or between the beaches and the airport. Living on the main island, you can also hope for a ferry transfer.

There is only one sealed road on the main island. Public transportation here is limited and consists of only one bus, which goes around half the island and comes back every hour. In addition, there are cabs.

Entertainment and restaurant companies sometimes (but not always) provide shuttle service to/from home – be sure to ask when booking.

When is the season. When is the best time to go.

The climate in Bora Bora and the surrounding islands is tropical. Like in many other parts of the world, the year here is divided into two seasons: wet and dry.

The wet season (Polynesian summer) lasts from November to April with ¾ of a year’s rainfall. Humidity levels can be high throughout the season.

Storms are also frequent and unpredictable during these months. The water level is 1,800 mm, or 71 inches! Temperatures typical of the wet season are 86 degrees Fahrenheit, or 30 degrees Celsius.

The dry season covers the months of May through October. This is the period when the flow of tourists peaks. During these months, temperatures are lower and rain pours less frequently. The best times (with less chance of getting caught in a storm) are the winter months. What’s great about the climate in Bora Bora is that temperatures average around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, or 30 degrees Celsius. During the tourist season (May – October), prices skyrocket and the island gets a lot more people. Hotels are better to book in advance, for example, on Booking. To find out if there are any cheaper prices, click here. An alternative accommodation option – private apartments or villas. Similar proposals can be viewed here.

Bora Bora – weather by months

Main sights. What to see

The island of Bora Bora is a volcanic caldera. Geographical changes have created lagoons that are well protected from outside waters. The lagoon lives its underwater tropical life with sharks, rays and other aquatic life, providing an incredible opportunity for those who prefer aquatic activities, from swimming to snorkeling and scuba diving, and much more if you really want to experience this unique underwater world.

In addition to the beauty of the lagoon’s surface, the island has a prominent mountain of unusual shape, Mount Otemanu, which is 728 meters above sea level, and its smaller neighbor, Mount Pahia, is worthy of no less admiration. The combination of a beautiful lagoon and impressive mountain tops will allow you to take a huge number of photos, and your friends will surely envy you.

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Few tourists come to Bora Bora to see the historical relics. However, if you’ve seen enough of the lagoon, you might want to check out the few remnants from World War II and Polynesian archaeological relics that are within an hour’s drive of the island.

“Bora Bora’s Lagunarium. A certified diver acts as a guide, diving with you; with his help, you can come face-to-face with the turtles, sharks, sting rays and other fish that reside in the “lagunarium.” As the name suggests, this aquarium is a closed zoo-like sanctuary, which rules out any outside interference. For those who don’t consider diving “their own,” there are small submarines. Many tourists call this entertainment a favorite.

What to do

Compared to the other islands of French Polynesia, Bora Bora has much more entertainment. To avoid lying in the sun on the white sands of the island, you can take a book with you, which will never be superfluous. As strange as it may sound, it sometimes rains on Bora Bora (and sometimes it rains hard). Most of the time is spent outside: there are no movie theaters, libraries, or museums, so while you can find books at the major beaches, it’s best to bring a good book with you.

Water fun

The temperature of the tropical sea reaches 30 degrees Celsius at times, making it ideal for a variety of water activities. Swimming in the lagoon in the crystal clear and warm water has a distinct advantage: it is free and an incredible pleasure. The beaches of Bora Bora cannot be called large or crowded. The most famous beach, Matira, is at the southern end of the main island.

You don’t have to pay a lot of money to enjoy your holiday in Bora Bora. Swimming, like snorkeling, is available at many beaches. At Matira Beach, you’ll be surrounded by colorful tropical fish even in shallow water. Just don’t forget to get out of the water every now and then and apply sunscreen, as the sun is very strong here and you will get a decent sunburn if you stay in the water longer than normal.

Here are some companies that provide tours to the lagoon by boat:

  • Moana Adventure Tours: “As Bora Bora Island’s most experienced tour operator (since 1969), we offer entertainment in the island’s emerald lagoon. Private or group excursions, diving, boating, jet skiing, fish feeding, we arrange everything to make sure you get the most out of your experience. We have special offers for an unforgettable honeymoon.”
  • Bora Bora Romantic Tour. Do you want to spend your vacation in a romantic setting in the depths of the Pacific Ocean?
  • Shark & Ray Snorkel Safari. You can usually feed the sharks and rays in the shallow waters of the lagoon. While boating, you can’t help but notice 10 to 20 sharks and 10 to 15 stingrays swimming near your boat and carefully “sneaking away” from divers who dare to swim here.
  • Shark Boy. Reservations are via Bora Bora pearl beach.
  • Jourdain Tetuanui. Tel: 689 677 934. The agency offers many different services, from water cabs, to tours, to feeding the fish.
  • Windward Islands Yacht Charter. One of the world’s largest yacht rental companies. Provides everything from regular boats to luxury yachts in French Polynesia. The company has offices all over the world (UK, USA, Hong Kong, Dubai, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Switzerland).
  • TopDive Scuba, Waitape.
  • Diving at Nemo’s World, Matira.
  • Aquasafari. If you don’t have a license to dive but still want to enjoy the underwater world, this is for you. You don’t have to know how to swim to put on a snorkel. Children as young as 8 years old are accepted.
  • Jet ski tours around the interior of the island. This is worth a try as you can enjoy the scenery of the island from different angles (although the jet skis make a lot of noise).
  • Kiteboarding (kiteboarding on a kite board) is rapidly gaining popularity in the south of Matira.
  • Scuba diving is a great experience.
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“Land-based activities

The island covers about 20 square miles, and you can rent bicycles or small cars at various sites around town. You won’t regret the money you spend on renting transportation, as it’s a very convenient way to get around town.

There are also tours by jeep. You will feel the adrenaline, driving on the extreme roads of the island, as well as see the breathtaking scenery. On top of that you get a tour of World War II ruins, such as bunkers and firing positions.

  1. Vavau 4×4 adventures. Tel +689 87 720-12,
  2. Tupuna 4×4. Tel +689 677-507,
  3. Maohi nui 4×4. Tel +689 791-91.

You can get to the top of Mount Pahia on your own, on foot, but neither the City Hall staff nor the gendarmerie will tell you how to do it if you’re going to go without a guide. Even the best-trained climbers have suffered many wounds.

To find the start of the trail, walk 100 meters north of the junction and up to Waitape Harbor. Here you will see a whole gallery of stores. Look around and find the dirt road between the antique store and the diner north of the end of the “gallery”. Head down this road for another 150 meters until you see a small green clearing on the left, which is in front of the last house.

It is best to ask the owner for directions, as you may accidentally trespass on private property. Continue along the tracks until you reach a fork, with two lines facing north and south and the main line facing east.

Make sure you are reasonably well equipped, as the mountain rises 600 meters in a relatively small section. You should also be able to navigate by trees or rocks, whose white-red-white stripes will point you in the right direction. Some of the latter sections may not be safe, so hold on to your belongings tighter and remember that any wrong action can bring rocks down on the people following you.

Climbing with a rope at the end is the fun part! If you want more adventure, head south along the rutted (to your surprise) road for some incredible scenery.

Souvenirs. What to bring as a gift.

Given the prices in Bora Bora, which are sometimes even unimaginable, it’s wise to buy as much as you can (including groceries) before you arrive on the island. Keep this in mind if you’re counting on self-catering.

If you need something while you’re on the island, you can go to the supermarket in Waitap (called Chin Lee), which has fairly reasonable prices. If you’re near Mathira Beach and don’t want to go back to Waitapa, there’s a small store there near the beach, but with a much smaller selection.

Black pearls are of particular importance to Bora Bora. Best known in the world as Tahitian black pearls, Bora Bora pearls are mined in the remote lagoons of French Polynesia in the South Pacific.

Today, Tahitian black pearls have become an exotic piece of jewelry that stars and pearl lovers go for. The best place to buy or create your own black pearl jewelry is The Farm at Bora Bora black pearl company.

The way back

By Plane

The airport is located in Motu Mute. Tahitian Airlines offers a free shuttle to the airport. If you want to use the shuttle, you will need to board the boat 75 minutes before departure. Please check the departure time of the shuttle (boat) at the Tahitian Airlines office. It will take 15 minutes to get to the airport. Check-in begins 60 minutes prior to departure.

On the boat.

Maupiti, which is 40 km from Bora Bora, is smaller and less touristy, but just as mesmerizing a volcanic island. It can be reached by the Maupiti Express, an express ferry that runs three times a week from Waitape. This island is not the best place to “hang out”.

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