21 Best Things to do in Bora Bora


Bora Bora is known as one of the most stunning places to visit worldwide. Its brilliant blue water and sparkling white sand make it one of the most picturesque islands in the world!

Located in the South Pacific, Bora Bora is part of the Leeward Islands, which is made up of islands on the western side of the Society Islands of French Polynesia. Secluded spots, an ancient volcano, and fascinating marine creatures will greet you at this island filled with so much beauty.

Bora bora’s lagoon can be described as a natural aquarium. It’s filled with interesting marine life, including native blacktip reef sharks, sea turtles, eagle rays, and seemingly endless tropical fish.

Overwater Bungalows in Bora Bora

The waters of Bora Bora are indeed a snorkeler’s paradise. Motu (which are small islands) surround the main island of Bora Bora and are where you can find the most luxurious resorts.

To get to Bora Bora, you will first have to fly to Tahiti, the capital island of French Polynesia. From there, you can take a flight or ferry to Bora Bora. I prefer the flight as it’s much shorter than the ferry, so you can make the most of your time on the island.

Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a fun tropical escape for the whole family, you are guaranteed to find endless fun things to do in Bora Bora. Read on the find out our favorite things to do in this beautiful destination!

TLDR

Best Things to do in Bora Bora

1. Go Scuba Diving in Bora Bora’s Lagoon

Bora Bora Lagoon Scenery

Bora Bora is a snorkeling and scuba diving paradise. The azure lagoon is a lot more shallow than the surrounding open ocean, ranging from 1.5 feet deep to 9 feet deep. The depth combined with crystal clear waters makes it a perfect place to learn to dive.

This Bora Bora Introductory Diving Lesson is one of the best things to do in Bora Bora to take advantage of the island’s natural wonder. Once underwater, you’ll be able to experience the beauty of French Polynesia’s diverse marine life.

It’s a great fit if you’re a beginner or have absolutely zero diving experience, but everyone is welcome. It would definitely be a memorable experience to have your first dive in lovely Bora Bora!

All equipment will be provided, and hotel transfer is included. Make sure your flight isn’t within 12 hours of your dive due to the difference in atmospheric pressure.

2. Spend the Day at Matira Beach

Matira Beach Scenery

Located on the southern tip of Bora Bora, Matira Beach is the largest public beach on the island and certainly one of the most beautiful. The warm, shallow waters are so inviting and make it a great place to spend the day on the main island and away from your resort.

Don’t forget to pack your snorkel and your GoPro; you’ll definitely want them to explore the stunning waters of this wonderful sandy beach. At Matira Beach, you’ll often be able to see sea creatures like fish, octopuses, and sea turtles.

If you get hungry, stop by Snack Otoamana, located right on Matira Beach, for some quick bites, including burgers and fries. If you’re looking to try a traditional Tahitian delicacy, order the poisson cru au lait de coco.

It’s similar to Hawaiian poke and ceviche in that it’s cubed, raw fish, but it’s marinated in coconut milk and usually lime and also includes tomato and onions. It’s seriously delicious! Complete your meal with a Hinano, a refreshing local beer.

The best and most reliable way to get to Matira Beach is a 10-minute taxi ride from Vaitape town. The taxi will be around $15 to $20. There is a local bus that travels the circle island road, but it only runs every hour, so you’ll have to plan accordingly if you choose this option.

See Related: Best Scuba Travel Insurance Options for Divers

3. Enjoy a Jet Ski Ride

One of the best Bora Bora attractions to enjoy the famous blue lagoon is jet skiing. Jet ski tours are great for exploring the island and lagoon.

Enjoy amazing views of the lush Mount Otemanu and the motu dotted around the island that house the most luxurious overwater bungalows. In the water, you’ll most likely see a few blacktip reef sharks and sting rays. Don’t worry; they’re more scared of you than you are of them.

I recommend this highly-rated Bora Bora Jet Ski Tour operated by Moana Adventure Tours, a family-owned attraction company. The tour will last approximately two hours and includes a coconut husking demonstration! Moana Adventure Tours will pick you up directly from your hotel, so there is no need to arrange your own transfer.

See Related: Places Similar to the Maldives to Visit

4. Stay in an Overwater Bungalow

Bora Bora Bungalows

Odds are, if you’re planning a trip to Bora Bora, you’re most likely splurging on the once-in-a-lifetime experience of staying in a gorgeous overwater bungalow. My husband and I did this a few years ago, and it’s still one of my favorite travel experiences of all time.

When you’re spending a decent amount of money on accommodation, I definitely think you should take some time to enjoy it. If you’re staying in an overwater bungalow or beachside villa with a private pool in Bora Bora, I highly recommend spending an entire day really taking in the bungalow and the resort.

I highly recommend the St. Regis Bora Bora Resort, which is located on its own private small island. The overwater bungalows are stunning, and you can enjoy seeing the lagoon outside on your private balcony and even inside the bungalow from the see-through floors. Many overwater bungalows also include a private pool or hot tub and an outdoor shower.

I recommend starting off your day at the delicious Te Pahu restaurant for breakfast. Then, spend your morning and early afternoon in a cabana on the white sandy beach. After lunch at Aparima, enjoy the rest of the day at your bungalow, relaxing and jumping into the warm lagoon water.

See Related: Is Bora Bora Safe? What You Need to Know When Visiting

5. Whale Watching Tour off Bora Bora’s Waters

Humpback Whale

Whale Watching tours are a popular activity to do when visiting the Pacific, especially in places like French Polynesia and Hawaii. Humpback whales migrate to warmer waters to give birth and raise their young, and it is truly an incredible experience to observe these beautiful animals in their natural habitat.

Whale watching season in Bora Bora happens from July to November, but the best time to see these magnificent creatures varies from year to year. As the lagoon is much too shallow for these whales, you’ll have to venture beyond the reef and into deeper water.

For this reason, I recommend this Private Whale Watching and Swimming Tour. You’ll be picked up directly from your hotel and taken on a tour out to the open sea of French Polynesia.

You’re able to choose a morning or afternoon departure time; I would select morning as that’s usually when the sea is the calmest. You may even get to jump in the water if the captain decides that it’s safe to do so!

See Related: Best Whale Watching Places in the World

6. Climb to the Summit of Mount Pahia

Mount Pahia and Skyline
Image by Peter Gill / UK is licensed under CC BY 3.0

If you’re an avid outdoors person looking for adventure in Bora Bora beyond the lagoon, this is the activity for you! The trek up Mount Pahia is challenging, but the views are incredibly worth it.

Mount Pahia is the smaller of Bora Bora’s two tall summits. The trail starts in Vaitape in front of the fire station and takes about three to four hours to complete. The trail is steep and rocky, with some very narrow parts. There are also a few spots where you’ll have to pull yourself up using ropes.

This hike should only be done if you’re an experienced hiker. I would avoid this hike if it is raining because the dirt path will quickly turn to mud after a short downpour.

7. Explore Bora Bora via ATV

ATV tours are the most fun and exciting way to see a new place. When figuring out how to get around a small island, I always like to choose an ATV if possible because you can access roads that are usually off-limits for standard vehicles. Plus, they’re just really, really fun.

This Island Tour and Mountain Getaways by Quad Bike takes you around the dream island of Bora Bora on a tour that lasts approximately three hours. You’ll stop and four of the most breathtaking viewpoints, all of which are only accessible by ATV.

This guided tour also includes a stop in a small village for a pareo (sarong) making demonstration. The pareo is a very common clothing item worn in Polynesian culture.

After the pareo-making demonstration, enjoy some exotic fruits and fresh coconut water straight from French Polynesia. The guided tour will end at the Faanui Canon Lookout, considered to be the most beautiful viewpoints on the entire island.

See Related: Best Islands to Visit Around the World

8. Visit the Bora Bora Turtle Center

The Bora Bora Turtle Center is a turtle sanctuary located at the Le Meridien Bora Bora. The mission of the turtle sanctuary is to protect the species and to teach visitors and locals about conservation. Though located on the hotel’s private island, the turtle center is open to the public.

Conservation is extremely important to many Polynesian cultures, as it is believed that we as humans are deeply connected to the land we’re raised on and that plants and animals play an important role in our lives. Protecting native species of plants and animals is of utmost importance in Polynesia.

The story behind the Bora Bora Turtle Center began in 2000 when hotel guests found an injured turtle and brought him to the hotel to find help for it. Ever since that day, the hotel has put its own resources into protecting the native species and educating visitors about these beautiful animals.

The center has expanded to a coral conservation center and now includes a touch pool where you can discover other marine creatures.

9. Snorkel with Reef Sharks and Tropical Fish

Have you ever been on an aqua safari? Well, the Bora Bora lagoon is a wonderful place to explore under the sea!

Bora Bora’s most iconic landmark is its gorgeous lagoon, so of course, lagoon tours are the most popular activity on the island. I highly recommend taking a boat tour of the lagoon like this Shark and Snorkeling Safari. This tour lasts three hours, which is a great amount of time to see a lot of marine life.

The advantage to taking a tour over renting your own boat is that you don’t have to worry about driving and anchoring. The local guides are also extremely knowledgeable, so they’ll know the best spots to take you to spot some of these beautiful wild animals.

The boat tour will take you around the lagoon as you search for blacktip reef sharks and sting rays. It’s amazing to see these creatures in their natural habitat, just living their lives.

Enjoy swimming in Bora Bora amongst the tropical marine life. The water is so warm that you don’t even have to just dip your toes first; you can just jump right in!

See Related: Best Tropical Vacation Spots in the World

10. Grab a Meal at Bloody Mary’s

Bloody Mary’s is a mainstay in Bora Bora and is known for hosting some of Hollywood’s top movie stars. The restaurant is decorated as a kitschy tiki bar, but that’s part of the fun of it! It’s even complete with its very own yacht club.

It has the widest selection of food in Bora Bora, including things like buffalo wings, quesadillas, sashimi, and traditional Tahitian poisson cru.

The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner. The time you should visit the restaurant will depend on what you’re looking to get out of your experience.

If you’re just looking for a quick bite while trying some local products, I recommend going to Bloody Mary’s for lunch. If you’re looking for an elevated dining experience featuring fresh caught local fish.

11. Find Your Zen with Yoga on the Lagoon

Yoga

Being in a tranquil, tropical location often inspires us to participate in experiences that can further allow us to relax and unwind. I love when hotels offer complimentary morning yoga or pilates sessions to start my day off on the right foot.

This unique Bora Bora Yoga and Lagoon Experience is really something out of a dream for me. It’s a three-hour experience that begins with a 1-hour yoga session on a small island with magnificent views of the lagoon and Bora Bora island.

After the relaxing yoga session, the host will take you on a 2-hour guided tour of the lagoon, where you can snorkel and swim among the beautiful coral and tropical fish. At the end of the snorkeling excursion, you will be brought back to your hotel or Vaitape town.

This is truly a memorable experience that I recommend if you’re looking for something fun and relaxing.

See Related: Health Benefits of Yoga for Travelers

12. Stroll Through Bora Bora’s Main Town of Vaitape

Vaitape is often overlooked as it’s not as fancy as the private island resorts you’ll find around Bora Bora, but I still think it’s worth a visit.

It’s the largest city on the island and home to 4,927 residents, just about half of the total residents of the island.

There is one main road on the entire island, and it goes right through the middle of Vaitape. Along this road, you’ll find many souvenir shops, art galleries, restaurants, and snack bars.

I recommend stopping at Iaorana Gelato Homemade Italian Ice Cream. Not only do they have delicious gelato in classic and tropical flavors, but they also have great pizza. You can’t go wrong with the mango panna cotta gelato and the goat cheese with honey pizza.

13. Rent a No-License Boat to Explore the Lagoon

Boat Ride in Bora Bora

While boat tours are an amazing way to see and learn about the lagoon, you’re usually on their schedule, not the other way around. Renting a boat is a great way to explore the lagoon on your own time.

I do think it’s better to rent a boat after you’ve already been on a guided tour, so you know where exactly you want to go back to. However, with proper research and preparation, you can also find the best spots to visit on your own.

Having the freedom to explore the lagoon and stop at spots for as long as you want is a great advantage to renting your own boat. You can also find some secluded spots that are off the beaten path as well.

This Quintrex 13′ Boat Rental is a comfortable-sized boat that does not require a boat license to drive. It’s complete with a pop-up shade and ice compartment, which are essential for spending a day under the hot sun. The rental company also provides a detailed map and an itinerary to follow.

See Related: Bora Bora vs The Maldives: What’s the Difference?

14. Visit the Colorful Coral Gardens

Colorful Coral Gardens

There are several coral gardens that encircle Bora Bora. The iconic lagoon is naturally made by the surrounding barrier reefs, and the reef itself is something to see.

The coral gardens are teeming with beautiful tropical fish, with over 700 species that you can see up close and personal!

The coral gardens are a popular snorkel spot that you can experience either on a snorkel excursion or by renting your own boat. Just make sure to anchor a few yards away so that the boat is not close enough to harm the coral.

15. Enjoy a Wine Tasting with a Master Sommelier

Wine Toast

You do recall that Bora Bora is within French Polynesia, right?

And we all know that the French know their wines very well. So while vacationing in a French territory known for its luxurious atmosphere, it is definitely appropriate to do some wine tasting.

Whether you know your wines or simply know that there’s red and white, a sommelier’s job is to help you enjoy them as much as possible.

This Introduction to Wine tasting experience will put you at a table with one who’s worked at Michelin-starred restaurants and knows the wines and liquors of the Polynesian islands very well.

The tasting takes place at one of the best restaurants on the island, Saint James, located on the main island on the beach. Your sommelier will teach you how food is carefully paired with the proper wine and show you what a difference it can make.

You’ll have a chance to taste wine made right there in the South Pacific and have the option to stay for dinner at the restaurant (where you can try out your newly-acquired wine pairing skills!). As this is an intimate experience with a limited number of seats available, it is best booked in advance.

See Related: Best Honeymoon Destinations in the World

16. Stop by the Tahiti Pearl Market

There’s no better way to commemorate an amazing trip than bringing back a meaningful memento that truly represents the place you’ve visited. I personally like to bring back something that will last for many years, such as a decorative piece, jewelry, or clothing item.

French Polynesia is known for its beautiful pearls, particularly pink and black pearls. These stunning pearls make a great gift for a loved one or a unique keepsake for yourself.

The best place in Bora Bora to go pearl shopping is the Tahiti Pearl Market. They have a large selection of pearl jewelry and loose pearls, as well as other jewelry items. You can even choose your own oyster and setting to place the oyster’s pearl in.

There is a wide range in size, quantity, quality, and price, starting from just under $100. It’s a bit pricier than a magnet, but a lovely way to remember your trip.

17. See the Leeward Islands from a Helicopter Tour

In my opinion, one of the best ways to see an island is by flying in a helicopter above it. This is one of the best things to do in Bora Bora purely because the indescribably amazing views that you’ll see aren’t possible to capture with a camera.

As mentioned, Bora Bora is a very small island. So if you’re a nervous flier like me, know that most helicopter tours are relatively fast here – about 15 minutes total.

But truthfully, you won’t want to land when you see the 50 shades of blue dotted with motu from above, surrounding the majestic, green mountain within.

In that time, you’ll also see across the ocean to other islands such as Raiatea, Taha’a, Huahine, Maupiti, and others. The uninhabited, heart-shaped atoll of Tūpai is also just off the coast and makes for an extra-romantic sighting.

As you might imagine, a helicopter tour around Bora Bora is an incredibly popular activity, so be sure to book your tour in advance. And whatever you do, don’t forget your camera!

See Related: Best Things to do in Hawaii & Places to Visit

18. Tour the Lagoon on a Traditional Outrigger Canoe

Looking for a uniquely Polynesian experience while visiting this tropical destination? Riding on an outrigger canoe is a great option!

Polynesians have been using outrigger canoes for centuries to travel throughout the Pacific. They were also used for smaller tasks like transporting people, food, and other goods to other islands.

Today, you can ride on a jumbo version of these traditional boats to take an entertaining and informative tour of the lagoon.

This highly-rated Snorkeling Excursion by Polynesian Outrigger Canoe is sure to make your experience in Bora Bora a memorable one. This tour will take you around the entire island and will stop at the very best spots for snorkeling and swimming. You will be carefree as you explore the best parts of the lagoon.

The tour lasts approximately six hours and includes a barbecue lunch on a private motu.

19. Go on a Once-in-a-Lifetime Private Deep Sea Fishing Adventure

School of Fish

Nearly everyone who visits Bora Bora is set on spending their days in the calm lagoon. While that is certainly a fair choice, the more adventurous may choose to get out of the confines of the barrier islands and onto the open water to do some deep-sea fishing.

While the lagoon may be nice and shallow, the surrounding ocean can drop thousands of feet in depth, making it the perfect habitat for mahi-mahi, marlin, yellowfin tuna, and other big game. Landing a fish like one of those is the catch of the lifetime for anyone.

You can reserve a Bora Bora Private Full-Day Deep Sea Fishing Adventure whether it’s your first time or you are a seasoned fisherman. The boat and crew are yours, so there’s no sharing to worry about. All equipment and bait are provided, so there’s no need to pack it from home.

See Related: Best Fishing Spots in the World

20. Go on a Jeep Tour of the Island

Bora Bora Road Trip

Jeep tours seem to be a popular thing to do on many islands nowadays, but there’s nothing like doing it on Bora Bora. Some of the most scenic spots can only be accessed by either hiking or off-roading, and not everyone is up to doing intense treks.

On Bora Bora, you can take an Adventurous Jeep Safari Tour to reach parts of the island that few visitors do.

You’ll follow the dirt tracks up to the lookout point of Mount Popoti for some of the most amazing views on the island and see World War II-era guns that tell a different side of French Polynesian history.

This is a great tour to combine with a beach day or other activity, as it’s only a half-day experience and allows for more fun. If you are staying on one of the motus, don’t forget to arrange transportation to the main island where the tour begins from.

21. Enjoy a Romantic Sunset Cruise

Bora Bora Sunset Scenery
Image by Michelle Maria is under license CC BY 3.0

Finally, one of the most romantic moments in Bora Bora is the sunset. One of the best ways to experience it is to get out on the water and see it from the lagoon as the sky explodes in colors above the blue water.

You can have this experience in a traditional Tahitian outrigger canoe, or a va’a, with the Bora Bora Sunset Cruise and Dinner experience. You’ll get a glass of champagne to sip while the sun goes down before heading to one of the best restaurants on the island for dinner.

There will always be less than 12 people on the canoe, so don’t worry about losing the romantic vibe with the crowd. Again, if you are staying on a motu, confirm that your hotel can arrange for a boat to take you back when the evening is finished.

See Related: Best Places Like Bora Bora to Visit

Where to Stay in Bora Bora

Bora Bora Bungalows and Sunset

Bora Bora offers an array of beautiful accommodations throughout the island and the surrounding motu.

  • Best Overall: St Regis Bora Bora Resort – The St Regis Resort is one of the most luxurious Bora Bora resorts. It offers luxury villas with pools on the shore and iconic overwater bungalows. If the stunning crystal clear waters of the lagoon weren’t enough, the resort has two pools, two bars, and four restaurants.
  • Kid-Friendly: Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora – The Four Seasons Resort is great for kids because of its own glistening lagoon filled with colorful fish on the resort’s private motu. The resort also has a kids club for children ages 5 to 12, so parents can spend a few hours enjoying Bora Bora kid-free. It’s also one of the most stunning hotels in Bora Bora.
  • Budget-Friendly: Village Temanuata – Set on the beautiful Matira Beach, Village Temanuata is a collection of beautiful Polynesian-style bungalows. Each bungalow has its own private patio, and free wifi is available throughout the property.

FAQ

How can I find cheap flights to Bora Bora?

We love to use Scott’s Cheap Flights! It’s easy to sign up and immediately get the best flight deals straight to your inbox. You can check out our comprehensive review right here.

What are the best things to do in Bora Bora with kids?

Swimming in the lagoon, visiting the Bora Bora Turtle Center, and snorkeling excursions are all great options for kids.

What are the best Bora Bora beaches?

The best public beach in Bora Bora is Matira Beach. Though I would highly recommend checking out the beach at your resort, as it will be less crowded and probably include some level of service.

Do I need travel insurance to visit Bora Bora?

It’s always a good idea to purchase travel insurance when traveling to a foreign country. We recommend World Nomads for their flexible insurance plans.

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