Bora Bora is regarded as the ultimate tropical destination for adventurers, underwater enthusiasts and romantic holiday-makers. No matter your reason for visiting this beautiful little island in French Polynesia, there’s plenty to see and do for everyone. So please enjoy my list of What to do in Bora Bora, so that you can get the best out of this incredible bucket-list destination.
So here’s our list of 10 things to do in Bora Bora:
1. Sharks and Rays (Lagoon Tour)
The lagoon surrounding the volcanic island of Bora Bora is absolutely breathtaking. I’ve never seen such beautiful turquoise water before. And the backdrop of palm trees and the iconic Mount Otemanu amplifies the scenery even more. So if you visit Bora Bora, I’d highly recommend booking one or more tours to swim and explore the lagoon. It’s where you’ll want to spend your time.
Most of the popular lagoon tours let you swim with sharks and rays. This is a definite highlight for a trip to Bora Bora. You’ll arrive into crystal clear, waist-high water in the lagoon and immediately be greeted by lots of friendly stingrays that will bump straight into you. Put your head below water to watch the rays glide around, along with tropical fish and black tip reef sharks. If you sit very still, you’ll get very close interactions with all of these beautiful marine creatures!
You’ll also get a dedicated stop to swim with sharks on most of the tours. This spot is just outside the lagoon on the fringing reef. This means that the water is deeper and the blues are much darker. It can be a little scary at first, jumping in to swim with the sharks. But I highly recommend it. Absolutely memorable! There can be 10-50 black tip reef sharks circling around and it takes a little while for the adrenaline to calm down. These sharks aren’t interested in humans, though they can pass by quite close. Watching them swim in such beautiful, clear water is so beautiful and something to tell your friends and family!
Many lagoon tours will also be sure to include some aspects of the local culture. Polynesian people are so warming and friendly, and they’ll love to share their culture and stories of how people traditionally lived on these islands. You might be lucky to listen to some music and singing, learn to make bowls from palm fronds, and eat local foods (mostly tropical fruits, coconuts and fresh seafood). This is an all-round epic way to spend a day in Bora Bora.
Travel Tip – Lagoon tours can be private or a group trip. Read reviews and be sure to find a reputable tour operator as many will excessively feed and handle the rays.
2. Swim at The Natural Aquarium
Our favourite spot to snorkel in the entire lagoon surrounding Bora Bora is the Natural Aquarium. This snorkel (and dive) spot can be reached by boat and many tours will stop here. Just check with the operator first. The water clarity is insane and you can free-dive on fish-filled reef as well as perfect white-sandy bottom lagoon. We visited here twice because it was so good.
3. Stay in an Overwater Villa
For us, the lagoon experiences are the absolute musts when visiting Bora. However staying in an overwater villa is also a pretty amazing way to enjoy the lagoon! Many of the luxury resorts that are built on the fringing islands (called motus) will offer the experience to stay overwater.
The villas are rustic bungalows made from natural timber and thatched roofs, sitting on piles above the azure lagoon. Inside, the villas are very luxurious. You might even have a bath tub or private pool in your villa. Either way, staying in one of these villas allows you to swim straight from your balcony, and have complete privacy and comfort to watch the sunset.
Our favourite resorts to enjoy overwater villas are Conrad Bora Bora Nui and the Four Seasons Bora Bora.
4. Take a Jet-Ski Tour
Another great way to see a lot of the lagoon is by a Jet-Ski Tour. You’ll get to see all faces of the mesmerising Mount Otemanu in just one day. You’ll also get to see all the postcard views of uninhabited palm-laced islands and the full spectrum of blues across the lagoon. On our tour we stopped along the way for lunch and fruits, took a swim in an empty inlet of the lagoon, and learnt how to open a coconut from our guide.
Travel Tip – Make sure to choose a day with low winds and clear skies for this trip especially, as there’s no escape from the elements on a Jet-Ski. But if the weather is fine, you’ll have an amazing day where you never stop smiling!
If you’re looking for another way to experience the underwater world, I’d recommend diving. We did a two-tank dive and loved it! We dived inside the lagoon and were lucky enough to see a massive Manta, before heading outside the lagoon to dive with the reef sharks. We’d previously snorkelled at this second spot with the sharks on the outside reef. But sitting down on the bottom and watching the sharks from below was equally amazing. We dived with (Eleuthera) Bora Diving Center and found them to be great.
For anyone non-certified and looking to do their first dive, there’s also options for beginners dives in Bora Bora. Our friends were lucky enough to do their first dive at the Natural Aquarium, and were treated to absolutely insane visibility and warm waters on a perfect wine sand bottom.
6. Indulgent Resort Stay (Day Pass or Overnight)
More on the relaxing and luxury side again, another Bora Bora experience worth considering is relaxing at one of the resorts. Take a massage at the resort luxury spa, dine in the restaurants, and laze by the pool with a cocktail. It’s definitely one place worth splurging. Surrounded by perfect clear lagoon waters lapping onto white sand beaches is the ideal setting for this. Not just for honeymooners, go with your partner, friend/s or family and take advantage of being in this world famous travel destination.
Travel Tip – You can arrange a day visit to some of the resorts. This means you can visit their spa and use the facilities to splurge for a day, without the full costs!
7. Swim with Eagle Rays
On our most recent Bora Bora trip we found an amazing place that’s not featured on the standard tours where you can swim with eagle rays! It’s found just off the beach at Taurere Point, and we were told that you can typically find eagle rays here swimming against the current. It might be worth asking your guide before taking a tour, especially if you have a private tour organised, to see if you can visit this place (as it’s not a major spot for tourists). You’ll also see epic colour changes of the lagoon blues down in this part of Bora Bora!
8. Catamaran Trip
We actually sailed around Bora Bora for a few days as part of a larger sailing trip (more to come in a later blog) and so we would highly recommend doing a catamaran sailing trip just for the day! This is another way to see a lot of the lagoon and the faces of Mount Otemanu in a short time. Sitting aboard a catamaran is definitely doing it in style. We actually saw dolphins as we sailed near the pass, and even saw a Manta straight beneath the boat in perfect clear conditions inside the lagoon!
9. Visit Matira Beach
If you are staying on the island of Bora Bora, then a trip to Matira Beach is 100% worth considering. Matira is the nicest white sand beach on the island, backed by palms and boasting clear emerald water. There’s the shack-style restaurant of Bora Bora Beach Club where you can escape the sun for lunch and a drink. But the calm clear waters of the lagoon will be calling you back for swim. Matira is a great option for those that won’t have the chance to enjoy the white sand beaches of the resorts and are staying on the main island (more on this here).
10. Fly Over Bora Bora
The iconic island of Bora Bora features on postcards and magazine covers around the world. In my opinion, the best way see these famous views is from the air. So if you can, I’d recommend taking a scenic helicopter tour of Bora Bora. Bring your camera and enjoy the dramatic mountain surrounded by it’s turquoise lagoon and fringing islands.
The other way to see Bora Bora from above is as you arrive and depart via plane. If possible grab a window seat, and you’ll probably cry (like me) as you witness this magical place for the first time.
Travel Tip: There are no assigned seats on the domestic flights, so ask the flight crew which side will have views of the mountain when boarding the flight. If you are respectful of others, they will be happy to give you that information.
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