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Why Go to Bora Bora

The small island of Bora Bora (just 6 miles long and more than 2 miles wide) overflows with beauty. Dormant volcanoes rise up at its center and fan out into lush jungle before spilling into an aquamarine lagoon. In fact, author James Michener, who wrote "Tales of the South Pacific," called Bora Bora "the most beautiful island in the world." The 18th-century British explorer James Cook even coined it as the "pearl of the Pacific." The very definition of a tropical getaway, blissful Bora Bora abounds with luxurious resorts, sunny skies, warm waters and friendly locals.

And as you might've already guessed, the main industry on this petite island in French Polynesia and its swarm of tiny motu (small surrounding islands) is tourism. To that end, you can snorkel, explore Vaitape (Bora Bora's quaint town), hike Mount Otemanu and more. But there's a catch: Bora Bora is expensive — very expensive. In short, visit Bora Bora for natural beauty, visit for utter relaxation and visit if you have the money.

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Bora Bora Travel Tips

Best Months to Visit

U.S. News editors analyzed weather and price trends to recommend the top times to visit.

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What You Need to Know

  • It's all about the lagoons Here's a secret: Many of Bora Bora's beaches are manmade and not much to write home about. The pristine lagoons are another story.
  • Taste test great local food Trying poisson cru (raw fish) — usually tuna or mahi-mahi bathed in lime juice and coconut milk — is a must.
  • Try the miracle oil Pick up a bottle of all-purpose monoi, an oil made from coconut and tiare blossoms. It serves as a leave-in hair conditioner, a moisturizer and even a salve for insect bites. 

How to Save Money in Bora Bora

  • Visit in the off-season The average nightly room rate for an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora is close to $1,000 USD, but you can find lower rates if you visit between December and March.
  • Take a Pacific Ocean cruise Many cruise lines stop at Bora Bora, so you can get a taste of the luxe life without cashing in your retirement.
  • Bring your own alcohol And pack lots of sunscreen. Many shops on the island sell alcohol and basic necessities, such as sunscreen and bug spray, at high prices, so make sure to pack in surplus. 

Culture & Customs

The main languages in Bora Bora are French and Tahitian, but you'll find that many people also speak English, especially resort employees. Bora Borans move at a relaxed pace. They have a life philosophy called "`Aita pea pea," which means "not to worry." Try to go with the flow and enjoy life at a slower clip.

Protestant missionaries, who came to the island in the 19th century, have heavily influenced the religion in Bora Bora: Christianity continues to play a major role in the island's culture. If you're interested, you might stop into the Église Protestante Maohi (Maohi Protestant Church), which has roots dating back to the late 1700s.

Since 1946, French Polynesia (a group of islands of which Bora Bora belongs to) has been an overseas territory of France. But French Polynesia has a lot of autonomy, which you'll see in everything from their currency to taxation. The official currency of Bora Bora is the French Pacific franc (CPF). One dollar is equivalent to approximately 108 CPF.

Getting Around Bora Bora

The best way to get around Bora Bora is by bike, especially when you consider that the entire island only takes four hours to traverse. Rental cars are another option, but they cost significantly more than a rental bicycle. The local bus system, Le Truck, is notoriously unpredictable and taxis are quite expensive. To get to Bora Bora, most travelers fly into Bora Bora Airport also known as Motu Mute Airport. You'll find this airport on a small islet called Motu Mute, just north of the main island.

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Entry & Exit Requirements

To visit French Polynesia, you'll need a U.S. passport valid for six months beyond the duration of your trip. If you're planning to stay in the country for more than 90 days, you'll also need to acquire a visa. For more information, visit the U.S. State Department's website .

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