Best Things To Do in Bora Bora
The main objective of a Bora Bora vacation is relaxation and this small island offers innumerable ways to achieve it. Repose on the deck of your overwater bungalow, cool off in the luminous lagoon surrounding Bora Bora or bike around the island at a leisurely pace. When you have some energy to burn, we suggest checking out the underwater life at the Bora Bora Lagoonarium and the Coral Gardens. For a taste of the local culture, take a jaunt into Vaitape. And whether you photograph it at a distance or climb its rocky slopes, Mount Otemanu is a must-see.
Updated June 18, 2019
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Matira Beach is the largest public access beach in Bora Bora making it extremely popular with visitors. The water is crystal-clear and the sand is soft and downy. Matira Beach is also peppered with resorts, shops and eateries, so it's a convenient place to spend most of a day.
Travelers and locals alike have nothing but positive things to say about the beach. Most comment on the incredibly blue water and how the shoreline is rarely ever crowded making it the perfect place for some rest and relaxation. But save your snorkeling for another beach, as the shallow waters aren't the best for spotting sea life. If you don't have time to spend a whole day at the beach, many say the sunsets are at least worth a visit.
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If you have too much sand between your toes and saltwater in your eyes, or you just need a break from your resort, consider exploring the island on four wheels. Multiple tour companies, such as Vavau 4×4 Adventures, Natura Discovery and Tupuna Safari, offer customizable 4x4 island tours. Not only will you get to discover the nooks and crannies of the island, but you'll also learn about its historical and cultural aspects along with island legends. Whether you're looking for a relaxing ride or a bumpy "Indiana Jones"-style adventure, there are tours that appeal to all kinds of travelers. Packages include everything from half-day cultural island expeditions to romantic sunset and Champagne tours to wild deep safari jungle treks. Plus, most of the tour guides are locals and will be more than willing to share their favorite island secrets.
Recent 4x4 tour enthusiasts raved about their excellent tour guides who provided a bunch of interesting historical and cultural facts about the island. In fact, many say their favorite part of the tour was their guide. And travelers say the views are absolutely breathtaking, so make sure to bring your camera. Some do caution against a 4x4 tour for those who are faint of heart as the roads are bumpy, hilly and sometimes even muddy. Just make sure to thoroughly read the tour description, so you know what you're getting yourself into.
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On a small islet just east of the main island and directly across from the Sofitel Bora Bora Marara Beach Resort, you'll find a gorgeous coral reef. Most travelers hire a tour operator to guide them through the process of swimming and snorkeling among the coral, not to mention among sea life, such as sting rays, moray eels and blacktip reef sharks.
Many past travelers described the Coral Gardens as a "must-do." One recent visitor recommended staying with the group while snorkeling, rather than swimming off on your own. The sharks and sting rays don't tend to be aggressive, but sometimes they can become so, especially with an isolated snorkeler.
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Bora Bora is a boater's dream – whether it be sailboats, glass-bottom boats, speedboats, kayaks, Jet Skis or more, the island has it all. So why not give your body a break from all that swimming and snorkeling, and instead explore Bora Bora's waters by boat? Tour packages can be customized to each traveler and include everything from half- to full-day and private or shared excursions. And for those thrill-seekers, deep-sea fishing, snorkeling and animal feeding can be added to most itineraries. Some boat tours also include full meals abroad the vessel.
Lagoon Service, Moana Adventure Tours and Bora Bora Photo Lagoon are a few tour companies that come highly recommended by past travelers, who said the tour guides were fabulous and, of course, the island was breathtaking to explore by sea. Many also enjoyed visiting the island's hidden lagoons and coves, as well as the learning about the island's history. And if you plan on doing a longer tour, some recommended making sure a meal is included because once you leave shore, you're stuck at sea.
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Thanks to the crystal-clear waters that surround Bora Bora, it's easy to spot the wildlife that inhabits the region. For an up-close encounter, consider signing up for a tour. Outfitters, such as Moana Adventure Tours and Pure Snorkeling by Reef Discovery, offer snorkeling, and shark and stingray feedings and encounters. You'll have the opportunity to interact with native blacktip reef sharks and stingrays in their natural habitats. And if you don't feel comfortable feeding the stingrays and sharks, you'll still be able to enjoy snorkeling the reefs and seeing the plethora of rainbow-colored fish.
Those that did this in the past said their shark and stingray adventure was the highlight of their Bora Bora vacation. The majority of travelers say it's a fun activity for the entire family and a great way to explore the ocean floor. And although getting up-close with stingrays and sharks may seem scary, many say it's not, as the sharks are small, the stingrays are harmless and the water is shallow (think: knee-deep). Travelers also noted the tour guides made everyone feel comfortable.
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The Bora Bora Lagoonarium is a natural aquarium on a small motu (island), just east of the main island. (By "natural," we mean that this aquarium isn't man-made. Rather, it's a portion of the actual lagoon). One of the coolest things about this family-owned attraction is that you can actually snorkel on the premises under the supervision of wildlife guides. Beneath the lagoon's surface, you'll spy sharks, turtles, rays and many different kinds of ocean fish. And depending on what tour you choose (full-day, half-day morning or half-day afternoon), you'll enjoy a number of extras, such as a canoe tour of the island or a barbecue picnic.
Reviews were mixed on the Bora Bora Lagoonarium. Some described the Lagoonarium as a great introduction to snorkeling since it feels safe and confined, especially when compared to deep-sea snorkeling, which might push some out of their comfort zones. Others also enjoyed feeding the fish. However, some travelers were unimpressed with the state of the boat and the setting the animals live in.
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Mount Otemanu is one of two peaks of an extinct volcano located at the center of the island. Rising 2,400-some feet above the lagoon, this volcanic remnant makes for a dramatic photo op or an adrenaline-pumping adventure. In fact, many say a trip to Bora Bora isn't complete without a visit to the top of this breathtaking mountain. And fear not, hiking isn't your only option; you can enjoy Mount Otemanu in all sorts of ways – a 4x4 tour, a boat tour, a helicopter tour or even some casual snapshots on the beach.
Many travelers are floored by the mountain's otherworldly beauty, which can be seen from just about any corner of the island. And the 4x4 tours come highly recommended from past travelers who said they were able to reach the top of the mountain quickly allowing for more time to take in the incredible views and snap some awesome photos. If you're interested in hiking, consider tackling the smaller of the two peaks, Mount Pahia.
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Let's be honest: You didn't come here to sample the city life. But Bora Bora's main town on the west coast of the island is worth a few hours of your time if you want to explore beyond the confines of your resort for an afternoon. You'll find a number of eateries, souvenir shops and churches along its main corridor. By the way, this central street really comes to life on Sunday mornings when stalls appear selling everything from clams to doughnuts. Vaitape also boasts a tourist office, a car rental kiosk, a couple of gas stations and a medical center, among other facilities.
If you're looking for a fancy souvenir, you might want to visit Sibani Perle and purchase some beautiful black pearl jewelry. Recent travelers raved about the pieces they bought from Sibani and the authenticity of the pearls. But if you're looking for something a tad more affordable, you'll find that here, too: a slew of smaller stores selling less expensive souvenirs are scattered along the street.
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