The word “Bora Bora” has become synonymous with romantic island vacations. It is a picture perfect vision of paradise with a lagoon renowned as one of the world’s most beautiful and Mount Otemanu rising majestically from its center. The crystalline water is home to myriads of fish and rays and dotted by overwater bungalows. But, there is so much more to this stunning island than its fabled scenery.
With a population of 10,600 people, this tiny island holds tightly to its Polynesian culture. Its residents sing and dance to honor their gods, believe in reincarnation and live by the philosophy of aita peapea (“not to worry”). Getting there is easy. It’s a short international flight to Tahiti and then a less than hour’s ride to Bora Bora.
You can stay on the main island or go for the full overwater bungalow experience at one of the many luxury resorts that line the shores. There are also smaller hotels, B&Bs and rentals that can be found on the ring of islands (motus) that make up the Bora Bora atoll. But, no matter where you choose to stay there’s something on this paradise to do for everyone!
Explore the underwater world of Bora Bora on a glass bottom boat or diving excursion. You’ll be mesmerized by dreamlike coral structures and a kaleidoscope of tropical fish and sea life. Or, swim with stingrays on a guided tour that brings you to the famous Stingray Strait.
For landlubbers, you can explore Bora Bora’s interior by 4×4 or on a jeep safari. You can visit the cannons and military bunkers that lie veiled in the jungle beneath Mount Otemanu, a remnant of the island’s history when it was a French colony.
There are several excellent art galleries on the island. Not containers for touristic wall hangings but critically acclaimed and prestigious ones that showcase the unique Polynesian style.
When you’re ready for a little nightlife, head to Bloody Mary’s on the south coast of the main island. This place isn’t sleek dining but the plates overflow with food and its boisterous atmosphere provides a refreshing change from a la carte resort dining.
There’s also plenty of shopping on the main island. The boutiques here carry a mix of French, Japanese and American products as well as local Tahitian handicrafts. The boutiques are open late to accommodate the evening crowds. It is a great place to get some souvenirs for friends and family back home. Afterwards you can sit at one of the outdoor restaurants and watch the sunset over the water. It is a spectacular sight and a perfect way to end your day in Bora Bora. For those that want to stay on the mainland, you can enjoy the beachfront bars at one of the top-rated hotels like Le Meridien Bora Bora. They serve delicious cocktails and seafood. You can even try some of their signature bloody marys! It is a popular drink among locals and tourists alike.