Bora Bora is an island of romance, relaxation and natural beauty. It’s one of the most visited destinations in French Polynesia, and it’s not hard to see why. Whether you stay in a thatched-roof hut over the water, a resort on the shore or a floating villa, there’s plenty to see and do.
The main attraction is the lagoon, which is protected by a barrier reef that encircles the island. Its crystalline waters are filled with coral fish and tropical underwater life. Guided diving excursions can be arranged to feed barracudas and sharks in the Stingray Strait, while other activities include swimming, snorkeling and boat cruises.
You can also take advantage of the island’s unique geography by exploring its volcanic landscape, which includes the ruins of a former crater and lava formations at Mount Otemanu. There are hiking and biking trails around the island, as well as horseback riding through the jungle and a sandbank lagoon. Alternatively, you can rent a jetski or windsurfer.
A trip to Bora Bora would be incomplete without a meal at one of the world-famous restaurants that the island has to offer. At Bloody Mary’s, you can dine on a sand floor while ordering seafood or meat from a menu that lets you pick the fish fresh and specify how you want it cooked. The food at La Villa Mahana is equally memorable, thanks to the combination of Mediterranean techniques and tropical flavors (think mahi mahi with curry or rock lobster risotto).
Besides the dining scene, shopping is another major draw for visitors. Papeete’s main market has an abundance of black pearl jewelry and handicrafts, while the island’s villages are known for their traditional weaving and basketry skills.
If you’re planning to stay in a resort, most of them offer their own restaurants and bars. However, some of the best food in Bora Bora can be found at the roulottes that set up each evening in Vaitape. Roulotte Matira, a permanently parked truck, is famous for its hamburgers and fish burgers, while the Bora Bora Beach Club serves fish and chips with a coconutty cocktail. If you’re looking for a romantic dinner, try the La Villa Mahana, which is run by Corsican chef Damien Rinaldi-Dovio and has only seven tables — so reservations are essential. Its menu unites Mediterranean techniques with tropical tastes, such as mahi mahi with curry and banana or king crab gratin. The restaurant is adorned with a wall of photos of celebrities who have eaten there, including Tom Cruise and Kim Kardashian.