Bora Bora

Travel Guide Oceania Polynesia French Polynesia Society Islands Bora Bora

edit

Introduction

Bora Bora is an island in the Leeward group of the Society Islands of French Polynesia. Say Bora Bora and most travellers think of paradise immediately. Unfortunately, although still beautiful, many travellers go here, including top end package tourists. The island has never lost its beauty though and with its steep mountains rising straight from the blue waters you will find yourself in one of the most magnificent islands of French Polynesia. Relaxing, walking and diving are your main activities here, like in most places in French Polynesia.

It is perfectly possible to spoil oneself in one of the incredibly luxurious high-class resorts and spend the savings of a lifetime in a few days. Nonetheless, a bit of planning ahead can allow enjoyment of the majestic scenery with a tighter budget. Bora Bora is a tremendously pricey destination. Everything (catering and activities) ranges from "expensive" to "indescribably expensive".

Bora Bora is an island in the Leeward group of the Society Islands of French Polynesia. The island, which is about 230 km northwest of Papeete, is surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef. In the center of the island are the remnants of an extinct volcano rising to two peaks, Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu, the highest point at 727 metres. The original name of the island in the Tahitian language might be better rendered as Pora Pora, meaning "First Born"; an early transcription found in 18th- and 19th century accounts, is Bolabolla or Bollabolla.

The major settlement, Vaitape is on the western side of the island, opposite the main channel into the lagoon. The products of the island are mostly limited to what can be obtained from the sea and coconut trees, which were historically of economic importance for copra. During the 2017 census, the population on the island was about 10,600 people, up from 8,880 in 2007.

Top

edit

History

The history of Bora Bora shows that the island’s first settlers back in the 4th century were Tongan people. The first European explorers who visited the island were led by James Cook. However, prior to this island of Bora Bora was already sighted by other explorers. In 1842 the island became a French colony under the governance of Admiral Abel Aubert Dupetit Thouars.

During World War II, the United States made Bora Bora a base for military supply, oil depot, air strip and seaplane base. They constructed defensive fortifications around the island. Luckily though, no combat took place here and the presence of American troops seemed to be accepted by the opposition forces.

The United States Military Base closed on June 2, 1946, following the end of the war. However, many Americans decided to stay on the island as it had become close to their hearts. Some Americans were even forcibly asked to leave following complaints from their families on the mainland. The abandoned base became French Polynesia’s only international airport until Faa'a International Airport opened in the 1962 in Papeete, Tahiti.

The island of Bora Bora nowadays relies largely on tourism and because of this seven luxurious resorts were built over the past few years. Hotel Bora Bora was the first to build bungalows that stand over the water using stilts. These are now a given of every resort on the island as these bungalows provide spectacular sights of lagoons and mountains.

Top

edit

Settlements

  • Vaitape - the main village on Bora Bora

Top

edit

Sights and Activities

  • Shark & Ray Snorkel Safari
  • Diving with Nemo World Scuba
  • Bora Bora Lagoonarium
  • Aquatic: Snorkelling, jet-skiiing, kiteboarding etc.
  • On land: hiking, jeep safaris, horseback riding

Top

edit

Events and Festivals

  • Hawaiki Nui Va'a is a canoe race takes place over three days in early November. Over 100 traditional canoes race from Huahine to stunning Bora Bora island, covering more than 50 kilometres in a bit over 4 hours. There are several other canoe races at other times of the year as well, but this is the big one.

Top

edit

Weather

Located almost entirely within the tropics, the climate of Bora Bora is tropical. The average temperatures are around 28 °C to 32 °C during the day and still well above 20 °C at night. The hotter months are between November and April and this is also the wet season with much more rain compared to June to September. Occasionally tropical storms hit some of the islands during this time, though certainly not every year.

Top

edit

Getting There

By Plane

Fire dancers, Bora Bora

Fire dancers, Bora Bora

© MrJfromFla

Bora Bora Airport (BOB) offers flights with Air Tahiti to/from Fakarava, Huahine, Manihi, Maupiti, Moorea, Papeete], Raiatea Island, Rangiroa Island and Tikehau Atoll. The airport is located on a small motu (islet) north of the main island. Transfer to the main island or to accommodations located on other motus is done by boat. The major accommodations have counters at the airport. For the accommodations located on the main island, you will need to take the (free) ferry to Vaitape. From there, small buses will usually pick you up. Air Tahiti operates a free shuttle boat transfer from the airport to the main village, Vaitape.

By Boat

  • The Maupiti Express travels 3 times weekly to Maupiti, located 40 kilometres from Bora Bora.
  • Vaeanu operates the Pape'ete-Huahine-Ra'iatea-Taha'a-Bora Bora return trip, leaving Pape'ete on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 5:00pm and from Bora Bora on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

Top

edit

Getting Around

Vaitape is the arrival point of the ferry from the airport, and is the only "town" of any size of the island. At the southern tip of the main island, Matira is the location of the largest beach as well as several hotels and restaurants. The central part of the island is extremely mountainous, tough to access and not inhabited (and furthermore devoid of roads of any kind).

The way you get around in Bora Bora depends greatly on your accommodation and its location. Several resorts are actually located on motus and not on the main island, hence the need of boat transportation to get anywhere. Boat transfers from those motus resorts to the main island or between the resorts and the airport are usually provided. Accommodations located on the island generally also provide a transfer to and the Airport ferry quay.

On the main island, there is only one sealed road. Public transport on the island is limited, consisting of a single bus that goes halfway around the island and back approximately every hour. Taxis are also available.

Operators of activities and restaurants sometimes (but not always) provide a transfer to and from the accommodations - be sure to ask when booking.

Renting a bicycle or a small buggy can be an option if you plan to have your freedom on the main island, but the road is sometimes very narrow, and in bad shape.

Top

edit

Eat

The island of Bora Bora is heavily influenced by the French culture hence the rich local and French cuisines. They also have a wide selection of international restaurants.

Vaitape

  • The roulottes (food trucks) in the carpark in the center of town from 17:00 onward offer a variety of meals in generous servings, e.g. 700 F for a hamburger, or 1400 F for grilled Mahi Mahi with fries.
  • Le panda d'or (just outside of the village center on the road heading north out of town). M-Sa 11:00-13:00 and 18:00-21:00. Chinese restaurant and take-away.

Matira

Matira Pizza. 11:00-14:00; 16:00-19:30. A small pizza shack that provides a multitude of different pizzas at reasonable prices. They are on the main road between the Sofitel Marara and Matira Beach. Place the order for pizza, then walk south to Tiara Market for beverages. 1,300-1,900 F.
Bounty Snack. Very reasonably priced but excellent Tahitian restaurant.

Pofai Bay

  • Bloody Mary's, on the western shore of the main island, at the southern tip of Pofai Bay, roughly half way between Nunue and Maitra Beach. One of the most famous of restaurants in Bora Bora, it is known for its American flavor. As with most restaurants on Bora Bora, expect to spend US$60-80 per person. Some visitors might be a little surprised by the service (speed over quality....) Outside they have a pair of big boards with the names on all of the famous people who have eaten there, e.g. Pamela Anderson, Pierce Brosnan, Carlos Delgado, Marlon Brando, and Janet Jackson. Service general begins with arrival from a "shuttle service" from your hotel's drop off point. Patrons then decide their meal while looking directly at the current "meat" selections. After selecting your meal, you are seated at a table lodged in the sand with a stool. Service will come asking for your drink choice at this point. Food will be served later. As everyone arrives/leaves at the same time, plan on being there for at least 1.5 hours. US$60-80 per person.
  • La Villa Mahana, Pofai Bay. A small French restaurant with only 5 tables. Serves the best French food on the island, by an amazing chef. Make reservations. Complete meal with wine pairs under US$200 per person.

Top

edit

Drink

If you're looking for nightlife and drinking, one of the most popular drinking venues on Bora Bora is Bloody Mary's. Bloody Mary's is essentially an American-barbecue fish and steak restaurant. Besides drinking Bloody Mary's, the chef will chargrill steak and fish to order.

The island's sole nightclub is Le Récife Discothèque, about 1 km (1/2 mile) north of Vaitape (tel. 67 73 87), which opens only on Fridays and Saturdays at 23:00 and closes at 03:00.

Top

edit

Sleep

Bora Bora Islands offer numerous hospitality resources in which guests can stay. A popular form of accommodation on the island are the overwater bungalows. Many of the resorts offer this type of accommodation due to their being more water mass than land. Some overwater bungalows feature a glass-bottomed floor and are designed in traditional Bora Bora island houses.

  • Sunset Hill Lodge, sunset.hill.lodge@mail.pf, ☎ +689 792648. Nestled in a little Zen garden with a little waterfall, maybe the cheapest place for this quality in Polynesia. €50-70.
  • Oa Oa Lodge, Vaitape (15 min walk north of town, just past the Total gas station). A small collection of bungalows with simple kitchenettes, fans, and private baths in a garden beside the ocean. There are also 3 bungalows on stilts over the water (24,500 F/night). Infinity swimming pool, friendly staff. Next door to the Maikai restaurant and bar. Breakfast available. Wi-Fi quality is mixed. 5 min walk to a supermarket. From 11,300 F.
  • Villa Vahimanui (part of a small complex locally known as the Condominiums). Luxurious 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom vacation rental can accommodate up to 5 people. It's in the residential and peaceful northern part of Bora, and features one of the most beautiful views on the lagoon. It is mountainside in a manicured tropical garden with a little sandy beach less than 30 m (100 feet) from the house across the road. US$1899 per week.
  • Maitai, Matira, ☎ +689 40 60 30 00. Features (comparatively) reasonably priced over-water bungalows, not as splendid as its neighbor the Intercontinental, but nice. Get one of the over-water rooms at the end of the pier in which the rooms are located on as the water is deeper at these rooms. The other rooms are just off the beach and some are in water less than 30 cm deep.
  • Sofitel Bora Bora Morara Beach Resort, Matira. Over-water bungalows and a pool facing the sea.
  • Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island, On the Motu facing Matira. 400-m-long island with no other hotel on it, it enjoys fantastic views of the main island, and has incredible snorkeling (snorkeling tour boats actually come to the area at the back). The beach is small, but the whole place is more intimate than other motu-located resorts.
  • Intercontinental Le Moana Bora Bora, At the very tip of Matira on the main island, ☎ +689-60-4900, toll-free: +1-800-496-7361. You do not get the views on the island (well, you're on it). Nonetheless, this is a classy resort with all you can expect for the price you pay.
  • Le Meridien Bora Bora, ☎ +689 605151. Large hotel, billing itself as a 5-star resort. Very expensive, but there have been conflicting reports about the attitude of the staff. A popular destination for Japanese weddings, this hotel features a pretty cool turtle sanctuary and has a ton of beach. The overwater bungalows are a novelty. It sits on a motu away from the main island, travel to the main island is via shuttle boat. Overwater bungalows feature glass floors which look into the water, however there is little "wildlife" in the water immediately surrounding the hotel.
  • St. Regis Bora Bora, ☎ +689 40 607 888. Every room (100 in all) is a suite with luxury bathroom. Many of the rooms are over-water villas, some with pools or spas. Over-water villas have glass panels in the floors and under-villa lighting to make the lagoon shimmer in your room. Guests are 80% American, 80% of whom are honeymooners. Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban honeymooned here. Two excellent restaurants on-site, one by Chef Jean Georges. The angle of the view on the main island is impressive.
  • Four Seasons Bora Bora. 5-star resort with great amenities and warm hospitality.

Top

Bora Bora Travel Helpers

We don't currently have any Travel Helpers for Bora Bora

This is version 7. Last edited at 11:32 on May 28, 19 by Utrecht. 13 articles link to this page.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, content of this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License