Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora satellite view, French Polynesia, South Pacific

One of the South Pacific’s pearls of great price (quite a price! ), Bora Bora, is a short flight from Tahiti. The island’s airport is visible in the lower left corner.

What is  Bora Bora?

This island (pop. about 9, 000) is a spectacular atoll in French Polynesia, two high peaks surrounded by a barrier reef that encloses a stunningly beautiful lagoon. It’s an amazing setting enhanced by powder sand beaches and fantastically seductive shallow swimming and snorkelling inside the protective coral reef. The place is expensive to both get there and stay there and is somewhat divorced from real life. i. e. it’s life in the fast lane, but what a life. . .

Bora Bora beach bungalows, South Pacific

A classic Bora Bora over-water beach bungalow setup. Photo by Didierlefort.

The reef ringing Bora Bora and protecting its beaches is essential to a quiet life, keeping the waters inside calm, clear and generally free of potential marine nasties so snorkelling is warm and tranquil pleasure, not a man hunt.

Bora Bora Sights

Paul Gaugin cruise ship in Bora-Bora, South Pacific

A cruise ship visiting the island.

Casuarina trees that love sandy seaside locations are in the unfortunate habit of dropping sharp little seed pods onto some of the perfect beaches, perfectly placed to rudely interrupt romantic, dreamy shuffles through powder sand in bare feet. Apart from that little niggle, what a Bora!

Bora Bora overview from Mt Pahia, French Polynesia, South Pacific

Looking NE from Mt Pahia, one of the island’s two peaks . Photo by Rachel The Cat.

four seasons room terrace view, south pacific

Many of the best resorts on on this island cling to the inside of the ring reef, as opposed to sitting on the island, where visitors are even more divorced from reality than they would be onshore. Space around the reef is obviously limited so water bungalows have become a necessity, not a luxury. Though they are luxurious too!

Tourist accommodation is mostly in over-water bungalows – some with glass floors so guests can watch marine life drift below- though quality and price differs considerably. Bargains are hard to find but book well ahead for the off-season and discounts will appear. We’ve never been there as we are budget travellers, so the extravagant room terrace photo is of and by the Four Seasons hotel.

Things to do in Bora Bora

Attractions  are limited to beaches and marine activities apart from climbing a peak or two and admiring a couple of old cannon.
Sailing, wind or kite surfing, paddle boarding and kayaking are all available inside the lagoon as well as the obvious snorkeling and rental cycles.
Public transport n’existe pas. The local language is French though naturally those involved in tourism – nearly everybody – speak English.

Four seasons infinity pool, south pacific

Some hotels indulge in spectacular pools in addition to the massive, natural lagoon pool. This is the Four Seasons, photo by Didierlefort.

Best seasons

The best months are May-October, winter, when sunshine hours are at their highest, rainfall and humidity at its lowest and temperatures move gently from comfortable highs of about 29C (84F) to lows of about 25C (77F).