Bora Bora is known as a resort paradise for the rich and famous, this beautiful island is blessed with many ravishing beaches with fine white sands, crystal clear blue water and tropical green valleys and countless outdoor interesting activities. So, is Bora Bora worth visiting, how to visit Bora Bora, what to do in Bora Bora and how to plan a budget trip to Bora Bora for the first-time perfectly? Let’s check out our Bora Bora travel blog (Bora Bora blog) with the fullest Bora Bora travel guide (Bora Bora guide) from how to get to Bora Bora, best places to visit, best time to come, what to eat as well as top things to do in Bora Bora to help you maximize your trip as follows!
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Considered one of the world’s most beautiful islands, French Bora Bora island immediately conjures up images of a romantic tropical paradise set against the backdrop of ultimate luxury. Known as the “romantic getaway”, Bora Bora is a destination on every couple’s wish list. But there’s so much more to see and do on this small island than fancy overwater bungalows. With lush covered peaks rising forcefully from a large lagoon radiating the brightest shades of blue – Bora Bora Island is the place where dreams are made.
Bora Bora has an area of about 30.55 km², surrounded by a saltwater lagoon and a barrier of reefs. It has a warm climate all year round, extremely suitable for relaxation and tourism. Bora Bora has many luxury resorts that are ideal honeymoon destinations for couples and a stopover for many VIPs around the world.
Overview of Bora Bora (#bora bora blog)
Bora Bora is part of the Society Islands in French Polynesia, about 275 km from Tahiti Island in the South Pacific Ocean, halfway between Australia and South America. Like the other beautiful islands in this archipelago, Bora Bora consists of an extinct volcano from a protected lagoon nearly three times the size of the island. There are less than 10,000 locals living on the island, mainly relying on tourism.
It is believed that the ancient Polynesians came to Bora Bora around the 9th century. Originally nicknamed Pora Pora, the island’s Polynesian name means ‘created by the gods’. Along with the neighboring island of Maupiti, Bora Bora is the oldest island in this beautiful archipelago. Overall, this is a relatively small island with very little population. In the central area of the island, visitors can only see a few dozen shops and a few restaurants and bars on the riverside. Despite having such a small area, Bora Bora Island attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists to visit each year thanks to the natural beauty bestowed.
Ultra-luxury resorts and signature overwater bungalows of Bora Bora Island. The island has almost completely lost its traditional charm, with mass tourism gradually gaining in popularity. Some locals are not happy to see their island transformed. Despite some of the benefits of mass tourism, you’ll find many of the island’s poor villagers don’t benefit from the resorts. If you’re looking for authentic Polynesian life, you probably won’t find it in Bora Bora. But its natural beauty makes this destination irresistible.
Bora Bora has no city, but its largest village and main port is Vaitape, home to several dozen shops and a number of restaurants and waterfront bars. Vaitape crafts are featured for visitors looking for signature souvenirs such as Tahitian black pearls, shell jewelry, colorful pareu wraps, wooden crafts, scented soaps and oils…
The main languages in Bora Bora are French and Tahitian, but you’ll find many people also speak English, especially the resort’s staff. French Polynesians have a life philosophy called “Aita pea pea”, which means “don’t worry”, try to go with the flow and enjoy life at a slower pace.
Protestant missionaries who arrived on the island in the 19th century heavily influenced the religion in Bora Bora: Christianity continues to play an important role in the island’s culture. If interested, you can stop by the Église Moisturiante Maohi (Maohi Protestant Church) in Vaitape, which dates back to the late 1700s.
Since 1946, French Polynesia (a group of islands belonging to Bora Bora) has been an overseas territory of the French Republic. But French Polynesia has a lot of autonomy, which you’ll see in everything from their currency to their taxes. The official currency of Bora Bora is the French Pacific franc (CFP). One US dollar is equivalent to about 113 CFP Franc.
When to come? (#bora bora blog)
The climate in Bora Bora and the islands is warm and pleasant most of the months. Although this is the tropics, the heat is not too extreme. Here there are gentle winds from the South Pacific and trade winds in the north. There is only a small variation between daytime and nighttime temperatures, so you can expect balanced evenings for most of the year.
Bora Bora’s summer months are December, January, February and March. Summer is the wet season, there is a chance of rain and the temperature could be a bit higher. We found that there are also times when the temperature is cooler. If you’re considering going during Bora Bora’s summer, you’ll have to learn more to prepare for the possibilities during the rainy season.
Summer is the low season for tourists in Bora Bora, so everything from flights to accommodations is cheaper than usual. Due to less tourists, the atmosphere is also quieter, suitable for those who want to relax at Bora Bora. Because in this season, the temperature rises higher than usual and the highest is up to 30 degrees Celsius, so it is very suitable for swimming, surfing, boating, etc.
The average annual temperature on Bora Bora island is about 26 degrees Celsius. Accordingly, visitors can explore beautiful beaches in all seasons of the year. This is also the right temperature for visitors to explore outdoor activities such as visiting the village, eating at great restaurants when coming to Bora Bora.
Bora Bora’s winter months are June, July, August, September and October. Winter is the dry season in Bora Bora and often has many sunny days and blue skies. Winter is the peak season in Bora Bora.
I think the best time to go to Bora Bora is from late March to May. At that time, the weather is nice, not in peak season, so the price is more stable.
How to get to Bora Bora? (#bora bora travel blog)
From France, it’s easy to fly to Bora Bora because there are daily direct flights. However, from the US or Canada, visitors will have to fly many routes with a total flight time of up to 45 hours.
To get to Bora Bora, you must first take an international flight to Tahiti, name of the main island in French Polynesia. You will notice that all of French Polynesia is often referred to by the romantic name, “Tahiti”, even though Tahiti is actually the name of the largest and most populous island.
Airlines operating this route include Air Tahiti Nui, Air New Zealand and Air France. The airport code for Tahiti is PPT, which stands for Papeete – the capital. Most international flights land at Faa’a Airport in Tahiti late in the evening. If your flight lands at night, you’ll need to book a Tahiti hotel for that first night. Due to the short runways on the small islands of French Polynesia, combined with wind factors, Air Tahiti’s inter-island service does not operate at night.
From Tahiti, it takes a short 45-minute scenic flight to Bora Bora with the inter-island airline, Air Tahiti. Bora Bora’s airport code is BOB. Direct flights to Bora Bora depart up to 6 times every day. Since Bora Bora’s airport is located on a small island (called a Motu) in the lagoon of Bora Bora, you will then need to take a boat to Bora Bora’s accommodation.
I flew from Dallas to San Francisco. Flight time is 3.5 hours. After a 2-hour break, I continued to connect to Tahiti, which took an 8-hour flight. Arrived at Tahiti island in the evening and had to wait almost 10 hours to connect to Bora Bora. Flight time from Tahiti to Bora Bora is about 40 minutes, the fare is 400 USD and there are usually 4 flights per day.
After successfully landing at Bora Bora Island Airport, you need to take another boat to get to your booked accommodation or famous tourist attractions on this island.
Currently everyone in Japan, Australia… can fly directly to Tahiti. From Tokyo, you can fly directly in just 10 hours, very convenient. Travelers from Vietnam or Southeast Asia should refer to the flight route to Tokyo and then take another connecting flight to Tahiti.
Getting around Bora Bora (#bora bora travel guide)
The island is small, so there are very few taxis and cars. You can rent a bicycle (USD 15/day) or motorbikes (USD 60/day). The roads here are easy to find, there is almost only one road, so you don’t have to worry about getting lost. From the hotel, it usually takes 15 minutes by bike to find the most beautiful public beach Bora Bora – named Marita. There are many beautiful scenes on the way for virtual living.
Where to go and what to do in Bora Bora?
Otemanu is an inactive volcano for many years. Standing on top of this ancient mountain, visitors can see a panoramic view of Bora Bora Island.
The ancient volcano Otemanu can be seen from anywhere on the island of Bora Bora. If you have the opportunity to come here, book a lagoon tour around this mountain. Traveling to Bora Bora, tourists cannot ignore special experiences such as helicopter rides, mountain climbing adventures with adventurous challenges, etc.
The biggest attraction (literally) of Bora Bora is Mt Otemanu! This ancient volcano can be seen from many places around Bora Bora. If you are staying in a resort, it will have a view of the lagoon to Mount Otemanu. Mount Otemanu is amazing at every angle.
Visiting Bora Bora Island, visitors can buy interesting tours and experiences around the island such as trekking Mount Otemanu, boat excursions, scuba diving, visiting shark lagoons…
A lagoon tour is a must-do attraction in Bora Bora. If you’re only doing one excursion in Bora Bora, a lagoon tour is ideal. There are a few options a variety of Bora Bora attractions such as getting around the island by canoe, scuba diving, kayaking, shark and ray lagoon tour…
Swimming with sharks is an activity that is on the “must try” list when visiting Bora Bora, as very few places in the world can offer this experience. Sharks in Bora Bora waters are not aggressive and easily allow visitors to get up close. However, to be on the safe side, visitors are not allowed to feed the fish or try to pet them, nor should they wear shiny jewelry while participating in this activity.
Lagoon tour and motu picnic (#bora bora travel guide)
This place is also known by many tourists as a famous camping and picnic site. However, camping here is different from other places. Specifically, visitors will rent a boat to a small secluded motu in the lagoon. Sitting on a boat, the experience of rowing while watching the surrounding natural scenery will help the soul to be more comfortable and relaxing. Especially, when you come here, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the traditional dishes of the people here.
Visitors even can rent a small boat and paddle through the calm waters by themselves, watching the beautiful scenery at Bora Bora island. Bora Bora not only has blue sea, white sand and blue beaches, Bora Bora also has lush tropical valleys, planted with many fresh fruit trees.
Matira Beach (#bora bora travel blog)
This is the famous public beach of Bora Bora Island and once has been voted the most beautiful beach in the world! It’s laid-back atmosphere, pure white sand and calm turquoise waters allow for real relaxation.
Every year it attracts millions of visitors thanks to the fresh air, smooth white sand, turquoise sea that visitors can admire firsthand the seabed. Besides, you can also participate in activities such as swimming, surfing, sunbathing, etc.
Hiking (#bora bora blog)
Hiking in Bora Bora takes you to lush tropical valleys and mountain slopes, with breathtaking views of the lagoon! A trip to the valleys will take you along the old road to discover the remnants of ancient village Marae Fare Hape. For those looking for a bigger adventure, you can climb Mt Pahia or Mt Otemanu.
This is the largest village on Bora Bora Island. When the tourist season comes, this is the place with the most people because this is the main place that provides the best equipment and food and drinks. Due to the small area, visitors will only see a few supermarkets and glittering pearl shops… However, all the essentials are sold here and visitors can buy anything they need.
If you’re interested in experiencing the local culture, head to Vaitape village. This is the largest village on the main island, full of restaurants, hotels, bars, cafes, shopping areas, traditional markets… In addition, in the village there are churches, pearl shops and stalls. shops selling handicraft products of indigenous people… so that tourists can visit.
As the name suggests, visitors to this place will be able to see thousands of different types of coral and each has its own unique beauty. One of the most interesting activities here is snorkeling or scuba diving. Through night diving tours, visitors will fully explore the scenery of the seabed and have direct contact with all kinds of marines. In addition, visitors can also spend a fee to rent a small boat to paddle around the coral garden and see the creatures under the sea.
Those interested in deep-sea exploration can head to the coral garden for snorkeling or scuba diving. The colorful coral reefs and schools of swimming fish will make your soul relax. More specifically, there are large schools of sharks that are very brave, they often receive food from tourists, so they are quite friendly, you can swim with them.
Cultivated in abundance in the lagoons around Bora Bora, black pearls are a great souvenir of the island. In Vaitape – the main town of Bora Bora, there are many high-end shops selling jewelry made from pearls. Visitors can buy black pearls here at a reasonable price as a souvenir of their trip to Bora Bora.
What to eat?
Seafood abounds on the menus of Bora Bora restaurants, and you’ll be sorry if don’t try some of the local specialties, namely poisson cru or raw tuna marinated in lime and coconut milk. Mahi-mahi, grouper and tuna are other popular items commonly found on Bora Bora’s menu. When traveling to Bora Bora you should also sample locally grown pineapples, coconuts and bananas.
Eating out on Bora Bora Island is known to be expensive, as there are many imported foods that can be more expensive than usual. Make the most of fresh local Polynesian cuisine and visit a local grocery store. Combine that with a dining plan at your Bora Bora resort, and you’ll save money, as well as have the best meals.
To find a French Polynesian dish, look for the sign ‘Magasin’. You can buy food at grocery stores to eat for the day and save on meal costs. Fresh, crispy baguettes are popular and can be purchased for about 60 cents. You can buy salami, cold cuts, French cheeses and fresh fruit for a delicious feast for a good price.
You’re on a budget vacation in Bora Bora, so eat like a local. For an authentic Tahitian dining experience, eat at the roadside with ‘snacks’ and food trucks roadside. They offer delicious, inexpensive meals.
When dining at your resort or a restaurant, choose the most ‘local’ ingredients for the freshest meals. The fish in French Polynesia is delicious.
Many delicious dishes for visitors to try out as below.
Poison Cru: This is a raw fish salad marinated in lime juice and coconut milk. The main ingredient that brings out the fresh taste of this dish is fresh tuna or some other seafood such as crab, eel or lobster.
Firi Firi: This doughnut with coconut milk is considered a famous dessert when coming to Bora Bora Island. This dish is made from very simple ingredients such as flour, sugar, coconut milk, yeast, water and a little salt.
Poulet Fafa: This traditional Tahitian dish is made from chicken and taro leaves. Indigenous people often call this dish chicken stuffed with taro.
Fafaru: This is also a traditional dish of people in Bora Bora island. This dish is often considered the main course in meals with the main ingredient being crushed shrimp or crab and dried raw for a few days before.
Poe: This dessert is a baked cake made from taro with many different flavors such as taro, banana, vanilla, etc. In particular, when presented on the plate, there will be a layer of sweet, fatty coconut milk coating up.
From my hotel, I like to walk a few minutes to the beginning of the street, find a small rustic restaurant. The restaurant has delicious food, rice dishes, fish salad with prices from 12-15 USD/portion. The owner is extremely friendly, enthusiastic to guide and share about Bora Bora. If I stay in high-class resorts, I hardly have the opportunity to interact with local people, cuisine and culture.
Right near my hotel, there is a Vietnamese beach club. This is a great place to have dinner and watch the sunset. Guests can also cycle for an additional 5 to 7 minutes to reach the larger restaurants.
At Bora Bora, visitors should not miss enjoying coconut water. Coconut is sold by the roadside at a very cheap price, from $2 to $5, while in the bar it’s $25. In addition, there are also chewy annonas, bananas, and mangoes – tropical fruits. They are quite delicious, close to the taste in Vietnam.
Where to stay?
According to my research, hotels or resorts from 4 stars will cost from 800 USD – 1,000 USD/night. High-end hotel and resort chains such as Four Seasons, InterContinental Bora Bora cost up to $2,500 – $3,000/night and in the high season (especially June and July) can increase to more than $6,000/night.
Bora Bora is not large, so the number of luxury resorts and 5-star hotels is also limited. High-end areas like Four Seasons, InterContinental Bora Bora are extremely expensive and always sell out during the high season (June, July).
When coming to Bora Bora, instead of choosing high-end resorts and 5-star hotels that are popularly introduced in the media, I “hunt” for 4-star resorts and hotels with highly rated by locals.
The first days I stayed at Villa Yrondi (Agoda, Booking) – a place with Italian-style architecture with sculptures, statues, and decorative paintings. The owner of this villa is a famous artist in Tahiti.
The price at Villa Yrondi is quite cheap, only 250 USD / night but visitors will be satisfied with the sophistication of the architecture, convenient care services. In front of the villa is a mountain, surrounded by colorful bougainvillea flowers. “I thought I was in Italy, but there are Bora Bora beaches next to it.”
However, this place is not close to the sea. I had to cycle 15 minutes along the only road to the public beach. The public beaches here are absolutely beautiful. The water is as blue as jade with smooth white sand. Even these beaches are more beautiful than private beaches in resorts.
To fully enjoy the taste of the sea, the next 3 nights I moved to the Royal Bora Bora (Agoda, Booking) hotel located right next to the sea. The cost here is 300 USD/night, including breakfast.
The impressive point of this place is the wooden houses, thatched roofs right on the sea, and at the same time can fully watch the sunrise.
This place has a lovely design. Tourists like me can row a boat to see the expensive InterContinental resort.
Below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- Four Seasons Resort: Is one of the best places to stay in the world. This explains why it has some of the highest rates for ‘rooms’ in Bora Bora. (Agoda, Booking)
- Conrad Bora Bora Nui: Is the newest resort in Bora Bora that offers luxury with natural, eye-catching flair. (Agoda, Booking)
- St Regis Resort: This resort is decorated to suit the romantic. In particular, if you want to go on a honeymoon, you cannot miss this resort. (Agoda, Booking)
- InterContinental Bora Bora & Thalasso Spa, an IHG Hotel: This resort is built next to the coral cave in the east of Bora Bora Island. While here, you will have the opportunity to clearly see the most beautiful white sand beach in this island. (Agoda, Booking)
- Le Meridien Bora Bora: This resort feels both luxurious and modern. In particular, the view here is very beautiful but the cost is modest. (Agoda, Booking)
- Maitai Polynesia Bora Bora (Agoda, Booking)
- Le Bora Bora by Pearl Resorts (Agoda, Booking)
- Rohotu Fare (Agoda, Booking)
- BORA BORA HOLIDAY’S LODGE (Agoda, Booking)
Check out more top and best hotels in Bora Bora on Agoda.com or Booking.com
I used to “misunderstand” about Bora Bora, considering this place is too expensive to travel. However, if you take the time to find information, you can fully enjoy life in this paradise at a reasonable cost. The total cost for my 15-day trip was only about 7,000 USD instead of 50,000 USD as I thought.
The important thing is that working hard to find out information helps me better understand the culture, people and nature here and have very interesting experiences. That is also the difference from booking a package tour.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Bora Bora you can refer to here.