Bora Bora in French Polynesia: all you need to know about travel to Bora Bora!

Bora Bora: your own perfect slice of heaven on earth! In this blog, we will tell you all you need to know about travelling to Bora Bora in French Polynesië! Things to do in Bora Bora, how to get to Bora Bora but also information on nice (and budget proof) hotels and restaurants! We share all of our own backpacking experiences in this travel guide.

Bora Bora in French Polynesia

Many people are not familiar with French Polynesia, but as soon as you mention Bora Bora, a bell rings! Bora Bora is the most visited island of French Polynesia, a tourist destination and especially popular for honeymoons. And to be honest, for us Bora Bora totally lived up to the expectations. It is the most beautiful island we have ever seen!

We cycled around the island, made a boat trip where we swam with sharks and rays and enjoyed the beautiful blue water. The island of Bora Bora is actually a large exctinct volcano surrounded by a reef with small islands on it (motus). These small islands most often house luxury resorts and have the most beautiful beaches. But the main island, is a lot of fun too. Most of the locals live here, often in the capital city of Vaitape. French Polynesia Bora Bora Island

How many days do you need for Bora Bora?

We recommend you to stay 3-4 days in Bora Bora. This gives you plenty of time to explore this pretty island and all the different shades of emerald the sea has the offer here. Do you have more time, then you will love spending that here too, just keep in mind Bora Bora is the most expensive island of French Polynesia.

Is Bora Bora an expensive destination?

Bora Bora is definitely not a cheap or budget destination! Many people visit Bora Bora to stay in a luxury resort and overwater bungalow. Most often these resorts are beautiful but extremely expensive (starting rate for 1 night is often around €500). These resorts are often on their own private island/ motu meaning that most of your meals will also be taken here. For a meal in a luxury resort, you must account around €40- €50 a meal. On top of this also come your flights which are definitly not cheap! Activities booked at an overwater bungalow resort on Bora Bora are also highly-priced. So if you travel to Bora Bora for a luxury vacation, then yes Bora Bora is very expensive.French Polynesia Bora Bora Ries

Budget travel in Bora Bora: backpacking!

But luckily there is a big BUT! We did manage to travel to Bora Bora and French Polynesia on a budget! Yes, we went backpacking in Bora Bora! By staying in homestays or budget hotels on the main island of Bora Bora you can save a lot of money! On average we spent about €80 a night. Furthermore, we did our own grocery shopping and cooked many meals ourselves (€5 a meal). Activities we booked locally and since we stayed at the main island we could bike to the other parts of Bora Bora to explore!

All of this saved us a lot of money, however, do keep in mind a trip to French Polynesia and Bora Bora is budget-wise still not comparable to for instance South East Asia. Are you backpacking to Bora Bora, then this Bora Bora travel guide will help you stay penny-wise!

Curious about what we spend on our trip to French Polynesia? Read more in our French Polynesia budget blog!French Polynesia Bora Bora heaven on earth

Where is Bora Bora located?

Bora Bora is one of the islands of French Polynesia. French Polynesia is an overseas collectivity of France, composed of over 118 islands. You can find French Polynesia in de Pacific Sea, sort of midway between New Zealand and the United States.

French Polynesie where is French Polynesia in a World map

All those 118 islands of French Polynesia are spread out over an area larger than 4000 square kilometres. Meaning, that if you would want to travel from the most eastern located island to the most western located island, this covers about 2000 kilometres. The same distance as to travel from Amsterdam to Athens! These 118 islands are divided into 5 groups. Bora Bora is part of the Society Islands group. From Papeete (the capital city of French Polynesia) on the island of Tahiti, it is just a short 50 minutes flight to Bora Bora.
Map of French Polynesia where is French Polynesia Located

How to get to Bora Bora?

As mentioned before, since Bora Bora is part of the Society Islands group, and lays close to Tahiti it is easiest to first fly to Tahiti (on the airport of Papeete) and then take a transfer flight to Bora Bora. Depending on where you are from, it might take a while to fly to Papeete. From Papeete, it is 50 minutes to Bora Bora.

Click here for the most recent flight deals to Bora Bora!

When you arrive at the airport of Bora Bora, which is located on a separate island, you will take the free ferry to the main port. Are you staying at one of the luxury resorts of Bora Bora, then most often there is a pick-up service from your hotel at the airport.French Polynesia: Aiport Bora Bora

Are you planning your itinerary which includes Bora Bora? Then read our French Polynesia itinerary blog for the perfect 2-week itinerary!

Things to do in Bora Bora: our 6 favorite activities

Besides relaxing and enjoying the perfect blue water, Bora Bora has also some other cool activities to offer. Below our 6 favorite things to do on Bora Bora.

1. A lagoon tour: snorkeling with sharks and stingrays.

One of the scariest and coolest things I have ever done in my entire life: swimming with sharks and stingrays! During a lagoon tour we explored the beautiful waters around Bora Bora, went to different motus and swam with sharks and stingrays. In the shallow waters around Bora Bora live many black tip reef sharks. For humans they are not dangerous at all.  The animals are completely white and about 1 meter long. Another sea animal that lives here, is the stingray. They are also harmless although there are rare cases of them stinging their tail which is poisonous.

As you can imagine going into the water with these creatures is both exciting and scary but after a while I relaxed and really enjoyed it. Especially going under water and snorkeling around them was really cool.French Polynesia Bora Bora sting-rays

Next to this experience a Lagoon tour is a great way to see Bora Bora and the beautiful volcanic hills from a distance. And then I haven’t even talked about the 1000 different shades of turquoise of the sea. If there is just one thing you can do in Bora Bora, a Lagoon tour would be it! We ended the tour with a delicious lunch on a motu.

Click here for more information on a Lagoon tour!

2. Diving in the lagoon of Bora Bora

The waters of Bora Bora are filled with fish. When diving you can expect to encounter nurse sharks, reef sharks, hamerhead sharks, mantarays and stingrays tulles and occasionally whales or dolphins. We can recommend Top Dive as a diving centre (as Ries dove twice with them in Rangiroa and had an amazing experience!).

Tip: Don’t forget that you should take a number of hours before it is safe again to fly after diving. Is your plane leaving the next day, then diving is not recommended. And that’s exactly why we did not have the time to dive on Bora Bora (instead Ries made some dives in Rangiroa).

3. Cycle around the island

The perfect way to independently explore Bora Bora is by bike! Around the whole main island of Bora Bora is a good asphalted road of about 32 km long. Along the road you will continuously have the most beautiful views of the paradisal island and the motus. Cycle to the south for beautiful beaches, to the north for nature and tranquility and the east of the island to go off the beaten path. You can rent a bike for about €12 for a whole day.

Tip: make sure to bring enough sunscreen! While cycling you burn quickly I can say from experience.

4. Mountain climbing or hiking in Bora Bora

Bora Bora is actually an island based on the remnants of a volcano. This is clearly visible: when seeing Bora Bora from a distance you can notice a steep mountain with two peaks: Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu. The hight peak is Mount Otemanu with 727 meters above sea level.

Mount Otemanu is to steep to climb but it is possible to visit Mount Pahia. This is for experience mountain climbers. We ourselves are no climbers but prefer hiking. On Bora Bora there are multiple walking trails. According to locals the Valley of the Kings track is one of the most beautiful ones. Be aware that for your own safety it is recommenced to take a local guide on these hikes and to only hike with dry weather. Ask around in town for a local guide. In the capital city of Vaitape you have the biggest chance of finding one. French Polynesia Bora Bora island view

5. Whale watching on Bora Bora!

Between July and October, you can find humpback whales in the waters around Bora Bora! These beautiful creates are here to breed and give birth to baby whales (calves). It is possible to witness whales in Bora Bora since they come close to shore. The biggest chance of seeing them is around September. Unfortunately we visited Bora Bora in February and therefor did not have the chance to see whales. But it is one of our dreams to go back during summertime and witness this nature spectacle.

There are multiple tours with which you can go whale watching. We do urge you to always engage respectfully with these animals. Please join a tour which is animal friendly and sticks to the eco and environment rules with respect to distance to these wild animals.

French Polynesia Bora Bora and Charlotte

6. Enjoy the beautiful beaches of Bora Bora!

Bora Bora has many beaches. Especially on the motus (the small islands around the main island, where most of the luxury resorts are), you will find soft sand and the most perfect turquoise and emerald colored water. On the mainland of Bora Bora there is just one public beach: Matira beach.

Matira Beach – Bora Bora

This populair beach is the only public access beach of Bora Bora. It is located at the most southern point of Bora Bora. You will find some restaurants here. Many locals come here too which creates a really cool vibe! Click here for the location.French Polynesia: Bora Bora Charlotte

Private beaches Bora Bora

To visit the other (private) beaches, you will need to stay in the resort where the beach is from. Some of the most beautiful beaches can be found at the following resorts:

1. Beach at the Four Seasons Bora Bora

Four seasons resort bora bora

2. Beach at the Conrad Bora Bora Nui

Conrad Bora Bora Nui

3. Beach at the Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort & Spa

Le Bora Bora by Pearl Resort

4. Beach at the St Regis Bora Bora

The st regis bora bora

Tip: when you are backpacking in Bora Bora and don’t have the budget to stay in one of the luxury resorts, but still want to enjoy pretty beaches, then have a look at the water tours that are offered. Many of them stop for lunch at a pretty beach on one of the motus. This way you get to experience pretty beaches in Bora Bora on a budget!

Read this article when you are also visiting Rangiroa and looking for inspiration on cool things to do!

Nice restaurants on Bora Bora!

Food, mostly being transported from France all the way to Bora Bora, is one of the most expensive things here (aside from the overwater bungalows). Most travelers staying in a luxury resort in Bora Bora take all their meals on the resort itself. However Bora Bora mainland also has some nice restaurants to eat at. Hereby a selection of restaurants in Bora Bora, including some budget options.

Roulletes – food trucks in Vaitape

In the centre of Vaitape, near the ferry terminal you will find from 6 pm onwards food trucks opening for business. These roadside stalls offer cheap and delicious food, perfect for a budget meal. Prices for a main course ranges from €8-€12.

Iaorana Gelato – ice cream 

After biking we cooled off with a delicious ice cream at this gelato place!

Bloody Mary’s – cocktails near the beach

Bloody Mary’s is a cocktail bar and restaurant close to Matira beach. It is famous for it’s clientele, which exists out of many different type of celebrities. The food is fairly affordable, a dish during lunch is between €12 and €18. In the evening mains start at €25.

St James restaurant – fancy dining

St James restaurant is easy to miss, it’s in Vaitape, behind a seemingly desolated shopping mall. However it’s a real hidden gem. This waterfront restaurant has good food, friendly service and a nice ambiance. Mains start from €25.

Also nice: St James offers yoga classes on the deck during the mornings combined with a brunch.

Bora Bora Yacht Club – really fancy dining!

The Bora Bora Yacht Club, north of Vaitape is perfect for fine dining. Out on the deck looking at the sun to set, is the perfect ending of a romantic day in Bora Bora. The restaurant is famous for its tuna, don’t miss out on it. Mains start from €30. French Polynesia kayak bora bora island

Cool and budget proof hotels in Bora Bora!

Bora Bora is actually a large volcano surrounded by a reef with small islands on it (Motus). The most expensive overwater bungalow resorts are located on these small islands. However, what most people don’t know is that Bora Bora also has affordable accommodations on the main island! Are you backpacking in Bora Bora, then see below are our favourite budget hotels for Bora Bora:

Oa Oa Lodge €€

Hotel guide French Polynesia Oa Oa lodge Bora BoraLooking for an affordable overwater bungalow? Then this is your spot! The lodge is located on the beach and also has its own swimming pool! You can rent a bike and book island excursions here. You sleep here from €91 (three persons).

Book now!

Fare o’Eden €€

Hotel guide french Polynesia Fare oEden Bora BoraThis villa is a short walk from the beach but has a large garden with a beautiful view of the mountain tops of Bora Bora. Everything is available to cook yourself. You can rest and relax here! From € 160 per night (two persons).

Book now!

Villa Rea Hanaa €€€

Hotel guide French Polynesia Villa Rea Hanaa Bora BoraWant to stay a night in a beautifully decorated villa with fantastic views of Bora Bora? Then quickly book this amazing villa before it is sold out! Laura, the hostess, really makes you feel at home! From €165 a night (two persons).

Book now!

Luxury travel: The best overwater bungalows of Bora Bora!

Are you definitly not traveling on a budget and looking for that once-in-a-lifetime experience of sleeping in an overwater bungalow on Bora Bora? Then check out the luxury overwater bungalows on Bora Bora below!

InterContinental €€€€ 

Hotel guide French Polynesia InterContinental Bora BoraThe Intercontinental overwater bungalows of Bora Bora each have their own private pool! And look at that amazing water! Who wouldn’t want to stay here? From €1218 (2 persons).

Book now!

Four Seasons Resort €€€€

Hotel guide French Polynesia Four Seasons Resort Bora BoraThe Four Seasons resort has these amazing overwater bungalows with multiple layers, private swing pools and more. Incl. beautiful designs and luxury outdoor areas! From €1591 a night (2 pers).

Book now!

Looking for more inspiration for (budget) hotels and overwater bungalows in the rest of French Polynesia? Then read our French Polynesia hotels blog!

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  1. by Martin on 7 April 2022  14:50 Reply

    Love it! Super useful!

  2. by Frederick The Photographer Schiele on 11 November 2022  00:48 Reply

    Enjoyed this write up the pictures were super cute too!

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