When one begins to explore what there is to do on the magnificent island of Bora Bora the top priority should be to simply relax. Bora Bora is the island in French Polynesia for luxury and pampering. A handful of top international resorts boast endless walkways of over-water bungalows jutting out from pristine, white-sand beaches which are surrounded by top-notch spas, restaurants and lounges. If you’re not watching your budget, this is the place to truly indulge.
However, for those who truly have a hard time simply letting the sun rise and set on a day doing nothing more than lounging oceanside, there are opportunities to get out and explore the island’s black, jagged rock hidden beneath lush tropical vegetation.
Many of the high-class resorts are not actually located not the main island of Bora Bora itself and instead face the island from a motu (a smaller island). While this positioning can led itself to some amazing views, it also makes it a cinch for the resorts to lock you into spending money in their bars and restaurants. It also most likely accounts for the smaller selection of cafes and places to dine on Bora Bora.
The island’s main city, Viatape, is not a city at all, rather a small cluster of tourist shops, mostly selling French Polynesia’s famed Black Pearls. Also look for an Avis rental car spot, a pharmacy, a grocery store, a local artist’s village, a beautiful church and a couple cafes. A brisk walk from one side of town to the other can’t take more than five to ten minutes, but the lackluster list of activities in town doesn’t keep people away. Tourists continue to file through Viatape as it does serve as a base for the ferry to and from the airport as well as water shuttles to some of the resorts.
The remainder of the island remains a somewhat untouched paradise. Its beautiful peaks and hidden valleys don’t compare to the raw beauty of Moorea, located just off the main island of Tahiti, but the vast array of blue waters surrounding Bora Bora make for a more magical experience. Most of points of interest are either scenic lookouts, historic Polynesian sties or relate the United State’s occupation during the war. In fact, in the short time the US used Bora Bora as a military base during WWII, we constructed the main road around the island. Two US cannons stand as reminders overlooking the land of Fare-piti. You can reach them via a short walk uphill from Teniu-‘ira-i-papua’a, but they can also be seen from the water while on a dive or snorkel tour of the island. Fa’anui village and the nearby bay served as the site of the American base during WWII with some historic relics still remaining.
If you’re tired of sitting at the same hotel bar and talking with the same bartenders and guests, catch the shuttle to the main island and head to Bloody Mary’s. The famous bar was built in 1979 and proudly displays a laundry list of hollywood starlets who’ve since graced its tables.
If you’re looking to get away from people altogether, there are two hikes designated on the island; however, both can be difficult and a guide is recommended. The Mount Te-Tara-O-Pa’ia hike begins in Viatape and will take you five to six hours to traverse. Unfortunately, the trail is not marked and some parts will leave you clinging to a rope as you climb. The second trail begins in Vairou and can be traversed without a guide, although one is recommended. Again, the track is not marked, but if you’re brave enough to make the climb, you’ll be rewarded with wonderful views of the lagoon from the Te-ana-o-Pe’a.
There are several other points to explore, each offering a different view of Bora Bora or the surrounding islands. If you want the bestvantage point to see Maupiti, Raiatea and Taha’a look no farther than Fa’anui road. If you’d like to explore the islands, there is a ferry available in the town center of Viatape called the Maupiti express. It’s a great way to buzz over and poke around the less inhabited Maupiti Island for a day.
If you came to venture into the Pacific rather than explore the islands themselves, there are countless options available. Just off shore, the deep blue waters surrounding the island hide numerous reefs teeming with life, as well as deep pools of colorful fish, eels, sharks and manta rays. Each hotel can easily book diving, snorkeling and jet ski tours as well as private island getaways including lunch on a secluded beach. Make certain to inquire about the number of snorkeling stops and what type of marine life you’ll be seeing as each tour targets different areas. If you’re looking for something outside of your hotel, there are a handful of tour companies offering similar packages, which you can book yourself simply by e-mailing or calling them direct. They will then pick you up via boat at your resort. The top rated Pure Snorkeling tour by Reef Discovery is a wonderful three-to-four stop tour featuring manta rays, colorful reefs and fish. The guides act more as teachers as they know the island and surrounding waters along with the history of them like the back of their hand. They are more than willing to help inexperienced snorkelers and give experienced snorkelers a little freedom to explore on their own.
If just thinking about all this “work” makes you tired, then go ahead.. pick out your lounge chair on the beach and lie lifelessly while basking in the sun. Bora Bora truly offers it all. It’s a magical island adventure and a relaxing tropical paradise that won’t disappoint.