Bora Bora : The most Iconic Island in Polynesia
A volcano set over one of the most beautiful lagoons in the world, Bora Bora is probably the most famous island in the Society Archipelago. More than Tahiti or any other island in French Polynesia, it is the source of the idyllic image that characterizes these islands. As a lover’s dream, it is the favourite destination for honeymooners and the promise of an exceptional stay. The lagoon of Bora Bora remains an unforgettable memory, as the islands’ tour in a pirogue (dugout canoe) or swimming with sharks and stingrays. Once called Vavau, it was Captain Cook who named it “Pora Pora”, which means “out of the night, from the world of the gods”, as legend has it that this land was the first to emerge from the waters before the creation of Raiatea, making it the oldest island. Pora Pora then later became Bora Bora.
Where is Bora Bora ?
Bora Bora is part of the Society Islands archipelago, which is divided into Windward Islands (including Tahiti and Moorea) and Leeward Islands (including Bora Bora, Huahine, Raiatea, Maupiti). 17,000 km from the mainland France, and 255 km northwest of Tahiti, in the middle of the Society Islands, Bora Bora is known as the ‘Pearl of the Pacific’. Renowned for its lush greenery and turquoise lagoon, this small island measures no more than 38 km2 in area: 8km long and 5km wide.
What is the best season to go to Bora Bora ?
The French Polynesian weather is tropical oceanic with two seasons: a dry season from April to October and a wet season from November to March. To travel to Bora Bora, it is best to choose the cool, dry season, which runs from April to October. The season in which you decide to go to Bora Bora will obviously influence the cost of your trip.
What activities can we do in Bora Bora ?
Beyond its white sandy beaches and crystal clear lagoon, one of the must-do activities while visiting Bora-Bora is scuba diving. With its exceptional biodiversity, Bora Bora is a paradise for diving enthusiasts. Surprisingly, swimming with sharks and rays is safe and a must-do when visiting Bora-Bora. For thrill-seekers, a seaplane flight over the island is a great way to see the island and enjoy an unforgettable view of the lagoon and the white sandy beach.
Diving in Bora Bora doesn’t necessarily require a wetsuit and a bottle on your back. You can observe the aquatic life with fins, mask and snorkel. The island is full of exceptional spots for snorkeling. These true nature reserves where multicolored fish, from parrotfish to surgeonfish and many others, twirl around, offer incomparable underwater spectacles.
The more athletic may be tempted to see the island of Bora Bora by bicycle. The island’s belt-like coastal path stretches for almost 32 kilometres, which is quite easy to cover and takes visitors off the beaten track and allows them to explore at your own pace. Another unusual activity is a visit to the island using a Pirogue, sail boat, like the first men of the island. It is a real experience that allows you to discover the beauty of the lagoon, its fauna and flora. A wonderful experience.
The Best places to visit during your stay in Bora Bora
Bora Bora offers breathtaking landscapes. Beyond its postcard coastline, Bora Bora is an island of relief and contrast. The volcanic rocks that make up the heart of the island are ideal for hiking. For example, it is possible to climb to the top of Mount Ohue, gaining access to a breathtaking view of the lagoon in the process. Its neighbour, Mount Pahia, requires more effort for a slightly higher climb. For the less athletic, the Valley of the Kings offers a 4 kilometre walk that allows you to discover the legends and stories of the island.
Matira Beach is the only public beach in Bora Bora. Considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the Pacific Pearl, and even in the world, this two-kilometre long strip of white sand, lined with coconut trees, is the perfect place for snorkeling and discovering a wide variety of tropical fish. Matira Beach is also the arrival point for the pirogue boats who that take part in the famous Hawaiki Nui race in early November.
Mount Otemanu ( meaning “peak that drains beings”) is located in the heart of the island of Bora Bora and reaches an altitude of 727 metres. It is one of the two peaks of Bora Bora (with Mount Pahia). It is possible to climb it for a very nice hike and panoramic view on the lagoon. Experienced hikers can explore the base of the mountain, and it is also possible to explore the lower parts of the mountain in a 4×4 or see it from above on a helicopter tour. Imposing and majestic, it is the highest peak on Bora Bora. It is visible from both sides of the island and is beautifully enhanced by the sun.
The lagoon of Bora Bora
Bora Bora has a unique lagoon due to its size (78km2) and the colour of its waters, which vary from dark blue to transparent green. See ballets of manta rays and majestic sharks, and enjoy encounters with quiet napoleon fish and a multitude of multicoloured marine creatures. Its underwater depths enchant beginners and experienced divers alike in the “coral garden“, a sort of the natural aquarium in which shoals of damselfish create a dazzling display. In the Vallée Blanche, a sandy bank 34 metres below the surface, grey manta rays and leopard rays live alongside schools of tuna, jacks, and a few turtles and large napoleons. Whilst grey, black and white tip sharks compete with schools of barracudas.
Bora Bora’s other peak, Mount Pahia, is a 658-metre-high volcanic mountain and the second highest peak on the island. It is an ideal hiking destination that leads to dense forests with breathtaking views, away from hotels, resorts and bungalows. The mountain has spectacular terrain, accessible to experienced hikers with a guide and bike rides around the island offer an easier option to see the beautiful views of both mountains.
Discover Bora Bora with Aranui 5
Enjoy the beauty of Bora Bora’s landscapes and culture during a cruise aboard Aranui 5, the mythical mixed cargo ship of French Polynesia with the Cook & Society Islands Lagoons cruise, departing from Tahiti from April 17th to 25th 2023.
From Papeete, your stay aboard the ship is an extraordinary adventure of 8 nights ( 9 days). On this unique voyage to discover some of the most beautiful islands and beaches in Polynesia, Aranui 5 will anchor facing Vaitape village, where travellers will have time to learn how and why the island earned its reputation. After a picnic at the heavenly Motu Tapu, a visit to the Pearl of the Pacific will delight travellers and make this holiday unforgettable.
In 2024, Aranui 5 will call at Bora Bora on day 11 of its traditional itinerary to the Marquesas Islands (20 departures).