12 Best things to do in Bora Bora, French Polynesia

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There are only a few places in the world quite like Bora Bora, the small South Pacific island northwest of Tahiti in French Polynesia. The 30.55 square kilometer island group is blessed with so much natural beauty, both on land and underwater. It’s really no wonder that it has not only topped the lists of best places to go in the world, but also the bucket lists of travelers from all over the world.

From the moment you step on the white, pristine, sandy beaches and gaze upon the unbelievably blue sky and sparkling waters and distinct towering peaks on the island, you will feel like you’ve been transported to a fantasy realm. The island is one of the most secluded islands in the world, making it the ultimate paradise. In fact, it’s known as the Romantic Paradise Island for the warm and intimate atmosphere it inspires.

Get to know this pocket of paradise with our guide of things to do in Bora Bora. By the end of it, you’ll be itching to book your flight to the unspoiled tropical paradise. 

The best things to do in Bora Bora:

1. Enjoy Matira Beach

Matira Beach on Bora Bora | best things to do in bora bora

Matira Beach on air | Photo by Tim McKenna Photography-TMK Tahiti, Facebook

Hailed as the 9th Best Island Beach in the World by Conde Nast, Matira Beach is a stunner. The iconic landmark of this paradise features silky soft and fine sand with crystal-clear emerald waters against the beautiful backdrop of tropical foliage. It is one of the only beaches available to the public, making it the primary destination of visitors.

Lay out your beach mat and spend your day lounging on the sunny shores. Lose yourself in a slice of Heaven on Earth. Make sure you find a spot with a good amount of shade and don’t forget to put on reef-friendly sunscreen! There is little to do on the beach other than swim and sunbathe, but the beautiful views make up for it. The beach is also near a few resorts and places to eat, for your easy convenience.

Matira Beach
Leeward Islands, French Polynesia
Admission: Free
Get directions

Best place to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• La Villa Mahana (4.7/5 stars, Restaurant, $$$)
• Le Napoli (5/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)
• Far Niente Ristorante (4.7/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Matira Beach.

The best hotel to stay near Matira Beach based on overall price, location, and amenities according to travelers:

Hotel la Pirogue Api (9.8/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

2. Explore the island on 4×4 vehicle

Bora Bora 4WD tour -best | things to do in bora bora

Bora Bora 4WD tour | Courtesy of Bora Bora Island Guide

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One of the best and exciting ways to get around and see the scenic spots of Bora Bora is to hop on a 4×4 vehicle and go on a guided tour of the island. With the tour, you can access the many lookouts on the island to take photos of the picture-perfect views while you navigate the vehicle on your own.

Discover the hidden gems around the island as you make your way through the rugged island terrain. You can also learn more about their culture and traditions from the expert locals guiding the tour. As one of the more popular ways to get around the island, there are many tour agencies offering 4×4 vehicle tours with a variety of options and activities to suit different interests.

3. Discover deep sea treasures at the Coral Gardens

Bora Bora Coral Garden | Peter Shirley via YouTube

Bora Bora is known for its rich marine life, unspoiled by pollution or over fishing endeavors. The premier destination to see these marine creatures up close is in the Coral Gardens. Located on a small islet east of the main island, Coral Gardens is a vibrant and colorful coral reef home to many different sea creatures.

While you can reach the coral gardens on your own by boat or by kayak, it is best experienced with a tour organized by local operators so you can be guided by experts, thus getting the most out of your deep-sea adventure. Put on your snorkeling gear, explore the beautiful coral reefs, and have chance encounters with stingray, eels, and reef sharks.

4. Go on a Stargazing Tour and Sunset Cruise

Bora bora island luxury cruise ship travel tourist woman watching sunset | best things to do in bora bora

Bora bora island luxury cruise ship travel tourist woman watching sunset | Photo by Maridav via Shutterstock

The unspoiled paradise offers one of the best views of the galaxy at night. Because of the small human population on the island, there is little light pollution barring stargazers from seeing the amazing twinkling nightscape. Bora Bora may be one of the few places in the world where you can see the stars and galaxies without needing special equipment.

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Join an exciting tour to watch the stars come alive at night to the lore of French Polynesia, as shared by the masterful local storytellers. The tour usually begins with a sunset cruise, where you can sip bubbly as you watch the vibrant sunset colors enveloping the sky.

5. Photograph the picturesque views from Pāopāo Point

Looking for coloured fishes (The reef next to Paopao Point | Bora Bora) - best things to do in bora bora

Looking for coloured fishes, the reef next to Paopao Point | Photo by Sergio Calleja (Life is a trip) via Flickr

Tucked somewhere within the residential areas of the locals, this hidden gem of a lookout point is somewhat of a challenge to find. However, those who seek to find it will be rewarded with the spectacular sweeping views of the island. Climb up the hill and discover views you’ve only seen on television or on a postcard. From the lookout point, you’ll see the cerulean blue lagoon against the towering peak of Mount Otemanu.

Pāopāo Point
Anau, Bora-Bora, French Polynesia
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Best place to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• Restaurant Fare Manuia (4.5/5 stars, French, $$$)
• Bora Bora: Arii Moana (4.6/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)
• La Villa Mahana (4.7/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Pāopāo Point.

The best hotel to stay near Pāopāo Point based on overall price, location, and amenities according to travelers:

Hotel la Pirogue Api (9.8/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

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6. Revel in the majestic Mount Otemanu

Mount Otemanu | best things to do in bora bora

Mount Otemanu | Photo by rachel_thecat via Wikimedia Commons

Towering at 2,385 feet above the island, Mount Otemanu is the jagged spire remnant of an ancient extinct volcano. It is the defining fixture in Bora Bora’s scenic landscape. You can see the black, rugged slopes surrounded by tropical foliage at any spot on the island.

Visit the breathtaking Mount Otemanu by climbing to the mountain, a popular activity for tourists. Note that the mountain can’t be summited because of the fragile volcanic rock, but the base of the mountain offers picturesque views on its own. You can also enjoy the mountain through a 4×4 excursion, a boat tour, or a scenic helicopter ride – there are plenty of options available!

Mount Otemanu
Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Admission: Tour prices vary
Get directions

Best place to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• Lagoon By Jean Georges (4.7/5 stars, Restaurant, $$$)
• Restaurant Fare Manuia (4.5/5 stars, French, $$)
• Bora Bora: Arii Moana (4.6/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Mount Otemanu.

The best hotel to stay near Mount Otemanu based on overall price, location, and amenities according to travelers:

Fare Vai Nui (9.1/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

7. Swim in the Bora Bora Lagoonarium

Bora Bora, Snorkeling The Coral Gardens | Matti Rambo via YouTube

Featuring views similar to that in an aquarium sans the glass, the lagoonarium is a favorite for visitors of any kind. It is a natural aquarium and water park located on a private island near Motu Piti Anau.

This family-run attraction features many interesting and exciting activities such as swimming experiences with the sea life as well as ray and shark feeding sessions. The lagoonarium offers half-day and full-day tours, inclusive of a delicious tropical BBQ lunch.

Bora Bora Lagoonarium
Récif du Motu de Bora, French Polynesia
Admission: 6200-9500 XPF
Ph: +689 87 79 22 90
Get directions

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Best place to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• Izzy’s (4.8/5 stars, Restaurant, $$$)
• Far Niente Ristorante (4.5/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)
• La Pizzamobile (4.6/5 stars, Pizza takeaway, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Bora Bora Lagoonarium.

The best hotel to stay near Bora Bora Lagoonarium based on overall price, location, and amenities according to travelers:

Bungalow Bali Hai (9.2/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

8. Try the many water sports

Kayaks on white sand beach, Bora Bora, Tahiti, French Polynesia | best things to do in bora bora

Kayaks on white sand beach, Bora Bora, Tahiti, French Polynesia | Photo by 18042011 via Shutterstock

Bora Bora Wave Runner | Howard Shack via YouTube

With the beautiful expanse of the sea available, water sports are a popular way to enjoy the crystal clear waters of the island. For the adventurous, hop on a rented WaveRunner for a personal speedy tour around the lagoon. Feel the amazing rush as you make your way around the island on the jet ski and see the island from a whole new perspective. You can also paddle on a stand-up paddle board at your own page or with a group.

For a unique scenic experience, try parasailing! Parasailing in the island takes you high above the sea, offering unimaginable views of paradise from the air. You can see the colorful corals hidden underwater or appreciate the towering Mount Otemanu.

9. Live in luxury at 5-star resorts

Hotel luxury resort tourist woman arriving with luggage suitcase for honeymoon vacation | best things to do in bora bora

Hotel luxury resort tourist woman arriving with luggage suitcase for honeymoon vacation | Photo by Maridav via Shutterstock

Bora Bora has a reputation for being the epitome of luxury. Because of the secluded and intimate atmosphere, it has drawn the attention of honeymooners and high rollers looking for a one-of-a-kind beach experience. High profile celebrities and other influential figures like the Kardashians have enjoyed one of the many exclusive resorts in the island.

What better way to live in paradise than in the many luxurious accommodations of the island? You are surely spoiled for choice with the selection of top-notch resorts on the island. Like the nearby Tahiti Islands, it offers private over water bungalows for the ultimate getaway. You can’t go wrong with waking up in the high-class beachfront villas available.

9. See the turtles at the Bora Bora Turtle Center

Bora Bora Turtle Center | best things to do in bora bora

Bora Bora Turtle Center | Photo by Bora Bora Turtle Center via Facebook

The turtle center at Le Méridien Bora Bora | LE MERIDIEN BORA BORA via YouTube

When a Le Meridien hotel staff first rescued an injured turtle back in 2000, they couldn’t have imagined the Bora Bora Turtle Center of today. The center aims to help rehabilitate the turtles in the island while giving guests a deeper understanding of sea life. For a small donation, guests can watch the turtle feedings and explore the educational exhibits in the Ecological Center.

You may also get the chance to swim with these gentle creatures in a mini lagoon. Entry to the Ecological Center is free for hotel guests. For non-hotel guests, the hotel has a “Discover Day” package available that allows for entry to the center, plus access to other hotel amenities.

Bora Bora Turtle Center
Le Méridien Bora Bora Vaitape, French Polynesia
Admission: 50 – 80 Euro/person
Ph: +689 40 60 51 51
Get directions

Best place to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island (4.7/5 stars, Restaurant, $$$)
• Alan Wong’s Honolulu (4.5/5 stars, Pacific Rim, $$)
• Pujol (4.6/5 stars, Mexican, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Bora Bora Turtle Center.

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The best hotel to stay near Bora Bora Turtle Center based on overall price, location, and amenities according to travelers:

Le Meridien Bora Bora (9.2/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

10. Bike around the island

Woman tourist biking on E-bike rental in Bora Bora | best things to do in bora bora

Woman tourist biking on E-bike rental in Bora Bora | Photo by Maridav via Shutterstock,

With only a 32-kilometer coastal road, Bora Bora is a small island you can literally circle in a day! For a refreshing experience that will surely bring you a new perspective, consider riding a bike around the island. The island has a relatively flat terrain, save for some steep hills, making it perfect for a biking excursion.

Rent a beach bike from the locals and hop on! Feel the sea breeze as you whiz past the picture-perfect scenery of the crystal blue waters and bright sunny sky. The best part of exploring the island on a bike is that you can stop anywhere that catches your fancy. You may find yourself at a secluded beach or admiring flora and fauna, often overlooked by other visitors.

11. Find nirvana in Bora Bora’s spas

Luxury over water spa bungalows at Bora Bora | best things to do in bora bora

Luxury over water spa bungalows at Bora Bora | Photo by Traycheva via Shutterstock

Paradise is synonymous to a stress-free lifestyle. If you’re still carrying the weight of the world despite being in beautiful Bora Bora, you may need to take your relaxation to the next level: spas. Most of the top resorts offers massages as well as body and facial treatments to help guests reach ultimate relaxation.

Head to the spa and pamper yourself. Spa experiences may vary with resorts, but whatever your choice, you can’t go wrong on an island that prides itself in perfecting the art of relaxation. From private open-air massages to a flower bath before a traditional Tahitian massage, take your pick and feel your worries slowly melt away.

12. Stop by Vaitape before you go

Street view of Vaitape, the main town in Bora Bora, French Polynesia | best things to do in bora bora

Street view of Vaitape, the main town in Bora Bora, French Polynesia | Photo by EQRoy via Shutterstock

Vaitape Bora Bora | John Rogers via YouTube

Most people who would visit this island are there for the beaches and resorts. However, the small, charming village of Vaitape is worth a stop, if not just to see how the other half of the world lives. It is a place to go to get souvenirs for family and friends and to sample the local cuisine.

Discover the perfect souvenir for the perfect trip and grab a bite at the beachfront restaurants while you’re at it! Popular souvenirs are Tahitian black pearls, jewelry made from shells and wooden beads, and scented soaps and oils. If you can, time your trip on a Sunday morning when the town becomes busy with the market set up to sell different kinds of goods.

Vaitape
Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Get directions

Best place to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• StjamesBoraBora (5/5 stars, Restaurant, $$$)
• Chez Terava (4.5/5 stars, Polynesian, $$)
• Restaurant Fare Manuia (4.6/5 stars, French, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Vaitape.

The best hotel to stay near Vaitape based on overall price, location, and amenities according to travelers:

Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island (9/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com


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