Things to do in Bora Bora

Things to do in Bora Bora

Dreamy overwater bungalows, crystal-clear turquoise waters, mesmerizing starry night skies… Yes, we’re talking about Bora Bora, the screen-saver worthy locale that’s long captured our imaginations on a dreary office day. With Mount Otemanu majestically rising in the background and a kaleidoscope of underwater creatures thriving beneath the surface, Bora Bora lives up to its highly touted reputation as paradise found. And while we’re perfectly happy to while away the day on a picturesque palm-fringed beach, there are also plenty of adventures both above and below the water—should the urge for adrenaline so strike. Start planning your perfect Bora Bora vacation with our top tips to this Tahitian gem.

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Where to stay: Four Seasons Bora Bora

You didn’t travel to Bora Bora to settle for less than five-star luxury. This French Polynesian paradise calls for a romantic overwater bungalow, with sparkling cerulean water gently lapping below. Throw in a private plunge pool for good measure so that you can toast the climatic sunsets after a sun-kissed day of adventures. Direct access to a vibrant lagoon and silky white sand beach never hurts, either.

It sounds too good to be true, but these dreamy details are what makes the Four Seasons Bora Bora the serene hideaway it is. When you’re not indulging in the first-rate amenities in your private villa, Four Seasons Bora Bora boasts a foliage-lined infinity pool, tranquil spa inspired by native ingredients and ancient traditions, and four top-rated on-site restaurants. It’s all very bucket list-worthy—the quintessential fit for a place dubbed ‘the most romantic island in the world.’

Photo: Bob Bradley

Photo: Bob Bradley

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Take a marine biologist guided snorkeling tour to encounter some 100 ocean species – including manta ray and shark sightings

Things to do in Bora Bora: on and underwater

Bora Bora is revered for its ultra-turquoise waters teeming with exotic marine life. Start your underwater exploration at the Four Seasons’ Lagoon Sanctuary; located within the resort, the snorkelling spot doubles as a distinguished research facility dedicated to supporting the delicate marine environment. Take a marine biologist guided snorkelling tour to encounter some 100 ocean species; highlights often include manta ray and shark sightings. Tours of the Lagoon Sanctuary include options to enjoy a picnic lunch or show your support and respect for the underwater world via coral grafting.

If you prefer oxygen tanks to snorkel masks, many nearby dives afford opportunities to explore dramatically colourful coral walls. Two of the island’s most famous scuba dive sites are Anau (for its manta cleaning station) and Tupitipiti (for its majestic turtles.) If you’re keen on spotting manta rays, the best time to swim alongside these gentle giants is June to October.

When it comes to beaches, you don’t have to venture far to find one of the island’s most alluring sandy stretches. Right at the Four Seasons is a long peaceful beach, splendid for lounging under a swaying palm or floating in the inviting water. When you’re ready to leave the resort, Matira Beach is a worthwhile stop on the mainland that attracts both locals and tourists. Many consider it the most beautiful beach in French Polynesia due to its lovely vistas and spectacular sunsets.

No visit to Bora Bora is complete without a boating expedition, and we can’t imagine anything more romantic than a private sunset and stargazing cruise. Sail around sand-fringed islets as you sip champagne and marvel at the dramatic display of colours sweeping across the sky. Then, cuddle up with your special someone as the stars begin to glitter and dance. With no light pollution to speak of, Bora Bora delivers next-level stargazing coupled with fascinating Tahitian legends that centre around the constellations.

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A tropical island getaway lends itself to long days of sea and sand, but Bora Bora is more than its alluring shores

Things to do in Bora Bora: on and above land

A tropical island getaway lends itself to long days of sea and sand, but Bora Bora is more than its alluring shores. Swap your flip flops for hiking boots and tackle Mt. Pahia, the second highest summit on the island. This challenging hike is not for the faint of heart (you’ll want a guide and a sturdy pair of hiking shoes), but the expansive 360-degree island vistas from the peak are well worth the sore muscles. Slightly less difficult but no less memorable is an off-roading 4×4 island excursion. Local tour guides with companies like Bora Bora Explorer take visitors on titillating rides, unveiling Bora Bora’s lesser-known but equally beautiful nooks and hideaways. It’s a deep dive into the local culture that delivers plenty of off-the-beaten-track thrills (quite literally.)

Keep your adrenaline racing with a parasail over one of the most beautiful lagoons in the world. While serenely gliding over Bora Bora, you’ll enjoy epic views of Mount Otemanu and the nearby islands Taha’a, Raiatea, and Maupiti, and might even glimpse turtles and stingrays gliding just below the water’s surface. Go tandem for an exhilaratingly romantic aerial experience.

Photo: Andrei Dan

Photo: Parker Amstutz

Photo: Karen Kayser

Photo: Karen Kayser

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Eating and shopping in Bora Bora

Forgo the kitschy souvenirs and instead opt for one-of-a-kind, handcrafted French Polynesian artwork. The Bora Art Upstairs gallery is conveniently located in the centre of Vaitape village and showcases over 100 pieces by ten local artists. Each artist has their own style and technique—but all celebrate Polynesian culture. Then hop over to the Alain Despert Studio. A French artist living in Bora Bora since 1986, Despert is known for his colourful depictions of life on the island. You’ll find artwork by Despert in galleries and private collections across the world, but of course, there’s nowhere better to get to know the artist and his work than his home studio.

When hunger strikes, Four Seasons offers four different restaurants from which to choose. Arii Moana is the resort’s fine-dining option, featuring French-Polynesian fusion cuisine in a waterfront, thatched-roof building. The emphasis is on fresh local seafood cooked to perfection with distinctly French flavours. Oenophiles won’t want to miss the wine pairing, which highlights unique French varietals. For a next-level romantic dining experience, board a canoe for a private beach dinner. Sip on bubbly as the sun goes down and your chef prepares a romantic meal just for you and your lover.

Photo: Jeremy Stewart

Photo: Jeremy Stewart

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You’ll need a reservation to snag one of the few tables at La Villa Mahana, where it’s no secret that Chef Damien Rinaldi Dovio is a master at his craft

Outside of the resort, La Villa Mahana prepares French-inspired cuisine in a charming garden and patio setting. You’ll need a reservation to snag one of the few tables; it’s no secret that Chef Damien Rinaldi Dovio is a master at his craft, and there is only one evening seating for seven tables scattered throughout the three levels. Diners can choose from two set menus: one which focuses on Polynesian ingredients, and the other which features European flavours and influences. Service is impeccable, often with the chance to meet the chef in his kitchen. Another contender for the island’s best restaurant, St. James Bora Bora is tucked away behind a shopping centre in bustling Vaitape. Once inside, the informal yet welcoming space offers lovely lagoon views. The scenic spot makes an ideal lunch stop while out exploring the island; keep an eye out for the manta rays that sometimes glide by.

Photo: Artak Petrosyan

Photo: Artak Petrosyan

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