It is completely reasonable to be overwhelmed with the sheer size of French Polynesia. The vast assembly of islands stretches across the South Pacific and boasts at least 118 islands, with a healthy number of dispersed atolls, islets and reefs to boot.
Bora Bora Travel Guide
The capital of this impressive grouping of five archipelagos lies on the island of Tahiti and it is called Papeete. This will almost certainly be the first urban area you witness before you land at the city airport and embark on the long boat ride to Bora Bora.
If you have never visited this treasure trove of natural wonders before, get ready to be blown away and read this first timer’s guide to the Pacific paradise of Bora Bora.
Bora Bora: A Pacific Paradise
Bora Bora is more than just a beautiful island. Beautiful would be an understatement. Also, did you know that even though most people around the world call Bora Bora an island, it is technically a small cluster of small islands.
The central island is surrounded by a narrow lagoon and a barrier reef, and from the bird’s view perspective, it is easy to imagine that this volcanic formation was once one whole body of land above water.
The main island has two extinct volcanic peaks – Mount Otemanu and Mount Pahia, that stretch 727 meters above water. Understandably, Bora Bora is notorious for being pricey, but considering how utterly beautiful it is, the ‘attendance’ is well worth the price.
A bit of history
The mesh of French influences and Polynesian roots can confuse certain newcomers, so it is good to be familiar with at least the superficial historical context.
The latest archeological research has shown that the first Polynesian settlers came to this island in the 4th century, and James Cook sighted the island in 1769.
However, even though the first sightings were made by Dutch and English captains, it ended up as part of the overseas collectivity of France.
Beyond that, most of its history was pretty placid, with one notable exception – Bora Bora was an important strategic location for the US during World War II.
A place for romance
Countless honeymooners around the world flock to Bora Bora because of its incredible concealed beaches and enchanting lagoons.
Its powdery white stands that stretch into the water and tall palm trees that are positioned perfectly to offer a shade from the tropical sun are the epitome of the archetypal ocean getaway.
The luxurious overwater villas are crafted to blend perfectly with the surroundings, and they have become the signature ‘mascots’ of the island. It’s not a coincidence that the legendary sailor James Cook dubbed it the ‘Pearl of the Pacific’.
Even though Bora Bora doesn’t have impressive urbanity or a hectic nightlife, it is still a rich playground filled with countless activities around every corner.
If you move out of the vicinity of your accommodations and look for interesting things to do in Bora Bora, you will hardly have a single minute of free time, especially if you are a ‘completionist’.
From jet-ski adventures to daring deep diving challenges and long hikes into the ruin-littered jungles, Bora Bora has a bit of everything for anyone.
Kiteboarding is becoming a very popular activity and it is mostly practiced at the southern tip of Matira. If you are too tired yet you want to explore every inch of the volcanic caldera, you can rent a bike or small terrain vehicles and jeeps to drive around the main island and reach the most interesting locations.
Of course, if you want to revel in sheer, unadulterated hedonism, the idyllic beaches and delightful restaurants are strewn about in all their glory.
While we are on the topic of food, Bora Bora has some truly incredible world-class restaurants. Don’t be fooled by the remote geographic location of the island group – the chefs have mostly been through trial by fire in all the corners of the world and they have developed their own signature culinary expression.
The dishes mix local Polynesian traditions with the influences of French cuisine, which means that you will get a healthy mix of the adventurously exotic and the deliciously familiar in equal measure.
Falling in love with Bora Bora is the easiest thing to do. Parting with the island is a completely different matter.
It won’t take you long to become utterly enamored with the white sand beaches and vibrant turquoise waters of this destination, and you will begin planning for the swiftest possible return long before you board the plane to return home.
Marie Nieves is a lifestyle blogger who loves unusual trips, gadgets and creative ideas. On her travels, she likes to read poetry and prose and surf the Internet. Her favorite writer is Tracy Chevalier and she always carries one of her books in her bag.
Marie spends most of her free time at home walking her Labrador Retriever named Max. She is an avid lover of photography and a regular author at High Style Life. You can find Marie and follow her on Twitter.