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  • BoraBora-Pearl-Beach-Resort - Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort is set amid the gentle beauty of the reef that crowns the island.
  • Couple-Jetskiing-BoraBora - See the shoreline sights around Bora Bora on a Jet Ski at your own speed.
  • Overwater-Bungalows-BoraBora - Overwater bungalows at the InterContinental Bora Bora Le Moana Resort.
  • Star-Flyer-in-Bora-Bora - Star Flyer anchored in Bora Bora during a South Seas sailing.
  • Girl-Plays-With-StingRays-BoraBora - A girl strokes a stingray — they're safe — in the warm Bora Bora waters.
  • Motu-Picnic-in-Water-BoraBora - The motu picnic part takes place on one of the many small islands or “motu” surrounding Bora Bora's lagoon.
  • Dinner-Overwater-Balcony-BoraBora - Bora Bora restaurants feature decks over the water. Perfect for evening dining.
  • Aerial-View-BoraBora - Seeing Bora Bora by air allows views of Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu.
  • Boating-and-Snorkelling-BoraBora - Spend the day on Bora Bora boating and snorkeling.
  • St-Regis-BoraBora-Otemanu-view - Mount Otemanu serves as a backdrop to the St. Regis Bora Bora Resort.
  • Ocean-Princess-in-BoraBora-2 - Book a sailing on Ocean Princess to take in the breathtaking beauty of Bora Bora.
  • Ocean-Princess-in-BoraBora - Ocean Princess — the smallest ship in the Princess fleet along with her twin, Pacific Princess — moors off the beautiful tropical paradise of Bora Bora.
  • Pacific-Princess-in-BoraBora - Small ship, big visual treats: Pacific Princess gives guests an exotic experience through the lavish isles of Bora Bora.
  • Lagoon-and-Bungalows-BoraBora - The aquamarine lagoon and bungalows at the Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort. Some cruise guests come for a day visit, others do an overnight or longer stay.
  • Silversea-Silver-Discoverer-Bora-Bora - Sail with Silver Discoverer to the beautiful lagoons of Bora Bora in French Polynesia.
  • Sunset-Dinner-St-Regis-BoraBora - Enjoy a sunset dinner at the St. Regis Bora Bora Resort during your cruise vacation.
  • Vahine-Walking-Through-Coconut-Grove-BoraBora - Walk through coconut groves and experience the tranquility of Bora Bora.
  • BoraBora-Beach - Bora Bora is surrounded by a barrier reef, protecting miles and miles of beautiful beaches.
  • Sea-Turtle-Lagoon-BoraBora - Swimming in a Bora Bora lagoon can bring you up-close to a sea turtle.
  • Snorkeling-in-Lagoon-BoraBora - Take time to snorkel in a sparkling Bora Bora lagoon and spot angelfish, butterflyfish and other colorful tropical fish.
  • Canoe-Bungalow-BoraBora - A canoeist approaching a visitor's bungalow at the InterContinental Bora Bora Le Moana Resort.
  • scuba_exotic_fish-1 - Encounter exotic marine life like a lionfish while scuba diving on a Paul Gauguin cruise.
  • Paddle-Boarding-BoraBora - Recreation options include stand-up paddle boarding at the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora.
  • Palm-Trees-BoraBora - Palm trees sway in the island breeze at the St. Regis Bora Bora Resort.
  • Sofitel-Motu-in-Bora-Bora - Sofitel Motu on the water in Bora Bora with Mount Otemanu in background.
  • Ponant-BoraBora.png - Dive into the clear waters of Bora Bora in the South Seas on your Ponant luxury cruise.
  • lindblad-ship-pink-sunset.jpg - Enjoy a perfect sunset on a Lindblad Expeditions voyage.
  • lindblad-south-pacific-clear-waters.jpg - Find those perfect out-of-the-way spots on a Lindblad Expeditions sailing in the South Seas.
  • lindblad-south-pacific-golden-tropical-sunset.jpg - Beautiful sunsets and warm breezes await you on your Lindblad expedition to the South Pacific.
  • lindblad-south-pacific-islet.jpg - Clear waters and warm sun await you in the South Pacific on a Lindblad expedition.
  • lindblad-south-pacific-rainbow.jpg - Find your rainbow over the islands of the South Pacific on your Lindblad expedition.
  • lindblad-south-pacific-reef-sharks.jpg - Observe blacktip reef sharks — they're timid around people — on a Lindblad Expeditions voyage to the South Pacific.
  • lindblad-south-pacific-scuba.jpg - Get up close and personal with some reef fish on a Lindblad expedition to the South Pacific.
  • lindblad-south-pacific-sea-urchin.jpg - Look but don't touch: a sea urchin spotted during a Lindblad expedition to the South Pacific.
  • lindblad-south-pacific-sunset.jpg - Take in the perfect sunset on a Lindblad expedition.
  • lindblad-south-pacific-thatch-huts.jpg - A Lindblad expedition comes upon locals in thatch huts in the South Pacific.
  • lindblad-south-pacific-tropical-fish.jpg - Explore a rich underwater world on a Lindblad expedition to the South Pacific.
  • lindblad-south-pacific-tropical-islet.jpg - Visit out of the way South Pacific islets on a Lindblad Expeditions.
  • lindblad-south-pacific-tropical-reef-2.jpg - Pick some dream islands and wade into a cool South Pacific reef on a Lindblad expedition.
  • lindblad-south-pacific-tropical-reef-boats.jpg - All ages can enjoy glimpsing South Pacific tropical fish from a reef boat during a Lindblad expedition.
  • lindblad-south-pacific-tropical-reef.jpg - Find your bliss in the tropical reefs of the South Pacific on Lindblad Expeditions.
  • lindblad-south-pacific-underwater-photography.jpg - Capture your adventures on Lindblad Expeditions to the South Pacific.
  • lindblad-south-pacific-visitors-on-board.jpg - Relax on board after a day exploring tropical islands on your Lindblad expedition.
  • National-Geographic-Orion-and-zodiac.jpg - Explore out-of-the-way island locales on your Lindblad excursion on National Geographic Orion.
  • national-geographic-orion-south-pacific.jpg - An aerial of a Lindblad expedition on National Geographic Orion in the South Pacific.

Bora Bora travel guide & photo tour

our guide

The vibe

The small island of Bora Bora is only 18 miles in circumference, but it’s home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and waters, and the luxurious pampering resorts with overwater bungalows and thatched roofs we dream of for our ultimate retreats. Add to that scenery the sharply rising Mount Otemanu, which reaches almost 2,400 feet above sea level, and lush tropical slopes and valleys, and you’ve got the closest thing to paradise on earth. 

This luxurious island was formed about 3 million to 4 million years ago by a series of volcanic eruptions. The name given to the island by settlers in the ninth century was "Porapora." Then, during World War II, American armed forces stationed on Porapora called the island "Bora Bora." Despite the fact that there is no "B" in the Polynesian language, the common usage prevailed and made the name stick. Renowned traveler James Michener repeatedly declared Bora Bora the world's most beautiful island, and the wealthy have often made this Polynesian paradise their vacation spot of choice.

 Cruise ships that call on Bora Bora

Top reasons to go

  • The lagoons offer scuba diving, swimming, jet-skiing and other water sports.
  • Deep-sea fish for marlin and other fish native to the island.
  • Travel the volcanic land by heading out on a 4x4 safari excursion.
  • Shop for Tahitian black pearls, which are native to the island.

Here's a 4-minute drone video that gives you a visual taste of this tropical paradise.

Top things to do & see in Bora Bora

Lagoonarium

This hands-on museum takes you snorkeling to explore the natural wildlife up close and personal. This sectioned-off area of the Bora Bora lagoon features shark feeding, barbecue picnics, and water activities (689-67-71-34).

Snorkeling & scuba diving

Bora Bora offers many diving and snorkeling sites for visitors of the island, both in the lagoon and in the deep sea surrounding the island. The open ocean features much deeper waters, so you can swim with marine life not found in the lagoon, but prior experience is recommended, as you are likely to encounter barracuda, giant eels, rays, and various species of shark. An additional diving experience can be found between the months of August and October, when humpback whales are migrating. For the best in scuba diving and snorkeling, contact TOPdive Bora Bora in Vaitape (689-60-50-50)

Hiking

There is even more adventure available on land in Bora Bora. Explore the island peaks of Mounts Uhe, Pahia and Otemanu on foot through the numerous hiking paths, which are maintained to ensure safety. For longer hikes, you can always find a helicopter to pick you up or drop you off wherever you want to go.

Art galleries 

If you need to relax from adventuring for one day, take a peak at the sculptures, paintings and art books of artists who live and work on the island. Their pieces are often shown off at Alain and Linda Art Shop (689-67-70-32). The Rosine Temauri Masson Gallery (689-67-72-04) also features a great collection of work by Bora Bora artists.

Spend the day on Bora Bora boating and snorkeling.
Courtesy of Tahiti TourismeSpend the day on Bora Bora boating and snorkeling.

Best bets for dining

After a fabulous day full of activity and adventure, treat yourself to a delicious dinner at Bloody Mary's. Featuring a full bar and live music, Bloody Mary's (689-67-72-86) is a great place to be. For delightful Italian specialties, visit The Bamboo House in Amanahune (689-67-76-24). A combination of tasty French delicacies and a fabulous view are combined at La Pérouse Restaurant. The entire bar and restaurant are built on stilts and hover over the lagoon, creating a fabulous atmosphere. To arrange a glorious picnic on a white sand beach, contact Moana Reva Tours (689-67-60-27). These relaxing luncheons are held on Moto Pitii Aau Beach, and all of Polynesia's specialties are offered. Grilled fish, sushi mixed with spices, and fresh fruit are some of the most scrumptious delights. 

YOLO (You only live once!)

If you're feeling bold, contact Bora Bora Taxi Motu to rent your own Power Boat (689-67-60-61). Taxi Motu is the only place on the island where you can rent your own boat and cruise around the lagoon in style. As a result, this service has become extremely pricey. Depending on the make and model, and what you desire in a power or pedal boat, the cost differs by hundreds of dollars. Occasionally you can negotiate, so try your luck.

Best time to go

Any time is good to visit, since the weather is warm year round, but peak tourist season runs between May and October. November to April are less crowded, but it can get rainy and mosquitos tend to run rampant.

An aerial view of Bora Bora shows the miles of barrier reef surrounding the island.
Courtesy of Tahiti TourismeAn aerial view of Bora Bora shows the miles of barrier reef surrounding the island.

When you arrive

Docking information

Cruise shops will dock at Fare Piti Quay in Faanui. Nearby is the glorious Bora Bora lagoon, which amazes all who come ashore. In Faanui and Vaitape village, you will find everything you need to get acquainted with the island.

Getting around

Either by land or by sea, a taxi can take you anywhere you want to go. Prices vary tremendously, but one of the most reliable services is Jacques Isnard taxi service (689-67-72-25). Fare Piti Rent A Car can be reached at (689-76-65-28), and you can contact EuropCar Bora Bora at (689-67-70-15). Rental cars in Bora Bora start at $65-$75 a day for small Fiats. Hondas and Toyotas are local favorites but will cost you at least $100 a day, possibly $150 depending on the features you desire.

Fun facts

  • Bora Bora is actually Pora Pora, meaning “first born,” in the local Tahitian language.
  • Half of the population of Bora Bora is 20 years old or younger. Expect to see many beautiful people enjoying the sun on the beaches!

Need to know

Documents: U.S. and Canadian citizens will need a valid passport.

Language: French and Tahitian; however, many employees speak English.

Currency: The French Pacific Frank (XPF), but credit cards work

Safety: Very safe, but as with any travel destination, be sure to lock up your valuables and don't flash cash.

Your take

Have you been to Bora Bora? Was it fabulous? What was the highlight? Have any tips for first-timers?

See anything wrong? What did we overlook? Be a co-creator!

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Cruiseable team
The Cruiseable editorial team consists of award-winning travel writers, cruise bloggers and journalists.

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Overheard

“For me, it was the colors of the place: My eyes feasted on them. To go from the monochromatic slush of an Idaho December to the emeralds, jades, and sapphires of French Polynesia was like falling overnight into a color-saturated dream. The viridescence of the palms, the sun-bleached teak of the walkways, the white sand that in places was as fine as cake flour — they were nutrients for the soul.”

Condé Nast Traveler

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