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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.
Here's a 4-minute drone video that gives you a visual taste of this tropical paradise.
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).
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Have you been to Bora Bora? Was it fabulous? What was the highlight? Have any tips for first-timers?
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“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.”