Beaches in Bora Bora, Bungalows & Adventures

January 15, 2020

bora bora

To most, a Bora Bora holiday conjures up images of an exotic palm-fringed, sugar-sand paradise with overwater bungalows somewhere out in the middle of the South Seas, mostly visited by starry-eyed honeymooners who rarely adventure beyond their resort. Beaches in Bora Bora are considered by many to be the most beautiful in the world.

beaches in bora bora

While Bora Bora is one of the best places for a honeymoon or romantic escape, it can be so much more.  Far beyond enchanting, Bora Bora is also exciting.  For those seeking a more exhilarating experience, you will find it on this tiny, pristine landmass, labeled by many seasoned travelers – including author James Mitchener – as “the most beautiful island in the world.”

INSIDER TIP: Here’s the only beach vacation packing list you’ll EVER need!

Bora Bora at a Glance

bora bora overwater bungalow

Staying in a magical overwater bungalow is a must-do!

Where is Bora Bora?  Part of the French Polynesia archipelago, Bora Bora is in the South Pacific, around 160 miles from Tahiti and approximately 2600 miles from Hawaii.

When is the best time to travel to Bora Bora?  Beaches in Bora Bora are always popular because the weather is warm all year round.  The high season is from May to October when it is dryer and balmy.  Low season runs from December to March when there’s more rain and more mosquitos.

  • Area: 11.8 mi²
  • Elevation: 2,385′
  • Population: 10,605 (2017)
  • Highest point: Mount Otemanu
  • Population: 10,605

Beyond the beaches, here are ten things to do in Bora Bora for the more adventurous explorer!

1. Shark Encounter in Bora Bora

sharks bora bora

Just a short boat ride out to the shallow reef will bring the intrepid traveler face-to-face with a bevy of blacktip reef sharks.  Not to worry though, because the blacktip is generally docile and does not feed on human flesh; it is not unusual for them to swim in close proximity to snorkelers.

2. Bora Bora Snorkeling with Stingrays

adrenaline junkie's guide to bora bora

In the shallow lagoons created by the motu (miniature islets afloat around the main island just beyond the reef), legions of stingrays gracefully glide about, seemingly seeking contact with swimmers. There are a variety of tours that will take you to places like “Manta Ray Channel” that are populated with the rays.  With some tactic maneuvering (and possibly assistance from your guide), it’s possible to reach out and touch their velvety hides.

3. Scuba Diving in Bora Bora

The sunlit crystal aqua water and density of sea life make Bora Bora perfect for diving.  The Coral Garden Reef in just 18’ of water is ideal for an introduction dive.  You may even spot a moray eel camouflaged near the bottom of the coral.  More experienced divers can head out to deeper waters or the steep drop-off coral walls up to 150’ deep.

4. Swim with Octopi

adrenaline junkie's guide to bora bora

Our guide, Ramon, finds a baby octopus in a shallow lagoon of Bora Bora

Look closely in the shallow shore near some of the deserted islands and you just may find a baby octopus lounging in the rocks.  These slippery sea creatures can attach onto your skin or expel ink, so handle them with care.

5. Skydiving in Bora Bora

There can be no more striking view of the Earth than looking down at the motu around Bora Bora from above.  Unfortunately, the $2695 sticker price for the private helicopter and tandem jump for two people prevents most from taking advantage of this spectacular vista.

6. Safari Expedition

Bouncing wildly in a 4×4 open-air jeep up the steep, craggy volcanic terrain to view Bora Bora’s stunning scenery is a great way to see much of the island away from the lagoon, though it verges on thrill-ride status and not for the faint-hearted.  Reaching the top, passengers are treated to a 360-degree panoramic view of the lagoon and reefs ringing the island, as well as some of the neighboring islands of French Polynesia.

7. Parasailing and Jet Skiing

Solo or duo, the fabulous birds-eye view from nearly 1000 feet makes parasailing a fun alternative to the more expensive skydiving.  Launched and then returned to a boat, the partakers never get wet.  Jet skis are also available for rental for a couple of hours with a guide to zoom around the lagoon and stop at various islets for a picnic or to snorkel

8. Eat Exotic Food in Bora Bora

adrenaline junkie's guide to bora bora

Move over sushi… meet poisson cru (“raw fish”), the new ceviche.   A delectable concoction made of fresh raw tuna, cucumber, scallions and tomato, the fare is served marinated in lime juice (which slightly “cooks” the fish) and creamy coconut milk which adds just the right amount of texture and sweetness.  This dish is even enjoyed by those who do not favor sushi.

9. Dance Like a Polynesian

adrenaline junkie's guide to bora bora

All the larger hotels will feature at least one night with a dinner and traditional Polynesian dance show complete with warriors and grass-skirted locals.  To be chosen to do a tamure – the exotic, athletic Tahitian hip-shaking hula, simply get yourself seated in the front and make eye contact when they begin “scouting” for participants.

10. Polynesian Wedding Ceremony

And for the really, really brave. . . it’s possible to arrange for a spontaneous traditional Polynesian wedding.  An outrigger canoe will come to the hotel to pick up the couple, dress them in traditional Polynesian garb and flowers and take them to a deserted motu.  Once there, warriors carry the couple in their arms to meet the priest for a ceremony complete with singing, dancing, and champagne.  Note: the fear factor can be eliminated by requesting a non-binding ceremony.

If you go:

  • Everyone should stay in a legendary Bora Bora overwater bungalow at least once in their life!  We stayed at the Bora Bora Pearl, an authentically Polynesian resort, with splendid overwater bungalows that are more affordable than some of the others.
  • Feed the sharks with Lagoon Service tour group.

Click below to pin so you can find beaches in Bora Bora and fun activities again:

bora bora PIN Beaches in Bora Bora

This story was first published by TravelersPress, May 22, 2013.  It’s been updated here in 2018 and 2020.

This article may contain affiliate/compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer.

About the Author

Patti MorrowPatti Morrow is a freelance travel writer and founder of the award-winning blog Luggage and Lipstick. TripAdvisor called her one of “20 Baby Boomer Travel Bloggers Having More Fun Than Millennials.”  Patti is the author of the book “Girls Go Solo: Tips for Women Traveling Alone,” and has over 150 bylines in 40 print and online publications, including The Huffington Post, International Living Magazine, Washington Post Sunday Travel, Travel Girl, Travel Play Live Magazine, and Ladies Home Journal. Patti has traveled six continents looking for fabulous places and adventure activities for her Baby Boomer (and Gen X!) tribe.


  1. Comment by Doreen Pendgracs

    Doreen Pendgracs Reply September 4, 2018 at 9:24 pm

    Beautiful post! Bora Bora is certainly on my list!

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply September 5, 2018 at 8:36 pm

      One of the most beautiful places in the world, plus so much fun!

  2. Comment by Kemkem

    Kemkem Reply September 5, 2018 at 8:11 am

    Great post! I like the eating and dancing parts as l can’t swim to save my life :-). Looks like fun though.

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply September 5, 2018 at 8:37 pm

      Lol! The snorkeling with sharks and stingrays is shallow — you could do it!

  3. Comment by Cathy Sweeney

    Cathy Sweeney Reply September 6, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    As I was reading this, I thought that I would not be adventurous enough to participate in the exhilarating side of Bora Bora. The I saw the tamure on your list — I think I could try that (after a cocktail or two). Great activities for the adventurous among us.

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply September 9, 2018 at 8:40 pm

      I’m sure you’d love the tamure! It was so much fun!

  4. Comment by Kristin

    Kristin Reply September 7, 2018 at 12:41 am

    Ha, love it! You have a way of participating in the action wherever you go, even with sharks and dancers.

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply September 9, 2018 at 8:41 pm

      My motto: Above all, life should be fun!

    • Comment by Kaylini Naidoo

      Kaylini Naidoo Reply June 16, 2020 at 11:13 am

      Gosh this article truly does inspire so much wanderlust to visit Bora Bora. It’s been on my bucket list for a while now, but since moving to Indonesia recently I’ve still got 17 000 islands to explore here first! Thanks so much for all the insights in the article

      • Comment by luggageandlipstick

        luggageandlipstick Reply June 16, 2020 at 8:26 pm

        I know what you mean, Kaylini! I’ve only been to Bali and would LOVE to explore more of Indonesia!

  5. Comment by Marilyn Jones

    Marilyn Jones Reply September 8, 2018 at 2:09 am

    As is so often the case in popular destinations, there is a lot more to do than advertised. You certainly put together an excellent “to do” list. Your photos make everything look so beautiful and inviting!

  6. Comment by Joanne @ Travel Visa Canada

    Joanne @ Travel Visa Canada Reply December 28, 2018 at 1:48 am

    Excellent roundup of Bora Bora. There is so much to do there!

  7. Comment by GSE Solutions

    GSE Solutions Reply February 22, 2019 at 4:14 am

    I absolutely love this post! I too prefer poisson cru to sushi. I recently had the chance to experience it on a business trip to Bora Bora with the company I work for GSE Solutions. Hope to hear from you soon! Luke

  8. Comment by George

    George Reply March 21, 2019 at 5:26 pm

    Bora Bora looks like a paradise!. So exotic! Wonderful set of images too.

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  10. Comment by khourstrem

    khourstrem Reply July 18, 2019 at 3:39 pm

    You have a way of participating in the action wherever you go, even with sharks and dancers.also to participate in the exhilarating side of Bora Bora

  11. Comment by Ravin

    Ravin Reply November 20, 2019 at 2:07 am

    i cant tell, its my dream place! i always wanted to go, but always failed. You had shared great experience, specially the underwater photos are memorable for whole life.

    Thanks for sharing it.

  12. Comment by Sherry

    Sherry Reply January 4, 2020 at 4:25 pm

    I’m all about swimming with an octopus! And I definitely NEED to spend the night in an over-water bungalow…off to tell hubby he needs to read this (hint hint!) Thanks for the fun and inspiring post!

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  14. Comment by Jyoti basu

    Jyoti basu Reply January 30, 2020 at 2:29 am

    Great post share! I will visit in next year. Definitely
    Really it was an awesome article.

  15. Comment by Victor

    Victor Reply May 9, 2020 at 10:03 am

    Beautiful post. I guess swimming is my thing.
    It’s kind of intresting anyway

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