10 Adventures Beyond the Beaches in Bora Bora

September 4, 2018

adrenaline junkie's guide to 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.

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 land mass, labeled by many seasoned travelers – including author James Mitchener – as “the most beautiful island in the world.”

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?  Bora Bora weather is warm all year round.  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 mosquitos.

Here are ten things to do in Bora Bora for the more adventurous explorer.

1. Shark Feeding in Bora Boraadrenaline junkie's guide to bora bora

The phrase alone is enough to invoke waves of terror.  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.  The actual feeding is done by an experienced guide and produces a frenzy of sharks all vying for the offered victuals.  Not to be missed.

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!  Go to the Bora Bora Pearl, an authentically Polynesian resort, with splendid overwater bungalows that are more affordable than some of the others.
  • Here are more places to stay in Bora Bora.
  • Feed the sharks with Lagoon Service tour group.

Here’s your pin:

bora bora

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

Related: Bora Bora Overwater Bungalows

Disclosure: We’ve included an affiliate link to Booking.com for your convenience. Luggage and Lipstick receives a small portion of the sale at no additional cost to you.


  1. 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

  2. Pingback: Reunion Island Tours: Things to Do in Reunion Island

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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!

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

  10. 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!

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Go top