10 Best Things to Do on Bora Bora

Overwater bungalows in the lagoon of Bora Bora with mountains in the background

Matteo Colombo / Getty Images

The Tahitian paradise of Bora Bora is the perfect place to do nothing but it also offers plenty of activities for adventure-seekers as well as those looking for a romantic getaway. Bora Bora is a small South Pacific island northwest of Tahiti in French Polynesia and is a favorite destination for those who love natural beauty and the excitement of island activities.

From snorkeling and up-close shark feeding to exciting fire dancers and romantic sunset cruises, there are great ways to spend your time on the scenic island of Bora Bora.

01 of 10

Circle the Island on a Wave Runner

Waterscooter passing by stingray swimming on floor of Bora Bora Lagoon.

Merten Snijders / Getty Images

See the water from a Wave Runner personal watercraft. Don a life jacket, make sure your sunglasses are secure, turn the throttle, and then zoom and zip over the lagoon watching as it changes color from pale turquoise to deep sapphire.

On the two-hour adventure with Matira Jet Tours, you'll ogle Mt. Otemanu from every angle, wave to other travelers sunning on the decks of their overwater bungalows, and stop for a refreshing swim and snack at a private beach.

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02 of 10

Feed Sharks and Stingrays

Southern Stingray and Blacktip Reef Shark, Dasyatis americana, Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Ethan Daniels / Getty Images

Yes, you are in the water with them, but no, you are not their lunch! Be more than a mere spectator during this thrilling Bora Bora excursion (bookable at most resorts) as you don mask and snorkel and float in the shallow, sand-bottomed lagoon. Watch as your guide welcomes three-foot-wide southern stingrays and three-to-four-foot black-tip reef sharks to snack on the raw fish he's handing out.

The sharks tend to keep their distance and circle, but a few of the stingrays are gentle and playful enough to touch.

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03 of 10

Watch Polynesian Fire Dancers

Traditional Tahitian fire dancer performing

Per-Anders Pettersson / Getty Images

While there are plenty of traditional hip-shaking dance performances on Bora Bora, the most memorable evening entertainment is high-speed flame twirling by a troupe of traditional Tahitian fire dancers. Dressed in loincloths, these pyrotechnic experts dazzle you with acrobatic moves employing flames so hot you'll feel the heat from 10 feet away.

Inquire about a performance at your resort, but some of the most popular shows are at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa and the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora.

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04 of 10

Set Sail at Sunset

Boat with Bora Bora Island in the distance at sunset.

Tom Cockrem / Getty Images

There's so much vivid blue in Bora Bora, that it seems almost an illusion when the lagoon takes on soothing silver and magenta hues when the sun fades into magical dusk. This is the most romantic time to be out on the lagoon and several resorts offer sunset cruises, complete with cocktails and appetizers.

If you're staying at the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, the catamaran, Navigator, heads out each Sunday for a 90-minute cruise featuring champagne and sushi.

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05 of 10

Shop for Black Pearls in Vaitape

Man measuring the diameter of a black pearl

Friedrich Schmidt / Getty Images

It's called "pearl fever" and many a visitor, after seeing locals wearing the luminous black pearls cultivated in Tahiti's crystal-clear lagoons, catches it, feeling an overwhelming desire to own some themselves.

Bora Bora's main town, Vaitape, has at least a ​half dozen upscale pearl shops, including OPEC, Tahia Collins, and Robert Wan, while a crafts market, selling less precious jewelry made from mother of pearl and smaller black pearls, can satisfy those with a more limited budget.

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06 of 10

Snorkel From Your Overwater Bungalow

Bora Bora, woman snorkeling in sea beside thatched roof hut

Louis Schwartzberg / Getty Images

There's really no need for a snorkel excursion in Bora Bora since it's possible to spy on vibrant reef fish-angelfish, parrotfish, needlefish and even the occasional black-tip reef shark-right from your overwater bungalow.

Your resort will provide a mask, snorkel, and fins and you can take a scenic dip whenever you'd like. Throw a bit of bread into the water and you'll have plenty of fishy company. Of course, where there's coral, there's also more fish, so if you really love to snorkel, inquire about a several-hour trip with Reef Discovery to the coral reefs.

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07 of 10

Share a Romantic Dinner on the Beach

Romantic luxury dinner setting at tropical beach on sunset

levente bodo / Getty Images

It's just the two of you, your server, the shimmering lagoon and the silhouette of Mt. Otemanu as you sip champagne and dine on a fabulous multi-course Polynesian-inspired meal.

Almost every resort on Bora Bora offers a private beach dinner-and costs vary from about $300-$500, but if you are celebrating something special (your wedding, your engagement, your anniversary), dining alone together beneath the stars is a gastronomic experience you'll long remember.

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08 of 10

Get a Polynesian Tattoo

Looking to overwater bungalows in the lagoon (inside the reef) from aboard a jetski, Hilton Moorea L

Blaine Harrington III / Getty Images

Tahitian ink is the stuff of legend-literally. The word "tattoo" is derived from the Tahitian word tatou.

Detailed body decoration in Bora Bora and the other islands dates back centuries. Today, visitors can be safely tattooed with ancient tribal designs using modern equipment at the Manea Spa at the Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort & Spa, where artist Jean-Yves "Matariki" Tamarii will give you a lasting memory of this beautiful island.

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09 of 10

Dine at Bloody Mary's

Bloody Mary's

Courtesy of TripAdvisor

Bloody Mary's, built of jungle timber and bamboo, re-creates the romance of the islands straight out of the James A. Michener book, Tales of the South Pacific. Located in Powai Bay, with sailboats and yachts mooring nearby, the thatched roofs add to making Bloody Mary's look like the iconic tiki bar. You can stop by for lunch, just a cocktail (Boody Marys, Daquiris, and more) or enjoy dinner service from 6 p.m. to 9:30 pm, where you can dine on the daily catch of local Bora Bora fishermen. They are closed on Sunday.

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10 of 10

View Mount Otemanu from on High

Bora Bora Tahiti Mt Otemanu

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Mount Otemanu is one of two peaks of an extinct volcano located at the center of Bora Bora. The mountain rises 2,400-feet above the lagoon and it is beautiful, especially in the mist. You cannot hike Mount Otemanu, but you can get a closer look at the tropical hillsides on a wilderness hike. Book a guide to help you traverse the dense jungle.

It's fun to go on a jeep tour around the mountain’s base to see World War II cannons, cave formations, and archaeological relics. Many hikers opt to go up the smaller of the two peaks, Mount Pahia, where the views of the larger mountain and the island are spectacular. 

Another option is a boat tour which goes around the mountain and close enough that you can get some spectacular pictures. Most resorts offer Mount Otemanu excursion packages through a variety of tour operators.

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