Bora Bora

So you want to go to a tropical island?

Bora Bora is an island in the Pacific Ocean, and is part of French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France. It’s a typical tropical island with blue seas, white sand beaches and coconut trees. Surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef, Bora Bora is regarded as the Pacific’s most beautiful island. The island’s original name in Tahitian language might be better rendered as Pora Pora, meaning "First Born".

Bora Bora
Bora Bora from the air (Photo by Viajes Mundoparaiso - Plantour Ponferrada)

The highest point of the island is in fact an extinct volcano, Mount Otemanu, which measures 727 meters (2,385 ft). The slopes of the volcano are covered with hibiscus and other tropical plants. The island itself is rather small, and can be circled by car in an hour. The lagoon around the island is three times the size of the landmass.

Mount Otemanu
Mount Otemanu from the air (Photo by Rachel_thecat)

In World War II the Americans used this island as a supply base for their pacific fleet. To ensure the Japanese would not take this island, they stationed 5000 soldiers on Bora Bora and installed seven big naval guns to hold of enemy ships. Because the island was never contested, some of the defenses are still intact, and can be visited. The airport that is still in use today was also constructed during the war.

Bora Bora Naval Gun
American naval gun (Photo by wwathen)

Things to do:
4x4 excursions will take you to panoramic view points and the American WWII cannons. Most of the interior roads of the island were cut by the American during the war, and can only be accessed with a 4x4. Coral Garden is a natural underwater park where all types of fish and coral can be found. Because of the clear and warm water within the lagoon, snorkeling is very popular. You can also watch local divers when they are feeding reef sharks by hand. Ray feeding excursions are also organized, and the friendly gray rays love to be petted.

Reef Shark
Reef shark in the Bora Bora Lagoon (Photo by Pierre Lesage)

You can also circle the lagoon by boat. A lot of other water sports are also practiced: canoe, jetski, wave runner, parasail, and nightly sunset sails.

Most of the recent hotels have been built on islands in the lagoon surrounding Bora Bora. They mostly face into the lagoon and Mount Otemanu and offer over water bungalows. These over water bungalows are only found in French Polynesia (with a few exceptions) due to the protected lagoons and the very even tides. Prices for staying in such a bungalow range from $650 to $3,500 per night for the more exclusive bungalows.

bungalow
Overwater bungalow (Photo by Anthony Rosales)

Where to stay:
You can choose to stay in the overwater bungalows mentioned before, but if you want to save some money, choose one of the pensions or camping areas on the island. Most of these accommodations are run by family members and they are often very friendly. They are great sources of island information and can help you to organize activities during your stay.

Bora Bora
A view on the island, standing on the lagoon (Photo by Pierre Lesage)

Great destination for:
Honeymooners
Divers
Beach vacations

Location of Bora Bora on Google maps:

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