The world has so much to offer and explore that there are so many places that we have never even heard of. Even the most minute of spaces around the earth is beautiful, surreal and could be dream destinations to tick on your bucket list. One such place is the French Polynesian group of islands- Bora Bora.
Not a very common tourist place, it is an archipelago located around 2600 miles south of Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean. The real name in local dialect is “Pora Pora”, which means the firstborn. It is the most well-known and celebrated island of French Polynesia and is a leading beauty. The main island is surrounded by a lagoon and a Barrier reef. In the centre of the island lies the remains of an extinct volcano which rises in two peaks- Mount Otemanu and Mount Pahia. The main settlement of the island is Vaitape located on its western side.
This island runs mainly on the basis of tourism, with very little resources of itself.
Best time to visit
Since the island lies in the South Pacific Ocean, the temperature is usually between 25-30°C throughout the year. Occasional sea storms or weather phenomenon usually happens around the months of November- April. However, during this time the tourist traffic is less and you may get cheap rented rooms.
Ideally, the best time to visit Bora Bora is from June to October, when the temperature is fine and normal to enjoy water sports without hindrance.
How to reach?
Reaching Bora Bora can be a little exhausting, but fret not. Here are some suggestions for you all:
- From India, there are no such direct flights. The only direct flights also have a stoppage at Singapore or Auckland. This is going to be really expensive and may cost around INR 1-2 lakhs per person, from Mumbai or Delhi.
- All the flights will first go to Papeete and then the Air Tahiti will fly you to a small islet of Motu Mute, from where you can go to the Bora Bora Island on a boat.
- The cheapest way to travel from India will be to take a flight from southern India. Flight from Bangalore to New Zealand will cost around INR 45000. From there, you can go to Bora Bora on a cruise or flight.
- You can travel by water only when you are in any nearby island or place like Honolulu etc.
Where to stay?
Bora Bora is very small and thus all the hotels, resorts and overwater bungalows are very close to each other. There are numerous private islands as well, where you can honeymoon with your partner.
Some ideal locations to stay can be:
- Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island: This exclusive island offers accommodation among the beautiful crystal-clear beach waters.
- Royal Bora Bora: This resort has a restaurant and has got 3-star reviews offering spacious and comfortable accommodation.
- Village Temanuata: This is a low-key bungalow kind of resort offering kitchens and a beach for sightseeing nearby.
- Maitai Polynesia Bora Bora Resort: This is the ideal budget accommodation for budget travellers, with low room rates.
- Pearl Beach Resort Bora Bora: This is the ideal resort for those tourists who want to experience the traditional Tahiti Architecture.
- Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort and Spa: This resort cum spa offers some amazing massaging and spa services for a cosy Living. It is a 5-star deluxe property and provides a luxurious residence.
Destinations and Places to see
The place has a lot to offer in terms of major tourist attractions. Do take a look at all these below-listed destinations:
- Matira Beach: This is the most famous beach in Bora Bora and also around the whole world. It is a public beach and has been even labelled as the most beautiful of all beaches. It has pure white sands and aqua, turquoise waters which make it look heavenly. It is not very crowded and people can watch Sunset and do water sports over here. There are many cafés and restaurants around it, serving local food. The Matira point on this beach is famous for a heavenly view of the Sunset with pink and orange hues in the background.
- Mount Pahia: This is the second-highest mountain peak on the Island and is located in the centre of the island. Tourists can take a boat ride around the mountain and enjoy the natural beauty of the place. The peak remains shrouded in the white clouds and around it is the beautiful Pacific waters.
- White Valley: As the name suggests, it is a paradise for all the diving lovers with its alluring white sands all around. This valley has much to offer in terms of rich coral and marine life and has many exotic sand dunes, shells and coral formations. Various types of fishes are also found here.
- Leopard Rays Trench: This is another diving site, wherein people can go underwater and watch the giant, amazing Manta Rays. The white bottom has many wonderful creatures whom you can watch and click on your camera too.
- Maupiti: It is a small coral atoll which has a volcanic island in the middle. Maupiti is known for its raw beauty and has interesting angles from where you can see the surroundings from the highest peak of this place. There are other sites like Mount Otemanu on which you can go for rock climbing or trekking. There are many war memorial sites too which depict the role of Bora Bora in World War II.
The Bora Bora has a unique cuisine with the intermixing of Japanese, French and Italian Styles. There are many restaurants in this Island along with some local Street side stalls as well. The food is made in ovens which are dug deep inside the ground. After the raw food is wrapped in Banana leaves, it is made to cook in-ground for hours. This type of feast is called Tamaaraa.
Since it is an island, the main diet food is fish. Poisson Cru is a dish made out of the raw fish wrapped in lemon juice. The people eat fruits like Papayas, Coconut etc. Tourists can enjoy these local delicacies along with some drinks from bars in restaurants, although usually, the local people drink smoothies and purees made out of fruits.
What and where to shop?
Bora Bora is generally famous for its Tahitian Pearl Jewellery. The Tahitian black pearls are world-renowned and usually quite expensive. Some shops also sell the collected seashells and handicraft jewellery too. The Tahiti Pearl market is one such family business that collects and makes shells of various sizes and colours. You can even try buying the traditional carvings on animal skins called Tiki. Besides that, today the Polynesian tattoos are world-famous. So, just grab a nice corner of a tattoo shop and get yourself inked!
Other items to buy can be the rich paintings of the island depicting ancient scenes. One should not at all miss buying Pareos, which are the traditional cloth stuff, used by both men and women to wear and also to cover furniture.
Activities to do:
- Motu Picnic: This is the most exciting adventure you can engage in, where you are picked up from the main island and then dropped at a Motu through a boat. On the Motu, which are the small scattered islands around the main one, you can party with your friends, have drinks, dance, sing and eat the Poisson Cru and other tropical fruits. It can be a good relaxing activity.
- Lagoon Tours: The lagoons or backwaters of the island are breathtakingly pretty and international tourists usually explore the place via this lagoon tour on a boat.
- Paul Gauguin Cruises: These are the vessels or luxury ships that have been specifically designed for Polynesia. It offers five-star deluxe hospitality to the guests. It has many spaces like Ocean viewing valleys, balconies, water sports features. Besides this, you can eat your favourite international cuisine on it including the French food too.
Altogether, you can engage in adventure sports like stingray or shark feeding, snorkelling, scuba diving, aqua biking, parasailing, sightseeing, boating, surfing, swimming, and photography tours of the place. Romantic Couples can go for dinner beside the beach or a romantic boat tour. And others can go on a hiking trek with their family on Mt. Pahia too. People who can’t dive can also go for an aqua safari under the waters or can even explore any local village including the famous Vaitape settlement and native culture. The place is open to all for fun!
This almost untouched and pristine island in the Pacific can be your next dream destination. It is an ideal location to visit for newlyweds and couples of any age.
– By Nitin Hajela. Nitin is a food critic, experimental chef and travel enthusiast.