Everybody has a bucket list of dream places that they want to go to; some are more far-fetched, whilst others lie in the hearts of practically every passport-owning human. One in particular seems to top the pile as an if-heaven-existed-on-earth type fantasy, which captivates perennial travelers, loved-up honeymooners and worn-out holidayers alike. Bora Bora, ‘The Pearl Of The Pacific’ and the island gem that lies in the heart of French Polynesia has been inspiring even the tightest of jaws to drop and the most jaded eyes to bulge ever since ol’ Captain Cook spied it from his telescope back in 1780 and decided to drop anchor (native Polynesians notwithstanding). So, we already know that holidaying in Bora Bora is going to be awesome, but to take your once-in-a-lifetime trip to the next level (the BUCKiTDREAM level), you’ll need this ultimate guide.
Nobody likes to think of their ‘dream experience’ as cookie-cutter, which is why planning ahead is essential in order to make sure that you avoid the tourist traps and capture the most memorable experiences possible. Now, I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to this sort of thing but I understand that for some, spending hours trawling through travel blogs can be a little tiresome. That’s why BUCKiTDREAM is such a fantastic resource: let yourself be inspired by other people’s dreams, take note of places to eat and drink and save as many experiences as possible. Best of all, you can keep all of the good ideas, tips etc. safely tucked away in BUCKiTDREAM’s planning feature tool.
Here’s our breakdown of the top experiences that Bora Bora has to offer – make sure to record the one’s that you fancy in your BUCKiTDREAM planner!
Hiking Mt. Ohue & Mt. Pahia: This dream is not for the faint of heart, but if you’re up to the six-hour trek from Vaitape, then the panoramic views offered by Bora Bora’s two most iconic summits will blow your mind, etching themselves into your memory forever.
Parasail above Matira Lagoon: What could be better than gliding peacefully over Matira’s turquoise waters, taking in the otherworldly landscape with a cool breeze on your face? Answer: Nothing. Absolutely do this one – it’s insane!
Scuba dive amongst the mesmerising Polynesian oceanic wildlife: Bora Bora boasts some of the most fascinating biodiversity on the planet, so ‘goggle up’ and swim amongst the turtles and sharks or simply float in the beautiful lagoon, watching the manta rays being groomed by various cleaner fish.
Feed and swim with the sharks and rays of the Blue Lagoon: Whilst not quite ‘Jaws’ in size, getting up close and personal with some of the most ancient creatures on the planet is definitely a worthwhile deposit for the memory bank.
Helicopter tours: It’s said that when seen from above, the sight of Bora Bora’s beautiful and unique landscape can make grown men weep. Take in the majesty and grandeur of the island’s mountainous topography and multihued ocean from the comfort of your own personal helicopter.
4×4 tour of Bora Bora’s extinct volcano: The peak of Mt. Otemanu is the highest on the island, reaching an impressive 2000 feet. The steep trail will guide you through lush, tropical jungles and if you like playing Crash Bandicoot as much as I do, then this adventure’s definitely for you.
Snorkel in the island’s coral gardens: Because obviously. You’d be a fool to miss out on playing dolphin in some of the most pristine coral reefs on the planet. The kaleidoscopic colours of the corals and tropical fish will have you wondering what was in those ‘special’ breakfast smoothies…
Get a tattoo: If you really want to mark your experience, then check out Bora Bora’s burgeoning tattoo trade. Over the last 20 or so years Tahitian tattoos have been making a resurgence as a traditional art form and as a way to mark both honour and prestige. But remember, fresh tattoos need time to heal, so if you think that this dream is for you, then it’s best to leave it until the end of your trip.
Pareau (local sarong) workshop: More of a cultural fancy but worth doing all the same, here you can watch the dying of fabric and learn how to wear a pareau like a local.
Known for its picturesque over-water, wooden bungalows on stilts, there’s no shortage of high-end accommodation in Bora Bora, but you can still find ways to visit this tropical paradise without breaking the bank. Here are our favourites:
High end: The Intercontinental Le Moana is perfect for the activity-focused tourists who seek traditional Polynesian culture. With the added bonus of being conveniently located on the mainland, they’ll be no waiting around for boats if you fancy a spot of shopping on the mainland. Last but certainly not least, located at your feet will be the idyllic Matira Beach, often cited as the world’s best beach.
Medium: Nestled into a sweet little Zen garden complete with a miniature waterfall and waterfront accommodation, Sunset Hill Lodge offers fantastic value for money.
Budget: Unlikely as it may seem, Bora Bora is actually home to a few couchsurfers; this offers a fantastic opportunity to both save a little money (that can be used on more adventures) and get to know some of the locals.
The fresh produce on the island is mostly limited to what can be obtained from the sea and coconut trees; beyond this, everything else is shipped in. With this in mind, we would suggest sticking to fresh, simple seafood – it tastes great and because it hasn’t been brought in, it won’t drain your wallet either. Try ’Ota ’Ika, a traditional Polynesian dish similar to Latin ceviche, made with raw fish that has been marinated in citrus and coconut milk.
A delicious ’Ota ’Ika can be found in pretty much any restaurant or food hut on the island, but if you really want to push the boat out then we suggest the foodie haven of La Villa Mahana. Book well in advance, as this highly sought-after destination dining hotspot only has room for seven tables. Dine here and let the Corsican-born chef Damien Rinaldi transport your tastebuds to another plane.
Drinks and Nightlife:
No trip to Bora Bora is complete without a pilgrimage the iconic Bloody Mary’s. Located in Povai Bay, this 30-year-old tried and tested haunt has been heaving with the world’s rich and famous since its inception. Think fast-paced, American-style bar with simple food and signature cocktails.
Tiki Bar is probably the most lively venue on the island; it draws an eclectic mix of holidayers, hotel staff and locals alike and from 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturday, the place is packed. Come here to enjoy reasonably priced beer, cocktails and tapas as well as live bands on certain evenings.
If you’re looking for swanky, then try the Maikai Bora Bora Marina & Yacht Club – the elegant indoor space boasts killer cocktails, a stunning view and occasional live music.
For more of a romantic BUCKiTDREAM experience, then you should think about climbing aboard one of the Champagne sunset tours that are readily available. Glass of bubbly in hand, literally sail into the sunset with your loved one.
Tips and Culture:
There are around 9000 people living in Bora Bora; they have a complex history, which is rich in culture, myths and traditions that have been handed down throughout generations. Being relaxed and laid back people, it’s no surprise that the very philosophy that they live by is, “Aita pea pea,” meaning, “Not to worry,”; they love to share their customs with travelers and so there’s ample opportunity to enjoy traditional songs and dances whilst on the island.
The Rae Raes (transvestites, transexuals and drag queens) of Polynesia are actually a really fascinating phenomenon. A few theories exist as to their origin, one being that those who possess both masculine and feminine qualities are considered to be gifted and closer to the divine. No matter how they came to be, the Rae Raes presence in French-Polynesian history stretches back a long way, so you need to respect this when visiting.
One thing that catches a lot of tourists out is weight restriction on the plane over. Generally it’s 10 kg per person with an additional five for scuba and snorkeling gear. Due to the lightweight frame of the aircraft, heavy duties apply if you’ve gone over your limit. So remember to pack light – you only need a swimsuit or two, anyway.
Dreams are just that – dreams – until you plan them, so start by copying all of your favourite Bora Bora tips from this article and save them into your BUCKiTDREAM dream planner. Once there, why not share your Bora Bora dream aspirations with friends on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?
You never know: inspire the right person and one day you may end up sharing the same dream!