Bora Bora Holidays 2020/2021
A byword for all things beautiful, no holiday to Tahiti would be complete with a visit to the legendary island of Bora Bora! French Polynesia’s leading lady, the very name conjures images of a tropical South Seas paradise! Captain Cook named her the ‘Pearl of the Pacific’ when he first sighted the island in 1769. Bora Bora’s towering volcanic peak, Mount Otemanu, is the deep green crown jewel which rises majestically from the mesmerising lagoon where a string of tiny islets (known as motus in Tahiti-speak) are now home to Bora Bora’s most famous hotels. Less than an hour’s flight north-west of Tahiti, a Bora Bora holiday or honeymoon is guaranteed to leave you jaw-droppingly spellbound!
Beyond the turquoise lagoon, emerald peaks and luxury resorts, Bora Bora is awash with history and legends. Blasting into volcanic existence around seven million years ago, Bora Bora is considerably younger than the low-lying coral atolls of the Tuamotus, the oldest islands in French Polynesia. Legend has it that Ta’aroa, the supreme creator god in Tahitian mythology, created Bora Bora after forming nearby Raiatea (from Bora Bora you can see Raiatea on the horizon). When Captain Cook first visited the island in 1769, it is believed he mistook the Tahitian ‘p’ for a ‘b’ (the Tahitian language does not have the letter b) and named it Bora Bora rather than using the local name Pora Pora, meaning first born.
Many years later, during the Second World War, a US supply base was established here, transforming the island and creating the runway on Motu Mute, now home to Bora Bora’s airport. Interestingly, until the main airport on Tahiti was built in 1961, this was French Polynesia's international airport.
Tahitians are proud Pacific islanders with a strong cultural identity that remains at the core of day-to-day life in Bora Bora and beyond. Family, traditions, history and legends play an important part in Tahitian society, and chatting to locals brings this heritage to life. Tattooing originated in the Marquesas Islands, and hearing the stories behind the intricate and varied inked designs is endlessly fascinating and gives visitors a deeper understanding of the Tahitian psyche.
Bora Bora’s major drawcard is her magnificent cerulean lagoon surrounding the magical jade mountains of Otemanu and Paihia. The colours of the crystal-clear lagoon are simply mind-blowing and you’ll find yourselves addicted to the ever-changing shades of blue as the sun dances on the water. Getting into and onto the lagoon is essential during your Bora Bora holiday or honeymoon, and there’s a variety of catamaran cruises, sailing boats, snorkelling excursions, jet ski safaris, scuba diving spots and private beach picnics to choose from. You can even dive for your own pearl here! Whilst it’s tempting to spend as much time as possible exploring the lagoon – and we certainly advocate including a couple of lagoon experiences during your stay – the magic of a holiday or honeymoon in Bora Bora lies in simply soaking up the mesmerising views from your overwater bungalow or beach villa and enjoying the bliss of doing nothing at all!
- Indulge in a canoe breakfast delivered directly to your overwater bungalow by traditional Polynesian pirogue. This is a truly unforgettable breakfast in paradise!
- Explore the lagoon by outrigger canoe complete with a ukulele-playing guide! Go shark and stingray feeding, snorkel in the coral garden and enjoy a motu (islet) picnic with poisson cru on the menu.
- Discover land and lagoon with a 4x4 tour through mountain trails followed by an adrenaline-filled guided jet-ski tour, with spellbinding Otemanu views from every angle. Lunch at Bora Bora’s famous Bloody Mary’s restaurant completes this extraordinary day.
- Join the crew aboard the fabulous Vitamin Sea catamaran – capable of sailing in shallow waters to reach the lagoon’s most sensational spots – for a half day, full day or sunset cruise.
- Take to the skies in a helicopter for thrilling aerial views of Bora Bora’s mountain and lagoon, including the chance to fly over the nearby heart-shaped atoll, Tupai. For the ultimate indulgence, enjoy free time on this oh-so-romantic atoll, complete with Champagne!
The island’s very first hotel, aptly named Hotel Bora Bora, was the first to offer overwater bungalows, and its legacy lives on today. Sadly, this legendary resort closed its doors many years ago, but Bora Bora’s overwater bungalow experience remains one of the best in the world, a far cry from their humble beginnings as simple huts on water. Today, global names such as Four Seasons, Intercontinental, Conrad and St Regis have developed luxurious hotels on the motus (islets) – only accessible by boat from the airport and all boasting stunning contemporary design and jaw-dropping views of Mount Otemanu – but there are fabulous locally owned properties too, including a Turquoise favourite, Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort. For those who prefer to stay on dry land, resorts also offer a range of beach villas and bungalows as exquisite as their overwater counterparts.
A Bora Bora icon, Bloody Mary’s restaurant near Vaitape on Bora Bora’s main island is a must for lunch or dinner! Ditch your shoes and go barefoot on the sand floors, hang out with sailors on coconut stools under a thatched roof, try the barbecued fresh catch and enjoy a cocktail while the chef prepares your feast. This institution has been a cult since 1979! Other restaurants in Bora Bora include a gourmet experience with an intimate atmosphere at La Villa Mahana and, for overwater dining, Le Saint James in Vaitape is a great spot for lunch or sunset cocktails. Wherever you choose to dine, you really must try the traditional Tahitian dish, poisson cru, a delicious bowl of raw fish marinated in lime juice and mixed with vegetables and coconut milk.
Where to stay in Bora Bora
Aside from its beautiful landscapes, Bora Bora has plenty of luxury resorts from which to witness its natural beauty. Most people would say an overwater bungalow is the only choice when it comes to a holiday in Bora Bora, but beach and jungle villas are just as worthy options surrounded by this epic landscape. Whether you're looking for who delivers the best canoe breakfast or the most authentic slice of Polynesian life, we can help find the right luxury resort for you.
Bora Bora travel essentials
Located in the heart of the South Pacific Ocean, midway between Australia and South America, Bora Bora is just one of 118 islands that make up The Islands of Tahiti, or French Polynesia as the archipelago is traditionally known. The leading lady of the glorious Society Islands, Bora Bora is home to a majestic green peak surrounded by a turquoise lagoon and dreamy overwater bungalows.
Flights from London to Bora Bora via Los Angeles take around 26 hours. Flights also operate from Tokyo and Auckland to Papeete on Tahiti’s mainland. There are regular connections from Papeete to Bora Bora, just a 45-minute flight away.
Bora Bora is a remote and exclusive destination, but worth every penny to experience the wonders of this tropical paradise. Expect to spend in the region of £4,500 per person for a 10-night island-hopping holiday including international flights from the UK and inter-island flights between the islands, with higher price tags attached to the more luxurious resorts and overwater bungalows.
The star of the show in Bora Bora has to be the incredible lagoon. Boat trips, private island picnics, snorkelling safaris, swimming with stingrays and sharks have to be top of the list! On dry land, hiking the green peaks on the mainland rewards intrepid travellers with fantastic views of the lagoon and the ocean. Most resorts are located on outer islets, or motus, with swaying palms and perfect beaches facing the emerald island in the centre of the lagoon.
French and Tahitian are the official languages, but English is widely spoken in resorts and restaurants.
British citizens require a full 10-year passport with at least six months validity remaining following your departure to The Islands of Tahiti. If you or any member of your party is not a British citizen or does not hold a British passport, please check passport and visa requirements with the embassy. No visa required for British passport holders staying less than 90 days. No vaccinations are required.
The French Pacific Franc (XPF) is the local currency. Make use of the ATM machine when you arrive at Papeete airport, or exchange US dollars, as it’s a good idea to have some local currency. ATMs can also be found on the larger islands – often inside banks, so check opening times. Hotel bills can be settled using a credit card.
The population of The Islands of Tahiti, or French Polynesia, is just under 300,000, with around 11,000 residents in Bora Bora.
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