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Your Guide to a First-Time Visit in Bora Bora: Do’s and Don’ts

  • Post category:Bora Bora

Bora Bora, often referred to as the “Pearl of the Pacific,” is a dream destination for many travelers. This tropical paradise offers stunning natural beauty, rich cultural experiences, and a variety of activities that cater to all types of visitors. Whether you’re planning your first trip to Bora Bora or looking to make the most of your visit, it’s essential to know the do’s and don’ts to ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience. In this guide, we’ll cover everything from exploring natural wonders to respecting the environment, helping you navigate your way through this incredible island.

Key Takeaways

  • Always respect the local culture and traditions when visiting ancient temples and participating in workshops.
  • Ensure you pack essential items such as sun protection, comfortable clothing, and appropriate footwear for various activities.
  • Take advantage of guided tours and excursions to fully experience Bora Bora’s natural and cultural attractions.
  • Practice sustainable tourism by following guidelines for coral reef protection and wildlife interaction.
  • Familiarize yourself with local dining etiquette and try out popular local delicacies for an authentic culinary experience.

Exploring Bora Bora’s Natural Wonders

Bora Bora is a dream destination for many, offering a mesmerizing blend of crystal-clear waters, lush green landscapes, and iconic overwater bungalows. For those who love to explore, Bora Bora provides a variety of natural wonders that are sure to captivate your adventurous spirit.

Hiking the Valley of Kings

Discover the rich history and natural beauty of Bora Bora by hiking through the Valley of Kings. This ethnobotanical walk will take you to the foot of Mount Otemanu and Pahi Mountains, where you’ll find a giant banyan tree among other fascinating flora. Your guide will explain how Polynesians use plants in their traditional medicine, making this hike both educational and visually stunning.

Snorkeling in Coral Gardens

Experience the underwater paradise of Bora Bora by snorkeling in its vibrant coral gardens. Perfect for beginners, this activity allows you to explore the myriad of colorful fishes and beautiful coral formations. The tour usually starts with a warm-up in shallow water, making it ideal for those new to snorkeling. Never touch or disturb coral reefs to preserve the ecosystem and ensure safety.

4WD Safari Adventures

For a thrilling way to explore Bora Bora’s interior, consider a 4WD safari adventure. This tour will take you through the island’s wild interior, showcasing World War II remains and offering spectacular panoramic views over the lagoon. You’ll also visit a pareo workshop where you can learn about traditional Polynesian fabric painting techniques. This adventure is not only fun but also provides a deeper understanding of Bora Bora’s rich cultural heritage.

Bora Bora will force you to relax, but for the adventurous spirit, its natural wonders offer endless opportunities for exploration.

Cultural Experiences in Bora Bora

Visiting Ancient Temples

Explore the sacred marae, ancient temples that are still revered today. These sites offer a glimpse into the island’s rich history and spiritual life. Don’t miss the chance to walk to the tomb of ancient kings and learn about the legends that surround these hallowed grounds.

Learning Traditional Medicine

Discover the fascinating world of Polynesian traditional medicine. Your guide will explain how local plants are used for their medicinal properties, a practice still in use today. This experience provides a unique insight into the island’s ethnobotanical knowledge and its application in daily life.

Pareo Workshops

Visit a pareo workshop to see how these beautiful and colorful garments are made. You’ll learn about the techniques used to hand-paint these fabrics, creating a variety of stunning designs. This is also an opportunity to purchase a custom pareo, a perfect souvenir from your trip.

Essential Packing Tips for Bora Bora

When preparing for your trip to Bora Bora, packing wisely can make a significant difference in your overall experience. Here are some essential tips to ensure you have everything you need for a memorable trip to this stunning archipelago.

Clothing and Footwear

Given the hot and humid climate of Bora Bora, lightweight and breathable clothing is a must. Pack plenty of swimsuits, as you’ll likely spend a lot of time in the water. For footwear, bring comfortable sandals for the beach and sturdy hiking shoes if you plan to explore the island’s trails.

Sun Protection

The sun in Bora Bora can be intense, so it’s crucial to protect yourself. Bring a high SPF sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, and UV-protective sunglasses. A rash guard can also be useful for extra protection while snorkeling or swimming.

Photography Gear

Bora Bora is incredibly picturesque, so you’ll want to capture its beauty. Pack a good quality camera, waterproof if possible, to take stunning photos both on land and underwater. Don’t forget extra memory cards and batteries.

Remember, packing wisely and respecting local customs will help you have a smooth and enjoyable trip in French Polynesia.

Navigating Bora Bora’s Logistics

tourists enjoying a beach in Bora Bora with clear blue water and overwater bungalows

Transfers and Transportation

Upon landing at the Bora Bora Airport (BOB), you’ll be greeted by the mesmerizing crystal-clear water that the island is known for. The airport is located on a motu, and most accommodations are only reachable by boat. Arrange transportation in advance to avoid any inconvenience. Some resorts offer shuttle services or boat transfers, but these can be quite expensive. For example, the InterContinental Le Moana Bora Bora Resort charges $70 per person for water-based transportation from the airport to the hotel.

Language and Communication

While French and Tahitian are the official languages, English is widely spoken in tourist areas. It’s always a good idea to learn a few basic phrases in French or Tahitian to enhance your cultural experience. Most resorts and tour operators have staff who are fluent in multiple languages, making communication relatively easy.

Health and Safety

Bora Bora is generally a safe destination, but it’s essential to follow local authorities during emergencies. Make sure to stay healthy with vaccines and insect repellent, and plan for medical care if needed. It’s also advisable to arrange transportation in advance to ensure a smooth and stress-free vacation.

Dining and Cuisine in Bora Bora

Local Delicacies

Bora Bora offers a unique culinary experience with its blend of French and Polynesian flavors. Embrace Tahitian cuisine and fresh seafood to add an authentic touch to your dining experience. Don’t miss out on trying the local specialty, poisson cru, a delicious raw fish salad marinated in coconut milk and lime juice.

Popular Restaurants

One of Bora Bora’s most popular restaurants is Bloody Mary’s, renowned for its fish and seafood menu. The restaurant has welcomed many Hollywood stars and offers a unique dining experience where you can sink your feet into the sand while enjoying an exotic cocktail. Another must-visit is the St. James Restaurant, known for its romantic sunset cruises and exquisite meals.

Dining Etiquette

When dining in Bora Bora, it’s important to be mindful of local customs. For instance, it’s polite to greet the staff with a friendly ‘ia ora na’ (hello) and to thank them with a ‘mauruuru’ (thank you). Additionally, while casual attire is generally acceptable, some upscale restaurants may require more formal dress. Always check in advance to ensure you are appropriately dressed for the occasion.

Experience the beauty of Bora Bora, engage with locals, and enjoy overwater bungalows. Plan for popular activities like shark and ray feeding.

Water Activities for First-Timers

Bora Bora offers a plethora of water activities perfect for first-time visitors. Whether you’re looking to snorkel, swim, or take a boat tour, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this tropical paradise.

Respecting Bora Bora’s Environment

When visiting Bora Bora, it’s crucial to be mindful of the delicate coral reefs. Avoid touching or stepping on the coral, as this can cause significant damage. Using reef-safe sunscreen is also essential to prevent harmful chemicals from affecting marine life. Snorkelers and divers should maintain a safe distance from the reefs to avoid accidental contact.

Interacting with Bora Bora’s wildlife can be a memorable experience, but it’s important to do so responsibly. Always observe animals from a distance and never attempt to feed or touch them. This is especially important when encountering marine creatures like stingrays and sharks. Following these guidelines helps protect both the wildlife and yourself.

Practicing sustainable tourism is key to preserving Bora Bora’s natural beauty. This includes minimizing waste, conserving water, and supporting local businesses that prioritize environmental sustainability. When exploring the island, stick to designated paths and avoid disturbing natural habitats. By being a responsible tourist, you contribute to the long-term health of Bora Bora’s ecosystem.

Visiting Bora Bora’s traditional villages offers a unique insight into Polynesian culture. Cultural respect is key when exploring these living communities. Seek permission, dress modestly, and follow local guidelines.

Respecting Bora Bora’s environment is crucial for preserving its natural beauty and ensuring sustainable tourism. By following eco-friendly practices and supporting local conservation efforts, we can all contribute to the protection of this paradise. For more tips on how to travel responsibly and make a positive impact, visit our website.


A first-time visit to Bora Bora is a dream come true for many travelers, offering a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and adventurous activities. By following the do’s and don’ts outlined in this guide, you can ensure a smooth and memorable experience. Whether you’re exploring the island’s lush landscapes, diving into its vibrant marine life, or simply relaxing on its pristine beaches, Bora Bora promises an unforgettable journey. Remember to respect the local customs, stay prepared for various activities, and most importantly, soak in the breathtaking beauty of this tropical paradise. Your dream vacation awaits!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best time to visit Bora Bora?

The best time to visit Bora Bora is during the dry season, which runs from May to October. During these months, the weather is more predictable, and there’s less chance of rain.

Do I need a visa to visit Bora Bora?

Visa requirements for Bora Bora depend on your nationality. Citizens of the United States, Canada, and most European countries do not need a visa for stays up to 90 days. Always check the latest requirements before you travel.

What should I pack for a trip to Bora Bora?

Essential items to pack include lightweight clothing, swimwear, reef-safe sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, insect repellent, and comfortable footwear for hiking and water activities. Don’t forget your camera and an underwater case for snorkeling trips.

Is Bora Bora safe for tourists?

Bora Bora is generally safe for tourists. However, it’s always wise to take standard precautions such as not leaving valuables unattended, being aware of your surroundings, and following local guidelines and advisories.

Can I use US dollars in Bora Bora?

While some hotels and businesses may accept US dollars, the local currency is the French Pacific Franc (XPF). It’s advisable to have some local currency for small purchases and tips.

What languages are spoken in Bora Bora?

The official languages of Bora Bora are French and Tahitian. However, English is widely spoken in tourist areas, so you should have no trouble communicating.