One the Society Islands, Bora Bora is the unchallenged pearl of French Polynesia and one of the world’s most exclusive destinations. At its centre rises the imperious Mount Otemanu, a dormant volcano commanding views over the turquoise lagoon, coral reefs and sand-fringed islets that unfold below.
The airport is on Motu Mete islet, while transfer to Bora Bora or one of the other islets is by boat. Aside from its reputation for indulgence and sun-kissed relaxation, Bora Bora offers a huge selection of activities including cruising, kitesurfing, snorkelling and diving on the reefs of the lagoon as well as deep water dolphin, shark and whale watching.
Bora Bora, or to use the local name Vava’u, is famous for its overwater villas fitted with glass floors or viewing portals, each providing a living window into the lagoon below. On the main island discover famous luxury names like InterContinental Resort and Thalasso Spa Bora Bora and Hotel Sofitel Bora Bora Marara Beach Resort, as well as a number of smaller boutique hotels and villas. On Motu To’opua, set within its own private cove, the Conrad Bora Bora Nui offers gardens and spectacular overwater villas, backed by outlandish dining and facilities.
One of our favourites is situated on Motu Ome’e, to the east, the immaculate St. Regis Bora Bora Resort bills itself as the ultimate South Pacific splurge, a tag that can be wholly justified. Aside from its lavish accommodation and facilities, the resort boasts The Lagoonarium, a private lagoon bursting with fish and corals built and maintained in cooperation with Bora Eco Fish and dedicated to the protection of the aquatic ecosystem.
Expect exceptional dining on Bora Bora with Arii Moana at the Four Seasons Bora Bora a favourite with global gourmands. With views over Mount Otemanu and Lagoon, the restaurant offers an enticing blend of Polynesian and French culinary traditions with an emphasis on local seafood.
The signature restaurant at The St. Regis Bora Bora is The Lagoon, by Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Located over the water with long glass floor panels that offer views of the black tip sharks swimming below, Vongerichten’s inspired menu is an elegant blend of Eastern and Western flavours. Off-resort Mai Kai Bora Bora and the Bloody Mary have a reputation for both good food and relaxed fun. For the iconic sunset experience try St. James Bora Bora or one of the many wine-and-dine cruises.
Hotels offer a selection of tours and activities, however there are also specialist tour operators like Moana Adventure Tours, which provides both standard and bespoke trips from diving and shark watching to sunset trips and deep-sea fishing, offering boat pick up direct from your hotel’s private jetty. Be sure to try the Sunset Champagne Tour.
It is easy to walk into the lagoon and be overwhelmed by the colourful and inquisitive sea life but the best sites are reached by boat. Diving specialists can be found at the Maikai Marina & Yacht Club, the InterContinental Resort and Thalasso Spa Bora Bora and at Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort & Spa; all offer exceptional private and group diving experiences.