Close your eyes and imagine a perfect tropical paradise with incredible sunsets, overwater bungalows, white sand beaches, and turquoise waters. That’s Bora Bora in a nutshell. This remote island in the South Pacific is 143 miles northwest of Tahiti and feels a million miles from anywhere.
The small, 5-mile by 3-mile island is made up of a lush, rainforest-covered dormant volcano. Surrounding the island is a lagoon, coral reefs, and motus, the small islets where many of the resorts are located. Bora Bora is the epitome of romance, relaxation, and tropical vibes that should be on every traveler’s bucket list.
But before setting off, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about traveling to Bora Bora, including:
- What are the costs for travelers?
- Things to know about culture and etiquette
- What are the top activities?
- How safe is it?
- Local food and drinks
- How good is the wifi?
- How long can you stay?
Ready? Here are the top 7 things you need to know before visiting Bora Bora:
Did you know… Bora Bora is part of the Leeward Islands of French Polynesia and has a population of around 10,000. During World War II the U.S. set up a base on the island where more than 6,000 soldiers were stationed. While the base closed in 1946, the military left behind several cannons which are still in place on the island today.
1) Bora Bora Affordability
You know the saying “you get what you pay for”? Well, nowhere is that more true than in Bora Bora. This tiny French Polynesian Island is certainly not cheap, but boy, does it deliver.
The currency in Bora Bora is the French Pacific Franc or CFP/XPF. Currently, the exchange rate is 1 USD = 112 CFP.
Here are the average costs for travelers in USD:
Bora Bora’s high season is from May – October. Slightly cheaper rates can be found during the low season, but rain showers and mosquitoes could put a damper on your vacation.
- Average hotel price: The current average price for a 3-star hotel in Bora Bora is $249 per night, while a 4-star hotel costs $879/per night.
- Luxury 5-star hotels: One night in a luxury 5-star hotel, such as the incredible St. Regis Bora Bora Resort, will cost around $2,385 on average. This includes many of the overwater bungalows that the island is famous for.
- If you’re on a budget: There are a handful of smaller hotels and guesthouses with rates under $200/night.
Food is very expensive in Bora Bora. Because of its remote location, much of its food is imported, which adds to the cost.
- Hotel breakfasts typically cost around $35-$40
- A 3-course meal at a mid-range restaurant for two can cost between $130 – $175
- For a cheap meal at an inexpensive restaurant, expect to pay around $20.
- A bottle of beer costs around $9, while cocktails can range between $18-$30 each.
If you plan on leaving your resort, there are plenty of ways to get around the island.
- There is a free ferry from the airport into Viatape, although most resorts will also provide boat transfers from the airport, so be sure to check ahead.
- Most resorts have shuttle boats that can take guests into Viatape, the cost, if any, depends on the resort.
- The island does have a local minibus dubbed Le Truck, although it is notoriously unpredictable. The bus circles the island on the coastal road and costs around $3.75 per journey.
- Rental cars average $250/day, but drivers should know that the majority of available cars are manual transmission. Scooters can also be rented for $100/day. Bikes are a great way to explore the island. Rates start at $20/day for a standard bike or $35/day for an electric bike.
- Taxis and water taxis can be arranged through your resort or by calling the taxi company directly. Rates typically start at $20 during the day and $30 at night, depending on the destination, and be sure to settle on a price with the driver before taking off.
2) Culture And Etiquette In Bora Bora
Check this list before your trip! Here are some of the major Dos and Don’ts in Bora Bora.
- DON’T wait for the bill: Many restaurants (with the exception of in-resort restaurants) expect guests to pay the bill at the front rather than at the table. So don’t wait around for the wait staff to bring you the bill when you are ready to leave.
- DO put on shoes: While the island is very casual, visitors should cover up their swimsuits and put on footwear when away from pool or beach areas.
- DO ask the restaurant about transportation: Many restaurants will offer transportation to and from the resorts for anyone with a reservation.
- DO tip your tour guide: It is customary to tip local tour guides around 10% for their services. Tipping for other services is generally not expected but always appreciated for exceptional service.
3) Top Activities in Bora Bora
- Matira Beach: Often touted as the best beach in Bora Bora, Matria Beach is a can’t-miss. The mile-long stretch of white sand and the pristine waters of the lagoon are calm and perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
- Bike around the island: The island’s small size makes it perfect for exploring on a bike. The 19-mile coastal road is mostly flat and takes you past ancient Polynesian temples, relics of WWII, and breathtaking views of the island and lagoon.
- Take a hike: Bora Bora is home to some incredible hikes that are well worth the effort. Local guides are available to help choose the right trail and lead the way.
4) How Safe Is It For Tourists?
The crime rate in Bora Bora is very low. However, there are still some things that travelers should keep in mind to stay safe and healthy:
- Be mindful of marine life: swimmers should take care to avoid sharks, stingrays, and barracudas in the water, and watch out for stonefish and urchins hidden in the sand.
- Know what to do in an emergency: As a remote Pacific island, Bora Bora is vulnerable to natural disasters, particularly tsunamis. Be aware of your surroundings and know the fastest route to higher ground.
- Look out for falling coconuts: this sounds like a joke, but people have been seriously injured by falling coconuts.
- DO get travel insurance: Travel insurance can help in health emergencies as well as with covering the costs of any travel mishaps during your Bora Bora trip. For 5 great options, read more here.
5) Local Eats And Drinks
One of the best parts of travel is checking out the local cuisine. Don’t let yourself leave Bora Bora without trying at least one of the following:
- Poisson Cru – This is the national dish of Tahiti and is on most menus in Bora Bora. It consists of raw tuna, lime juice, coconut milk, and fresh veggies.
- Fresh Fruit – Is there anything better than a breakfast of fresh tropical fruits? The island’s tropical climate means that coconut, mango, banana, papaya, pineapple, and melon all grow locally.
- Po’e – the most popular dessert, usually made with banana or papaya puree that is baked with sugar and coconut milk
- Hinano Beer – the local beer, brewed in Tahiti since 1955
- Coconut water – did you even go to Bora Bora if you didn’t drink the water straight from a coconut?
- Cocktails – No trip to Bora Bora is complete without a visit to Bloody Mary’s, the famous beachside haunt with incredible cocktails.
6) How’s the WiFi?
WiFi in Bora Bora isn’t always the best as it can be unreliable. Some resorts boast speeds of 100+ mbps however, guests have noted that it is typically much slower and tends to cut in and out.
7) How Long Can I Stay?
Americans traveling to Bora Bora or other destinations in French Polynesia can visit without a visa for 90 days within a 180-day period.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com