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Things to Do in Bora Bora

Bora Bora’s reality looks like every traveler’s dream: white sandy shores surrounded by turquoise and cobalt waters, the island’s center populated by an extinct volcano shrouded in dense foliage. This quiet island is a favorite of honeymooners and luxury travelers, but is free of the party-seeking set; if you’re in search of nightlife, this is not your spot. Most visitors spend their days vacillating between lounging on the sand-ringed motu (outlying islands) and getting active with water-based pursuits such as snorkeling, diving, parasailing, jetskiing, and hiking. Vaitape is the island’s largest settlement, seated on the major channel into the central lagoon, and most tours, whether by land or sea, depart from there. Visitors can explore the interior of the island on a hiking tour or an excursion by 4x4 jeep through the rugged landscape, while snorkeling and scuba tours allow participants to get a glimpse of the vibrant underwater world, including resident tropical fish, sharks, and stingrays. History buffs will enjoy learning about French Polynesian culture and the history of the US in Bora Bora during World War II, and those hungry for aerial views can take a helicopter tour to see the extinct peaks of the Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu volcano, as well as the surrounding islands of Taha'a, Raiatea, Tupai, and Maupiti.
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Coral Gardens
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Bora Bora is one of the most famous islands in French Polynesia. The main island is surrounded by a lagoon, a barrier reef, and tiny islets that help keep the water calm most of the time. On Bora Bora across from the main island, you'll find the fascinating Coral Gardens. This coral reef is not far below the surface of the water, so it makes for easy and fun snorkeling. Visitors will get to see colorful coral as well as a variety of fish that live in the area. Some of the fish you could see include butterfly fish, parrot fish, puffer fish, Picasso trigger fish, snapper, tang, goat fish, grouper, trumpet fish, zebra unicorn fish, wrasse or Japanese moray eels. In some areas, it's possible to even see sharks and stingrays.

There aren't many public beaches on Bora Bora since the resorts own them privately. This makes access to the Coral Garden reefs a bit limited depending on where you're staying.

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Matira Beach (Plage Matira)
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Matira Beach is the only public beach on Bora Bora. Although it's not associated with any resort, it still boasts 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) of bright white sand, coconut groves and lapping waves. The beach opens onto a shallow, sandy bottomed lagoon with perfect snorkeling conditions. Swimmers can see colorful corals and the huge variety of tropical fish which give the area its nickname: “The Aquarium.”

The beach stretches from the Hotel Bora Bora to Matira Point, which is a low sandy peninsula that juts into the lagoon. At low tide you can wade from here all the way out to the coral reef.

The only downside to Matira Beach is that it can get somewhat crowded and hectic, particularly on days when a cruise ship is docked nearby. Nonetheless it's still a beautiful (and free) attraction. In the evenings this west-facing beach is perfect for watching the sunset.

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Mt. Otemanu
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Mount Otemanu is the highest point on Bora Bora. Together with Mount Pahia it forms the remnants of an extinct volcano that once existed in the center of the island. Today its craggy remnants tower over the island, reaching heights of 2,385 feet (727 meters). It's rugged, black face makes a stunning contrast with the jungles and the sparkling blue sea below.

While it's possible to hike up Mount Pahia, Mount Otemanu is best enjoyed from below. It's impossible to climb to the summit because of the brittle volcanic rock which is too fragile to hold a person's weight. According to the locals, nobody has EVER successfully scaled the top. You can, however, take a hike up to the base. The path is confusing and the jungle is thick so it's recommended to take a guide or a 4x4 tour. Here you will find leftover US cannons from World War II and scattered altars from the ancient past.

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Bloody Mary's Restaurant & Bar
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Bloody Mary's is Bora Bora's most famous restaurant. It is as well known for its food as it is for its colorful history and atmosphere.

The restaurant was founded in 1979 by an eccentric Polish nobleman, the Baron Jerzy Hubert Edward von Dange (George to his friends). It was sold to a Los Angeles businessman in 1985 but the restaurant still maintains what it calls its “old Tahiti style.” The building is a fare tiurai, a traditional hut with a thatched roof and open sides. The kitschy interior features a sand floor (bare foot dining encouraged), tiki torches and polished palm trunks for seats.

Bloody Mary's is open for lunch, dinner and drinks. On the menu is fresh seafood and the daily catch is displayed on ice at the entrance. You will no doubt be encouraged to pair your meal with a fruity island cocktail. Don't forget to check out the open air restrooms which have waterfalls instead of sinks.

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Lagoonarium
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The Lagoonarium is located one of Bora Bora’s “motus” (the small islands which form the outer ring of the lagoon). This is essentially an aquarium without the glass, and a great opportunity to see many sea creatures in their natural habitat.

Swim with sharks, turtles and rays as tropical fish dart about your feet in the warm, shallow waters. After you’ve feasted on a tropical barbecue, watch the sharks and rays get their turn in the afternoon feeding session.
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Faanui
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