Vaitape is the biggest—and only—real town on the island of Bora Bora. It’s where most people start their vacation on the island and is home to all the essential services.
With only 5,000 residents, Vaitape can hardly be called a city, but it’s the main settlement on this peaceful island. The Polynesians first landed here in the 4th century AD, arriving via canoe. Today, Vaitape is Bora Bora’s main harbor, where boat transfers from the airport across the lagoon drop off here, and cruise ships dock here.
There are a few dozen shops and restaurants, plus a supermarket, ATMs, police station, and a small pharmacy/medical center. If you’re looking for a unique souvenir to take home, seek out the stores selling pearl jewelry,a local speciality.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Most of the accommodation on Bora Bora is in overwater bungalows built on the several motus (sandy islets) that surround the main island.
- Look out for the monument to Alain Gerbault, the first Frenchman to sail his yacht around the world.
- The popular Lagoonairium, a unique type of natural aquarium, is located nearby.
- During WWII Vaitape served as a military supply base for US troops stationed in the region.
How to Get There
Vaitape is located on the west coast of Bora Bora. Taxis on the island are limited, but a public transport service called LeTruck runs on the island. The closest international airport to Bora Bora is at Papeete in Tahiti. To reach Bora Bora you’ll need to fly to Tahiti and transfer to a smaller plane from there.
When to Get There
High season in Bora Bora runs from May to October when the weather is driest. The shops in Vaitape are generally open Monday to Friday, and Saturday mornings.
Relax on Matira Beach
The only public beach on the island of Bora Bora—and also one of the prettiest, Matira Beach has everything you would expect from the South Pacific paradise—calm turquoise water, white sand and coconut palms lining the sand. There are a number of relaxed beach restaurants and bars on the beach, and it’s one of the best places on the island to watch the sunset.