Bora Bora’s crystal clear waters are teeming with corals and colourful sea life. Which all might seem a tad inaccessible if you haven’t been on a PADI diving course – or aren’t a proficient snorkeller. Help is at hand though. Absolute beginners can choose from a menu of Bora Bora diving packages that get you in the water without scuba qualifications, bulky tanks, or even a snorkel in some cases. We’ve got the inside info on the best way to see the sea life in Bora Bora, without resorting to a glass-bottomed boat trip…
In Bora Bora, diving packages for beginners tend to stray from the scuba norm – just a little. The perfect example? The ‘Snukah’ from Dive Easy. Complete beginners can swim along the seabed – enjoying the island’s corals and sea life, except rather than wearing heavy tanks and a wetsuit, you breathe through a regulator, and the tank sits on the surface. No PADI lessons are needed – just a few minutes going over the dos and don’ts and you’re good to go. Be brave and choose to get in the shallows with Bora Bora’s sharks – or take it easy in the coral gardens.
If relying on a regulator still feels like a step too far, the super simple Aqua Safari makes underwater life even easier. You’ll be breathing with the help of a helmet – which delivers some serious underwater astronaut vibes. Once your toes touch the sand you’re free to dance, skip or stroll among the fish that call the lagoon home. This dive spot also has a resident stingray named Coco Chanel, who’s happy to swim by while you tiptoe through her home. Expect corals, sea creatures, and shoals of tropical fish – without the bulky scuba gear.
Orbzii tips: Good news for anyone who wears glasses. As your head stays dry, you can keep your specs on. If you can – take an underwater camera. Aqua Safari offers photo packages – but the prices are a little steep.
If you’ve tried the tank-free options, but want the extra freedom suiting up into scuba gear brings, take a look at Eleuthera Bora Diving Centre’s Discovery Pack. You don’t need any previous dive experience to take on the three dives, the instructors are on hand to walk you through everything from using your fins to swimming with your tanks and gear on.
The pack takes place over a single day, with your introductory dive in the morning and two dives in the afternoon. Over the three dives, you’ll learn some scuba basics, dive down to depths of up to 12m, dive at three different locations and potentially spot Bora Bora’s sharks and rays.
While wetsuits and scuba gear don’t immediately spell romance, there are Bora Bora diving packages that cater exclusively for honeymooners. Beginners will feel safe in the water on the Honeymoon Intimate Diving Package from Bora Ocean Adventures – where there’s always a private instructor on hand to make sure you’re scuba diving safely.
While certified divers can book a dive worth donning the flippers for. And, if you’ve been trying for a while to get your newlywed to join you on the seabed, your Bora Bora honeymoon is the perfect opportunity for them to learn the ropes – with an added touch of romance. Your dive trip will be shot on video – along with the added surprise of finding a Black Pearl.
Snorkel with manta rays
This island’s not short on breathtaking sea life experiences. But of all the things to do in Bora Bora, the manta ray experience from the Conrad Bora Bora Nui Hotel has to be the most exhilarating. Sharing the water with these giants, but graceful, rays are bordering on life-changing. With expert guidance from your personal marine biologist for the day, you’ll snorkel in ray-friendly spots from a luxury catamaran.
Now, it’s worth noting that this exclusive tour is a little on the expensive side at €666 for two people. But you’ll have the catamaran, rays – and that biologist we mentioned, all to yourselves. So, where’s the catch? Well, the manta rays aren’t guaranteed to show. But sightings of sharks, eagle rays, and a whole host of marine life is possible. A once in a lifetime opportunity that’s available to beginners? Unmissable.
For beginner to intermediate divers
You’re almost guaranteed to see a shark on all of the Bora Bora diving packages we’ve covered so far. Almost. If you want to guarantee sightings of black tips and lemon sharks, hop in the water with Top Dive. Or, more specifically, join them on one of their dives to Haapiti. A drop-off on the northwest edge of the reef is home to grey, lemon, and blacktip reef sharks – in big numbers. As well as the sizeable – but non-aggressive predators, you’ll also be able to scope out the coral craters, canyons, and Napoleon wrasse that make this dive worth those few extra hours of PADI practice.
If you’re looking for an experience outside the standard Bora Bora diving packages, book a boat to take you out to Toopua. This stunning site is all about marine diversity. So instead of focusing on sharks, manta rays or corals – the experience is more like a dive into a natural aquarium.
Right on the southern tip of Toopua – and on the inside edge of Bora Bora’s main reef, you’ll dive to depths of around 30 metres to see eagle rays hunting over the seabed, huge anemones sheltering shy clown fish, spine-clad scorpion fish and the vibrant colours of the leopard wrasse. Stingrays soar over coral gardens, while damselfish, sergeant fish, morays and bannerfish keep a wary eye out for white tip reef sharks.