It won’t surprise you to learn that most Bora Bora excursions focus on the island’s mesmerising waters. Though, you’re here to do more than just peering at the ever-changing blue ocean colour palette. Dive down to spend time with sharks, manta rays, and Bora Bora’s endemic species, stay on the surface for SUP tours and wakeboarding, or enjoy the serenity of a glass-bottomed boat ride. Of course, there are things to do in Bora Bora that don’t involve the ocean. There are volcano hikes, ATV rides, contemporary art, and Polynesian patisserie to discover too.
Meet Bora Bora’s endemic sea life
As well as the corals, manta rays, sharks and heavenly turquoise waters, Bora Bora has some intriguing endemic species. Hiro Dive Bora Bora can get everyone from complete beginners to experts into the water to meet the island’s Tahitian butterflyfish. Not found anywhere outside the island’s lagoon, these unusual fish are often overlooked as divers swim in search of Bora Bora’s sharks and rays. And, if scuba tanks and wetsuits don’t appeal, there’s a menu of snorkeling tours available too.
Hike up a dormant volcano
You’ve got more than a few epic hike options in Bora Bora. The most difficult requires the help of a good local guide and a little more than the ability to tell one end of a crampon from the other. Technical and challenging, the hike – and climb, up Mount Pahia leads you through dangerous trails. Better then to opt for the moderately more accommodating slopes of Mount Otemanu.
You won’t be able to make it to the top – vertical, crumbling, and treacherous are all words to avoid. But you can head for the northeast of the peak for a 6-hour hike along the trail to the Cave of Mount Otemanu. The reward when you reach the cave? Glorious views over neighbouring islands.
Orbzii tip: Bora Bora is a little lackadaisical when it comes to maintaining signs, trails and general hiking routes. So it’s best to find a local guide for all but the easiest routes.
Peer through the hull of a glass bottomed boat
Scuba diving in Bora Bora isn’t for everyone. We get it. After all, sharing your seawater with sharks – no matter how misunderstood they might be – is a pretty terrifying concept. Thankfully there are Bora Bora excursions that give you a glimpse into ocean life, without getting your feet wet.
Moana Adventure’s 1.5hr glass-bottomed boat trip floats around the lagoon, giving passengers a peer over coral gardens. As the trip goes on, expect everything from clownfish to anemones to pass by the windows. And, occasionally, bigger sights such as morals, rays, and sharks swim into view.
Get out on the island’s crystal clear waters
Island life lends itself to time spent on the water. Whether you sea kayak around the island, strengthen your core on a SUP board, take to the air on a parasail or zip around the bays on a jetski – in Bora Bora, it’s almost compulsory to get on, or in, the water.
Kite Surf Polynesie is one of the few companies on the island that can help you learn the ropes – or kit you out with some gear. They can take you on a sedate SUP tour of the lagoon or whizz you across the wake on an inflatable. For something a little more technical, the kite boarding courses take place in a secluded lagoon with skills for newbies and experts to pick up.
Take to the skies
One of the most spectacular things to do in Bora Bora? Hopping aboard one of Tahiti Nui’s helicopters for a bird’s eye view of the island. Tours start from the tiny – but exhilarating 10 minute Pacific Pearl tour. For €126, you’ll soar over the island’s lagoon and Motu Toopua. Add on another 10 minutes (and an extra €117) to extend your flight to almost completely navigate the entire island.
Want to go a little further afield? This company can whisk you to Tahiti – for a cool €8,000+. On a more modest budget, you can loop around the nearby, romantically heart-shaped island of Tupai for €360. This 30 minute, airborne jaunt to paradise has Bora Bora honeymoon essential written all over it.
Pick up some pastries
If you happen to find yourself feeling a tad peckish near the swish, waterfront St James restaurant – have a look around. You’re not looking for the entrance, but rather the puce and perplexing colours of the newly added patisserie. Yes, the Polynesian flavours in the restaurant are delicious. But it’s the macarons, Paris Brest eclairs and opera cake that’ll linger on your tastebuds for years to come. Great British Bake Off viewers will be wowed by the lamination layers and choux pastry. The rest of us? Too busy tucking into the second croissant of the day to really notice.
Snorkel with manta rays
Snapping up the opportunity to swim with manta rays does come at a price. At around €333 per person, it is one of the more expensive things to do in Bora Bora. But, it’s a rare chance to swim with these magnificent rays – and learn more about their daily life thanks to the knowledge and expertise of your very own marine biologist. Yes, this private, eco-friendly tour by the team at Moana Adventure Tours and the Conrad Bora Bora Nui Hotel might be a little niche, but will no doubt go straight to the top of the itinerary for sea life fans.
Orbzii tip: As with all wildlife tours, manta rays sightings aren’t guaranteed. Expect to see plenty of other marine life though – including possible eagle ray, turtle and reef shark encounters.
Dip into the French Polynesian art world
Ever since Alain Despert’s work was hand-picked for a legendary Absolut vodka campaign in the 90s, his art has been highly sought after. Setting up a studio in Bora Bora can’t have hurt either. With gorgeous Polynesian landscapes to draw inspiration from – and a queue of celebrities dropping into his gallery, he’s become Bora Bora’s most famous artist. You can contact him for a private peek into the studio – though the easier route would be to swing by the Four Seasons Bora Bora hotel, where Alain has a selection of contemporary pieces on display.
Zip around the island on an ATV
If the thought of a 6 hour hike doesn’t appeal, there are Bora Bora excursions that take the legwork out of accessing the wild side of the island. Bora Bora ATV tours whizz you through jungle tracks, scale up to 360° viewpoints and through the floral valley of Faanui for 150 minutes of ATV fun, showstopping views and more than a few selfie opportunities. Get up to 250m above sea level for some top-down lagoon views, stop for a fruit tasting break and experience the off the beaten track side of Bora Bora.
Orbzii tip: These tours get muddy! Wear clothes you may not necessarily want to wear again – and bring sunglasses and a scarf to keep the mud and dust from your face.