Tiny Bora Bora floats in its own lagoon, protected from the ocean by a garden of coral and with all heavenly elements in place.
White sand beaches, palm trees, imposing volcanic mountains and little outrigger islands, Bora Bora is known as ‘motu’ in Tahitian.
It’s a romantic’s dream and right up there with honeymoon greats like the Seychelles and Maldives. Don’t let that put you off visiting with kids.
The island’s luxury resorts have long given up on the idea that only couples want to play in paradise and now boost the island’s natural appeal with plenty of water sports, cultural experiences, kid’s activity programmes and clubs. Which, added to Bora Bora’s world-class snorkelling, lagoon swimming, jungle expeditions and the fact that travelling around almost always involves boats or bikes, makes it an idyllic island holiday for families.
One of the French Polynesian Leeward Islands, Bora Bora is 45 minutes by air from Tahiti.
Temperature averages of 30˚C all year round with a rainy season between November and April.
Explore the islands
Geographically unusual, with a main island surrounded by smaller islands (motus) set in a lagoon surrounded by a coral reef.
Bora Bora’s lagoonarium is one of the most marine-rich in the Pacific and has clear waters to depths of 9 metres.
Beautiful diving spots
One of the world’s leading snorkelling and diving destinations.
Traditional way of life
Bora Bora’s first resort was only built in 1961 and, although tourism is the only industry, island life is still dominated by traditional Polynesian customs and culture.
Perfect add-on for the long haul holiday
Flights from UK to Tahiti take between 40 and 50 hours. Families often add Bora Bora into a New Zealand holiday as the island’s just over four hours flying time from Auckland.
Where to go
Four Seasons, Motu Tehotu
Le Meridien, Motu Tape
St. Regis, Motu Ome’e
Four Seasons, Motu Tehotu
A good choice for families, Four Seasons has an excellent kid’s activity programme and offers a choice of one, two and three bedroom beachfront villas or over-water bungalows suites.
Windsurfing, tennis, beach volleyball, water bikes, scuba diving, snorkelling, paddle boarding, kayaking and WaveRunner sailing.
Tamari Kid’s Club for ages 5 – 12 with year round activity programme.
Kid’s swimming pool and splash pad.
Children’s menu and childcare services.
Le Meridien, Motu Tape
This is the island resort with a turtle sanctuary, resident marine biologist and an eco-activity programme for kids.
Kid’s activity programme year round.
Jet skiing, catamaran cruising, lagoonarium snorkelling, shark and stingray feeding, aqua safaris, on-site canoe club with traditional pirogue sailing.
Over-water bungalow suites, beach bungalows and beach villas with pools.
St. Regis, Motu Ome’e
St. Regis has the widest range of family villas and is one of the few resorts with larger over-water bungalows sleeping up to seven guests.
Kid’s club, year round activity programme and children’s excursions.
Three private beaches, two pools and a lagoonarium.
Range of free water sports including kayaking, paddle boarding, Cat sailing and pedal boating.
What to do
Coral Garden Snorkelling
Bora Bora’s basically a volcano sitting in a lagoon surrounded with sandy motu and protected by a coral reef. Infinitely lovelier than it sounds, it’s also perfect snorkelling territory: calm waters, rich marine life and flawless visibility.
Swimming with sharks
Swim above schools of blacktip reef sharks in the lagoon surrounding Bora Bora. The island relies on tourism so you can be confident this popular activity’s safe and local guides are very experienced.
The clear lagoon and its sandy, outlying motu are what define Bora Bora. Take a lagoon cruise for the day and snorkel in the crystalline waters, feed stingrays and have a picnic on one of the privately owned motu.
Matira is the only public beach on Bora Bora and regularly voted world’s most beautiful. Safe, warm seas for swimming and snorkelling, it’s also an iconic spot for spectacular sunsets.
Jet Ski Tours
A couple of hours on a jet ski is a thrilling alternative to gentle lagoon cruising or snorkelling. Experienced local guides keep everyone safe and there’s a choice of sights to visit as well as plenty of opportunity for simply zipping about on the clear, blue water.
Bora Bora mountain trekking
Hiking and climbing on Bora Bora during the dry season (winter) is exhilarating and strenuous. One of the most famous ascents is to the ‘shoulders’ of Mount Otemanu, the island’s highest peak. There are also several fascinating cultural hikes including the Valley of the Kings, Ancestors Road and Track of the Past. Or, Mount Pahia is an exciting challenge for the fit and experienced. There are no marked or maintained trails, so all hikes or climbs should be undertaken with a recommended local mountain guide.
Glass bottom boat tours
A glass bottom boat cruise over the lagoon is a fantastic way for younger kids to see Bora Bora’s remarkable marine life.
4 x 4 Jeep mountain safari
A three hour tour of the island in a 4 x 4 jeep is one of the few ways to see most of the inaccessible interior and explore the fascinating recent and ancient history of Bora Bora.
Bora Bora circular cycle
Hire a bike in Vaitape and cycle round Bora Bora’s 32km coastal road. It’s the island’s only real road and takes in several sights like Marae Fare Opu, Taihi Point and Te Ana Opea Cave.
Bora Bora Turtle Centre
Part of the island’s Le Meridien resort, this centre was first established in 2000. It now includes a turtle nursery, turtle sanctuary, coral nursery and a turtle observatory.
Educational value for kids
Visit in June for the month long Heiva i Bora cultural festival. Everyone takes part from island children to island elders – the traditional Polynesian dancing’s spectacular.
If you can’t make it for Heiva i, catch an evening dance performance at any of the island resorts.
Take a guided cruise of the island’s lagoonarium and learn about the conservation and protection of Bora Bora’s marine rich waters.
Cultural hikes into the island interior are a fun way to learn about Bora Bora’s history from local guides.
Cycle round the island and visit the marae (stone shrines). The most famous, Marae Fare Opu, has turtle petroglyphs carved into it: ancient Polynesians believed turtles were food of the Gods.
The Four Seasons resort has a resident marine biologist and its own protected lagoon where kids can learn the delicate art of coral grafting.
Most of the resort hotels are on privately owned motu and provide a wide range of water sports’ instruction for kids and adults.
Getting about with kids in Bora Bora
Bike and boat are the most common transport on Bora Bora. Air Tahiti has a free airport shuttle service to Vaitape and all the motu-based resorts have their own guest launches. Taxis are expensive and fares increase after 7pm but bike hire is cheap and there’s only one road round the island. You can also charter boats if you want to self-sail in the lagoon. Car hire is available but the fleets are quite limited so booking in advance is a good idea.