- One 20 mile road road circles the small island of Bora Bora. There is no hospital or college. In some guide books, hitch hiking is suggested since there is no public transportation available.
- The residents are mostly protestant. There are 2 protestant churches and 1 catholic church on the island.
- The land of Bora Bora is divided like a pie. A family owns from the mountain top to the reef. Monday – Friday families work on the island. Saturday and Sunday they head to the sea. Almost everyone owns 2 houses, some on another island.
- Bora Bora naturally has very little. Captain Cook brought many of the plants growing and harvested today. Bora Bora only produces fruits, roots, and fish requiring about 95% of their goods to be imported.
Biking Around the Island
Bikes are available to rent outside of the Hotel Maitai and were also advertised at Avis locations. We recommend reserving in advance. Outside of Hotel Maitai, rentals were available at $10 for half day (8:00am – 12:00pm) or a full day (8:00am – 6:00pm) for $20.
With many stops for photos, shopping, and lunch, we biked the 20 miles around Bora Bora in 4 hours. We browsed the art and souvenir shops in Vaitape, purchased groceries to restock our mini fridge at Super U (one of 2 medium sized grocery stores on the island), enjoyed a Hinano at Matira Beach, and stopped many times to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
The day before our bike ride we packed snacks, bottled water, and purchased a baguette and cheese from a small market to have a picnic along the way. Fresh baguettes are available at the markets, grocery stores, and small, family operated stands along the road.
Traveling Gingerbread Note: We recommend biking counter clockwise around the island. The road is relatively flat, but approaching the North side there is a steep hill…less steep if approaching from the East.
After 4 days of rescheduling the clouds disappeared and the stars were shining. Being first on the boat, we caught a glimpse of the 5 star, overwater bungalow mansions at the St. Regis Resort, Intercontinental Thalasso Spa, and Four Seasons Resort as we gathered the others. Due to inclement weather throughout the week, we were a full boat with 5 other couples. Enjoying snacks, champagne, beer, and fruit juices we listened to the ukulele as we sailed into the Pacific Ocean to watch the sunset.
After the sun sank below the horizon, our boat docked at the private motu, Rohival. We climbed 2,000 steps up the mountain illuminated by moonlight to a clearing with a beautiful view of the lagoon. We chose a seat among the circle of lounge chairs to learn about the stars. Our guide pointed out constellations, planets, and satellites using a laser pointer. We were able to see Jupiter, always by the constellation Scorpio, known to Tahitians as Maui’s fish hook.
Polynesians extended their arm in front of them and counted 16 houses from an island’s zenith, a point located directly above the island, usually a star. With the setting and rising of the stars the Polynesians were able to determine their latitude and longitude. We also learned the 4 stars in New Zealand’s flag represent the Southern Cross. After about an hour, we re-boarded the boat for a moonlit cruise back to Hotel Maitai.
4WD Safari Excursion
Amanahune Antena lookout
The road to Amanahune Antena lookout is a slightly terrifying, steep, narrow road winding up the side of a mountain, but thie view of the lagoon was worth it.
Faanui Valley Canon
The United States chose Bora Bora as a military base after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. We explored a military bunker and one of the cannons still remaining from World War II. According to our guide, 4 cannons still remain on the island, 2 at the South channel and 2 at the North. The 20 feet long cannons were able to reach 2 miles past the channel, a total of 8 miles. The road to the top of the hill is privately owned and an entrance fee is required unless travelling with a tour group.
Matira Ringo’s Lookout
After climbing another steep, winding road we reached another beautiful view of the lagoon and over water bungalows. The road to Matira Ringo’s Lookout is privately owned and only accessible by an ATV or 4WD vehicles.
Faanui Valley Pareu Workshop
In Fannui Valley we visited a Pareu Workshop where hand dyed sarongs and coconut oil are produced. The fabric is now imported from China due to the low costs, but each piece is hand dyed. Stencils are placed on the wet fabric, weighed down by rocks, and left to dry in the sun. The most popular souvenirs from Bora Bora are sarongs, vanilla, and Mono’i.
- Sarongs, pareo in Tahitian, are the traditional form of dress for both men and women. Our guide’s sarong is styled for a day out, while my style is traditionally worn around the home.
- The vanilla from French Polynesia, a relative of the Orchid flower, is more fragrant and longer than other species of vanilla.
- Mono’i is an oil made from refined coconut oil and fermented Tahiti flowers used for tanning, protection against the wind, and an aphrodisiac.
Spend the Day at Matira Beach
Matira Beach is the only public beach in Bora Bora, and in our opinion the most beautiful. While staying at Hotel Maitai and Intercontinental Le Loana, Matira beach was only a short walk. There are several small cafes and restaurants along the beach to grab lunch, or pack a lunch and enjoy a picnic on the beach.
Traveling Gingerbread Note: Bora Bora also offers a variety of other tours such as Snorkeling with Whales, Sting Rays, and Sharks, that we experienced during our stay in Mo’orea.
Bora Bora Beach Club
Bora Bora Beach Club was the perfect place to enjoy dinner and watch the sunset. The open air restaurant has an outdoor patio overlooking the white sand Matira Beach plenty of indoor seating. We loved the vibes and the service was outstanding. We recommend making reservations and ordering the Mahi Mahi with Banana Sauce and Vegetarian Curry.
La Matira Beach Restaurant
The outdoor patio with views of Matira Beach is perfect for lunch or enjoy the relaxing indoor ambiance for dinner. We were lucky to arrive before the dinner rush and get a table without reservations, but typically reservations in advance are needed. We recommend the Seared Mahi Mahi with Tahaa Vanilla Sauce.
Wood fired pizza and a pool, what’s not to love? Lucky House Restaurant, Pool, & Sports Bar offers mostly French Cuisine, along with variety of burgers, fish, and wood fired pizza. There is plenty of seating throughout 3 dining rooms and a comfortable lounge area by the pool.
We enjoyed stopping at the small restaurants along the Southern tip of Bora Bora for a quick bite to eat.
- Snack Otoamana: We stopped for a quick lunch and never had to leave Matira Beach. The small menu offers salads, paninis, burgers, and fish.
- Roulette Matira: Slightly off the main road this roulette is easy to miss. Order from the walk-up counter off a chalkboard menu. There are a few tables available, but most orders are to go. We recommend the Frites (caution these are made with whole garlic cloves) and Coco Rhum served in a coconut.
- Snack Matira: Omelettes, pizza, fish, and burgers with a beautiful view of Matira Beach.
Bloody Mary’s, open since 1979 has a lengthy list displayed of celebrities who have visited the restaurant. A shoe check is available near the bar to enjoy the indoor sand floor or outdoor dining area with tiki torches and tables. Buy one cocktail or pitcher of beer and get the second free happy hour is daily 5:30pm – 7:00pm. There is a live ukulele trio every evening. Reservations are needed in advance for dinner beginning at 6:00pm, but there is a small bar menu if the restaurant is full. Many of the nearby resorts offer free shuttle service beginning at 6:30 to and from the restaurant.
Before being seated for dinner, the catch of the day and available New Zealand beef is reviewed and orders are placed. All entrees come with a side salad and rice. We recommend the Marinated Parrot Fish with Vegetables and Vegetarian Skewers with Curry Sauce.