Lauren here, sharing all my tips and tricks on a stay in Bora Bora! Many moons ago [almost 10! Ah!] my husband and I were lucky enough to live out a dream and go to Bora Bora for our honeymoon! WOW. If you have the chance to go, and a tropical vacation is your style, I cannot recommend it enough! The water is unbelievably clear, and seeing the mountains, the blue skies, the bungalows… wow. Just wow. It doesn’t seem real!
Traveling To Bora Bora
First off, allow for plenty of time for your trip, because it took us over a full day to get there alone [plus then getting back]. I believe 27 hours of travel time to be exact! We booked a 10 day trip, including the travel days, giving us time to relax after the wedding, and make the traveling seem worth it! For us, the travel looked like this:
- Plane ride from Chicago to LAX
- Plane ride from LAX to Tahiti
- Get a hotel for overnight in Tahiti
- Tiny plane ride from Tahiti to Raiatea
- Even tinier plane ride from Tahiti to Bora Bora
- Boat ride from Bora Bora airport to the main island
- Boat ride from the main island to our hotel
Whew, I’m exhausted just thinking about that travel again! There is a free ferry that will take you from the airport to the main island, and then your hotel shuttle can pick you up from there. Or you can pay $100ish to go straight from the airport to your hotel! We chose the cheaper option 😉
Note: After talking to several people throughout the trip, we learned that many people spend half of their trip in Bora Bora and half of it in Moorea. Moorea is more developed, and has more land based activities, and even some nightlife! Apparently it’s pretty common to do this to get the best of both worlds once you’ve already traveled that far!
Where To Stay
We stayed at the Hilton Bora Bora, which is now the Conrad Bora Bora Nui. If you remember the Kardashian episode where they went to Bora Bora, this is where they stayed. There is a HUGE presidential overwater bungalow, which is not where we stayed 😉 We chose a traditional King Overwater Bungalow, and it was absolutely perfect! Being able to jump off your private balcony or deck, see nothing but water, feeding the fish, watching stingrays and eels swim by – it just couldn’t be beat!The overwater bungalows are more expensive, so if you want the experience but can’t do it for the whole time, you could always stay on land for a few days and over the water for a few days! We met a couple that did the latter! Also, we were put in a shallow water bungalow when we first arrived, and requested to be moved to deeper water and they accommodated and were able to move us within a day or two – I would 100% request deeper water. Your water is more blue, you can jump [or backflip, as my husband does] off your balcony, and just overall have a better view!
One thing to note about this hotel is that it’s on a separate “motu” [aka little island] than most of the others, which makes it more secluded. Another notable difference between the Conrad and the others in Bora Bora, is that the Conrad faces out towards the open water [it’s on the outside of the motu], whereas most of the others actually face the main island that’s in the center. If you look at Google Maps of Bora Bora hotels it may make more sense! So just a preference I suppose of what you want your bungalow view to be -nothing but water, or the beautiful island! I’m really not sure you can go wrong with a hotel choice in a place that beautiful! Tripadvisor is where I’d start!
What To Do
As far as on-resort activities, I can only speak to our hotel, but I’m guessing that most of them have the same assortment. Snorkeling [right off your deck if you’re in an over-water bungalow!], hobie cat catamaran, stand up paddle boarding, a couples massage, and of course just relaxing by the pool, on our deck, or on the beach were what filled a lot of our time at the resort!
We filled up every few days with an off-resort activity to switch things up! We actually registered for these excursions on our wedding website, and it was so fun to share the experiences afterwards with those who generously gifted them to us [except for my brother who bought us swimming with the sharks… still can’t believe I did that!]! DEFINITELY book your excursions directly with the excursion company if possible – we met some people who booked the same excursions but through our hotel, and they got charged a LOT more than we did.
- Raaniu Swimming with Sharks & Stingrays
One of my biggest fears is sharks, so it only made sense that we hop right in the water with them, right? Ha! I still can’t believe we did this, but am glad we did, and it was a super cool experience [I’m also sure my heart rate was through the roof the whole time]. This is the company we toured with, and we did the full day tour and highly recommend it since it includes lunch and the big sharks! We started with a casual boat ride out to a reef where we got in the water with black-tipped reef sharks and stingrays. Then they served us some snacks and beverages, and while I thought we were done, we went outside the reed into deeper waters, and joined the lemon sharks – AH! This was the scary part, and I honestly only stayed in the water for a few minutes and let my new husband stay in to tempt fate with their sharp teeth! But truly, int was a great way to not only well, swim with sharks, but also take a full boat tour around all of Bora Bora, and get the lowdown on all of the hotels and lay of the land!
- Tupuna Off Road Jeep Tour of the Island
This is the company we used for this off-road tour. Another exciting day [that made my heart race several times] was this off road jeep tour of the island! When they say off-road, they mean off road! It was intense! It started out as a pretty standard tour on the road that goes around the island, but then all of a sudden he pulled a hard left and started going up this teeny tiny dirt trail up the mountain. There were literally moments where we thought we were going to roll off the mountainside [it had rained that morning, and he was stuck in the mud, so we kept sliding back down…!!!]. The tour takes you to historic sites [a mountainside artist, fruit and pearl farms, some historical sites, etc), and also just gives you some great views of the island!
- Private Island for a Day [Moto Tapu – Hilton’s private island]
Private Island for a day? Yes please! While being within Bora Bora itself already feels like you’re on a private island, we were lucky enough to go to Hilton’s private island – Moto Tapu – for a day of lounging, food, drinks, and swimming pretty much by ourselves. We saw other people on the boat ride over, and during lunch, but other than that it was us and our island! While we loved this [and the price of this including drinks and meals was less than the price of a lunch at the resort], you’re already so secluded at the resort, I’m not sure going here for more seclusion is worth it if you’re on a time crunch!
Food & Drink
Pretty much everything there is imported [except probably the fish and some fruit], so you’re going to pay a pretty penny for any meal. I mean, I can’t even explain how expensive your meals are going to be. If you find an all-inclusive option that works for you, or a travel agent who can get some meals thrown in -DO IT! We were not prepared for that, and were blown away. Also, be prepared to have slow service – everyone operated on extreme island time. We joked that we could open up a bar and make 3x the money just by serving people at the rate that we’ve come to expect in the US!
To save some money, we took the boat shuttle to main island and went to the market to buy beer and wine [necessities], as well as loafs of fresh bread, snack bars, cheeses, etc. to keep in our bungalow! We’d usually eat a big, late breakfast, and then just try to snack our way through the day until dinnertime!
We only left the resort and went to the main island for one dinner, but went to Mai Kai and it was great! We thought the food was better than our resort, and half the price. However, this was all back in 2012, and at least at the time, we had no cell service there, so taking a tiny shuttle boat in the dark to an island, and then getting a taxi to the restaurant, and then back when it’s pitch black out was not ideal. Things may have changed since then, but at the time it didn’t make us feel super comfortable. Hence why we only left at night once! It would probably be so different now assuming there are cell phone towers? There is also a world famous bar, called Bloody Mary’s, but it was closed while we were there so we weren’t able to go! There’s a long list of celebrities that have visited here!
As one of LIY’s Content Creators, Lauren also doubles as our Amazon Queen and her Facebook posts are the reason why we’ve all hit checkout more times on Prime in the past year than we’ve told our significant other “I love you”. With dreams of living on the water [an inflatable pool is currently keeping said dream alive] and a deep appreciation to 2000’s hip hop, Lauren is always up for an adventure while secretly hoping she can hang out in the tub with a glass of wine.