Bora Bora's Beaches

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Bora Bora's Beaches
Bora Bora is all about its huge, electric blue lagoon. Get in the water, get under it, or just chill out and stare at it from the many white sand beaches, the reef, or the main island.
Photo by Michel Renaudeau/age fotostock
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    Explore a White Sand Motu
    Surrounding Bora Bora’s bluest of blue lagoons are small, white sand islets called motu that have grown up on the fringing reef. Motu are not only where the best and most secluded beaches and the best snorkeling are found, but you’ll also make a real connection with nature. Bora Bora’s grand, square-topped silhouette provides the view; the best things to do are to nap, play in the water, or put on a mask and swim with the colorful fish. With some good reef sandals you can walk to the islet's palm jungle interior or to the outer reef that drops off into a deep inky indigo.
    Photo by Michel Renaudeau/age fotostock
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    Lagoon Excursions
    One of Bora Bora’s most popular activities is a lagoon excursion, a day-long event which usually includes a picnic, snorkeling, ray and shark feeding, and plenty of beach time. If you’re lucky, your guide will bring along a ukulele for some live music and a festive vibe. The food can vary but generally includes poisson cru (a raw fish salad), grilled fish, rice, chicken, and a pasta or rice salad. With a good guide and a good group, you’ll feel like a mobile beach party on the most beautiful waters in the world. There are plenty of companies offering this excursion; try Pure Snorkeling By Reef Discovery or Lagoon Service.
    Photo courtesy of Tahiti Tourism
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    Overwhelming Relaxation
    The choices in Bora Bora can be overwhelming: Should you lounge on the private deck of your over-the-water bungalow, relax on an inflatable mattress while bobbing around in the lagoon, swing in a hammock under a coconut tree, or just spread a towel out on a beach somewhere and bask in the sun? To complicate things further, there’s all that novel reading to catch up on, the spa to visit, and naps to take. The motto in French Polynesia is hare maru, which means “take it slow,” so kick back, relax, and let the Bora Boran lifestyle become your own.
    Photo courtesy of Tahiti Tourism
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    Spectacular Sunsets
    For an island known for the myriad blues of its lagoon, Bora Bora puts on an awfully good show of oranges and reds at sunset. It all depends on the weather, but if you're lucky enough to be there on the right day, the sunset may be the best of your life. Seen from the motu (white sand islets), the island’s square silhouette defines the scene; the view over the lagoon from the mainland is especially spectacular when the water is calm and the different colors reflect off it like a mirror. From a sandy beach with a cocktail in hand, it’s the perfect way to end the day.
    Photo courtesy of Tahiti Tourism
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    Soar above the Island
    For the ultimate view over the island, get hitched to a parachute and dragged in the air like a kite behind a speeding boat. Parasailing is a flight like no other, somehow exhilarating and relaxing at the same time, but is not a sport for those who are afraid of heights—you'll be between 150 and 400 feet up in the sky. This is the perfect height to look out for the best beaches, though you are more likely to be mesmerized by the island's natural beauty. Most parasailing flights last around 15 minutes; book them through your hotel with Bora Bora Parasail.
    Photo by Stewart Butterfield
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    Swim with Manta Rays and Lemon Sharks
    The island of Bora Bora is peaceful and idyllic, but under the sea there’s a whole new world of tropical beauty and calm—until a lemon shark swims past you. Less adrenalin-inducing but just as majestic are the manta rays often found at the Anau dive site on the island's west side—they come here to get the parasites nibbled off them by fish. Along with the island's coral, there are plenty of colorful fish, eels, black tip reef sharks, stingrays, and sea turtles in the blue depths. Even non-divers should consider taking a first dive—or at least an undersea walk with a weighted helmet, where you don’t even need to know how to swim.
    Photo by Onnalee Macdonald
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    Kitesurfing and Paddleboarding on the Lagoon
    Bora Bora’s giant lagoon is the perfect playground for board sports which don't require waves. Trade winds provide a steady push for kitesurfers, while the reef-protected waters mean a nice, flat surface for the newest island craze: stand-up paddleboarding. Stand-up paddleboarding is a great workout, so you can feel a bit better about eating, drinking, and lounging for the rest of the day. Many resorts rent or have paddleboards on offer for guests, and you can get lessons from schools like Bora Bora Stand Up Paddle. Liquid Fest is a five day festival held the first week of December that includes outrigger canoe races, surf-ski competitions, standup paddling sprints, and long-distance swims.
    Photo by Quincy Dein/age fotostock
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    Dip into the Lagoon from Your Own Private Dock
    The luxurious and private nature of Bora Bora’s over-the-water bungalows makes it tempting to enjoy the island only from the comfort of your own digs. And what is more exquisite than taking a plunge into clear, blue, warm water from your own private dock? Order drinks, meals, snacks, or almost anything else you need via room service. Swim, dry off in the sun, read a book, and repeat. Your neighbors may not be too far away, but for the most part the only sound will be the lapping of the waves against your bungalow’s support poles. Doing so little has never been so pleasant.
    Photo courtesy of Tahiti Tourism
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    Swim with Sea Turtles
    Not much beats swimming with sea turtles, but you’ll probably need to spend several hours in the lagoon to have much chance of encountering one in the wild. Otherwise, visit the Marine Turtle Protection Center at Le Meridien Bora Bora. Guests and non-guests alike are welcome to observe—and swim with—growing juveniles and rehabilitating older turtles in a protected lagoon. The most common species are green and hawksbill turtles, which can grow up to three to five feet long. The area also acts as a coral nursery, where the reef can regenerate and thrive.
    Photo courtesy of Tahiti Tourism
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    Bora Bora's Liveliest Beach
    The main island’s biggest, best, and most popular beach stretches along the Matira Point tourist enclave. It’s long enough that it’s lively in some spots and quiet in others, and it has a fun, friendly vibe—thanks in part to the local beachgoers, who also help to make it a more authentic Polynesian experience. A few little snack restaurants can be found along the beach, serving burgers and poisson cru (a type of raw tuna salad), and the handful of hotels are relatively spread out from each other. The water's sandy bottom is easy on your feet, and the turquoise waters stretching from the perfect white sands are as pretty as you’ll find anywhere.
    Photo by José Fuste Raga/age fotostock