Curious about Bora Bora snorkeling? Here are all of the top spots, tours, and other info you’ll need to plan your trip!
Bora Bora is one of the most beautiful islands in the South Pacific, known for its turquoise waters, sandy beaches, and fabulous snorkeling and diving spots. People travel from around the world to explore Bora Bora’s lagoon and coral reefs.
Travelers can even swim with reef sharks in Bora Bora. These sharks are very shy and timid, but the tour guides feed them fish, so they will often cautiously approach. Snorkeling guides usually know the best places to find sharks and rays that are friendly enough to interact with visitors.
In addition to reef sharks, it’s common to see colorful tropical fish, coral, stingrays, and lemon sharks while snorkeling in Bora Bora. You might also encounter sea turtles, whales, leopard rays, and dolphins, depending on your luck and the time of year.
Top Bora Bora Snorkeling Spots
The best way to see the top Bora Bora snorkeling spots is by taking a tour. A knowledgeable tour guide will take you by boat to the best snorkeling spots for that time of year and give you tips for making the most of your visit.
Whenever possible, go snorkeling in the morning. It is the best time to see wildlife in the ocean and lagoon in Bora Bora.
Aptly named, the Coral Garden looks like an underwater garden made of coral. This portion of the Bora Bora lagoon is especially idyllic, like something you might see in the movie “Finding Nemo.”
In the Coral Garden, you can swim with sharks, watch the colorful fish swim by, and see pieces of live coral. Of course, never touch, break, or disturb the coral. Doing so is not only illegal, but it is damaging to the fragile ecosystem.
If you take a tour that includes the Coral Garden, it typically includes a traditional lunch with your guide. These lunch breaks are a chance to get out of the water and learn a little bit more about Polynesian culture.
What To Expect
Visibility in the Coral Garden is usually great, up to 50 feet in places. The marine life in this area is quite diverse, home to sharks, stingrays, colorful wild clams, and even moray eels.
Note that there are some tricky spots where you’ll need to carefully float across the top of the coral in shallow water or avoid it by going around. There’s also a gentle current in the area, so you’ll want to be extra careful when snorkeling in the Coral Garden to avoid any contact with the coral.
2. Inner Reef
As the name suggests, the Inner Reef is the area between the main island and the Outer Reef. It’s shallower and much more protected than the Outer Reef, with a sandy bottom that’s perfect for spotting rays and sharks. Both reef sharks are generally very used to humans and won’t get too close unless you have food.
Unlike the sharks, the rays are very used to human interaction and sometimes seem to seek it out. You may see a tour guide feed and hold a friendly ray so that guests can touch or kiss it.
There are small pieces of coral throughout the Inner Reef, home to various species of tropical fish.
What To Expect
Visibility in the Inner Reef is usually very good, so you can see up to 50 feet. Parts of the Inner Reef can be as shallow as 5 feet, so this is one of the best areas for beginners.
The Inner Reef is home to sharks, rays, and some species of suckerfish that follow the sharks in the water. You may see a few schools of tropical fish, but the Inner Reef is not the best place to try to see coral or fish.
Anau is a popular scuba dive spot, but you can still snorkel here if you seek it out. It’s the deepest dive spot in the inner reef area.
There are both soft and hard corals in Anau, but unfortunately, they’re too deep to be seen when snorkeling. Instead, Anau offers the incredible experience of looking down and seeing manta rays gliding across the water below. The rays’ wingspans can sometimes reach up to 12 feet across, so it’s a truly surreal experience.
It can be difficult to find a tour that specifically goes to Anau. You can ask your Bora Bora snorkeling tour guide to include it or take a private tour where you’ll have control over the itinerary.
What To Expect
This area is very popular for seeing manta rays and eagle rays as they glide below you. The coral and seabed are too far from the surface of the water to be visible to snorkelers.
You’ll want to visit Anau on a tour, even though it appears close to the shore. The currents near Anau are known to be strong, and a knowledgeable guide will know the best ways to navigate them.
4. Outer Reef
The Outer Reef encircles the main island of Bora Bora and protects it from the open Pacific Ocean. Tours typically bring you to the spot outside of the reef where the lagoon meets the Pacific.
Snorkeling in the Outer Reef will give you a sense of the wild, open sea. The water is an incredible, deep blue because of its increased depth. Because it is more open, you can see a much larger variety of fish and other marine life in the Outer Reef than at any of the other spots on this list.
The Outer Reef is a great place to spot reef sharks and lemon sharks. The reef sharks can grow to be up to 6 feet long, while lemon sharks can grow up to 10 feet long. Don’t worry, these sharks are quite shy, so the tour guides are known to toss some chum into the water to encourage them to be a little more active.
What To Expect
The Outer Reef is one of the most adventurous places to snorkel in Bora Bora. The proximity to the open sea means that you’re less protected from other wildlife that live in the Pacific Ocean. For this reason, it’s much better to take a tour because the currents can be strong.
You can see lemon sharks and black-tip reef sharks, in addition to some schools of triggerfish. Other marine life, like sea turtles, rays, tropic fish, and octopus, might be visible, depending on the conditions.
The Four Seasons Bora Bora resort is located on the outer reef portion of Bora Bora, near Motu Piti A’au. The resort has access to its own portion of the lagoon, and guests can snorkel directly from their bungalows or from the beach.
The resort offers a variety of adventurous and unique tours. Guests can join a snorkeling tour and explore the area with a marine biologist who will teach you about the species of fish that live in the lagoon.
If you want to see some fish without snorkeling, you can book a massage that overlooks small pieces of coral and watch the marine life during your treatment.
What To Expect
The Four Seasons Spa Lagoon is a perfect snorkeling spot for any beginner because it is well protected from the strong ocean currents. Beginners can snorkel in the clear, warm water directly from their resort, either with or without a guide.
This portion of the reef is home to triggerfish, surgeonfish, colorful wrasse, and sometimes even eels. There are small bits of coral, so take care to avoid it while snorkeling.
Matira Beach is the only public beach in Bora Bora, and it happens to be a fabulous spot to snorkel.
The name is a bit misleading; there’s no aquarium in L’Aquarium; instead, it’s the name for an area of reef off the coast of Bora Bora. You can reach this spot by kayak or boat if you know what you’re looking for, or join a tour.
For anyone who loves to see tropical fish, L’Aquarium Matira Point is a must-visit spot while you’re in Bora Bora.
L’Aquarium is teeming with reef fish, so be sure to study up before you enter the water. Visibility is great in L’Aquarium and is usually kept clear by the currents that run in the area, making for even better snorkeling conditions.
The spot is so beloved that there’s an area on the floor of the lagoon where “I love Bora Bora” is written out in stone. It makes for a great photo opportunity while you’re in L’Aquarium.
What To Expect
L’Aquarium is a great beginner spot for snorkeling in Bora Bora, and there are areas where you can snorkel without a guide. The water is shallow, and the current is very gentle, making it perfect for anyone wanting to get comfortable snorkeling. Visibility is usually at least 40 feet in L’Aquarium.
While snorkeling in L’Aquarium, you might see triggerfish, chromis, angel fish, parrotfish, lyre tail wrasse, and humbug fish.
There are even some anemones and clownfish in L’Aquarium. Moray eels have been known to hide out inside the corals here; they’re generally shy, but take care not to disturb them because they sometimes bite.
Rangiroa is the largest atoll in Tuamotus and one of the largest atolls in the world. The atoll is made up of 250 islets and sandbars, all of which surround a large lagoon. It’s popular for diving, but you can also snorkel in Rangiroa.
Rangiroa is home to coral gardens and a variety of marine species like butterflyfish, turtles, dolphins, manta rays, moray eels, and hammerhead sharks.
The best spot to snorkel is the Blue Lagoon, a lagoon within the larger Rangiroa lagoon. The water in the Blue Lagoon isn’t very deep, but it’s crystal clear. There are also several passes that are suitable for snorkeling when the currents are calm. Two of the most popular are Tiputa Pass and Avatoru Pass.
What To Expect
Rangiroa is a great place to spot marine life, like sharks and dolphins, as well as colorful fish and moray eels. The water is crystal clear, with great visibility. The water is 20-25 feet deep in places, so be sure to wear appropriate snorkel gear.
With the help of a guide, you can snorkel at Tiputa Pass when the currents aren’t too strong. This area is especially known for being a great spot to see dolphins, hammerhead sharks, and manta rays.
In the event that the sea conditions are too rough for snorkeling, you can watch bottlenose dolphins play from the comfort of the boat.
Bora Bora Snorkeling Map
Where to Stay In Bora Bora
The center of the main island of Bora Bora contains the remnants of an extinct volcano, and it is surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef. Depending on where you stay in Bora Bora, you could be on the main island or the barrier reef, both of which may overlook the lagoon.
Bora Bora has a range of accommodations, from budget-friendly apartment rentals to luxurious resorts. Whether you choose accommodations on the main island or the barrier reef, you’ll probably want to take a tour for the best snorkeling.
Note that there are some resorts set over sandbars. For the best chance at viewing wildlife from your overwater bungalow, you’ll want to stay in a resort near coral reefs.
Vaiotaha Lodge is a budget-friendly accommodation in Bora Bora. Each of the accommodations comes with full kitchenettes, a terrace, a dining area, and air conditioning. Guests especially loved the owners, who routinely go out of their way to make their guests’ stay as pleasant as possible.
Book Your Stay At The Viaotaha Lodge By Clicking HERE!
The Maitai Bora Bora is a resort on Matira Point Beach. This resort features overwater bungalows, which are placed overrestored coral reefs. You can snorkel directly from Maitai Bora Bora, and snorkeling, fishing, and kayaking equipment are included in your stay.
Book Your Stay At The Maitia Bora Bora By Clicking HERE!
The incredible Four Seasons Resort in Bora Bora is one of the most luxurious resorts in French Polynesia. You can stay in an overwater bungalow or a beachfront villa, both of which have every amenity you would need for your stay.
Book Your Stay At The Four Seasons Resort By Clicking HERE!
The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort is a stunning place to stay. The 5-star resort has every amenity you can think of, as well as the largest overwater villas in French Polynesia. One of the favorite perks is swimming and enjoying the private Lagoonarium.
Book Your Stay At The St. Regis Resort HERE!
Bora Bora Snorkeling FAQs
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about snorkeling in Bora Bora.
Do You Need Reef Shoes in Bora Bora?
Yes, you’ll need reef shoes when you’re in Bora Bora. They will protect your feet from small errant pieces of coral anytime you’re swimming without flippers.
What Is the Best Month to Snorkel in Bora Bora?
The best time to snorkel in Bora Bora is between May and October. This is the dry season, so the water is more likely to be clear and calm.
Should I Bring My Own Snorkel Gear to Bora Bora?
Serious snorkelers should bring their own gear to Bora Bora. While snorkeling gear is available, you can find the best custom gear online. Casual snorkelers should be OK renting or borrowing gear after they arrive, as it is generally provided by resorts and tour companies.
Which Island in French Polynesia Has the Best Snorkeling?
Tahaa has arguably the best snorkeling in all of French Polynesia. This little island is home to a collection of incredible coral reefs that are teeming with schools of fish and other marine life. The strong currents make it possible for you to drift effortlessly above the coral.
Conclusion: Bora Bora Snorkeling
Bora Bora is a renowned snorkeling spot for its incredible views of sharks and rays. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a chance to swim alongside them in the clear, blue waters of Bora Bora.
There are also pieces of live coral and schools of tropical fish in the area, all of which you can see without donning a SCUBA suit.
Many people choose to swim with sharks while snorkeling in Bora Bora. It’s important to do this with the help of a guide, who will be able to monitor these wild animals’ behavior to help you stay safe while in the water. You can also swim with rays, which are typically quite friendly and amenable to humans.
Most tours will take you out on a boat and show you the best places to see wildlife in the lagoon and near the Outer Reef.
If there are specific snorkel spots that you want to see, be sure to communicate them with your tour guide ahead of time. Depending on the conditions and time of year, they might suggest that you consider other snorkeling spots.
In conclusion, if you are able, I highly recommend snorkeling during your visit to Bora Bora. If you are not up to snorkeling, a guided tour would be a great option. Navigating the pristine landscape of this tropical paradise is a priceless experience you won’t forget.