WONDERING IF BORA BORA IS A SAFE PLACE TO VISIT?
Hearing the name “Bora Bora” (or Pora Pora in Tahitian) instantly conjures up images in your mind’s eye of turquoise waters, straw-roofed villas, white sand beaches, and lush jungles. But is it safe?
Bora Bora is an island within the Society Islands archipelago, which in turn belongs to the greater Islands of Tahiti in French Polynesia. Formed over 7 million years ago by a volcanic eruption, Bora Bora is now a sought-after vacation destination for honeymooners and celebrities alike.
And although this tropical island might seem like paradise on Earth at first glance, there are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure your trip is as safe as it is fun. Read on for some safety tips and pointers when visiting Bora Bora.
Is Bora Bora Safe To Travel?
In short – yes! Although Bora Bora is far away and has its own unique culture, it’s actually one of the safest holiday destinations in the world.
Being only 12 square miles in size and with a population of about 11,000 people, Bora Bora has very low crime levels. But traveling to exotic places always has a minimal risk factor, here are the main things to be mindful of in Bora Bora:
Is it safe to swim in Bora Bora?
For the most part, yes it is safe to swim in Bora Bora. The waters are so clear, you can rest assured there won’t be any sea monsters lurking in the deep.
However, the waters can sometimes get rough due to high winds or storms out in the open ocean. If waves exceed 5 feet in height, swimming is forbidden.
But the water in the lagoon tends to be nice and shallow, ranging between 1.5 – 9 feet deep. So Bora Bora is an excellent place for swimmers of any level to enjoy splashing around in crystal clear waters.
Are there sharks in Bora Bora? Do I need to worry about them?
Yes… quite a lot of sharks, actually. But have no fear, as they are just friendly Blacktip reef sharks. These small sharks live in the lagoon and around the coral reef; they are curious and placid creatures. You’ll see them coming with their dorsal fin sticking out of the water, and you’ll get to observe them close up.
Reports of Blacktip sharks harming humans is very rare, as these sharks tend to eat fish, water snakes, and small sea birds. However, just to ensure your safety, there are three main rules you should follow about these sharks:
- Do not feed them
- Do not pet them
- Avoid wearing shiny jewelry; sudden bright glints of light could startle them
Is there tsunami danger in Bora Bora?
No, not really. Tsunamis can happen, but they are very unlikely. Given Bora Bora’s location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the island can be vulnerable to tidal waves caused by earthquakes in other locations around the Pacific.
But to give you some peace of mind, there have only been 13 tidal waves in the whole of French Polynesia that were classed as tsunamis since 1837.
Crime In Bora Bora
Bora Bora is one of the safest travel destinations in the world, even at night. But while crime rates are extremely low, they aren’t quite down to zero. If a crime is committed in Bora Bora, it will likely just be a petty crime like pickpocketing or bag snatching.
In fact, the whole of French Polynesia is renowned for its safety and low crime rates. Violent crimes towards tourists are practically unheard of. The impressively low crime rates are mostly due to the local culture; the island people are very polite, kind, and respectful of others.
Safety Tips For Traveling In Bora Bora
✅ Getting around the island
Given its small size, Bora Bora only has a few roads connecting different parts of the island, and they tend to be in pretty poor condition. With all the narrow twists and turns, constant potholes, and flooding during the rainy season, attempting to drive in Bora Bora is quite the quest!
A few taxis operate on the island, but they are few and far between, so it can be difficult to find a ride (not to mention an Uber), and fares get pretty steep.
In terms of public transport, there is only “Le Truck“. This bus/truck hybrid only operates along Bora Bora’s main road and will take you around the whole island in about 2.5 hours.
So, given the not-so-ideal transport options, locals and tourists mostly get around Bora Bora by bike or scooter. Not only is this the best mode of transportation, it’s also the most fun! Can you imagine taking in gorgeous views at every turn, with the fresh ocean breeze blowing through your hair?
There are several bike and scooter rental services on the island, but in most cases, your resort will have complimentary bikes for guests to use.
✅ Keeping the pickpockets at bay
As mentioned above, theft is the main form of crime in Bora Bora. So to minimize your risk of pickpockets and bag snatchers, here are some simple tips to follow:
- Make sure you have copies of your passport, visa, travel itinerary and credit/debit card numbers in the cloud, in your suitcase or with a friend you can call.
- Take pictures of your most valuable items, like your iPad or watch in case you need to make a claim.
- Don’t keep all your cash in your wallet; split it up and stash it in different places like in your suitcase or a backpack pocket.
- Be wary of crowded places. Wear your purse or backpack in front of you and keep your wallet in a front pocket when walking through crowds.
- Keep your essential items to a minimum: wallet, phone, passport.
- You could also invest in an anti-theft bag or purse for your trip. We really like the Baggallini brand. They offer practical and fashionable options.
✅ Beware of falling coconuts!
No, we’re not joking. Falling coconuts are actually a serious hazard on Bora Bora.
You should really avoid sitting under a coconut palm tree.
Also, if you love hammocks as much as we do and you bring your travel hammock everywhere, be sure to examine the trees for dangerous coconuts before setting up your hammock.
Taking a falling coconut to the head is like getting hit by a 5-pound dumbbell that’s dropping from about 50 feet! In fact, some people visiting Bora Bora have even incurred traumatic brain injuries from these hard-shelled tropical fruits.
✅ Pack plenty of sunscreen!
Make sure you pack enough sunscreen to last you the whole trip and keep it to a minimum of 50 SPF. Bora Bora is practically right on the Equator, so the sun is sizzling strong. You will burn here even if you don’t tend to burn easily.
The more sunscreen you bring, the better. Sunscreen costs are much more expensive in the island shops than at your stores back home.
Are There Any Places To Avoid In Bora Bora?
No, not really. Bora Bora is so small it doesn’t have distinct neighborhoods, so there aren’t any ‘rough’ areas you should avoid.
The port area is the only place you might want to be a little wary of. Large crowds will pass through here when ferries and cruise ships dock, making it more attractive for pickpockets.
Visiting Bora Bora: FAQs
Getting to Bora Bora is quite an adventure if you’re traveling from the United States. Flying out from an American city, the average journey time is 15 hours 30 minutes, but Bora Bora is well worth the effort!
Travel Tip: You can’t fly directly into Bora Bora; you must fly to Papeete in Tahiti first.
Papeete is the capital of French Polynesia, so this will be your travel hub if you’re visiting other islands nearby too.
Then, you can take a quick 50-minute flight from Tahiti to Bora Bora. Once you land at Bora Bora’s little island airport, water taxis will be waiting to take you to your resort.
Now that we’ve given you a good overview of what to expect when traveling to Bora Bora, here are just a few more FAQs to make sure you’re as ready as can be:
Is Tahiti safe?
Yes, Tahiti is a very safe place to travel. Like in Bora Bora and other parts of French Polynesia, practically the only crime is theft. The capital of Tahiti, Papeete, is a relatively large city of about 200,000 people, so just be extra careful of pickpockets in the large crowds.
If you’re stopping over in Tahiti for a few days before or after your Bora Bora getaway, the main danger you need to be aware of is the moray eels.
You must be very cautious when swimming or scuba diving around Tahiti. The moray eels that live in the coral reefs can be quite vicious, so don’t go poking around in underwater holes or caves.
Can I drink tap water in Bora Bora?
For the most part, yes. The tap water in Bora Bora is usually safe to drink, especially in international resorts. But sometimes, the water systems can get contaminated after big storms or floods during the rainy season.
So, we recommend asking your hotel first to ensure the tap water is completely safe. The resorts on the island usually provide complimentary bottled water, too, so there is no harm in taking advantage of that.
Which is better, Maldives or Bora Bora?
This is a bit of a tricky question, the Maldives and Bora Bora are equally great island destinations, but it depends on what you’re looking for.
The Maldives is an island nation in the Indian Ocean made up of 1,192 islands, 187 of which are inhabited. While Bora Bora is a singular small island within French Polynesia. So, given that there’s a lot more of the Maldives to go around, it’s less exclusive than Bora Bora.
Given the geographic and size differences between the Maldives and Bora Bora, here are the three main factors you should consider before making your final decision:
- Cost: while both destinations are dreamy island getaways, the 187 populated islands of the Maldives provide a wider variety of accommodation options. Bora Bora is primarily a luxury destination, while the Maldives have resorts, hotels, and guest houses to fit any budget.
- Travel time: with the Maldives being in the Indian Ocean and Bora Bora in the Pacific Ocean, travel times vary greatly depending on your starting point. The Maldives are much more accessible if you’re flying from Europe or Africa, while Bora Bora is easier to get to from the United States or Australia.
- Time of year: both destinations are near the Equator, but the Maldives are in the Northern Hemisphere, and Bora Bora is in the Southern. This means they have opposite seasons. Bora Bora’s peak travel season is between May and October, as the rainy season in French Polynesia is from November to April.
On the other hand, the Maldives is most popular between December and April, the rainy season here being from May to October. And if you’re an avid surfer, peak surf season in the Maldives runs from May to September.
➡️ Check out our deep-dive comparison of Bora Bora vs. Maldives
Is Bora Bora worth it?
Overall, yes. Bora Bora is a great destination! Whether you’re celebrating a romantic honeymoon or planning an island vacation for the whole family, there is plenty to do in Bora Bora.
The natural beauty of this island is simply breathtaking, with the emerald green vegetation against the bright blue hues of the water. And there are so many activities to enjoy like kayaking, jet skiing, snorkeling, and scuba diving along the coral reef, kite surfing, and swimming with sharks.
There are also fun things to do on land too, like taking a scenic tour of the island, going on a guided jungle tour in a 4×4, or hiking the two extinct volcano peaks of Mount Otemanu and Mount Pahia.
Is Bora Bora expensive?
Yes, it is. There is no getting around it; Bora Bora is as expensive as it is beautiful. It’s one of the most expensive vacation destinations in the world due to its exclusivity.
At a minimum, visiting Bora Bora costs about $5,000 per couple. This includes flights and lower-end accommodation for a week.
The cheapest time of year to visit Bora Bora is from November to March. This is the offseason, which is also the island’s rainy season.
But if you’re not deterred by the rain, you can snag some great flight and hotel deals by traveling during these months. I have a few other tips on saving money on travel, in case you want to maximize every dollar like I do!
Where To Stay In Bora Bora
📍 Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora
If you have your heart set on staying in your own luxury over-the-water bungalow, look no further. The Four Seasons Resort and Spa is the most exquisite resort on the island, surrounded by turquoise blue water and with stunning views of Mount Otemanu, an extinct volcano.
Aside from the exquisite villas overlooking the water, this resort boasts an open-air gym, a tennis court, a full-service spa, and 4 restaurants. Guests can also enjoy free snorkeling tours, kayaking, windsurfing, and shark feeding.
But perhaps the best part of this resort is the Sunset Bar & Lounge. This is a magical spot to unwind with your loved one and sip on some specialty cocktails while you take in the sunset over the lagoon.
📍 Villa Yrondi
For those wanting to travel in comfort without breaking the bank, Villa Yrondi is a delightful guesthouse. Just a 15-minute walk to the beach, perched on a hilltop with sweeping views of the island and ocean below, Villa Yrondi offers a serene island getaway.
All guest rooms have ensuite bathrooms and a private patio. Towels, toiletries, and high-quality bed linens are provided. A private swimming pool and a continental breakfast are provided every morning.
This eclectic villa was once an art studio. Now, as a guesthouse, you can still marvel at all the marvelous statues and fine works of art dotted around the building and in the garden.
➡️ Book your stay at Villa Yrondi by clicking here!
The Wrap-Up: Is Bora Bora Safe?
Named “the Pearl of the Pacific” by the 18th-century British explorer James Cook, Bora Bora is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. It’s no surprise why so many people dream of visiting this enchanting island. And, apart from the expense, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t go!
Bora Bora is one of the safest places you will ever travel in your life. In fact, it’s especially safe for solo travelers, female travelers and members of the LGBTQ community. The friendly locals are very respectful and welcoming to everyone.