Top 5 Things to do in Bora Bora with Kids
French Polynesia’s Bora Bora is one of the most romantic places in the world. This idyllic paradise setting has always been at the top of our travel wish list for a milestone anniversary. We finally made it to Bora Bora last summer with the kids in tow. It was everything we expected and more. Surprisingly, we also found a family-friendly place, making it one of our best vacations. We loved it and can’t wait to return. It’s not just for honeymooners anymore. See our list of the top 5 things to do in Bora Bora with kids.
Snorkel and Swim with Sharks and Stingrays
Bora Bora’s turquoise, crystal-clear and warm waters were ideal for snorkeling and swimming. We did plenty of that but also knew we had to do the area’s most popular excursion. Our tour with Lagoon Service was fantastic. It started with a dockside pickup from our hotel. We liked that there were only 10 of us on the boat along with our guide.
Our excursion also included a tour of Bora Bora’s lagoons and gave us a chance to see the island from a different perspective. The first stop was swimming with the stingrays. We felt more comfortable touching and feeding them when our tour guide assured us that the barbs have been removed for everyone’s safety. The stingrays were docile and kept trying to brush up against us.
Coral Gardens, also called the Aquarium, was the island’s best snorkeling spot with the most colorful and varied tropical schools of fish we’ve ever seen. But our most unreal experience was swimming with black tip sharks in 50-feet deep water. It was quite unsettling at first to be surrounded by so many sharks. Thank goodness the sharks pretty much ignored us.
We chose the full-day tour that included lunch on a private island. It was a delicious meal of barbecued fish and chicken, salads, fresh fruits, coconut cake and poisson cru, a local dish of tuna marinated in lime juice and coconut milk with mixed vegetables. We ate using weaved coconut leaves as plates while sitting on picnic tables set on the water with hundreds of fish swimming around us. The incredible view completed this memorable meal.
Visit the Turtle Center
Get up close with green sea turtles at the Bora Bora Turtle Center. The center focuses on the protection and observation of these turtles. Many turtles here are hatched, raised and later released into the wild. They also rescue adult turtles from poachers and nurse injured turtles back to health.
Visitors can view the turtle feeding everyday at 10:30 am and attend information sessions. There is also a coral preservation area to watch and learn about coral regeneration. The Ecological Center provides a wonderful learning environment for families that include touch pools to interact with other marine creatures, a museum and an aquarium. There is a cover charge.
Try Water Sports
Bora Bora is the ideal place for water lovers to try water adventure sports on its turquoise lagoon. Most resorts offer complimentary use of non-motorized equipment, like kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards (SUP), to their guests. There are also various companies that pick up guests for scuba diving, jet skiing and parasailing tours.
On our return trip, we’d love to try the Aquabike which looks like a personal mini-submarine underwater scooter or the Aquasafari that allows you to walk and explore underwater with a specialized helmet. Check with the tour companies for age restrictions.
Cruise on the Glass Bottom Boat Tour
For families who have non-swimmers, this cruise boat tour allows them to enjoy Bora Bora’s underwater wonders without getting wet. Tours are about 90 minutes and available Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Passengers can see the entire lagoon’s colorful and tropical fish through the boat’s glass hull along with a tour guide to learn about the marine life here.
Do the Island Jeep Tour
It was easy to forget there is an island rich in culture and history beyond the resorts and postcard scenery. Bora Bora’s land area is only 16.9 sq miles (44 sq km) so it’s easy to do a self-drive tour. We went on a three-hour island excursion tour with Natura Discovery where we rode on a four-wheel drive truck along with our driver/tour guide.
The tour included stops at Matira, Bora Bora’s only public beach, and several lookout points. It was a very bumpy but enjoyable ride in some areas. The island was once a U.S. military ship supply base during World War II. It was interesting to see a few of the cannons that are still perched on strategic points even though they were never fired. The kids also loved climbing on them. Our favorite view was from an unmarked road accessible with a 4×4 vehicle that showed the overwater bungalows on one side and the majestic Mount Otemanu on the other.
We also enjoyed our stop at a local shop and learned how to make pareos, sarongs that are fairly common to wear in French Polynesia. The kids participated in choosing the demo colors. The white cloth was tied in several places and dipped into various color paints. Then, the tie-dyed cloth was laid out on tin roof panels. Plastic cut out patterns or appliques were put all over the fabric for decoration as it dried under the sun.
My kids were also used as models as we learned different and creative ways to tie pareos. Our tour ended with a stop at a local home with a fruit stand. We enjoyed eating fresh bananas, papayas and starfruit. The best part was drinking cold, fresh young coconut juice and eating its delicious meat. We highly recommend doing a land excursion tour. It took us to some places not accessible for regular cars and made for a better overall experience.
Tips for Visiting Bora Bora with Kids
- Book your tours in advance preferably before you land on the island to get the best deals and tour times that fit your schedule. Always inquire about children’s discounts. Our kids were half price on all our tours.
- Bloody Mary’s is the island’s most famous restaurant, where we enjoyed lunch. The restaurant will pick customers up from the harbor, or you can request your tour company to drop you there. We enjoyed seeing the wall of various currencies and the wall of celebrities who have eaten there. Don’t miss their restrooms! Dinner looked like a totally different experience, with the menu full of cooked-to-order fresh caught seafood. It gets very crowded so make reservations.
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Mary lives in San Diego, California with her husband, 13 year-old daughter and 10 year-old son. She was born in the Philippines, grew up in the U.S. territory…