Bora-Bora Things to Do Tips by Kakapo2 Top 5 Page for this destination
Bora-Bora Things to Do: 86 reviews and 135 photos
The water has nearly bathtub temperature.
As you can see, the lagoon nearly belongs to you alone.
It is possible that the beach is busier on weekends when the locals also decide to relax at Matira Point.
We were there on a Monday, and there were very few people despite some cruise ship passengers invading the beach.
The beach is not wide, just a relatively narrow stretch. But the sand is white. WHITE.
To walk in the water you need swimming shoes, or you risk to get nasty cuts from broken coral.
At low tide you can walk across the lagoon. However, if you try this be prepared that you are not welcome at the hotels on the motu(s)…
You can find alternative beaches between Vaitape and Matira Point but they are not near as nice as Matira Beach, for the simple reason that they are located next to the busy road.
Update Dec. 2012
No change to the magic on my visit last year. I was on Bora Bora for three days and despite not loving the overall vibe, Matira Beach still has it all - and there were never more people than on my first visit.
The Protestant church in Vaitape below Mt. Pahia.
Eglise Evangélique de Polynésie Française: You see such signs quite a lot in French Polynesia and especially on Bora Bora, as here most people are protestant.
The name of this nice church in Vaitape “Temple Ebene Ezera de Vaitape”.
It is located on the mountain side of the main street, just some steps north of the shops, opposite the tender wharf for cruise ship passengers.
Sunday service is at 10am.
The Catholic Church is a bit further south, opposite the Post Office.
Vaitape below the towering peaks of Mt. Pahia.
I have read contradicting information about the number of inhabitants Bora Bora has. The number varies from 6000 to 7000. Wikipedia cites the 2007 census which counted 8880 inhabitants. So still not a real lot… ;-)
About 4000 of those people live in Vaitape, the main town.
Not only there it is sometimes hard to determine where the town ends and no-man’s-land starts, or if some lonesome houses belong to the previous or the next village.
There is a green sign with the name of the township at the official start of a village, and soon after that you normally spot a church.
As you can expect, you find all kinds of businesses and public service in Vaitape, including post-office (Bureau de Poste), police station (gendarmerie), town hall (Mairie), school, pharmacy, bank (Banque de Polynésie), Maison de la Presse (newspapers, magazines, books, and tobacco products), fire brigade (Pompiers), petrol station (Station Service), car rentals, hairdresser, etc..
Attention - pricklies on the lawn!
Between the Intercontinental Beachcomber and the Hotel Matira is a narrow track – which BTW is the official access road to the Interconti, with no sign-post or anything that would lead you to the beach and all the other hotels of Matira Point. You just follow this alleyway, turn right near the entrance of the Interconti – and stand more or less on the beach.
There is a lawn (covered in pricklies that stick to your towel, just for the case you wonder if you should lie down on the lawn or in the sand) with a big thatched pavillion, and a concrete toilet block with showers on the outside. They are the hotel’s facilities but you are allowed to use them. Perfect!
If you have no bicycles or other means of transport, there are those pick-up trucks that look out for customers every now and then. We met several cruise ship passengers who had got to the beach by this cheap means of transport and back to Vaitape as well.
The colours of the lagoon are somehow surreal.
As said in other tips already, the area between Raititi Point and Matira Point (Pointe Matira) – about 5 to 6 kilometres south of Vaitape - is Bora Bora’s main tourist area. It also is the southernmost point of the island.
Some of the high-price hotels with overwater bungalows (Hotel Matira, Le Maitai Polynesia, Sofitel Matira, Hotel Bora Bora) are located there, but also more affordable family-run accommodation, like Chez Nono, and others.
Our smoking bike rental lady had encircled the whole area with her pen and told us that this was Bora Bora’s best beach. As you can imagine, this still does not give you the exact location, so I thought I better ask at the start of the Matira area before we have to make a U-turn and waste our precious relaxing and swimming time. I could not have asked at a better spot than at the Roulotte Matira – because the access path was just across the road!
The name Matira has quite a funny origin.
It is the Tahitian pronunciation of Mathilda. (And I had thought only people from East Asia take the L as an R, and vice-versa… But you will find many examples of this change of consonants in Tahitian.)
Mathilda again was the name of a lady who married a local chief who named the property after her. The lady again had been named after a British ship that was wrecked on the Mururoa Atoll (you remember the French nuclear tests…) in 1792.
A path opposite Hotel Matira leads to some World War II defense guns on the hill but obviously this easy access track is now blocked by a private property. I did not check it out, so cannot confirm this. Just try or ask.
The Sofitel Motu Coralia.
Before you roll down to Matira Point you have a great view of one of those motu getaways.
Whatever you think of the Sofitel hotel chain, they just have spectacular resorts.
This one is the Sofitel Motu Coralia.
Better you do not ask me for the tariffs… ;-)
The best tip I can give you: Start saving for your stay!
The Intercontinental Beachcomber hotel.
The Intercontinental Beachcomber – where dreams become true. It is located at Matira Point, Bora Bora’s main tourist area.
This hotel was the first one to build overwater bungalows which have now become the trademark of Bora Bora’s luxury hotels.
All overwater bungalows are built in the traditional Polynesian style. This means, they have thatched roofs and walls woven pandanus walls. Pandanus is a tree of the lily family with sword-like very sturdy leaves. It resembles the cabbage trees in New Zealand. But we also have a tree of the Pandanus family with the nickname Pineapple Tree, derived from the look of its fruit.
Not all overwater bungalows have those woven walls anymore. We saw quite a number of them with wooden walls. This is clearly a less maintenance construction.
BTW Most hotels have no swimming pools, as the lagoon is right at the doorstep. And from the overwater bungalows you can even jump right into the sea.
Another BTW: Some of those high-end hotels do not welcome visitors, and feel – like the Club Med for example – like a gated community. Well, or a private prison for well-heeled people ;-)
The Intercontinental Beachcomber is very visitor friendly. You are even allowed to use their beach facilities.
The Protestant church of Anau.
Anau on the east coast is the most typical village on Bora Bora because it is the most isolated settlement. It is built along a rocky stretch of coastline.
In the Hidden Guide I read that it is, I quote: “not a terribly friendly place”. As we stopped for some minutes only I can neither agree nor tell you the opposite. It was hot, and nobody was around.
Our main interest was to have a look at the Protestant church (Eglise Protestante Maohi; Paroisse Sion, in Tahitian: Paroita Tiona/Anau).
Sunday mass is at 10am.
The three major churches on Bora Bora look like cloned, with their pointed red roofs, and the open porch in front of the entrance under the tower. Only the colours are different. Whereas the churches in Vaitape and Faanui have pastel colours, the one in Anau is white. And it is set on the lagoon-side, whereas the other two are on the mountain side, so they are set in front of the magic mountains and offer quite dramatic vistas.
Mt. Otemanu, Mt. Pahia, seen from north of Faanui.
When looking at my photos you might be impressed by the many spectacular mountains of Bora Bora. But this impression is completely wrong.
You somehow permanently circle around the two giants Mt. Otemanu and Mt. Pahia, and they change their faces so dramatically with every turn you take that you would not think they are the same mountains.
Sometimes a lower mountain adds to the picture, but the highest ones are always only Mt. Otemanu (727 metres) and Mt. Pahia (662 metres).
The next-highest peak is Mt. Hue with 619 metres, followed by Mt. Mataihua (314 metres) which sits between Faanui and Vairau Bay, and in the very north you have the Popotei Ridge.
You can walk up to the summit of Mt. Pahia. This will take you several hours (about 5 hours return). The hike starts in Vaitape. You have to take the inland road south of the Protestant church, and find your way through the bush. Either take a guide or get good instructions before you start. And, of course, do not try it in wet conditions, as the track will get muddy and slippery.
Do not try to climb Mt. Otemanu. Its crumbling face would make an ascent very dangerous.
A short walk I would consider is the island crossing from Faanui (start/end on a dirt track starting at the church) to Vairau Bay, south of Fitiiu Point. We saw the start of the track on the Vairau Bay side when we passed there on our bicycles.
On photo 2 you see the mountains the other way round, as you see them from Nunue, south of Vaitape.
View from the highest point of the island tour.
This bay was rather unique as the colour of the water was neither turquoise blue nor turquoise green but just a brilliant green.
You have a great view from a lookout off Fitiiu Point. This comes after a steep climb on the unsealed stretch of road, where the road leaves the coastline and goes inland, and before a long descent down towards Anau.
If you are interested, the lookout area is rich of places to check out. Further out to Fitiiu Point you can walk on a jeep track to a spot from where you can see some of those useless American defense guns. If you look down to the shore you see the Marae Aehuatai.
(If you want to have a close look, just drive down the hill towards Anau, at the bottom a track leads to the marae - and from there up to the guns.)
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