A French Polynesian beauty

If you have seen the pictures, you know it’s true: Bora Bora is one of the most photogenic islands in French Polynesia, with its turquoise waters lapping white sand beaches against a backdrop of soaring mountain peaks.

However, there is a lot more to do in Bora Bora than just relaxing on the beach. Whether you take a jet boat tour of the lagoon, feed wild sting rays or go for a hike up Mount Otemanu, you will find plenty to do on this tropical paradise.

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From scenic hikes and street food trucks to fun-filled watersports

It is no surprise that the most popular activities in Bora Bora involve getting wet – and that snorkelling and diving both top the list. There are a number of colourful coral gardens dotted around the lagoon, each one teeming with life, from butterfly and clown fish to eagle rays and moray eels. For the best chance of seeing manta rays on a dive, head to Anau, a deep area of the lagoon; for black tip reef sharks go to Tapu.

Another option is an Aqua Safari, where you can swap a snorkel for an air-supplied helmet. There is no swimming involved; you simply walk along the lagoon floor, marvelling at the fish swimming around you. Between July and November, a whale watching boat trip gets you near migrating humpback whales and their calves. Or if you want to burn off some energy, the lagoon’s calm waters make it a great place to try stand-up paddle boarding, parasailing and kitesurfing.

There is also plenty of fun to be had on dry land. The island’s verdant slopes offer some magnificent hiking opportunities, through dense forests where Tahitian walnut trees and wild coffee bushes line ancient walking trails. On the three-hour Valley of the Kings walk, your guide will lead you through abandoned villages and ceremonial religious sites called marae; for a scenic full-day option, plump for the Ancestors’ Road walk. The challenging six-hour round trip to the Sacred Cave of Anau offers amazing views across the lagoon, but should only be tackled if you are fit and are comfortable with rope-assisted climbing.

When you have worked up an appetite, chow down in one of Bora Bora’s laidback restaurants. The most famous is Bloody Mary’s restaurant at Povai Bay, where you can enjoy ocean-fresh seafood while sitting on a coconut stool with the sand between your toes. This has become the archipelago’s must-do dining experience: photos on the wall commemorate famous past diners who include Leonardo DiCaprio and Harrison Ford. Alternatively, join the locals for a casual dinner at the roulottes (mobile food trucks) that set up every night in Vaitape village. A Tahitian tradition, roulottes offer a wide range of cheap eats: everything from steak-frites to chow mein and local specialty poisson cru, a delicious ceviche-like dish comprising fish marinated in coconut milk and lime juice.

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