Bora Bora is most often associated with luxury and, therefore, a pretty hefty price tag. After all, those overwater bungalows don’t come cheap. But all those high-end resorts don't mean you need to pay a fortune for everything on the island.

So, how can you experience Bora Bora without breaking the bank? Well, some months are cheaper to visit Bora Bora than others but you can also take advantage of a few free (and a couple nearly free) activities as well. From adventurous exploring to beach days and even learning a bit more about the local culture, here are 10 free (or nearly free!) things to do in Bora Bora.

Spend a day at Matira Beach

One of the biggest tourist draws in Bora Bora is Matira Beach, considered by many to be the most beautiful beach in Bora Bora, surpassing even those of the resorts on the private motus. Matira Beach is a public beach and it stretches 1.6km (1 mile), making it easy to walk and spacious enough to find a spot in the sand to yourself.

Speaking of sand, Matria Beach is a soft, white sand beach and perfect for swimming. If you have some snorkel gear, bring it with you. If you're facing the water, the part of Matira Beach to the right is a pretty decent snorkel spot.

A World War II Cannon on a hilltop overlooking the lagoon in Bora Bora, French Polynesia
It may be sweaty work to reach some of the hilltops in Bora Bora but the views are worth the effort © MaFelipe / Getty Images / iStockphoto

Take a hike to some scenic viewpoints

If you prefer hiking to beach-lounging, then you are in luck because Bora Bora has some pretty incredible viewpoints for those brave enough to venture into the jungle.

While Bora Bora has several trails and climbs, it’s best to avoid venturing out alone. Hire a guide for navigation and safety purposes. Many of the trails are unmarked or can be quite tricky to find so always speak to the staff at your accommodation about hiking trails suitable to explore on your own.

One area that’s appropriate for hiking on your own is Mount Popoti. This trail is a little over 4km (2.5 miles) and can be done in about 90 minutes. It’s not too steep and offers beautiful views over the lagoon. The land this trail is on is owned by a local family who runs a 4x4 tour company, but you are welcome to hike on their property.

Window shop for pearls in Vaitape

Tahiti and its islands are famous for Tahitian pearls. As you explore the Society Islands, you’ll see dozens of pearl shops. Set up a day trip to visit a couple of pearl farms to see first-hand how pearl farming works and perhaps buy some jewelry.

Bora Bora doesn’t have the same pearl farms as some of the Society Islands, but there are plenty of pearl shops in the main town, Vaitape. So, if you’re curious about Tahitian pearls visit the stores in Vaitape to see what they have on display.

Shops throughout French Polynesia are rarely pushy and happy to share their knowledge so this is a great opportunity to learn more about Tahitian pearls without feeling the pressure to buy.

Check out the local art scene

While Tahitian pearl shops make up a large majority of the shops and boutiques in Vaitape, they aren’t the only places to enjoy. Vaitape also has art galleries (Bora Art Upstairs is a visitor favorite) and an artisan market that makes for a fun day of browsing. From photography to painted canvases, hand-painted sarongs and handmade jewelry using shells, there’s plenty of local Polynesia art to see and discover. 

A woman is snorkelling in shallow water with Mt Otemanu in the background
Snorkeling just off the shoreline is perfect for less confident swimmers © Peter Griffith / Getty Images

Snorkel off the shoreline

There are numerous snorkel tours in Bora Bora that will take you to the more popular sites for coral reefs as well as black-tip reef sharks and stingrays, however, these tours can get pretty pricey. Also, some people are turned off by the fact that a few tours feed the animals. If you’re more interested in doing your own thing,  pack a mask and snorkel and just explore on your own.

Keep an eye out for mantas and eagle rays in the lagoon

Bora Bora’s lagoon is home to both manta and eagle rays. You’ll need to book a tour to visit specific dive and snorkel spots to see them. But there are some times when these beautiful creatures are spotted close to shore.

A couple of places they tend to frequent include Matira Beach (by the Intercontinental Hotel) and the Bora Bora Yacht Club. The best times to see manta rays are in the morning from May to December.

Walk or cycle around the island

Bora Bora is a pretty small island, only about 10km (6 miles) long and 4km (2.5 miles) wide. So, if you fancy an active day, that is small enough to walk around. While there are plenty of ATV and 4x4 tours, as well as car rental agencies, all you really need to get around Bora Bora are your own two feet (don’t worry, it’s also pretty flat!).

That being said, walking will take a few hours so you may prefer a bike to help cut down on your time in the strong South Pacific sunshine. If you’re lucky, your accommodation will include beach bikes to borrow. If not, you can rent a bike for about $20 USD per day from the same places that offer car rentals.

Exploring Bora Bora by foot or bicycle is great. There aren’t many places to pull over to take in the views or snap photos with a rental car, but you’ll have plenty of freedom while walking or biking. Just make sure to wear sun protection and bring plenty of drinking water.

A woman is sitting on a jetty with her back to the camera watching the sunset behind Mt Otemanu in Bora Bora
You don't need to spend a cent to enjoy the beautiful sunsets in Bora Bora © MaFelipe / Getty Images / iStockphoto

Watch one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world

Bora Bora’s spectacular sunsets are not to be missed. Plenty of resorts and even some bars and restaurants claim to offer the best sunset views, the truth is you can get really stunning views from multiple places on the island without having to pay $25USD for a cocktail.

Head to Matira Beach in the evening to catch a Bora Bora sunset. All you need is a towel to sit on, and maybe a camera to capture the moment.

Try the local beer

I hate to tell you, but I wasn’t joking about paying $25 for a cocktail. Again, Bora Bora is expensive and so are the drinks. However, if you want to try some local flavors without the hefty price tag then head to the local grocery store and pick up a can or bottle of Hinano.

Sure, it’s not served in a fancy glass with a fruit stick but Hinano beer has won international awards and will only cost you a couple of dollars at the store – seems almost free when compared to that cocktail.

Enjoy the inclusions at your resort

For those who opt for the luxury resort; take time to familiarize yourself with everything your resort has to offer so you can really make the most of your stay.

The Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora offers complimentary yoga classes and has SUPs for visitors to borrow. They also have their own lagoon sanctuary which is perfect for snorkeling – you don’t even have to leave the resort grounds. Fingers crossed you’ll be lucky enough to see some of the local spotted eagle rays.

You may also like:
Bora Bora's best beaches: find your own stretch of paradise
How to get around Bora Bora
The best hikes in Bora Bora

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