Lives in Ottawa, Canada
Since Nov. 2012
18-24 year old female
Travel Blogger and Photographer for the theroadsitravelled.com, a blog founded on the idea that, it is not the road we travel that is unique but the way in which we travel it. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @kaitlabbate or follow 'The Roads I Travelled' on Facebook.
Scuba & Snorkeling
While most hotels in Bora Bora have secluded beaches for resort guests, Matira Beach is the only public one on the island. It is the go-to spot for finding local tours and boat rentals. My advice: skip the jet skis and take a more natural approach to exploring the lagoon. An outrigger canoe ride or kayak rental will allow for a more peaceful morning exploring the lagoon and outer motus.
No tropical getaway is complete without a little time spent under the sea. While numerous tour companies offer diving excursions, much of the underwater beauty is easily seen from snorkeling in the shallow lagoon. Take a boat from Matira Beach to the nearby Coral Gardens. Though much of the coral in Bora Bora has been damaged, the Coral Gardens offer vibrant colors and a bustling activity of tropical fish.
This casual, no fuss, beach shack is a great spot to stop for lunch right off Matira Beach. This is the type of place you might walk past without noticing, but it's a great local find. Not only are you likely to meet the owner's friendly dog, you're also likely to meet the owner/chef as well. The prices are reasonable and the menu serves a mix of American and Polynesian cuisine.
Diving down with local farmers to see how Tahitian pearls are grown and harvested is a cultural education everyone should experience before leaving Bora Bora. The delicateness of their work will amaze you, and make you appreciate the worth of these stunning Tahitian pearls. Guides will show you the full process, from seeding the oysters to creating the stunning pieces of wearable art for sale at their nearby shops.
By far the most famous restaurant on the island, this rustic spot has been frequented by many A-listers. Peruse the long list of celebrity names at the entrance before finding your seat at the tiki bar inside. Seats are made up of log stools and the floor is sand, so wear you sandals and dress comfortably. Fresh catches of the day are displayed on ice and you personally select your piece. In my experience, this place is well worth the hype.
Vaitape is the main town of Bora Bora. There are a few boutiques, a supermarket, a post office. and a bank. While much of the town is quite touristy, you can enjoy sitting by the town pier, alongside a few locals, watching the boat traffic coming in and out of the town. There is also a charming colonial style protestant church located on the main street; its pastel coral facade is an alluring contrast to the lush tropics in the backdrop. Vaitape is also the perfect spot to rent a bicycle for the day and head out around the ring road. Exploring this route, out of a car and in the open air, allows you to really take in the beauty of the coastal road. This is the way to get around! Be warned however, you're not likely to get six-speed road bikes. You'll be lucky if you get a bicycle with two gears, but that's all you need to explore the local area.
French Polynesia was the inspiration behind the works of many famous artists, including French painter, Paul Gauguin. Today, many local artists still work to portray the beauty of French Polynesian culture through their art. Alain Despert is most famous for being one of the original Absolut Vodka artists, but much of his work displays contemporary depictions of the island. His beautiful local art studio is run out of a small thatched roof cottage in Paofai Bay, and is well worth a visit. As a traveler who always loves to bring home a piece of local art, Bora Bora's art shops offered a unique taste of Polynesian culture. Be sure to stop in while bicycling the island.
A great lunch spot just outside Vaitape. - the only downside is you may be tempted to stay by their pool for the afternoon rather than getting back on your bike! This gorgeous yacht club offers beautiful views of the outer motus.
Once the highest point of the island's ancient volcanic form, this lush mountain peak is now the idyllic backdrop of Bora Bora's most famous vista. Often shaded on the interior side, the peak creates a dark contrast with the sunlit jungle and azure waters below. It's a sight to marvel at. Make sure you take a rest from bicycling to sit and enjoy this view. It was a welcome rest and a stunning highlight for me!
If your island exploration has left you invigorated and ready for an evening out, stop by the St. Regis resort for luxury cocktails at sunset. This famous resort, with thatched roof huts over the shallow waters, has been popularized by the 2009 film Couples Retreat. Despite its high prices and tourist popularity, it is still an unbeatable view.
This family-owned, open-ocean aquarium is like no other. Located on an outer motu, across from The Meridian Hotel, it's the perfect place to get an up close chance to swim with reef sharks, stingrays, and other fish in a controlled setting. Swim anywhere in the bay and you're sure to see these animals in a more natural environment, but there is something about having a Polynesian native by your side that gives you a little extra courage to get in the water with these beautiful creatures.
The newly renovated and reopened Bora Bora Yacht Club offers more than tasty food. The open-air restaurant, located right on the water, is the perfect way to while away another evening in paradise. If you're looking for a local hangout to party through to the wee hours, this is your spot.