- Coastline Emerald peaks, turquoise lagoons
- Coast life Overwater romance, subaqua seduction
French Polynesia's most famous honeymoon hot spot, Bora Bora is super-seductive, with a magical mountain-topped island encircled by a blue lagoon and button-cute coral isles.
Even flying in is a thrill, with dramatic aerial views of verdant palm-peppered jungle and flash resorts (Bora is more of a lagoon, than beach, destination). Overwater bungalows abound in this exclusive getaway, so seek out a stilted sanctuary to call your own. Dress to impress, as this is as glamour-puss as the aptly named Society Islands get, with fine dining, dance shows and cocktails yours to command. Active types will love the snorkelling, diving, lagoon safaris and watersports (try outrigger canoeing, the national passion), with 4WD tours, hiking and heavenly spa pampering on land. Shoppers can get their pearl fix, or pick up a permanent reminder of paradise with an authentic Polynesian tattoo.
Do go/Don’t go
You'll usually get the best weather in the dry, cooler winter period from May to October. Summer (November to April) sees hotter temperatures, rising humidity, cloudier skies and heavier rains, although storms are usually brief. Peak season falls in line with the northern school holidays, especially July and August, and Christmas; the island also books up for the July Heiva festival, so get in early or look for off-season bargains. June to August can bring the lagoon-ruffling south-east trade winds.
Planes All international flights to French Polynesia touch down at Tahiti's Faa'a Airport (www.tahiti-aeroport.pf), five kilometres west of compact capital Pape'ete. National carrier Air Tahiti Nui (www.airtahitinui.com) covers the key routes, taking around five hours from Auckland, linked by Qantas code-share from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, Los Angeles (with connections from Paris) and Tokyo. Also look out for flights to Tahiti with Air New Zealand (www.airnewzealand.com), Air France (www.airfrance.com), Hawaiian Airlines (www.hawaiianair.com), Lan Airlines (www.lan.com), Japan Airlines (www.jal.com) and Air Calédonie International (www.aircalin.com). Inter-island travel is normally by plane, with Tahiti the main hub. Book via domestic carrier Air Tahiti (www.airtahiti.pf), which offers money-saving AirPasses if you plan on visiting several islands. Planes are small and sometimes stop at several islands en route. Watch out for weight restrictions (usually 20kg, but you can get discount deals on excess baggage), and aim for window seats for stunning views (ask the air crew which side to bag). At least six daily 50-minute flights link Tahiti and Bora Bora, touching down at the dramatic airport on tiny Motu Mute, on the north fringe of the lagoon. From here, return shuttle transfers by catamaran to Vaitape quay on the main island are included in your air ticket price. Top hotels on outlying motus will usually offer their own free airport boat transfers. Air Tahiti's Bora Bora Pass offers flight deals between Tahiti and neighbour islands Bora Bora, Huahine, Moorea, Maupiti and Ra'iatea/Taha'a. The Bora-Tuamotu Pass adds on Rangiroa, Tikehau and three other islands in the Tuamotus.
Boats French Polynesia is a popular yachting destination, with a marina in Pape'ete, Tahiti, and posh boats galore in Bora Bora. Ferries or catamarans are the most popular way to reach Tahiti's sister-island Moorea (30 to 50 minutes away), but domestic flights are the quickest way to access the majority of the more distant islands. Various mixed cargo/passenger and cruise boats ply their way between Tahiti, Bora Bora and the other Society Islands, as well as the more distant Tuamotus and Marquesas, but flying is Smith's tip for speed, cost and comfort. The Maupiti Express 2 speedboat (www.maupitiexpress.com) runs between Bora Bora and nearby Taha'a (90 minutes), Ra'iatea and Maupiti (both two hours).
Automobiles Bora Bora, like most of the other islands in the Society group, has one main, paved road running around the perimeter of its central island. Hire a car at Vaitape (the hub for boat links from the airport) or through your hotel if you fancy circumnavigating the isle or checking out southern Matira Beach.