Because of its fame and extraordinary beauty, little Bora Bora is a playground for the well-to-do, occasionally the famous, and honeymooners blowing a wad of cash. As French Polynesia's tourist magnet, it now has more hotel rooms per capita than any other island, their piers reaching out like tentacles to multitudinous bungalows standing over its gorgeous lagoon. Some of the piers are so long that the Moorings has added them to its sailing charts as hazards to navigation!
Some of us who remember the island in its more pristine state often bemoan that development has ruined it. But I frequently meet people making their first visit, and usually they are as blown away by Bora Bora as I was when I spent a week camping here in 1977. If you can ignore the jet skis occasionally whizzing past your bungalow, and look beyond the tourists hanging under parasails over the lagoon, you will appreciate why James A. Michener wrote that this is the world's most beautiful island.
Of course, there are more tourists here than on any other French Polynesian island. Thus, some lovers now like to polish off their honeymoons on the more peaceful Tahaa or Huahine after the mile-a-minute pace here.
Lying 230km (143 miles) northwest of Tahiti, Bora Bora is a middle-aged island consisting of a high center completely surrounded by a lagoon that's enclosed by coral reef. It has a gorgeous combination of sand-fringed motus (small islets) sitting on the outer reef enclosing the multihued lagoon, which cuts deep bays into the high central island. Towering over it all is Bora Bora's trademark, the basaltic tombstone known as Mount Otemanu (725m/2,379 ft.). Standing next to it is the more normally rounded Mount Pahia (660m/2,165 ft.).
One of the best beaches in French Polynesia stretches for more than 3km (2 miles) around the flat, coconut-studded peninsula known as Point Matira, which juts out from the island's southern end.
Bora Bora is so small that the road around it covers only 32km (19 miles) from start to finish. All the 7,000 or so Bora Borans live on a flat coastal strip that quickly gives way to the mountainous interior.