Planning a Trip
Arriving & Getting to Your Hotel
Bora Bora's airport is on Motu Mute, a flat island on the northwestern edge of the barrier reef. U.S. marines built the airstrip during World War II when Bora Bora was a major refueling stop on the America-to-Australia supply line.
You will see the lagoon close up soon after landing because all passengers are ferried across it from the airport. Some resorts send boats to pick up their guests (be sure to tell them your flight number when making your reservations). The major resorts have welcome desks in the terminal to greet you and steer you to the correct boat. It can be a tad confusing out on the dock, where baggage is unloaded. You do not want to end up on the wrong motu, so pay attention, and ask someone if you are not sure which boat is yours.
If your hotel does not send a boat, you will take Air Tahiti's launch to Vaitape, the only village and the center of most commerce. Buses will take you from Vaitape to your hotel. Get in the bus displaying the name of your hotel, or ask the driver if you are not sure. Bus fare from Vaitape to the Matira Point hotel district is 500CFP (US$6.25/£3.15).
Getting Around Bora Bora
There is no regularly scheduled public transportation system on Bora Bora. Buses do ferry passengers from Vaitape to the Matira hotel district on cruise-ship days, though, and anyone can catch a ride for 300CFP (US$3.75/£1.90).
Some hotels on the main island shuttle their guests to Vaitape and back once or twice a day, but the frequency can vary depending on how many guests they have. Except for the Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort, whose shuttles go to Chancelade on the northwestern corner, resorts out on the western islets run shuttle boats to Vaitape. Resorts on the eastern motus send their navettes (shuttle boats) to remote Anau village on the east coast. Take this into account if you plan to spend time on the main island.
By Rental Car, Scooter & Bicycle -- Europcar (tel. 800/227-7368 or 67.70.15; www.europcar-tahiti.com) is the biggest and best firm here. Both it and a local firm, Fare-Piti Rent a Car (tel. 67.65.28), have offices at Vaitape wharf. Europcar's rates start at 10,100CFP (US$126/£64) a day for their smallest cars, including unlimited kilometers and insurance. Both rent open-air Bugsters for about 9,300CFP (US$116/£59) a day. Both have bicycles for about 1,800CFP (US$23/£11) all day.
The 32km (19 miles) of road around Bora Bora are paved, but always drive or ride slowly and carefully, and be on the lookout for pigs, chickens, pedestrians, and especially dogs.
By Taxi -- No taxis patrol Bora Bora looking for passengers, but several firms have transport licenses, which means they can come get you if someone calls. The hotel desks and restaurants will do that for you, or you can phone Taxi Simplet (tel. 79.19.31), Léon (tel. 70.69.16), Otemanu Tours (tel. 67.70.49), Jacques Isnard (tel. 67.72.25), or Dino's Land & Water Taxi (tel. 79.29.65). Fares between Vaitape and the Matira Point hotel district are at least 1,500CFP (US$19/£9.50) from 6am to 6pm and 2,000CFP (US$25/£13) from 6pm to 6am. A ride between Vaitape and Anau village costs 5,000CFP (US$63/£32) anytime. (Add up your expected fares; it may be more economical to rent a vehicle.) The taxis aren't metered, so make sure you and the driver agree on a fare before setting out.
If you're staying at a resort on an islet and don't want to wait for the next boat shuttle, you can call Dino's Land & Water Taxi (tel. 79.29.65) or Taxi Motu (tel. 67.60.61). The ride to the main island costs about 2,500CFP (US$31/£16).