Making your way to a luxury island getaway
The Polynesian island group Bora Bora is synonymous with romantic luxury, filled with aquatic resorts surrounded by turquoise waters and lush reefs. Jet-setting celebrities and corporate bigwigs reach the islands by private jets and yachts. For the rest of us, getting there is a little more complicated.
Bora Bora is a part of the Society Islands in French Polynesia, so the requirements to get in are largely the same as visiting France. Citizens of the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand need only a passport valid for at least three months after their arrival date. Those citizens will need a visa if they plan on vacationing longer than 90 days, however. European Union citizens need only a passport and national ID card and may stay as long as they like without a visa.
Flying to Tahiti
Your first step in your journey to Bora Bora will be a flight to the main island of Tahiti, Papeete. Major airlines servicing the island's airport, Faa'a International Airport, include: Air France, via Paris with a stop in Los Angeles; Hawaiian Airlines, via Honolulu; Air New Zealand, via Auckland; Latam, via Santiago, Chile; and Air Tahiti Nui, via Paris, Los Angeles, Auckland and Tokyo. Your flight time will be about five hours from Honolulu and Auckland, eight and a half hours from Los Angeles, 11 hours from Tokyo and more than 13 hours from Santiago, so, counting your connection time to any of those airports, you are in for a long flight. You are more likely to find cheaper and less crowded flights if you travel outside of Bora Bora's high season, which runs from June through October.
Onward to Bora Bora
From Papeete, it's a mere 45-minute flight to Bora Bora. Air Tahiti – which is a separate airline from Air Tahiti Nui – offers several flights a day, with increased service during the high season. Those flights do not operate at night, however, so you should book a hotel in Papeete if your flight arrives in the evening. Either way, you will need to collect your luggage and re-check it for your flight to Bora Bora, and you should take the opportunity to exchange your money while in the larger airport. Although you might not be eager to hop back onto a plane after the long flight to Papeete, you are in for a feast of gorgeous scenery during the flight. Aim to sit on the left side of the plane, where you should have the best views of Bora Bora as well as Huahine, Tahaa and Raiatea during your approach.
The Last leg
Bora Bora's airport is on a motu, a small reef island, so you still will need a boat to reach the main island. Most hotels and resorts on the island will arrange this for you – usually for a fee, of course – so check with your lodging provider to see what options are available. These usually are full-service offerings, in which they will take care of your luggage and welcome you with a drink and a lei. If you want to travel on your own, Air Tahiti offers regular transfer service to Bora Bora's center of commerce, Vaitape, though you will need to arrange further transportation from there. Bora Bora does not have public transportation or hailed taxis. Several hotels offer bus transfers from Vaitape, or you can arrange a car service or rent your own car.