The Most Beautiful Islands to Explore From Bora Bora

Maupiti may be smaller than Bora Bora, but it's one of many nearby islands you won't forget
Maupiti may be smaller than Bora Bora, but it's one of many nearby islands you won't forget | © iStock / Getty Images Plus
Photo of Sadie Whitelocks
21 March 2022
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Set sail to discover the unspoilt islands around Bora Bora. From uninhabited Motu Céran to sacred Huahine, we’ve highlighted a clutch of idyllic spots that will give you a real sense of French Polynesia.

Island-hop through French Polynesia on Culture Trip’s eight-day sailing adventure, stopping off at Bora Bora, Raiatea and Huahine.

Raiatea

Natural Feature, Architectural Landmark
Several palm trees on a beach as clear blue water covers the ground
© NAPA / Alamy

Sailors will feel at home on Raiatea, as it’s widely considered the yachting hub of French Polynesia. You can explore almost all of the island by boat, including the interior, which is accessible via a winding river. If you’re keen to learn about Polynesian history, Raiatea is home to the region’s best-preserved archaeological sites, including the ​​sacred Taputapuātea marae complex.

Motu Céran

Natural Feature
Female tourist bathing in the shallow water of the sea under a palm tree on a beach on a desert island
© iPics Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

Play at being castaway on this tiny outcrop, complete with sugary white sand, swaying palm trees – and very little else. You may well be the only visitor on this uninhabited island. Take a picnic ashore and spend the afternoon wading through the crystalline waters and lounging with a good book in the shade.

Huahine

Natural Feature
Small palm-tree-lined island sits in the bay off hilly, forested Huahine
© Douglas Peebles Photography / Alamy

Step back in time with a stop at Huahine. This cay, formed from two islands and surrounded by a clear lagoon, has remained relatively untouched by the modern world. Expect a relaxed atmosphere – everything runs on island time. Hop off your vessel and discover small villages, wild volcanic landscapes and rich history. Avea Bay, on the west coast of Huahine, is a popular spot for mooring.

Taha’a

Natural Feature
Two wooden, thatched-roof huts stand beneath palms and on stilts over water at Le Taha’a Island Resort & Spa
© Courtesy of Le Taha’a Island Resort & Spa

You may well smell Taha’a before you see it; this flower-shaped island is where the majority of French Polynesian vanilla is grown. Find a place to anchor nearby and explore this island’s fruit-filled farms and quiet beaches. There’s also a single luxury resort, should you fancy a spot of pampering or a swanky restaurant in the evening.

Rangiroa

Natural Feature
Humpback snappers break formation to make way for a silvertip shark off Rangiroa Atoll, as a diver photographs them
© Stephen Frink / Getty Images

Let your cares wash away with a trip to the white-sand shores of Rangiroa. This sedate spot is one of the largest atolls in the world and a haven for divers, with an abundance of sharks, manta rays and other marine wildlife. It’s made up of around 240 tiny islands which encircle a lagoon; many boats congregate close to the upscale Kia Ora resort. Attractions close to this area include a black pearl farm and a vineyard.

Moorea

Natural Feature
Boat in Cooks Bay with Moua Puta mountain in background in a jungle landscape on the tropical island of Moorea, near Tahiti
© iPics Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

Adrenaline junkies should moor up at Moorea for a taste of adventure. This lush, heart-shaped island has several adventure outfitters, offering everything from jungle quad biking to jet-skiing. If you’re a keen hiker, there are dozens of trails that wind through the undergrowth. For a 360-degree view of the island, make your way to the top of Magic Mountain on foot or by vehicle. In terms of moorings, the best anchorages are in Cook Bay and Opunohu Bay.

Nuku Hiva

Natural Feature
Horse stands on green grass by river amid swaying palms and hills behind in Nuku Hiva
© Richard Laird / Stockimo / Alamy Stock Photo

You’ll feel like you’re on the set of Jurassic Park (1993) in Nuku Hiva. This rugged island, the largest of the Marquesas, makes for an impressive sight, with gaping valleys and jutting shards of rock carpeted in foliage. There are dozens of beautiful bays to uncover, as well as land activities including horse riding and 4×4 excursions. If you fancy a spot of retail therapy, you’ll find local stores and market stalls offering Marquesan handcrafted goods, with earrings carved from bone and wooden tikis among the mix.

Maupiti

Natural Feature
The lagoon of Maupiti, with several buildings adjoining it, seen from atop a forested hill
© iStock / Getty Images

Known as Bora Bora’s little sister, Maupiti might be smaller, but its beauty is just as mighty. Here you’ll find an authentic slice of French Polynesia, with the island widely untouched by the outside world. Stretch your legs with a trek to the top of Mount Teurafaatiu, a 380m (1,250ft) volcanic peak. Alternatively, hire a bicycle and wheel through quaint villages and secluded trails. Finish with a cold beer at Tarona on the east coast.

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