Bora Bora on Bicycle: Ultimate One Day Itinerary

Bora Bora on Bicycle: Everything you need to know to explore the island in just one day

Come explore Bora Bora on bicycle with me as we go on an epic bike trip to discover all the island has to offer with this guide and one-day itinerary

If you think Bora Bora is nothing but boujee resorts and rich white people, think again. You don’t need to venture far on your bicycle to encounter the real Bora Bora – where friendly Polynesians, charming rustic houses, unhurried island living, and a true islander’s mindset await you.

Bora Bora on Bicycle: Best One Day Itinerary

In this blog post I will share with you everything you need to know if you want to embark on an epic bicycle adventure around Bora Bora – where to rent the bike, what to see along the way, and where to eat.

You can use the links below to jump to a certain section of the blog post.

Renting a bicycle in Bora Bora

What you need to know

One-Day Bicycle Itinerary around Bora Bora

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Renting a bicycle in Bora Bora

First thing you need to do before the adventure can start, is rent a bicycle.

I hit up the Avis store in Vaitape and snagged a standard bike from 8 AM to 5 PM for about 1900 CFP, which is roughly 17 bucks in USD. If you’re feeling lazy or allergic to physical effort, they’ve got electric bicycles, scooters, buggies, and even cars for you. Now, I strongly recommend making a reservation in advance if you don’t want to show up and find all the bikes gone like a fart in the wind.

If you’re not staying anywhere near Vaitape, there are several other places, where you can rent a bicycle – I believe there’s an Avis in Matira as well, but a quick Google search will make you that much smarter.

What you need to know about biking in Bora Bora

  • Bora Bora is a tropical oven. You’re gonna sweat your ass off no matter when you go. To avoid a nasty sunburn, slather yourself in sunscreen like it’s your job.
  • Bring cash money baby. In case you want to buy some goodies from the roadside, you need cash. You’ll pass numerous stands selling fruit, pareos and other crafts.
  • Bring plenty of water. Stay hydrated and bring some snacks too. It’s warm, and you’re being physically active, so I’d suggest at least 2 liters.
  • Bring that damn rain jacket. You can never trust the weather in mountainous regions – Mount Otemanu might decide to send a squall your way, so you won’t regret bringing a rainjacket.
  • Learn the phrase “Ia Orana”. You’re gonna hear it a lot since it means hello in Tahitian. Learn that shit and say hi back because the locals are friendly as hell (pronounced like “Your Honour” but with an exotic twist).

Bora Bora on Bicycle: Your One-Day Itinerary

The road that winds its way all around Bora Bora is 32 kilometers, making it the perfect distance for an adventurous day of biking. As a Copenhagener I’m used to biking somewhere between 20–30 kilometers a day at home, and being abroad this is one of the things I actually find myself longing for from time to time, so I was excited for my thighs to burn and my bum to become sore and of course to explore all that Bora Bora has to offer.

Bora Bora on Bicycle: Best One Day Itinerary

Start your trip in Vaitape

Vaitape is the main city of Bora Bora and the starting point of my bicycle trip. It’s the place where you’ll find the big supermarkets, so if you need to stock up on something before you start pedalling, this is the place to do it. The supermarket Chin Lee is a solid choice.

From here, I headed towards Faanui. But if you’re feeling lazy, go the other way around because then Matira Beach will be your first stop, where you can chill and eat some good food. I preferred doing it the other way around, saving Matira as my final destination, like a reward for my pedal-pushing efforts.

Bora Bora on Bicycle: Best One Day Itinerary
Bora Bora on Bicycle: Best One Day Itinerary

Get to know the real Bora Bora

Listen, I don’t blame you for thinking that Bora Bora is boujee as fuck, and sure, there are a lot of insanely expensive resorts, but the majority of them are actually not on the island – they’re placed on the motus (the flat, sandy islands on the edges of the reef).

To me, it’s quite remarkable how the island has kept so much of its Polynesian authenticity and spirit even though it’s widely dependent on tourism. As you start pedaling from Vaitape to Faanui, within 10 minutes, you’ll see the authentic local life of Bora Bora. This is where 8,000 Polynesians call home – a side of the island often hidden behind those lavish pics on Google.

Bora Bora on Bicycle: Best One Day Itinerary
Bora Bora on Bicycle: Best One Day Itinerary

The contrast between the resorts and the local houses is like night and day. Look to your left, out at sea, and your eyes will grace upon the sumptuous overwater bungalows, offering high-end amenities and upscale restaurants. Look to your right, inland, and the contrast will smack you right in the face. The local’s houses, known as “fare”, are modest and reflect traditional Polynesian architecture. Most homes are made of local materials like thatch and bamboo, giving them a rustic appearance, though some of them look straight up dilapidated. But what’s cool is that many locals live in tight-knit communities, keeping their culture and community spirit alive.

Banian arbre des âmes – Enter the world of Pandora

Ever seen the movie Avatar? Well, rumors have it, that the director James Cameron was inspired by the beautiful Banyan trees of Bora Bora to create the earth-like world, Pandora, where the Avatar-universe takes places.

When you get to Faanui, make a right just after the church and follow the road. Then make a left by Snack TuiTui Maru, and shortly thereafter you’ll reach the haven of these mystical, unique Banyans.

Bora Bora on Bicycle: Best One Day Itinerary Banyan Trees
Bora Bora on Bicycle: Best One Day Itinerary Banyan Trees

This majestic species is known for its aerial roots that start as tendrils hanging from the branches and eventually grow downwards, touching the ground and developing into woody trunks, creating a complex network of roots that not only supports the tree but also look otherworldly. Maybe that’s why these trees are sacred to many cultures. Here in Polynesia, they are known as Soul trees.

If you’re unsure of the location, just plot in “Banian arbre des âmes” on Google Maps and follow the directions.

Boutique Vainia – Flower Power and Fruit

When you spot something colorful swaying in the trees to your right, you’ve reached your next destination; The Pareo Craft Stand run by Mamie Ruta. If you’re unsure of the location just plot in “Boutique Vainia Bora Bora” on Google Maps.

Pareo is a traditional piece of clothing that you can wear in a million ways – sarongs, skirts, dresses, shawls, you name it. They originated here in the Pacific Islands, and at Mamie Ruta’s, you’ll find pareos with vibrant colors, floral prints, and tribal designs that scream Polynesia.

And the best part? You can make your own pareo in about 45 minutes, and it’s an epic way to learn about the craft.

Bora Bora on Bicycle: Best One Day Itinerary: Pareos hanging in the trees, French Polynesia
Bora Bora on Bicycle: Best One Day Itinerary: natural colouring used to make pareos at Mamie Ruta's, French Polynesia

It goes like this: Moist a large rectangle piece of cotton. Twist the fabric in accordance to the pattern, you want. Dip the fabric in the color tubs – all the colors are derived from local plants and flowers. Lay the fabric on a simple wooden slab. Place stencils of animals or plants to create shadows in the fabric. Hang to dry in the sun for 15 minutes – voilà. One piece of custom-made pareo.

Don’t worry about getting hungry while waiting; Mamie Ruta’s got fresh coconut, papaya, pomelo, and hanging bananas to munch on. The fruit itself is worth a visit to Mamie Ruta’s.

Bora Bora on Bicycle: Best One Day Itinerary: Fruit at Mamie Ruta's, French Polynesia

Snack Matira – A sandwich the size of my forearm

So, you’ve had your fruit fix, and now it’s time for a sandwich that’s bigger than your forearm. Head over to Matira Beach – it’s easy to tell by the quality of the asphalt that more money is being used to make this area look nice for all the richie rich people.

Bora Bora on Bicycle: Best One Day Itinerary: Matira Beach, French Polynesia
Bora Bora on Bicycle: Best One Day Itinerary: A man living his best life at Matira Beach, French Polynesia

Here, you’ll find a bunch of restaurants. You can choose a fancy place like Bora Bora Beach Club or Bloody’s On The Beach, or do what I did and hunt down the spot where the locals grub. That’s how I ended up at Snack Matira.

The place was buzzing on this hot Friday afternoon, a mix of sweaty, semi-confused looking tourists like myself, the local patrons and a few stray dogs casually lying around, while sizzling food came flying out the kitchen.

Bora Bora on Bicycle: Best One Day Itinerary: the local restaurant Snack Matira, French Polynesia

I’m glad that I’d worked up an appetite biking 20-something kilometres because the omelette-cheese-fries sandwich, that I ordered, could probably feed a small army, and it came served on the smallest plate possible. The best part – besides its size? It cost me 650 CPF, which is less than 6 bucks – a damn steal in French Polynesia.

Don’t expect an indulgent service, the waitress was actually straight up rude, but to be honest I didn’t mind. After being in French Polynesia since December 22′, this is the first place I’ve encountered with reasonable prices, and needless to say, I left full and satisfied.

That’s my day in Bora Bora on two wheels, folks. Now get out there, pedal your ass off, and soak in the real Bora Bora.

Other things to do along the way

  • The Marine Museum. My colleague went here one day and could report that it took around 5 minutes to complete – but it still might be worth a visit.
  • The American Canon. In a nice lady’s backyard, you can experience some canons from World War II. It costs 500 CFP (4.5 USD), but as far as I know this also gives you permission to snorkel at the bottom of the hill, where you might be lucky to spot some manta rays.
  • Marama Tattoo. Feeling spontaneous? At the tip of Matira you’ll come by the most famous tattoo artist in Bora Bora. I’m not sure if they accept walk-ins, but it’s worth stopping by, if you want a permanent memory of an epic trip.
  • Eat gelato. In Vaitape you’ll find Iaorana Gelato, and if you’ve rented your bike through Avis, you can get a 10% discount going there. I absolutely love ice cream, but am also trying to save money right now, so I passed, but you should totally go.
  • Several other small shops and stands, just keep your eyes open.

I hope you enjoyed this Bora Bora on bicycle guide and itinerary! Stay tuned for more unfiltered and honest travel content.

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