Bora Bora on Bicycle: Explore the Entire Island in One Day
Come with me on a bicycle trip around the picturesque island of Bora Bora – In this guide, I'll take you through everything you need to know to experience all the island has to offer in just a single day.
8 Places • ago
Free

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.

In this guide 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.

This guide includes the following:

Renting a bicycle in Bora Bora

What you need to know

1-Day Bicycle Itinerary around Bora Bora

Other things to do along the way, that I passed on

Renting a bicycle in Bora Bora

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

Avis Bora Bora Rent a Car Vaitape
@sarafondo
Add to
Details

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

Bora Bora is a tropical oven, so 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’ll pass numerous stands selling fruit, pareos and other crafts.

Bring plenty of water and some snacks. It's warm, and you're being physically active, so I'd suggest at least 2 liters.

Bring that damn rain jacket because you can never trust the weather in mountainous regions – Mount Otemanu might decide to send a squall your way.

Learn the phrase “Ia Orana” (hello). You’re gonna hear it a lot, so learn that shit and say hi back because the locals are friendly as hell (pronounced like “Your Honour” but with an exotic twist).

1-Day Bicycle Itinerary around Bora Bora

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Banian arbre des âmes
@sarafondo
If you're unsure of the location, just plot in “Banian arbre des âmes” on Google Maps and follow the directions.
Add to
Details

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

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.

Boutique Vainia Bora Bora
@sarafondo
Add to
Details

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.

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.

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.

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.

Snack Matira
@sarafondo
Add to
Details

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.

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, that I passed on

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.

Naval Museum Bora Bora
@sarafondo
Add to
Details

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.

Canons Américains
@sarafondo
Add to
Details

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.

Marama Tattoo
@sarafondo
Add to
Details

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.

Iaorana Gelato Homemade Italian Ice Cream, internet point (WiFi free)
@sarafondo
Add to
Details

Several other small shops and stands, just keep your eyes open.

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

If you want to help me reach more people, I'd be so appreciative if you'd save this guide - and make sure to subscribe if you want to be notified the next time, I post an awesome guide or itinerary!

For all my batshit travel tales make sure to check out my blog https://sarafondo.com/

* * *
CURATED BY
Hi! I'm Sara Fondo, and I've been a solo traveler the past decade. If you want to travel the world without breaking the bank, but you're not sure how to – well, my friend, look no further. I'm gonna let you in on all the saucy secrets on how to really backpack on a budget. Here on Thatch, and on my blog sarafondo.com, I share batshit travel tales, unfiltered and honest guides along with thoughts on healing and controversial travel advice. If you want to get notified, when I publish something new or share a special discount code, remember to subscribe. Thank you for your support!
Send A Tip
Support Sara Fondo’s work.
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Bora Bora on Bicycle: Explore the Entire Island in One Day
Come with me on a bicycle trip around the picturesque island of Bora Bora – In this guide, I'll take you through everything you need to know to experience all the island has to offer in just a single day.
8 Places • ago
Free

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.

In this guide 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.

This guide includes the following:

Renting a bicycle in Bora Bora

What you need to know

1-Day Bicycle Itinerary around Bora Bora

Other things to do along the way, that I passed on

Renting a bicycle in Bora Bora

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

Avis Bora Bora Rent a Car Vaitape
@sarafondo
Add to
Details

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

Bora Bora is a tropical oven, so 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’ll pass numerous stands selling fruit, pareos and other crafts.

Bring plenty of water and some snacks. It's warm, and you're being physically active, so I'd suggest at least 2 liters.

Bring that damn rain jacket because you can never trust the weather in mountainous regions – Mount Otemanu might decide to send a squall your way.

Learn the phrase “Ia Orana” (hello). You’re gonna hear it a lot, so learn that shit and say hi back because the locals are friendly as hell (pronounced like “Your Honour” but with an exotic twist).

1-Day Bicycle Itinerary around Bora Bora

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Banian arbre des âmes
@sarafondo
If you're unsure of the location, just plot in “Banian arbre des âmes” on Google Maps and follow the directions.
Add to
Details

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

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.

Boutique Vainia Bora Bora
@sarafondo
Add to
Details

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.

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.

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.

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.

Snack Matira
@sarafondo
Add to
Details

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.

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, that I passed on

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.

Naval Museum Bora Bora
@sarafondo
Add to
Details

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.

Canons Américains
@sarafondo
Add to
Details

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.

Marama Tattoo
@sarafondo
Add to
Details

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.

Iaorana Gelato Homemade Italian Ice Cream, internet point (WiFi free)
@sarafondo
Add to
Details

Several other small shops and stands, just keep your eyes open.

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

If you want to help me reach more people, I'd be so appreciative if you'd save this guide - and make sure to subscribe if you want to be notified the next time, I post an awesome guide or itinerary!

For all my batshit travel tales make sure to check out my blog https://sarafondo.com/

* * *
CURATED BY
Hi! I'm Sara Fondo, and I've been a solo traveler the past decade. If you want to travel the world without breaking the bank, but you're not sure how to – well, my friend, look no further. I'm gonna let you in on all the saucy secrets on how to really backpack on a budget. Here on Thatch, and on my blog sarafondo.com, I share batshit travel tales, unfiltered and honest guides along with thoughts on healing and controversial travel advice. If you want to get notified, when I publish something new or share a special discount code, remember to subscribe. Thank you for your support!
Send A Tip
Support Sara Fondo’s work.
Select your tip amount
$5
$10
$20
$50
Or type in other amount
Powered by Thatch
The home for unique & authentic travel
Powered by Thatch: Where great trips are made.
© Sara Fondo Privacy Terms