The South Pacific island of Bora Bora, one of the Society Islands in French Polynesia, is a tropical paradise. Surrounded by coral reefs and rising to an extinct volcano in its centre, Bora Bora is known for its abundant marine life, white-sand beaches, gorgeous scenery, overwater bungalow resorts, and turquoise waters.
Year-round temperatures in Bora Bora fall between the low 70s (21.11 degrees Celsius) and mid-80s (26.66 degrees Celsius). “April through October is Bora Bora’s high season, with exquisite weather for outdoor adventures and less humidity. This can be the busiest time, especially during the summer months, so for optimum weather with fewer crowds, choose April or May,” Emmanuel Richardet, general manager at The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort, tells Travel + Leisure.
The dry season (May through October) brings low humidity and very little rain, whereas the wet season (December through March) is hotter and more humid. Here’s a breakdown of Bora Bora’s tourist seasons:
- High Season: May through October
- Shoulder Season: April and November
- Low Season: December through March
Before you book your overwater bungalow, here are some things to consider when planning a trip to Bora Bora.
The best times to visit Bora Bora
Best time to visit for smaller crowds
The rainy, humid months of December through March are less popular with tourists who typically seek sunny, dry weather. Visitors during this time might feel like they have the island to themselves. The exception is the year-end festive season — always a popular time in warm-weather destinations — when travellers come to celebrate the holidays and relax before the new year.
With fewer tourists during the low season, visitors can find secluded beaches, enjoy intimate dinners, and discover new experiences. “On a rainy afternoon, guests can take a French Polynesian cooking class or relax in our spa,” said Richardet. “When the weather breaks, there are magical rainbow views of Mount Otemanu.”
Best time to visit Bora Bora for good weather
The weather during the dry months of May through October is warm, with low humidity levels and temperatures ranging between the low 70s (21.11 degrees Celsius) and mid-80s (26.66 degrees Celsius). This is the perfect time for excursions to local villages or hikes on the island. Although the sunny weather attracts more visitors, it’s still possible to feel secluded in an overwater bungalow where you have a private outdoor area and the ability to swim right from your own deck.
During this time, snorkelling, diving, boating, sailing, and jet skiing are popular activities. Bora Bora’s marine life and coral formations are a major attraction for divers and snorkellers seeking stunning scenery below the surface, which includes eagle rays, bat rays, manta rays, leopard rays, sea turtles, a variety of sharks, and tropical fish.
Best time to visit for lower prices
Smart travellers who want to save some money know to opt for the low season or shoulder season for their vacations. In a tropical destination like Bora Bora, where there are fairly distinct dry and rainy seasons, the wet months typically offer less appeal to tourists. To attract visitors during these times, resorts, airlines, and tour companies promote tourism with discounts and special deals.
The low season in Bora Bora (December through March) should be the focus for a budget-minded traveller, with the months of January, February, and March likely offering the best prices once the holiday season is over.
January is the rainiest month, but there’s the proverbial silver lining. “The low season is a great time to experience Bora Bora like a local and [be] immersed in the region’s rich culture,” Richardet told T+L. “Our cultural ambassador, Maui, shares stories passed down by his ancestors while teaching traditional Polynesian flower crown weaving and pareo making.”
The shoulder months of April and November combine off-season prices with a good chance of pleasant weather. April is a transition to the dry season, and November leads into the rainy season that typically starts in December.
Best time to visit for whale watching
Humpback whales migrate north from around Antarctica to the warm waters of French Polynesia between the months of July and November. During that time, they give birth, nurture their young, and play in the waters around Bora Bora. In addition to humpbacks, you might see orcas, rorquals, and dolphins.
Organised whale-watching boat tours are available, and visitors often see the animals while on snorkelling or diving trips. Many of the whale-watching boats are equipped with hydrophones that give visitors the opportunity to hear the sounds of the whales communicating with one another.
Since the whales swim in Bora Bora’s lagoons close to the shore, they can often be seen from land, especially when they breach. With breaching, the whale lifts its body, leaping nearly entirely out of the water, creating a huge splash.
Best time to visit for cultural festivals
In July — the peak of the dry season when temperatures are in the low 80s (26.66 degrees Celsius) and nearly every day is sunny — a month-long celebration of French Polynesian culture takes place. Heiva I Bora Bora, set mainly in Vaitape, features music, dancing, singing, art, and traditional entertainment, as well as athletic competition. There’s a javelin-throwing contest, a coconut tree-climbing event, and an outrigger canoe race.
Shops are decorated with flowers, local handicrafts are displayed, and traditional foods are served. In addition, hotels and resorts offer special programming to add to the festivities.
Best time to visit Bora Bora for diving, snorkelling, and sailing
In May and June, the weather is clear and sunny. The waters during this time are calm and warm, with temperatures hovering around the low 80s (26.66 degrees Celsius), making it ideal for exploring marine life and coral reefs with a diving expedition or snorkelling boat trip.
Mild trade winds keep the weather comfortable and create perfect conditions for sailing and kiteboarding. Winds typically increase during the following months, and viewing conditions may not be as clear.
Best time to visit for hiking
June, July, and August — dry months with lower humidity and breezes to cool down after a challenging workout — are good times to tackle Bora Bora’s hiking trails. It’s advisable to trek with a guide or join a small group, both for safety and for gaining local knowledge about various points of interest.
The most popular hike is to the Valley of the Kings, about three hours of moderate effort. More difficult is the hike on Mount Otemanu. While most visitors are content enjoying Mount Otemanu’s scenic beauty from afar, avid hikers may want to get a closer look. They are rewarded with spectacular views of Bora Bora’s lagoons, lush landscapes, and motus (islands).
Serious trekkers come to Bora Bora from around the world at the end of July to participate in the rigorous Raid Anei Bora Bora, a competitive hiking event that goes through jungle terrain.
Worst time to visit
If sunny weather is your top priority, you’ll probably name the rainiest month — January — as the worst time to visit Bora Bora. More than 12 inches of rain typically falls during this hot, humid month, and you most likely won’t have many days for sunbathing. However, some travellers might welcome an opportunity to relax and watch the rain fall as they read a book or listen to music in their luxurious bargain-priced overwater bungalow. To each his own, and really, there’s no bad time to be in Bora Bora.
(Feature image credit: VV-pics/Getty Images)
This story first appeared on travelandleisure.com
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