Bora Bora is an island oasis in the Pacific Ocean, best-known for its stunning beaches, mesmerizing turquoise water, and some of the best views you’ll experience in your life. But the best views by far in Bora Bora can be experienced from some of its highest points, so strap on your favorite hiking shoes if you really want to be amazed by panoramic vistas!
The volcanic island might not be famous as a popular hiking destination, but that’s one of the things that nearly everyone who visits Bora Bora does. From quick hikes to interesting landmarks to loops that take you around the entire island – here are the best hiking trails in Bora Bora to explore while you’re on the fascinating island!
You can hire a guide. It’s possible to hire a guide to take you anywhere on the island, and this is the best option if you want to explore Bora Bora’s inland trails but you’re not sure where to even begin. Hiking with guides is especially recommended for people without a lot of hiking experience since the terrain of Bora Bora’s best hiking trails is rarely suitable for newbies without proper equipment.
Don’t climb mountains in the rain. The mountain ascents on the Bora Bora Island are very rough and challenging in dry weather. In wet weather, the trails become much more dangerous because of the slippery terrain. Keep in mind that, to ascend the tallest peaks of Bora Bora, you must do a lot of vertical climbing.
Although it’s possible to do this in the rain, it’s not recommended even for the most experienced hikers simply because of how dangerous the ascent becomes. Even the island guides refuse to take tourists up the mountains in the days after the rain, so keep that in mind.
Bring water and SPF. The inland trails of the island are popular among tourists, but they’re not exactly the reason why people come to this tropical paradise. Don’t expect to stumble upon mountain huts and cabins where you can grab refreshments when necessary – there aren’t such things in Bora Bora, and the only items that you’re able to use on your hikes are the ones that you brought in your backpack.
Wear appropriate hiking gear. Don’t be one of those people who set off to explore the inland trails wearing flip flops and a swimsuit. Bora Bora’s inland trails are no joke, and if you don’t wear appropriate footwear, you won’t be able to explore much of the island. The terrain is rough and very steep at times, so it’s necessary to wear shoes with plenty of grip and traction.
Don’t go anywhere without a map and GPS. The inland trails of Bora Bora are not very well marked, and it’s pretty easy to stray off them if you’re not entirely sure where you’re heading. Although it’s unlikely you’ll actually get lost on the island, some of the unmarked trails can take you onto private property, and it’s best to avoid that.
In case you wind up in someone’s backyard, be apologetic and tell them that you had no idea you would end up there. Most people are reasonable and won’t cause any issues, as long as you get off their land as quickly as you walked onto it.
Mount Pahia is the tallest mountain in Bora Bora that is accessible to hikers. It’s possible to climb to the top of the mountain, for some astonishing panoramic views of the Bora Bora lagoon and the imposing Mount Otemanu that’s nearby.
A hike to the top of the mountain is challenging, with lots of switchbacks, scramble, and vertical climbing. It’s recommended to hire a guide for the best possible experience, but it is not necessary.
You can attempt to climb to the top of Mount Pahia on your own, just know that it will take time and patience. It’s likely that you’ll get lost a few times without a guide, but getting back on the trail is easy enough. Also, it’s worth noting that the very beginning of the trail passes close to guarded private property, so be aware of your surroundings.
Again, hiring a local guide to escort you through the private land and up to the mountaintop is the best thing to do, if you want things to go as smoothly as possible.
The trail is not that difficult to find on your own – the first landmark you should look for is the catholic church just off the main road. From there, follow the road past the car rental place and through the residential area. As the houses start to thin out, the road quickly turns into a steep hiking trail. Follow the trail until you get to the summit of Mount Pahia – easy enough, right?
Well it sort of is, but the problem is that the trail forks at several sections. If you’re on your own, you’ll have a hard time figuring out which path is the correct one to take. Usually, only one of the paths is the continuation of the trail, while others tend to be dead-end paths. But, it’s enough to retrace your steps if you end up following the wrong path.
The views from the top of Mount Pahia are out of this world, and definitely make the two-hour hike worth it. Also, it is important to note that this hike can only be done in dry weather – experienced guides will refuse to take you on this hike if it rained recently, and that should give you a good idea about trail conditions in wet weather.
At 727 meters, Mount Otemanu is the tallest peak on the island and the most challenging ascent in Bora Bora. The mountain is a remnant of the old volcano that formed the island and it’s possible to hike up the mountain to a certain point. The very top of Mount Otemanu remains inaccessible to this day because the volcanic rock is so crumbly that it’s not possible to attach rope clamps to it.
But it is possible to hike to a cave on Mount Otemanu. This is the highest point on the mountain that is accessible to hikers, and it offers breathtaking views of the island lagoon.
Reaching the cave is very challenging, as it includes several extremely steep sections that can only be traversed by pulling yourself up with ropes. To reach this mesmerizing viewpoint on Bora Bora, you will need some sturdy hiking gear and the help of an experienced guide.
The hike begins at the base of Mount Otemanu, and it lasts for about 2, 2.5 hours with an experienced guide. It’s not possible to do the hike without a guide, since the trail passes through private land and certain permissions are required.
It’s worth noting that booking with the guide directly as opposed to booking the hike through an agency or hotel can save you a fortune. Azdine is the best guide in Bora Bora and the one who originally discovered this trail!
The trail starts off easy enough, but it quickly becomes challenging. It passes through lush forest vegetation, continually gaining elevation until you reach the segments that must be climbed with ropes. Then you’re in for some vertical climbing, which requires very sturdy shoes and proper climbing gear.
When you finally reach the sacred cave of Ana o Pea, all your effort will pay off. The views from here are out of this world, and something you’re unlikely to forget for years to come.
It’s best to bring lots of water and lunch, so you can recharge your batteries while admiring the mesmerizing lagoon views, before it’s time to head back down the mountain. The descent is easier and quicker, but that first climb down the ropes poses a challenge in itself.
Mata Pupu is another popular landmark in Bora Bora. At a height of 235 meters, the mountain is known for spectacular views of Bora Bora’s luxurious resorts and the surrounding lagoon, as well as the imposing Mount Otemanu that overlooks this smaller peak.
It’s possible to walk along a ridge atop Mata Pupu – an experience that offers some of the best panoramic views that can be experienced on the Bora Bora islands.
The trailhead is near a tower behind Povaie Bay, about 50 meters south of an art gallery. You must follow an access road to the transmission tower, which marks the beginning of spectacular views of Bora Bora’s most expensive resorts.
From there, just follow the trail up the mountain, and don’t forget to stop and take in the views every now and then. There are several landmarks along the way that will reassure you that you’re following the right path, and once you reach the Mata Pupu ridge, you’re nearly done!
Climb up the ridge for even more mesmerizing Bora Bora views, but keep in mind that surefootedness is a must here, due to how steep and challenging the terrain is.
The guns from WWII that are still sitting on the northwestern edge of the island are another famous Bora Bora landmark worth checking out. The hike to the Faanui WWII guns is one of the shortest and easiest hikes on the island, but even this trail takes you over some steep terrain.
It’s possible to hike to the guns and back to the trailhead in 30 minutes or so, as long as you wear appropriate footwear that makes it easy to climb up the steep hill.
The trail is right opposite the Chancelade Base – look for a path that goes up the hill, towards the guns. Follow the trail up until you reach the old artillery guns, and then take your time to explore the area. Admire the beautiful wildflowers, take in the mesmerizing panoramic views, and get some cool photos with the ancient guns!
This Bora Bora hiking trail is very short, but it’s rated as moderately difficult because of the steep terrain. Don’t attempt to hike to the WWII Guns if you’re wearing flip flops or sandals – you need some sturdy hiking shoes that can safely get up the hill.
It’s worth noting that this hike can be done without any guides – the trail is a bit hard to find, but you shouldn’t have any trouble spotting the path if you rely on Google Maps since they are very accurate in this case.
Bora Bora is a rather small island and it’s possible to hike its entire coast in a single day. A loop hike around the island can be done in about 9-10 hours, and that includes a quick detour to the top of Mount Pahia. There’s no specific trailhead for this hike and you can begin the loop from pretty much anywhere on the island.
Although you can start hiking anywhere, it’s recommended to begin the hike in the southern part of the island. That way the ascent to Mount Pahia is done early in the hike, and not near the end when you’re already exhausted.
The climb to the mountaintop is the most challenging part of the hike, and pretty much the only reason why the trail gets rated as very difficult. But, it’s a worthy detour, especially if you didn’t take the time to ascend the mountain earlier.
The island loop follows the main road in Bora Bora, for the most part, straying from it only for the Mount Pahia ascent. You can skip the climb if you want – instead of heading inland in Tiipoto, just continue following the main road north.
It’s worth noting that without the mountain climb, this trail features almost no elevation change and becomes an easy hike anyone can do, as long as they’re capable of walking for 8-9 hours. Also, keep in mind that you can always catch a cab back to your hotel or get on a bike if you get too tired and decide not to finish the entire island loop.