For many people, Bora Bora is a shorthand term for luxury, relaxing travel. This island in French Polynesia attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
In fact, so many people want to visit that the government had to impose a limit on annual visitors so they did not exceed the full-time population. The lucky few that make it to Bora Bora are met with pristine beaches, high-end resorts, and beautiful nature.
You can go kayaking in the lagoon, hike The Valley of the Kings trail through Bora Bora’s spectacular mountains and important sites for Polynesian history, or just relax at beautiful beaches such as Matira Beach.
A vacation to Bora Bora is certainly one that you will remember for a lifetime.
Before you travel halfway around the world to a new destination, you probably want to check out the safety of your destination. Nobody wants a pleasant vacation to turn into a grueling ordeal.
But don’t worry — our travel experts created this detailed safety guide to help you evaluate if Bora Bora is the right destination for you. Read on to learn all you need to know!
Is Bora Bora Safe to Visit in 2023?
Yes, Bora Bora is very safe to visit. The island has exceptionally low crime rates and the violent crime rate is practically nonexistent.
As long as you practice basic safety during your outdoor adventures, you should have a good time when you are there. Bora Bora is part of French Polynesia, an overseas territory of France.
The entire territory is very safe to visit. The United States State Department only puts French Polynesia under a Level One travel advisory.
For many visitors, a trip to Bora Bora will probably be safer than a trip in their neighborhood. Even within the already safe territory of French Polynesia, Bora Bora is one of the safest locations.
The small island only has a population of about 10,000 people and three main villages. This tight, close-knit community doesn’t leave many opportunities for crime and dangerous situations.
Most of the time, Bora Bora lives up to its stereotype as an island paradise. Of course, any place has its problems and crime can happen anywhere, even against the backdrop of a beautiful tropical beach.
You might encounter some problems on Bora Bora such as:
- Bag snatching
- Verbal harassment
These are all petty crimes, and violent crime on Bora Bora is practically non-existent. Even the rates of petty crime are very low, so much so that most locals leave their cars and front doors unlocked.
When visiting Bora Bora, you should take more precautions when it comes to nature than your fellow humans. Many people get carried away by the beauty of the water and the mountains that they forget that nature, although beautiful, can also be dangerous.
If you are going hiking, be sure to take some precautions for your safety, such as bringing a first aid kit and enough water, only choosing routes that match your skill level, and taking note of emergency numbers just in case.
Water sports are very popular in Bora Bora, but you should also take some precautions when entering the water.
Never dive into the water without checking the depth first as at least one person has severely been injured by diving into the shallows. If you try out other sports such as scuba diving or snorkeling, go with a reputable tour operator if you aren’t confident in your skill level.
With diving, be careful about the bends. Swimming in Bora Bora is mostly safe as the island is surrounded by a lagoon, which is much calmer than the open ocean.
On rare occasions, especially during the rainy season, the lagoon can get choppy if there is a bad storm in the open ocean. In that case, authorities will ban swimming in the lagoon for safety reasons. Always obey posted warnings.
Another danger of swimming in Bora Bora is the local wildlife. You can step on sea urchins at the bottom of the lagoon, which is why some people recommend wearing water shoes.
The waters around Bora Bora are also rich with sharks. While they are mostly not aggressive species, there were several shark attacks on tourists in 2022.
To stay safe, never try to feed or pet the sharks, avoid wearing bright colors or jewelry in the water as that startles them, and don’t go into areas where there were reported sharks. If you see a shark, swim away calmly as sudden movements remind them of prey.
If you go on a shark feeding expedition, remember that there is no guarantee of safety. Finally, it’s always good to research natural disasters before heading to a new place.
Bora Bora is insulated from most natural disasters. It has a rainy season like most tropical destinations, but according to the official tourism website, the rainy season is characterized by tropical showers and humidity with periodic sunshine.
There are few dangerous storms as Bora Bora is located out of the cyclone zone of the Pacific. There have been tsunamis in the past, but only about 13 in the last 200 years.
Tidal waves occur if there is a strong earthquake elsewhere in the Pacific Ocean, such as the waves after the Chilean earthquake of 2010.
As you can see, Bora Bora is a very safe destination and any danger you might encounter will only take place if you ignore any necessary precautions.
Crime in Bora Bora
Looking at crime statistics before going to a new place is a great way to figure out if it is safe or not. The same is true for Bora Bora.
Finding crime statistics for Bora Bora is a bit difficult as the island is part of an overseas territory, which is itself not an independent country.
According to local gendarmerie, the French term for military police departments, the most common type of crime on the island is non-violent property crime. Usually, this type of crime represents about 50% of infractions on the island.
There are violent crimes that happen on Bora Bora as it is a real place, not paradise. For example, in 2014, there were 5 homicides. However, violent crime against tourists is unheard of.
Usually, the victims and the perpetrator had some kind of connection, whether through domestic violence, settling of scores, or other disputes. Overall, the crime rate for French Polynesia is very low, so it makes sense that the crime rate in Bora Bora would be low as well.
The homicide rate for the whole overseas territory as of 2009, the last year for which the World Bank has data, is 0.38 incidents per 100,000 people, one of the lowest rates in the world.
Crime is not a concern at all for locals, so it shouldn’t affect you as a visitor either, especially if you will be spending most of your time in a private resort. It still pays to use a few basic precautions, but you don’t have to be on your guard — focus on relaxing at the beach instead.
When crime does occur on Bora Bora, it is usually in the form of petty theft such as pickpocketing or bag snatching. You don’t have to worry about this when you are at your resort, but it’s worth keeping an eye out when you move around the villages of Anau, Faanui, and Vaitape.
You don’t need to be completely on your guard the way you might in some cities that are notorious for their pickpocketing such as Barcelona, but a few basic precautions won’t hurt.
For example, the Australian government has some advice in its travel advisory for French Polynesia that also includes tips for preventing crime. Never leave your valuables unattended, even in a restaurant or café.
Keep photocopies of your documents just in case you do get robbed.
Crowded areas are not common on Bora Bora except when cruise ships pull into the dock. If you do get caught in a crowd, just make sure that your valuables are somewhere secure such as a front pocket or zipped bag.
Hotel Room Thefts
Over the years, there have been a few reports of thefts from hotel rooms in Bora Bora. While the vast majority of resorts are very safe and take the ultimate precautions to make sure their visitors have an amazing experience, some bad incidents will occur.
The best precaution against theft from a hotel room is to use the safe. Most hotel rooms on Bora Bora come with a room safe that has a combination lock.
Put valuables such as passports, credit cards, and expensive jewelry in the safe to protect them. Some travelers have experienced luggage theft as well. Try not to leave your bags unattended while you are checking in.
If you are using the hotel’s luggage storage option while you wait for check-in or after check-out, buy a temporary lock for your luggage. Although these incidents are rare, it is still a good idea to use some precautions.
Avoiding Bad Areas
Since the crime rate is so low in Bora Bora, there are no bad areas. The one place where the risk of crime is slightly elevated is around the port in Vaitape, where ferries and sometimes cruise ships dock.
Since there are more people around when ships come in, that creates more opportunity for pickpockets. As long as you have your valuables in a safe place, you should be safe even here.
Things to Consider
Here are a few other things to keep in mind when visiting Bora Bora:
- Be careful when sitting under coconut trees — really. Although this warning seems silly, coconuts fall off with no warning and can cause serious injury if they fall on someone’s head. Always be careful when sitting in the shade or setting up a hammock and make sure that there are no coconuts above.
- Protests sometimes happen in French Polynesia in response to labor issues or tense situations in French politics, but those are usually confined to Tahiti, and rarely occur on Bora Bora since the population is so small.
- The weather is hot and humid in Bora Bora, so make sure that you are taking the right precautions. Drink plenty of water as dehydration is a real danger. Apply sunscreen regularly since the sun is very strong — preferably reef-safe sunscreen as regular sunscreen has strong chemicals that are harmful to marine life.
- Roads in Bora Bora are not terrible, but they’re not the best maintained either. The good news is that the island is so small you don’t even need to drive to get around. Follow the lead of most locals and rent a bicycle.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few common questions other tourists to Bora Bora have asked:
When should you not go to Bora Bora?
Bora Bora is a popular year-round destination, but many people avoid going from November to April. That is the rainy season, and the hot, humid weather is often uncomfortable.
What are the threats to Bora Bora?
There are almost no threats to Bora Bora. Crime is low, and even natural disasters are rare because this part of the Pacific Ocean is far from the cyclone zone.
Is Bora Bora expensive or affordable?
Bora Bora is a very expensive destination. Most accommodation options on the island are all-inclusive resorts, which are pricey. Plus, keep in mind that Bora Bora has to import many important items such as food, increasing their cost.
Has Bora Bora ever been hit by a hurricane?
Hurricanes in the Pacific Ocean are called cyclones. Bora Bora usually experiences one every few years, so it does happen, but it is rare.
How many days is enough in Bora Bora?
4-7 days are perfect for Bora Bora. If you spend less time, you won’t have time to relax after adjusting to the time difference. The island is beautiful but there is not much to do, so longer than 7 days might get tiresome.
So, Is Bora Bora Safe to Visit?
Bora Bora is one of the safest places to visit in the world. It has a low risk of natural disasters, a low crime rate, and an almost guaranteed perfect vacation. So what are you waiting for — book your trip to Bora Bora today!