Surfing in Bora Bora is a big let-down to the passionate surfers who came to French Polynesia to try some of their famous surfing spots and thought that Bora Bora would be the highlight of their trip.
After having fantastic fun in Tahiti, many surf-loving folks come to Bora Bora dragging their favorite surfboards only to find out that Bora Bora is an atoll – an island completely surrounded by a wide ring of reefs. The reefs break up waves long before they can reach one of the secluded and protected beaches.
Not all is lost. There are still a few places to surf in Bora Bora and a few nearby islands with some mighty waves. There is also kitesurfing, a fun alternative to surfing.
It is the sport that uses the same powerful winds that make surfing great on other islands in French Polynesia but is not undermined by Bora Bora’s atoll geography.
Surfing in Bora Bora
While surfing is Bora Bora is not the reason to visit this magical island, it is still possible, especially if you are an experienced surfer. The two main surfing spots are Teavanui Pass and Motu Piti Aau.
Surfing Teavanui Pass
In Bora Bora, one of the best places to catch a wave is left off Teavanui Pass. It is the only pass in the ring of reefs that surround the island. The waves break just east of Motu Ahura Island. They follow the reef towards the Pearl Beach Resort. This spot offers a ride of about 150 meters.
The pass is wide and provides nice conditions for some powerful waves. The view is magnificent, with Motu Tapu and Mount Otemanu in the background. The closest access is from the Pearl Beach Resort, where their staff can provide you with more information.
Experienced surfers warn that this spot is only recommended to surfers with serious skills. There are reefs all around and it is crucial that you know exactly where you are going. Do not go without an experienced local surfer.
Surfing Motu Piti Aau
The same winds power Bora Bora’s other surfing spot, a right that breaks along the western end of the reef behind the island Motu Piti Aau. Motu Piti Aau is a tiny island in the Bora Bora Islands Group, one of the motus that surround Bora Bora.
Just like with Teavanui Pass, this surfing spot is recommended only for experienced surfers, in the company of a local surfer who knows the conditions.
The surfers who would really like to add surfing in Bora Bora to the list of spots they surfed should know a few more important facts. First, nobody is renting surfboards on the island, so you have to bring your own. And second, only Air Tahiti Nui airline accepts boards but Air Tahiti does not.
There are no official surf schools in Bora Bora, but the local folks, like all Polynesians, love their waves and if you ask around, someone will connect you with a local surfer who might be willing to take you around.
Surfing in Bora Without Waves – Kitesurfing
Never heard of kitesurfing? For a surfer who finds himself or herself in a place like Bora Bora where surfing is not ideal, kitesurfing is a perfect alternative.
In kitesurfing, you use wind power to pull you out of the water with a large power kite. You are attached to the kite with a harness and have a short board on your feet with which you glide, jump or somersault and – the best of all – fly like a bird. All that at speeds reaching 100 km per hour!
Kitesurfing is a perfect combination of surfing, paragliding, skateboarding and snowboarding. It will give you an even bigger adrenaline rush than surfing. And you will end up in the water at the end anyway.
Bora Bora is absolute heaven to learn to kitesurf or to enjoy this sport if you are familiar with it. The waters of the lagoon are crystal clear and bluest of all blue waters you have ever seen.
The views you get from the air of the surrounding reefs and the mountain in the island’s heart are to die for.
Where to learn to kitesurf in Bora Bora?
There is only one kitesurfing school in Bora Bora – Kite Surf School Polynesie. They work with the complete beginners and with experienced kitesurfers who just want to have some fun.
If you have never tried kitesurfing, they promise – and the reviews of the school confirm – that you will be able to kitesurf after just one session. Each session lasts from one and half hours to two hours.
All kitesurfing and safety equipment are provided. The school operates year-round if the weather permits – no wind no surfing.
The school is located on the Bora Bora’s magnificent Matira Point, known for its white sand beach and a shallow lagoon surrounded by resorts, restaurants and bars, with the lush tropical jungle in the background.
Matira Point is located at the southernmost end of Bora Bora. It is a narrow finger of lush forest surrounded by white sands and clear blue waters. On its other side, outside of the lagoon, Matira is exposed to the ocean and strong winds, which makes it perfect for kitesurfing.
The school staff can pick you up from your hotel and if you are staying far away from Matira Point, you will have to pay an additional fee. If you are interested, the school can arrange to take you kitesurfing at some other spots in the lagoon.
One of the most popular kitesurfing spots in Bora Bora is located on Motu Mute, where Bora Bora airport is located. It is one of the small islands that surround Bora Bora and its lagoon.
Motu Mute Kite Surfing
This spot has only a small beach so you have to launch from the water. Shallow water goes out pretty far from the beach. Since it is in the lagoon, there are no corals, no tide to worry about and no waves.
The winds are 15-22 knots, good NE/E/SE winds. The best time to kitesurf here is from May to October during the trade wind season. This spot is not recommended for the beginner kitesurfers.
Surfing near Bora Bora
While many islands in French Polynesia are atolls, which means they are surrounded by reefs and not ideal for surfing, there are a few islands near Bora Bora where the conditions are just perfect, and the world surfers have already found it out.
Only about 25 miles from Bora Bora, Maupiti is its nearest neighbor but with a very different vibe. This tiny, isolated island located at the tip of French Polynesia’s Society Archipelago is a little unspoiled jewel that people call Bora Bora without fancy resorts and all the glitz.
Maupiti has similar geography as Bora Bora – it is an atoll surrounded by reefs with only one pass. But that pass, with its strong current, makes a fantastic surfing spot, taking a surfer from the big surf out of the reef to the calm turquoise waters of the lagoon at high speed.
Another good surfing spot is at Motu Tuanai, where the local airport is. It is easy to make a day trip from Bora Bora to Maupiti. There is a regular ferry that takes passengers from Bora Bora to Maupiti and back, but you can also charter a boat for a quick visit.
There is also a tiny airport on the island for ‘island hoppers.” You might decide to stay longer, the unspoiled nature, untouched pristine beaches and peace are mesmerizing. Do not expect to find any resorts and fancy restaurants.
The lodging is in small ‘pensions’, family-owned and operated guesthouses, simple and unassuming. Make sure you book the meals with them as well, you will get the best and the freshest seafood you have ever eaten.
Some Things To Do Here
There are surprising number of things to do if you decide not to spend all your time lounging on the beach. You can climb Mount Teurafaatiu, a three-hour hike that ends up with a spectacular view of the whole island.
Also can visit caves, watch manta rays clean their teeth on wrasses, visit archeological digs, dive, snorkel, kitesurf and much more. Its the type of island you might never leave, Maupiti is a tiny paradise.
Surfing Huahine and Raiatea
Another day trip from Bora Bora can take you to Huahine and Raiatea, where surfing is much more serious business than surfing in Bora Bora, almost rivaling Tahiti.
Both islands are just a short 25-minute flight from Bora Bora by Air Tahiti, but passionate surfers know that at the end of that flight awaits a surfing paradise.
Raiatea Island has a special meaning to the folks living in the region, as well as to all other Polynesians, regardless of where they live. The cultural and religious center of Polynesia, Raiatea is considered sacred as the island where the expansion of Polynesians throughout the Pacific began centuries ago.
As the first Polynesian island to be populated, Raiatea is full of archeological treasures. It is also the second-largest island and the only island in French Polynesia with a navigable river.
Raiatea is covered in lush tropical jungle and has some unique endemic vegetation. It is known for spectacular sailing, sacred Mount Temehani to climb and so much to do.
Raiatea has a number of great surf spots, most of them remote. The quality of surf depends greatly on wind exposure and swell direction.
The most popular surf spots are Miri-Miri, Toauri and Faaora. Teavapiti Pass in Raiatea is popular but this exposed reef break has unreliable waves.
Winter is the best time of year for surfing here. The best wind direction is from the southwest. Most of the surf comes from groundswells.
There are right and left breaking reefs. It is never too crowded, even at the best of times. Keep an eye on coral, rips, sea urchins, rocks and sharks.
Keep in mind that Raiatea is large, the second largest after Tahiti. When booking accommodation, keep in mind the distance from everything.
You might need to rent a car to get around. Taxis and busses are rare. There is accommodation for every budget, but everything in Polynesia is expensive.
Huahine Island is smaller than Raiatea, much less developed and with much fewer tourists. It is a quintessential South Pacific paradise island.
Jungle-covered volcano in the center to climb and explore, spectacular white sand beaches you can often have to yourself, quiet roads lined by palm trees, turquoise lagoons to swim in, lush jungle, ancient Polynesian ruins to visit, and wonderful winds for surfing.
There are no fancy hotels and restaurants in Huahine and the locals prefer it like that, with no plans to change any time soon. You can stay in one of the local guesthouses or in the campground on the beach. They will rent you a tent.
Huahine is known for a number of excellent reef passes such as the matching pair of far-left and far-right, the most surfed waves in the region.
Some History on the Island
Both islands have a big problem with localism. Isolated and with the history of resistance against the French government, the locals give hard time to all foreigners who come to surf the waves they consider theirs.
The Black Shorts members (Black Shorts is the most famous surf gangs in the world) only allow outsiders to surf with them after they have proven to be respectful of them and of the surf. Proceed with caution.
Both Raiatea and Huahine are surfed year-round. Everyone’s favorites are the northern winds for their epic rights. The northeastern winds blow from November to April. The swells are formed by huge lows in the North Pacific.
The southern swell season goes on most of the year, the best months being from May to September, but you can also expect classic south swells sometime before or after winter.
The time between January and March is the quietest and between July and September the windiest. The tides fluctuate by 0.6 meters maximum, but expect the incoming and outgoing current to affect water heights.
Surfing in Bora Bora, one of the most magical places in the world. Just a short boat or plane ride will take you to one of the region’s most famous surfing islands. In pristine waters you may just possibly catch that perfect wave. Or you can learn to kitesurf, it is a lot of fun. Happy travels.