When you first see Bora-Bora from the ship as it navigates Teavanui Pass, you'll be astonished. Brilliant blue water in far too many shades to count and palm-dotted white-sand motus (islets) encircle a lush island topped by craggy Mount Otemanu. Close your eyes and open them again. Yes, it’s all real. This South Pacific isle with its exotic Tahitian-French allure has been captivating honeymooners and vacationers from the time the first overwater bungalows were built here nearly 50 years ago.
For years, Bora-Bora has also drawn a multitude of divers eager to scope out its array of reef fish, rays and sharks. It's hard to compete with the sheer drama of the water, or with shape-shifting Mount Otemanu, which looks completely different from every angle. In fact, Vaitape, the island's largest city with a population of about 5,000 people, doesn’t even try to compete. Not much changes in this sleepy port, where a few black-pearl shops, boutiques and galleries join a weathered church and several small cafés. Yes, you might want to buy a pearl and you should definitely sample the poisson cru (raw fish marinated in coconut milk and lime juice). But to be honest, the best spot on Bora-Bora is anywhere out on the lagoon.