6 Important Items To Pack For Bora Bora

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Planning a trip to Bora Bora or the rest of the French Polynesia islands? Outside of the usual things that you already know to pack for your tropical vacation (like swimsuits, flip flops/sandals, toiletries), there are a few more things that you should bring with you to help make the most of your trip.

The beginning of sunset over the Conrad Bora Bora Resort in French Polynesia

1. Sunscreen – and lots of it!

Many of the resorts in Bora Bora have complimentary sunscreen available by the pool and beach, but it’s always a good idea to bring a few reef-safe sunscreen packages with you (depending on how long you’re staying in Bora Bora and greater French Polynesia). This is especially important if you plan to go on any excursions since you’ll probably want to have some with you, and buying sunscreen on the island can be expensive.

My all-time favorite face sunscreen is EltaMD UV Physical SPF 41 sunscreen. It’s a mineral-based sunscreen (meaning it uses zinc oxide and titanium dioxide instead of other chemicals) for UVA/UVB protection, is fragrance free, oil-free and water-resistant. It’s also lightly tinted so is great by itself or under makeup.

Some other great reef-friendly options are below.

2. Insect Repellant

Resorts will likely have treated their property for mosquitos, but even then, it’s a good idea to pack insect repellent for a tropical destination. It’ll come in handy on the property, and if you’re planning on going on any land excursions like ATV-ing or hiking.

My favorite insect repellents are below – these are insect repellent wipes which make them incredibly easy to stash in your bag or pockets and use whenever you need.

Worst case scenario if you get multiple mosquito bites while traveling, try to hunt down tamanu balm. One of the locals recommended it to me at the St. Regis Bora Bora store on the resort and it helped tremendously with bites, cuts, you name it. Tamanu oil/balm originates in French Polynesia and has been a staple in their traditional medicine. It’s basically good for everything – cuts, burns, insect bites, sunburns, dry skin, and the list goes on. (Just be careful about getting the balm on white or light-colored clothing as it may stain).

Looking out at the beach and overwater bungalows in Bora Bora.

3. Snorkel Mask Set 

If you’re planning on snorkeling, you’ll find that many of the resorts (and excursion companies) have free snorkel masks and fins that they’re happy to provide. However, it’s a good idea to bring your own snorkel mask and then use the flippers provided by the resort or excursion company.

Why spend money on a snorkel mask when you can borrow it for free? Because with your own mask, you know it’s clean and you can make sure it properly fits your face beforehand which is important when wanting to have an enjoyable snorkeling experience.

I bought this snorkel mask set from Amazon and loved it while we were in Bora Bora. The frameless mask gives you 180° viewing, and it is truly crystal clear, anti-fog and anti-leak.

Some other great snorkel mask sets are below:

P.S. If you’re looking for great snorkeling excursions in Bora Bora, try searching TripAdvisor. We found ours on there and loved it. Make sure to read recent reviews and cross-check their website and reviews on Google to make sure it’s the right excursion for you. We’ve also found (and love) that the cancellation policy on TripAdvisor is sometimes more flexible than booking elsewhere.

4. Waterproof Dry Bag

Dry bags are the best! A dry bag lets you store all your items away safely into a waterproof and leakproof bag so that no matter what you’re doing, you can avoid the risk of water (or sand, dirt, etc.) damaging your valuables, clothes, or anything else you want to stash.

They’re not exactly aesthetically pleasing, but they’re incredibly useful when you’re planning to go out into the water, whether that’s on a beach, a jet ski, kayak, boat, etc. Our dry bag and our personal items have survived a short tropical rain storm while we were on a kayak in Thailand, an ATV ride through Bora Bora, jet skii-ing, and snorkeling adventures.

Dry bags let you be worry-free about your personal items which I think is so worth it when you’re being active, especially in/on the water.

Some great options for a waterproof dry bag are below:

5. Water Shoes

This is an item that I don’t hear enough people talking about!

Walking out from the beach into the ocean can be pretty rocky (literally) and there can be broken pieces of coral that you’ll definitely want to avoid stepping on. This is where water shoes come in handy to make sure your feet are protected.

These women’s Speedo water shoes and men’s water shoes were tried and tested over a two week trip. Not only do they protect your feet in the water, but they’re extremely versatile and comfortable. We wore these all the time while at the beach when we wanted to walk out to the water, when snorkeling, and even during an ATV trip that was immediately followed by a jet ski adventure.

Some other great water shoe options are below:

Looking out at the jet skis and the lagoon.

6. Pool Float

This may be a wildcard item and more of a ‘nice-to-have’ instead of a ‘must-have,’ but if you’re staying in an overwater bungalow in French Polynesia, bring a plastic pool float with you.

If you’re planning to stay and luxuriate in your overwater bungalow (highly recommend), it doesn’t hurt to have some things to add to the experience. You’ll likely lounge around the deck and jump into the sea, swim around, and/or snorkel. So why not also lounge around in the sea on a pool float?

Pool floats are easy to pack, don’t take up too much space, and your resort should be able to inflate it for you if you ask ahead of time.

Nothing beats relaxing right off of your bungalow. It’s also a good idea to bring some rope or string with you so you’re able to tie the float to your bungalow and leave it on your deck outside when not in use (so it doesn’t float or fly away).

The deck of an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora, looking out at the lagoon and Mount Otemanu.

Are there any other items you wish you had on your last trip to Bora Bora? Let us know in the comments. Happy traveling!

Wondering where to stay in Bora Bora? Read our review of our stay at the St. Regis Bora Bora.

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