The Snorkeling In Bora Bora Is One Of The Best Reasons to Visit The Island.....

Bora Bora Lagoon from the Air

Snorkeling is probably not the first thing you think of when you consider going to Bora Bora. Beautiful beaches and the color of the water are more likely thoughts. We often can find pictures of Bora Bora's famous lagoon. The water is incredible shades of blue and green, and the photos are so vivid that they seem as if they were "touched up" and could not be real. To me, however, the life hidden underneath that lagoon is even more beautiful. The water is filled with coral and tropical fish, so colorful that even very few professional photos I have seen can capture how amazing it is. Snorkeling allows anyone and everyone to see this world underneath the lagoon with crystal clarity. You don't have know how to scuba dive - you don't even have to be a great swimmer!

Bright Coral of Bora Bora

Tropical Fish

Now, many of you may have been to the Caribbean Sea and snorkeled there. I have been there, also, and to several different islands. I think the Caribbean is wonderful and each island has a unique beauty. However, the experience under the water in the South Pacific makes the Caribbean look like a mud puddle. That is how much different it is in Bora Bora!

Pink Coral in the South Pacific

When I saw how many more bright colors there were in these coral reefs, and how many more different types of tropical fish there seemed to be, I asked someone about it. They gave me some outlandish numbers for the amount of species there are in the South Pacific as compared with the Caribbean. I checked on it, though, and they were right! The Caribbean has approximately 50 species of coral. The Indo-Pacific (which includes the South Pacific) has over 800 species of coral and over 1500 species of fish!

Fan Coral in the South Pacific

Another reason for the difference are that "soft corals" have the really bright colors and that is what there is a lot of in Bora Bora. When I was snorkeling in Aruba, (southern Caribbean) I asked why the coral was not colorful and I was told that is was hard coral, or rock coral. It had interesting formations, but it is colored like rocks.

Something else that struck me about Aruba was that as I got into deeper water, the waves became very overpowering and it got a little scary! I had to go back toward shore. That memory touches on another very important thing to remember about Bora Bora. It is ringed by the big coral reef and everything inside of that is the calm waters of a lagoon. The waves break outside the coral ring, so you feel much more protected.

Within the lagoon there will be places with no coral where it is good to just swim. There will also be places where there are coral "gardens", or several large clusters of coral in relatively shallow water.

Man snorkeling

In places like this, you can basically just stick your face in the water with a mask and snorkel and see the coral and fish. Without any waves beating on you, this is very easy for anyone of any age or ability. You don't even have to swim!

However, if you are like me, you will keep following more and more fish and wandering aimlessly, and before you know it you are in 20 or more feet of water! You get awestruck with the walls of multi-colored coral rising up in front of you and the multitudes of fish darting around you. I never ran into a shark, but there were a couple of really, really big fish that made me a little nervous....

If you can, (ask your guide or your hotel) try to find a current in the water coming in from the reef. Paddle against it toward the reef as far as you are comfortable, and then turn around. Put your arms out and put your mask and snorkel in the water and let the current take you all the way back to the shallows. It is the best feeling! You just float along and watch the magic world below you. Click here to read about my favorite snorkeling experience.


So, Now I Hope You Really Want To Go To Bora Bora And Snorkel!

Here are some things to know:

  • There are great places to snorkel all around the island and the motus. If you are going on a lagoon tour, your guide will know some prime spots. Depending on your swimming ability and how comfortable you are in the ocean, they will help you choose accordingly.
  • If you are new to snorkeling, start with just putting your face in the water and breathing through the snorkel tube. You will be good at it in no time. There should be a place to practice right off of the beach at your hotel, or maybe off the back of your overwater bungalow.
  • Always make sure that you wear some kind of beach shoes or rubber sandals around the coral. Even though it is very fragile and and can break off easily, it really can cut and scrape you up before you know it.
  • Try to resist picking up loose pieces of coral. They may look pretty, but I learned the hard way that if they are colored they are still alive. As the coral dies, it leaves behind the white shell-and it smells terrible!
  • Most of the hotels provide snorkeling equipment. However, it is best that you bring your own. You don't need anything very expensive, and it does not take up much room in your luggage. It is much better to have equipment that you know fits you and will always be available. All you need are fins, a mask and snorkel tube.

  • Snorkeling Equipment

  • Make sure you keep up with the sunscreen! You get so involved with what you are seeing under the water that you forget that you are near the equator with your back pointing up to the sun. I don't sunburn easily, but after floating google-eyed with the fish for an hour or so, the back of my shoulders were in pretty bad shape.
  • Of course, always be somewhere near another person if you are getting into deep water, or just in case you would panic or get cut up on the coral. I remember panicking a little when I got too close to where the waves were breaking on the outside reef. I was getting tossed around a little and the coral was very near the surface of the water. I got trapped and had to really suck in my stomach to get out of there without scraping myself up. Not to mention that being "beached" on the reef would have been very embarrassing!

  • Click here to read about My Favorite Snorkeling Experience
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