For me, looking forward to all the incredible food I’ll be tasting on holiday is one of the biggest pre-travel excitements.
I like to plan ahead, and know what I can expect – if you’re anything like me, I’m sure you like to know the top places to visit and the unmissable restaurants ahead of your holiday.
I’ve put together a list of my tried and tested recommendations for dining in Bora Bora.
Holidays in French Polynesia are some of the most romantic, thanks in no small part to the exquisite dining experiences (and the exceptional service, luxury hotels and jaw-dropping views, of course!).
Most visitors heading for a luxury stay in Bora Bora stop in Tahiti en route. If your time on the island includes an overnight stay, then experiencing the famed ‘street food’ of French Polynesia at Papeete’s Roulottes is a must.
Come nightfall, the main harbour becomes a hub of activity as Tahitians cook up a storm in their food vans. Here you’ll have choices ranging from local French Polynesian food to steak and chips, freshly made Chinese dishes to scrumptious French crepes to.
The food is tasty and very reasonably priced, served on long, communal tables under the stars. It’s a great, authentic Tahitian experience and not to be missed if you’re lucky enough to be spending time on the island.
Best for: Adults or families – as this is a night-time venue, this might not be suitable for all children
Don’t miss: You can’t go wrong with some of the freshly grilled seafood on offer here – we recommend the swordfish if it’s available when you visit. It’s not a bad idea to end your night with a Nutella waffle, either…
La Villa Mahana, Bora Bora
This is arguably the island’s most romantic restaurant, and definitely its most exclusive (there’s room for just six couples a night!). Reserving in advance is a must, but it’s well worth the planning.
Set in a beautiful house where Mediterranean style meets Polynesian art, La Vila Mahana is unbeatable for an intimate night with your loved one. Settle into the picturesque courtyard for a five-course meal beyond your dreams – the dishes change frequently depending on what’s fresh and in season, but no matter what’s cooking the night you visit, you’re guaranteed a delicious experience.
Best for: This is definitely not one for families. A superb choice for a romantic holiday, excellent for honeymoons.
Don’t miss: The rotating menu means you won’t know what your dinner is until you arrive – but there’s likely to be lobster, tuna and the most sumptuous banana leaf-wrapped bread.
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Vaimiti, Four Seasons Bora Bora
This was without a doubt one of my favourite dining experiences in French Polynesia. Boasting a prime location on the front of the luxurious resort, the waves lapping beneath you, the sun setting behind Mount Otemanu… this is seriously idyllic.
If you don’t have time for a meal here then a cocktail at sunset is a great experience. I sampled unusual and delicious concoctions, including a chilli mojito and raspberry caipirinha. On the menu is also a wide variety of sushi and Asian-inspired fare.
Best for: Though the views here mean it is a really romantic spot, the kids’ menu here is fantastic and is perfect for special family meals.
Don’t miss: The King Crab Gratin is really decadent, though the Caramelised Black Cod is also unmissable!
Bloody Mary’s, Vaitape, Bora Bora
This restaurant in the main town is something of an institution among Bora Bora restaurants. When you arrive at the thatched property, you’ll be greeted by the ‘walls of fame’ covered with the names of celebrity faces who have visited the restaurant and including everyone from Tom Cruise to Kim Kardashian.
Inside the décor is ‘feet in the sand’, rustic dining, with fascinating features including a mini waterfall to wash your hands in the ladies room!
Start your experience like I did with a classic Bloody Mary, or an ice-cold Hinano beer, the favourite tipple of French Polynesians, at the beach-style bar. From there you’re welcomed over to the counter to choose your menu from the array of fresh fish, seafood and meats displayed on ice. Your host will talk you through the dishes on show, where they were caught, how they were prepared, and what’s the most popular.
Best for: Perfect for adults and groups of friends. This lively venue is great for kids who are adventurous with food, and it’s a fantastic way to educate little ones about what they’re eating. Be aware that the seating here is stools and chairs directly on the sand.
Don’t miss: The sashimi I had to start was a triumph. The mahi mahi and swordfish here are also exceptional.
Arii Moana, Four Seasons Bora Bora
The service at the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora’s signature restaurant, Arii Moana, is exceptional. The staff here are really highly knowledgeable not just on the amazing menu here, but on French Polynesian food in general.
I settled into a table with a bottle of excellent rioja and enjoyed the honestly amazing views out over the water. The menu here is Polynesian-French fusion, and I promise you you’ll find lots of flavours you’ve never tried before – it’s a proper culinary adventure.
The menu is dominated by super fresh seafood, with mouth-watering delicacies like mahi-mahi, yellowfin tuna, blue lobster, lagoon fish and sea scallops on offer. There’s something really magical about dining on the most perfectly cooked seafood overlooking the water – I’d mark this place as unmissable on your visit to Bora Bora.
Best for: Although there is a children’s menu on offer here, this thatched-roof venue is really a super romantic place to dine – I’d recommend it particularly for couples and honeymooners.
Don’t miss: Meat eaters on a special celebration might be tempted by the incredible Chateaubriand to share. I would also highly recommend the steamed mahi-mahi here.
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Lagoon Restaurant by Jean-Georges, St. Regis Bora Bora
The flagship restaurant at the superlative St. Regis Bora Bora is nothing short of outstanding. This is arguably the most famous of Bora Bora restaurants, and it
certainly lives up to the hype. Created by celebrated chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the menu at the high-end fine dining Lagoon Restaurant features French-Asian fusion cuisine using the very best of French Polynesian food. Fresh catches from the surrounding waters are a permanent fixture, with dishes made up of truly exotic and unusual ingredients.
The views from the restaurant are as spectacular as the food. Look out through glass walls across the sparkling water to Mount Otemanu – there’s even a chance you might be able to spot nurse sharks and other wildlife as you enjoy your meal. Head out onto the terrace for the sunset and look through the glass floor panels to watch the marine life directly below – it’s remarkable. Lagoon has probably the best wine selection in Bora Bora, so it’s perfect for celebrations.
Best for: This is a serious fine-dining experience, so it’s best for couples and small groups of adults.
Don’t miss: One of the signature dishes here is the uravena fish, which is served filleted on a bed of passion fruit and chilli sauce.
Bora Bora Yacht Club, Bora Bora
For classic, toes in the sand, laid-back island fare, look no further. You can spend an entire day here, soaking up the chilled out atmosphere – sip a few cocktails at the beach bar (fresh pina coladas come highly recommended), hire a boat to take to the water, or simply spend an afternoon paddling in the water alongside incredible sea life.
When it comes to dining, you’ll be tasked with choosing from a mouth-watering menu of French Polynesian food – if you wondered “what do they eat in Bora Bora?” beforehand, you’ve probably noticed by now that the answer is lots of fresh seafood and French fusion cuisine. The ambience here is friendly and welcoming – this isn’t your typical yacht club. This is also my top recommendation for a lively venue for the evening.
Best for: Everyone – this is a seriously welcoming place. Of an evening it’s more of a bar, so young families should probably head here for lunch and early dinners.
Don’t miss: Obviously the seafood is fantastic, but the Black Angus rib steaks here are out of this world.
Those are my top picks for eating in Bora Bora. My advice if you’re heading on your own luxury holiday to Tahiti and Bora Bora would be to try as much of the local food and drink as you can; it won’t disappoint. There’s a good mix of restaurants that are family-friendly and those more suited for honeymooners. Come prepared to eat a lot of seafood!