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If you’re looking for the ultimate island fantasy, you can’t do better than French Polynesia: sugary sands, empty beaches and water the perfect shade of aquamarine. A 45-minute flight from Tahiti, Bora Bora is a majestic island with three verdant volcanic peaks and offshore islets inside a protective necklace of coral.

Before You Go: Need-to-know info

Entry requirements: Passport valid for six months post-departure
Language: French, Tahitian and English
Currency: French Pacific franc
Flight time: 19 hours from New York City; 11 hours from LA; 18 hours from Dallas
Getting around: L’Truck (the public bus service), taxis (expensive), rental cars, scooters, bikes, inter-island boats, catamarans and charter flights

When to Go: Bora Bora at its best

Best weather: Dry season runs May to October; evenings are sometimes cool enough to need a light sweater.
Best prices: November and April

What to Do

Stay on the water (literally): Overwater bungalows are a honeymoon must if you travel to Bora Bora. Suspended on stilts over the water, these huts feature all the modern amenities you’d expect, and often have Plexiglas floors or coffee tables through which you can watch fish swim beneath your feet (slide a door open to share a bit of croissant from your canoe-delivered breakfast). Connected by wooden walkways, strings of bungalows can stretch several hundred feet out into the gentle water. When you’re ready to swim, just dive out your doorway.

Explore the lagoons: In a setting like this, you’ll be tempted to spend nearly all your time in the water, and for good reason. The crystal-clear water and exotic marine life make swimming and snorkeling an ideal way to spend a day. Rent a small catamaran or canoe and cruise around the tranquil lagoons to investigate the neighboring islands. For a more active afternoon beneath the surface, go on a stingray and shark feeding expedition through a company like Moana Adventure Tours. If you want to spend a day relaxing on the sand, check out the beautiful Matira Beach.

Eat the freshest fish: Don’t miss dinner at Bloody Mary’s, a celeb hangout and island mainstay, where the menu revolves around the catch of the day.

Indulge: A vacation in Bora Bora offers experiences unique to an island getaway, so take advantage of the surroundings. Arrange for a candlelit dinner on a nearby private island, or kick back on your terrace and eat fresh sushi and sake delivered by your butler. This kind of sublime service doesn’t come cheap, but it’s not called a once-in-a-lifetime trip for nothing.

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