Every Photographer should visit Bora Bora
Bora Bora has become one of the hottest and most sought after travel destinations around the world. I believe every photographer should experience this tropical destination not only because of it's stunning beauty, but it truly is life at a slower pace. Photography sometimes feels rushed, and I've never felt so at peace with my surroundings. I only spent 4 full days at this location and I had more winning shots per day than any other trip - and it was all at my fingertips.
Bora Bora is a small donut shaped island in the French Polynesia known for its resorts being located in an inner-reef protected by winds and seas making waters calm and clear. Most international flights arrive in Tahiti at Fa'a'ā International Airport near the city of Papeete.
A connecting flight can be made from Papeete to Bora Bora island where boats will take you to the islands and resorts.
Flight Tip: Be open-minded to non-direct flights from Papeete to Bora Bora as this will give you less layover time. As a bonus you get to fly over more islands in the region. My flight was direct but I had a 6 hour layover, so I spoke to Tahiti Airlines who put me on an earlier flight that took me over some amazing views of nearby islands.
Bora Bora is all about resorts and they are sprinkled around the inner-reef of the island. The only way to get to the resorts is via boat. The only way to get from one resort to another is via boat. Most travelers spend a few nights at one resort, then transfer to another. This is a great way to experience the island as each resort has different restaurants and different amenities and views.
Resort life is slow paced, surprisingly quiet and absolutely breathtaking. Staying in a bungalow on top of the water is the way to go. It's worth treating yourself to a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Sunsets & Sunrises in Bora Bora
Sometimes you have to get into the water for the shot! I was in knee deep water with my tripod taking this shot.
Sunrise behind a resort over looking the outer-reef. The crystal clear waters, and reef hues lined with golden light were amazing.
What to expect photographing Bora Bora
The weather patterns in Bora Bora move and change fast. One minute you can have clear skies and 15 minutes later storm clouds can move in and completely change the scenery. Likewise, cloudy skies can clear quickly. Get up every sunrise even if the weather is cloudy. Weather forecasts are pretty inaccurate. Morning (sunrise) and Evening (sunset) are the absolute best times, but honestly, the light is fantastic up to an hour before/after. Some of my most dramatic shots were when clouds were casting stunning shadows onto the landscape.
Resort pools make for great spots to cast reflections. Even before golden hour this made for a stunning play of light.
Techniques and Photography Gear
Must have equipment for photographing Bora Bora:
- A sturdy tripod - to keep the camera super steady for sharp crisp photos
- A Circular Polarizing Filter - will increase contrast and reduce glare. It also gives you control over how much reflections vs. blue hues show through when shooting into tropical water. A twist of the filter adjusts how transparent vs. reflective the water is.
- A graduated Neutral Density Filter - something I always use for sunsets and sunrises. This helps you darken portion of the photo (the sky usually) to balance out how much dynamic range the camera can capture. It will help obtain more color in bright skies and reduce the chance of blowing out (over exposing) highlights and still get details in the shadows.
- Waterproof and reef-proof shoes - These are an absolute must if you're walking on rocky areas or beaches covered in shells and coral, especially if you're wading in shallow waters.
Video clips of me on-location in Bora Bora.