The ultimate guide to bringing & flying a drone in Bora Bora

Drone Aerial view on Bora Bora with the couple and the boat in the blue lagoon

If you plan to travel to Bora Bora and you consider using your own drone, this article is for you. Maybe you are looking for more specific informations about Drone Photography in Bora Bora? Anyway, here you will find some important practical information about travel with your drone to French Polynesia and the applicable rules and restrictions for your aerial images.

1. Bringing your drone to Bora Bora by plane

Nowadays, it is very easy to take your drone on your journey. Before flying to French Polynesia, you should be particularly careful about packing the drone batteries. Check their size and decide whether to put them in checked or hand luggage.

1.1 Drone: size matters

Most often, your drone will perfectly fit in your checked or hand luggage. As long as it is well packed and you respect your airline’s requirements concerning luggage dimensions, you won’t have any problem to transport it.

Air Tahiti
Important information from Air Tahiti

No matter where you come from and which company you travel with, you will land in Tahiti island (Faa airport) first. Then the only company to reach Bora Bora is Air Tahiti. The flight takes about 45 minutes to reach the beautiful Bora Bora! You can read more here

Be aware that the maximum size of your hand luggage is 45 x 35 x 20 cm. For the checked baggage the maximum dimensions are: *  Length + width + height < 150 cm and the total weight < 25kg. 

If your drone is huge in size ( > 150 cm), you will have to send it by « FRET »

1.2 Batteries: take them ON BOARD in your hand luggage

Almost all companies allow to transport your batteries. If you have a standard drone (Dji, Parot, gopro,…), it will be pretty easy – all the batteries will be accepted. But if you have a ‘home-made’ drone, check the battery capacity and verify your airline’s limitations first. Rarely, if your batteries are too powerful, you could not be able to take them on board.

2. Flying your drone in Bora Bora 

After your long travel, you are now in Bora Bora: Welcome! The first impression amazing. Before thinking about your drone images, enjoy the view and have some rest!

Before flying your drone in Bora Bora, you should know that:

  • French Polynesia is a territory of France and the French global rules for flying drone will be applied. The French main authority for aviation is DGAC : The French Civil Aviation Authority.
  • Bora Bora is an island of French Polynesia and even if it is a French territory, it also has its own specific aviation rules. Special aviation service dedicated for French Polynesia is called SEAC

2.1 Recreational users: Flying your drone in Bora Bora for private use is Authorized ONLY in private property

The official page of the authority informs about the most important RULE: All French Polynesian islands are considered as a unified group and fall under jurisdiction of SEAC. It means that the use of any non-licensed drone in Bora Bora is forbidden in all public space. You are allowed to fly your private drone only:

  • In your hotel, if it is not located in the airport zone (you need to ask the owner of the hotel for permission. Most hotels do NOT allow you to fly for privacy reasons).
  • On your boat (when it is anchored) in the open sea (a lagoon is not considered as ‘the open sea’)

Some tourists take the risk to fly their drone, but the rules in Bora Bora are strict and the area is well supervised. The penalty for flying drone without permission can be really high. When coming to your hotel, be aware that you will sign a legal document which informs you about the ban on drone use. Hotels can expulse you without any refund for illegal drone use in the hotel’s area.

Private Drone Image in the couple villa - swimming pool and blue sea

2.2 Professional users (commercial use): Flying your drone in Bora Bora is authorized under control

As already mentioned above, all French Polynesian islands are considered as one unified group. If you have a French license or your license was made in one of the European Union countries, you should not have any problems to fly a drone in Bora Bora. It will be only necessary to get the permission and prepare your flight. More below.

First, If you are certified by a country in the European Union / EEE, you should contact The French Drone Authority to confirm your license via this email address. Then you should ask a special authorization. Here step by step how you can do it :

Contact the SEAC and together with them you will create a protocol (Coordination Protocol for Professional Drone users). Before contacting them, please prepare:

  • Create an account and register your drone on the Alpha Tango plateform
  • Prepare your MAP up to date (‘Activites Manual’)
  • Fill in Photographer Activities Form (time and place of drone use)
  • Get your drone technical documentation
  • Find your drone user manual

The best practice is to save all those documents online on your Google Dive / Dropbox.

Then, a few days before flying your drone in Bora Bora (and when you already have the protocol) you should ask the SEAC once again for approval of your application. You will need to present them:

  • The official Authorization Form filled in with all the details of your flight (date, scenario type, contact information)
  • Your flights plan with GPS coordinates (Export a KMZ file with Google earth)
  • Update 2024 : There is a new official SNA platform called U-Space Keeper that replace the previous method (Kmz file on google earth) and allow drone pilot to create a mission to fly on the islands of Tahiti (NTAA), Bora Bora (NTTB), Moorea (NTTM), Raiatea (NTTR). This platform is also used by the professional drone pilots in Paris, according to the latest information provided by Ossa Cadoret, specialist in drone photography for the weddings in France and here in Tahiti and the islands.

Additionally, you must also inform the police authorities about your flight by email. In the end, having the authorization, you need to call the air controller before every flight to ensure that there is no traffic in the aerial space.

2.3 Why are drone flying rules so strict in Bora Bora?

The most important reason for drone restrictions in Bora Bora is of course security. The airport is located on a small isle near the most important resorts. Planes fly very low, sometimes literally just above our heads. They are frequent – there are at least 10 flights back and forth per day from Bora Bora. There are also quite a lot of helicopter tours and private planes. Of course, in your resort you are well protected  from the noise and you do not always realize (fortunately!) that all that circulation exists. But in the air, the traffic can be terrific. That is why flying a drone by your own and without any control can be very dangerous.

The second reason for restrictions is privacy. A huge majority of resorts will not allow you to fly and take images in order to protect privacy of their clients.

Aerial view with the overwater bungalow at the Conrad Bora Bora nui

2.4 What is the risk of  flying a drone illegally in Bora Bora?

Flying illegally your drone in Bora Bora is risky. You can get a huge traffic fine (up to USD 80 000 or even an imprisonment -up to 1 year). Not to mention an accident which could be caused by you and not covered by your insurance. The illegal use of the drone in a resort’s area can also be a reason for expulsion without any refund.  So – be careful and always fly your drone with an official authorization.

3. The best spots are often in the no-fly GEO zone: your drone will be locked

Bora Bora is a tiny island surrounded by the lagoon and tiny patches of land called ‘motus’. It makes a total surface of 30.55 km2 / 11.80 sq mi.  The airport is in the north, near the central zone. Some of the greatest resorts (The St Regis, The Four Seasons, The Pearl Beach Resort, The Intercontinental Thalasso & Spa) are located in that area. For security reasons and air corridors around the central zone, without authorization you won’t be able to fly. Due to manufacture parameters drones are locked in that area. You can check more details on the official DJI website.

4. Recommendations

Bora Bora is famous for its incredible lagoon also called ‘Shades of Blue’. The aerial view is absolutely breathtaking! There are many ways to visit the island, but my favorite one is to see it from the bird’s eye view. If you like panoramic views, I recommend even a helicopter or a seaplane tour – you will love it. If you are looking for some incredible aerial images of yourself from your trip in Bora Bora, we strongly recommend hiring a certified drone photographer. Flying a drone by yourself in Bora Bora is more and more difficult and impossible in the most beautiful spots. You can read more recommendations about Drone Photography in Bora Bora.

5. Certified drone photographers in Bora Bora

If you are looking for epic aerial photos in Bora Bora (or on any other island in French Polynesia), the best solution is to hire a certified drone pilot. Not only will you be able to enjoy the experience, but you will also discover the most beautiful and secret spots. You will be able to relax and enjoy without dealing with the licenses, restricted areas & insurance. Do not hesitate to contact us to schedule a classic & drone photoshoot. You will also have an opportunity to create awesome drone images in Tahaa, Moorea or Tahiti, but also on islands visited less frequently such as the Tuamotus Archipelago or the Marquises.

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