French Polynesia: Bora Bora
Our final stop on this 7 day journey, was the island of Bora Bora. It is called the Romantic Island. We stepped aboard an Air Tahiti flight from Moorea. The plane was a prop jet which held about 60 people, small, but not tiny. The views from the plane were excellent, as we passed various islands in the chain. Bora Bora’s airport was built by the US military during World War II. It is placed on one of the outer atolls, so a water taxi is required to get to your hotel.
There are many hotels to choose from in this location from top-notch 5 star down to entry level accommodations or home stays (B&B’s). Many of the hotels have over water bungalows. A few hotels are on the main island, but many are located on the atolls. We stayed at the Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa, which is currently slated for a grand renovation. It was on an atoll, so we had great views of the main island as well as the outer reef.
The color of the water around Bora Bora is gorgeous, with the different shades designating the different depths of water. As in Moorea, the coral grows quite close to the shore, so snorkeling is easy from your bungalow or the beach. The Hilton is building a small reef, under the reception area, which is already attracting a rainbow of fish that you can watch from the deck.
As in Moorea, Bora Bora has activities for land and sea. Hiking, and exploring the main island by road and the small town of Viatape, where the popular Bloody Mary’s bar is located. Stop in for dinner and see what is fresh that day.
Fishing, diving, snorkeling and kayaking are all popular in this area. You can take a water taxi from your hotel into town to experience the culture of Bora Bora for the day and return to your resort feeling like you have explored. Whether you watched a local soccer match, went on a 4 x 4 expedition or just browsed the shops for vanilla or pearls, your time in Viatape will be worth the time. If you travel during mid – June to mid – July, Bora Bora’s winter, you may find yourself in the middle of the Heiva I festival, where there is music, dancing, craft demonstrations and water sporting events.
Our group experienced the swim with rays and sharks tour on Bora Bora. It was also offered in Moorea. This is a tour where you are on one side of a rope and your experienced guide throws food to the sharks on the other side of the rope, while he played with the rays, eels and octopus to entertain and excite the tourists. If you ever wanted to get up close and personal with a ray, this is the excursion for you!
The Hilton Bora Bora Nui also has a small private island, where they offer romantic luncheons for two or wedding ceremonies. The repast is served at a finely decorated table which sits in the water with small fish dodging around your feet. They know who will drop their food to them. Our hostess on the island also showed us how to make a purse with palm fronds. If the weather should turn inclement, there is a shelter to shield you. The island also has restroom facilities, for your comfort.
The lush grounds of the Hilton Bora Bora Nui were a delight to wander, especially to see all the different varieties of flowers on the grounds. This resort is built on a hill, but they provide golf cart service around the property, which is great for guests who may have some mobility issues or those of us who don’t feel like walking.
Our flight back to Tahiti and home to the United States, was routine and comfortable. Returning to the hustle of LAX was a bit of a culture and noise shock to my system. I will definitely return to French Polynesia in the not so distant future. I have whales to see!