Heaven on earth, tropical paradise, and all of those over-used phrases have been used to describe Bora Bora and they don’t overstate how gorgeous this island is and what a wonderful day we had, this is definitely a place we would return to without hesitation. As the ship sailed in to the harbor it was raining quite heavily threatening to put a damper on the day, but just as we stepped out of the tender boats onto shore the rain stopped. It remained overcast most of the day which was actually a good thing, we were able to enjoy the day without the expected strong sun rays and heat usually associated with the tropics.
A group of us had signed up to do a tour with Patrick, there were about 36 of us assigned to three different boats for a day on the water. I wish I could share pictures so that you could see Patrick, try to imagine a young Polynesian warrior with the long flowing hair and tribal tattoos and that will help you visualize our guide. The boats were motorized outrigger canoes with benches on each side. Grass fronds were woven to make a covering over the top of the canoe providing shade.
Patrick explained a little about the island and took us for our first stop – stingray and shark viewing. We were in an area that was about three feet deep so it was easy to get out of the boat. The water was crystal clear and the sand was easy to see underneath our feet, and anything else that happened to come along! Patrick and the other boat drivers started tearing off pieces of fish to attract the stingrays and it didn’t take long until they showed up…everywhere! Stingrays were under our feet, rubbing legs, and also up to the surface looking for an easy meal! At first it was a little frightening but we got used to it and enjoyed touching the soft tops of the stingrays, the guides had given many of them names such as Angelina. Not long after the sharks showed up, I believe they called them black tipped sharks, they were yellowish in color with black tips on their fins. They didn’t get very close, they stayed about ten feet away from all of us but were very easy to see in the water.
After a short time we reboarded the boat and went a short distance before stopping to snorkel. This area was full of coral reefs and many small fish, we could see fish easily from the boat and Patrick provided loaves of bread to throw their way attracting several schools of fish looking for a handout!
The highlight of the day was our lunch stop. As we arrived at a small area of a motu (island) Patrick explained that it had belonged to his family for many generations. It was just as you would imagine a tropical island would look (think Gilligan’s Island) with palm trees, clear water, and sandy beaches. First, they opened several bottles of champagne then showed us the lobsters cooking on the grill along with pork and tuna cooking in a hot rock pit. Benches were located in the water adding to the ambience of the day. It was perfect! We had plenty of time to enjoy the area and lunch then took a short walk to the other side of the motu to see the ocean side which looked completely different – there was a lot of old coral and a long, rocky beachfront without much vegetation.
After lunch, it was back into the boats for one final swim stop before returning to the ship. It began to rain again right after we boarded the ship, our luck with good weather still remains. We saw so many beautiful things including the beautiful blues of the water, the lush foliage, and the green hillsides of Bora Bora. Along the way we also got our first look at some overwater bungalows, that was a nice tease. For our next stop where we leave the ship for a night for a stay in one of the bungalows on another island.
A few interesting things we learned about Bora Bora is that there are about 10,000 residents most living in three main villages, the children are required to go to school from age 6 through 14, the island has elementary and junior high schools but children going to high school go to boarding school on another island – they stay there Sunday nights through Friday afternoons. Bora Bora is a French colony and France subsidizes their health and education costs.
This was the best water tour we have ever done, simply amazing! Tomorrow we are in Papeete (pronounced pap-ee-ay-tay), we are taking a ferry to a nearby island called Moorea where we will spend the night in an overwater bungalow – good times!