When we booked our air pass for French Polynesia, we couldn’t resist including Bora Bora in our itinerary. We wanted to see what all its fame was about and if those over-the-water bungalows are really all that amazing (they are – at least from what we could see from the outside!). Our flight from Raiatea landed in the late afternoon so that we were treated to a beautiful sunset when taking the free Air Tahiti shuttle boat from the airport motu to the main island. What a view!
We were then picked up by our host from AirBnB – Rosalie, who took us out for dinner at one of the food trucks before showing us around her and Marc’s lovely place in Vaitape. Instead of having to camp, they had recently built a cute little cabin in their garden with a private hot shower and toilet! Awesome!! During our whole stay, they went out of their way in hosting us: cooking dinner, surprising us with free included breakfast and helping us in any possible way. Luxury „camping“!
We had three full days on Bora Bora, which was perfect. On the first day we took the bikes Marc and Rosalie offered us and circled the island in the course of the day, going North first to be able to end the day at Matira Plage. The 32km road is easily doable by bike – there’s only two hills where we had to push our bikes up, everything else is flat. We’ve of course seen quite some cool islands now, but the mountains and the lagoon of Bora Bora are special yet again! Also, the cycling was nice and relaxed, stopping for photos at viewpoints many times.
Matira Plage on the other hand was a bit of a disappointment. It surely was a pretty white beach and you can snorkel with big stingrays easily. But it was a bit too crowded and touristy for us. Still – a good beach to relax on for a couple of hours before closing our circle around the island with the final 8km back to Vaitape.
After we had circled the island, we wanted to get a view from the top. So hiking day it was! Marc dropped us off at the trek start near the fire station and off we were…to be honest, we had expected something easier and shorter. The path led up steeply and soon we were drenched in sweat (and still nowhere close to the top). However, the first views we got between the bushes encouraged us to go on.
Soon, there were ropes to climb up the steeper parts of Mt Ohue. And more and more ropes, while the views became more and more spectacular! The best was of course the view from the top though! Wow!!! Definitely one of the most amazing views I’ve ever had – if not THE most amazing one! We had an almost 360° view radius in which we could see the entire lagoon surrounding Bora Bora, the ring of motus with their over-the-water bungalows, and Mt Pahia and Mt Otemanu – just slightly higher than Mt Ohue and suddenly so close to us! Needless to say, we took hundreds of photos…
We also made a short attempt to climb Mt Pahia as well since there is a trail continuing to that peak. However, at one point this trail became a scary climbing adventure and we decided to turn around to keep ourselves safe! Unfortunately since we had expected a shorter, easier hike, we didn’t bring enough water and no snacks – so we had to get on the long way down soon. The trail brought us back down a different way, not sure where it suddenly split, but I feel like this version was shorter and a bit easier – so in the end it was all good!
Our third and last day on Bora Bora was spent in the most typical way possible I guess: We booked a lagoon tour to see everything from the boat. During the tour, there were some stops for snorkelling, the first one being in shallow waters where stingrays and blacktip reef sharks were being fed by the guides of different tour boats who all meet at this same spot. Not really my thing… but luckily when we arrived there was only one other boat. In the water it was very busy – rays and sharks everywhere, coming really close! While it was fun on the one hand, I don’t appreciate these feeding snorkel tours. I think it’s much more special when you spot rays or sharks the natural way, even if it’s less of them then maybe. So after some pictures and videos, I returned to the boat and watched the whole spectacle from the surface, with tourists splashing and screaming around and rays and sharks circling around in masses. A bit of a circus if you ask me, but there was only one lagoon tour we could find which doesn’t participate in this activity – and it was out of our budget.
We then continued our tour around the island. It was cool to see the mountains from the boat and pass by the little motus, but the best were the colours of the water! 50 (or more?) shades of blue!! Wow. And the water was so incredibly clear! Certainly one of the most beautiful bodies of water we’ve ever seen!
Lunch was prepared for us on one of the bigger motus. While our guides were cooking, we were able to snorkel with leopard rays just off the beach! Super cool!! This snorkelling was without feeding and the rays were peacefully swimming around in schools, not caring much about us snorkellers. We were even able to dive down and swim with them really closely! All in a natural way.
Then, a delicious lunch awaited us! Seriously, the bbq-fish was one of the best ones I’ve ever eaten! There was also poisson cru, the local speciality, some veggies and fruits and cakes for dessert. Not too bad!! The motu itself was very pretty too. We walked around a bit and of course went crazy with the camera!
Our tour then continued to yet another snorkelling site – Jardin du Corail (or: coral garden) – a bit disappointing since the coral were not very healthy at all and there were visible traces of people having stepped on them too many times… Sad. To end this on a good note though, overall we really enjoyed the lagoon cruise. It gives you the chance to fully appreciate Bora Bora with its clear and amazingly turquoise waters.