Published: March 23rd 2012March 18th 2012
Bora Bora. It is a place that I had always wanted to go, purely for the fact that it sounds like a faraway remote exotic tropical paradise. I can say that all of those adjectives describe it very accurately, except for 'exotic'. At one point in time, maybe 20-30 years ago it would have been exotic, but not anymore, not in a place that boasts Four Seasons and St. Regis-type high-end resorts, a runway that can land G550's, and an anchorage that welcomes cruise ships........nothing ruins 'exotic' better than a cruise ship.
As we were taking the tender into shore one of the nights we were there, we heard the sound of the beating of a drum. As one of the guys put it, 'if you heard that sound in Papua, you wouldn't continue going to see what was happening.' That is the difference between Bora Bora and sincerely remote places.
That being said, I still really enjoyed my few days off in Bora Bora. The island has some amazing scenery, and all sorts of little nooks and crannies inside of the protected lagoon that surrounds the entire island. If you were in search of
a tropical vacation and wanted to stay in a 5-star bungalow over a lagoon, where you can jump into crystal clear water right off of your balcony, then this is the place for you. Thirty years ago, Hotel Bora Bora was the first hotel to have bungalows on stilts, but now, there are at least 7 major hotels where bugalows over the water are a given.
The U.S. had a presence on the island in WWII, when they used this island as a refueling depot and airport. The base never saw any action, but the Navy did leave behind some big guns up in the hills that were meant to protect the island. Bora Bora in the 1940's would have been amazing---apparently, a lot of the soldiers grudgingly left, kicking and screaming, because they loved the place so much even though the U.S. was getting booted out.
It is definitely a couples type of destination. Not a whole lot going on in the way of nightlife here. The locals are very nice, but also are very dependent on tourism. When we arrived, the two marinas on the island were practically fighting for our business.
On the backside of this little motu was a cool snorkeling spot called 'Coral Gardens'.
One of the marinas offered some free beers for our crew, so they won.
The main island is where the locals live, and where all of the commerce on the island happens. On the smaller outer islands, or 'motus' as they are called, that surround the main island, is where you can find all of the resorts. There is a shuttle network for hotel guests, and a separate network for the staff.
There are many places to snorkel and dive. I went out for a dive with one of the local companies and saw a bunch of sharks and spotted eagle rays, and even an octopus.
I also took a 4x4 tour of the island. It didn't take very long to circle the island, but the driver was able to get us up to some great lookout points.
We did have dinner at the famous 'Bloody Mary's' restaurant. It is one of the only restaurants on the main island, and it's one of those types of places that boasts about how many famous people have dined there, which is pretty tacky. I think the Rolling Stones helped make
it famous when they dined there, a long long long time ago.
At the end of the day, Bora Bora is a pretty epic place. It may be a remote South Pacific island, but is still quite built up compared to most 'remote' islands. It is definitely a destination for those with a few extra bucks to spend, looking for a place to kick back, relax, turn on the babymaking music, and enjoy.
There are more photos below