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Published: April 19th 2019
Today we arrived at Bora Bora, near the northwest end of the Tahitian Archipelago. You may know if from the famous World War II battles of Bora Bora. Or maybe you don’t because there never was such a battle. The Americans came to this island in 42 or 43 and took control as an anchor to protect the remainder of the island chain. They built an airfield and a boat harbor to bring in supplies and personnel. Then they built a road around the perimeter of the island. And they installed a water purification facility. And they built bunkers and huge cannons to protect all of it. None of these were ever used in the war but they have all remained and have served as the facilities which brought Bora Bora into the modern world. Our guide today said many times how grateful the islanders are for all the first installations brought by the Americans so many years ago.
But today we came on a cruise ship instead of a battleship and we brought tourists instead of soldiers. However they are appreciative again for the Americans coming today. We got up early and had a simple breakfast in the International
Café. We reported to the Crown Grill and they boarded us on a tender, even before the official “show time”. But there were plenty of people to fill the first tenders and buses, so they let us get started early. Actually we were all on the bus as our guide drove into the parking lot.
We proceeded to drive around the island with several stops along the way. The bus was called ‘Le Truck’. It was metal but had open windows and seat cushions on plastic chairs which were secured to the floor. It was larger than on American Samoa and not quite as rustic, but it was still far from the previous two excursion buses. Anyway we drove off and headed clockwise around the island. It is only 22 miles all the way around this 3 million year island. There are only about 7000 residents on Bora Bora – which means First Born. The center of the island has been collapsing and gradually sinking back into the ocean - on a scale of hundreds of thousands of years. Beyond the core of the island are a whole series of Motus. These are essentially mini islands surrounding the central
core, composed largely from coral which then has sediment built up on top. The motus form an outer ocean boundary which results in a beautiful lagoon that surrounds the main island. There was one canal through the coral reefs and motus, which our ship had followed to anchor inside the lagoon.
The first stop we made was at one of the American bunkers leftover from WW2. Unfortunately it was not a place where we could leave the bus and David could not get any pictures. Our guide said this (and the other) bunker still serve as places of refuge for the residents when they have big cyclones. Then we drove on to a craft area where we were able to get off and watch as they showed how to make some of the beautiful Polynesian fabrics. They also was a short demonstration of how to put them on and not have them fall back off. We also got to sample some pieces of fruit, including pineapple, coconut, and something similar to grapefruit.
Back on the bus we moved further around the island and stopped where we could see land crabs. These crabs burrow into the soft soil along
the shore and are very obvious by the holes they leave behind on the surface. Our guide threw a handful of flowers into the middle of the holes and numerous crabs climbed out of the holes and started grabbing the flowers to drag back to their hole to eat. It was pretty interesting. Mostly locals eat crabs from the sea, or other seafood, but these land crabs can also be eaten if cleaned properly. Anyway, we did NOT have crab for dinner tonight.
Another stop was at an overlook where we could see two of the resorts and a public beach. Of the resorts, the cheaper ones with bungalows over the water cost between $500 and $800 per night. The most exclusive resort (4 Seasons) starts at $1000 per night and the prices can go up much higher for more perks. Guest must also use the hotel’s shuttle boat back to the main island and the fee is up to $250 per person. And you can’t bring your own food to the resort but instead you have to buy food and drink from them. So these could be a pretty pricey vacation. We do not know any of these
prices from first-hand information, just what our guide told us.
Still another stop was at the top of a hill where there were other scenic views. There are a couple of major mountains on Bora Bora. One can be climbed but you need to hire a professional guide before getting a permit to climb. The other mountain is not available to be climbed at all. They had some tongue-twister names which we did not get, but anyone can Google them if they are interested. From this view point we were able to see an enormous cave near the top, which appears like a large mouth opening in the side of the mountain.
We stopped at a somewhat famous restaurant/bar on the island called Bloody Mary. This is the “in place” and they have signs with the names and/or pictures of many famous people who have come to the bar. We got our pictures taken and listened to some local music during the stop. We got a glass of Vanilla Rum Punch – the vanilla is the local twist which makes their drink different than others. Then we got back on the bus and headed back to the pier
for our tender back to the ship. Unfortunately David wasn’t listening when Janet said she wanted to keep the plastic souvenir cup, and he threw it away before getting on the tender.
Back on the ship we cooled down for a while in the cabin. It was around 90 degrees on the island and our bus didn’t really have much air-flow (no real air conditioning). About noon we went down to the International Café for sandwiches and had a light lunch. Janet as able to get an icy-mocha coffee and David got some soda. Then we had a couple of desserts and then returned to the cabin.
David went around taking a few more pictures from the ship and then he spent an hour in or near the pool. Janet got a good nap in the cabin and then was able to do some more of her needlework project. She has almost finished a major portion and is working to finish this milestone.
We went down to the Explorer Lounge today for cocktails (Janet had a Cranberry Cooler and David had a Strawberry Daiquiri). The special appetizer in the Elite Lounge was sushi and that did not
returning to ship on the tender
appeal to us. But there are many places on the ship you can go to get a cocktail. Then we went to dinner at 5:00 and we both had the Veal Scaloppini. It was delicious! We had shrimp cocktail and Caesar Salad beforehand and for dessert we both had the Cherries Jubilee.
After dinner we went to the Vista Lounge to see a performance from the magician. We had really enjoyed his show earlier in the week and wanted to see his new show. It was very entertaining and mystifying. Then we had a free hour before Janet went to the Princess Theater to watch a movie – A Star is Born. David went back to the cabin after sending the blog and skipped the movie. So that finishes today’s report.
FYI … we mentioned previously that they were concerned about a gastrointestinal problem going around the ship, but we haven’t seen or heard of any special efforts in the past few days, so that must have been a non-issue. Of course we are glad about that.
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