Bora Bora, heavenly!

The most expensive and painful part of traveling to Bora Bora is the journey to get there, given its location from Asia. Some of the interesting places I visited in Tahiti before my onward flight to Bora Bora was Municipal Market, the Cathedral, the gorgeous waterfront, Marae Arahu, and Plague de Vaiva, a public beach. Though a young city, Papeete is clean and well-maintained. I was struck by the street arts of graffiti and Papeete Street musicians.

Marae Arahurahu, an ancient temple, is a religious sight where human sacrifices were done in the days of ancient Tahiti. The history and stories of what rituals happened at these maraes are both interesting and scary. One can’t help but imagine what was going through the minds of those victims chosen to be sacrificed for whatever reason. Why?

Tahiti is one of the most exclusive destinations in the world. It is made up of more than 118 islands which include Bora Bora. The view of the islands from the sky was mesmerizing. The crystal clear luminous lagoon with so many shades of blue staring at the horizons, the mountains, and those iconic overwater bungalows, was breathtakingly beautiful.

For four nights, I stayed at Hotel Village Temanuata which is located on the main island. The hotel is within walking distance to the shops, restaurants and Matira Beach. Matira Beach is the only public beach on the main island. It stretches from Hotel Bora Bora (currently closed) to Matira point. The long stretch of white sand and calm turquoise water is voted as the best beaches in the world. Throughout my stay in Vaitape, I have never missed a day walking to Matira beach; swimming, sun-tanning, reading, and people-watching, and just appreciating the beauty right in front of me. As the sun sank onto the lagoon, I sat at the beach with my camera. And lost all sense of time.

IMG_1417 - Version 2One of the activity I did in Bora Bora was snorkeling. I pre-booked pure snorkeling trip with Reef Discovery and the services were simply outstanding. Our first stop was to see clown fish, second stop was an amazing coral garden near the barrier reef with incredible fishes, third stop was a majestic manta ray (I saw three of them), fourth stop was literally being dropped into the middle of aquarium with thousands of beautiful and colourful fish surrounding us, and fifth stop was to witness the eagle rays. Ben, the French guide, explained in English and French before we started snorkeling at every stop.

On one of the day, I walked for several miles along a quiet, flower-bedecked road that led to my discovery of a path to the ‘secret’ hill. I walked past the houses and hike to the top. The views of this magical isle were so beautiful, and I could not help taking so many pictures from every angle. I was ambitious and tried searching for the World War II Guns. In World War II, the United States chose Bora Bora as a South Pacific military supply base. According to the guidebook, there are still American guns which are historical remnants of WWII lying around somewhere. I’ve been extremely exhausted when I reached Anau, the authentic village on the east coast. I then made a turn back to the hotel. Forget about the guns…

On another day, I rented a bicycle and took the opportunity to explore the island in two wheels. The circle island road around the perimeter is flat, I just need to pay attention to the potholes and ‘angry’ dogs – they enjoyed barking at me. I went to Vaitape town and to the supermarket to stock up on drinks and snacks. There are two supermarkets in Vaitape town – Super U and Chin Lee. After that, I had lunch at Aloe café. The Mahi Mahi, Tahitian cuisine, was fresh and served with a citrus sauce.

I dined at almost all restaurants recommended like Bloody’s Mary, Matira restaurant, and Bora Bora Yacht Club but I personally think the food was bland. At Bloody’s Mary, the fish was overcooked and dry. One can also eat cheap, buying food from the trucks but I don’t find them appetizing. The only place that I personally think serve the best food was St James restaurant, recommended by Ben, the snorkel guide. The food was visually appealing, and it tasted delicious. The best in Bora Bora! Definitely.

I spent the last three nights at Le Meridien water-bungalows. I managed to get a friend’s help to book it at a corporate rate. It was still expensive but at least I’m able to experience the water bungalow with a view of Mount Otemanu vistas. The glass floor is amazing, but I could not see many colorful fishes underneath. I love sitting on the balcony as the water is out of a photoshopped postcard. The different blues are so beautiful. Perfect. The sea breeze, the calm waves sound, the unbelievably turquoise water, the amazing view of the mountain peak and overwater bungalows, I don’t even need to sleep to dream about it – it’s already real!

The turtle sanctuary is a delight and there is a lovely walk to take to a kind of peninsula where I can see tons of hermit crabs and find gorgeous shells. Guests can enjoy for free the two infinity swimming pools, snorkeling equipment, kayak/outrigger canoes, pedal boats, beach volleyball and stand-up paddleboards. The one that I enjoyed most was the stand-up paddleboard. It’s an amazing full-body workout that improves our core strength, cardio fitness, balance and flexibility with virtually no impact. It was fun to get out on the water and enjoy the scenery, so it hardly feels like exercise.

On one of the evening, I watch Tahitian Cultural Show. It was a good experience, but I think it is over-rated. Most of the dancers did not know their dancing steps. Maybe they were just too shy!? A few of them were good but the rest, their eyes were glued to the one in front to guide them with dancing.

Overall, I am very happy with my travel plan. I chose to stay more days at the main island partly because of the budget. Also, being on the main island, I have easy access to the supermarkets, shops, and activities, and can walk to Matira beach whenever I want. If one stays in Motu Island, they must pay for boat shuttle (about USD30 return trip) to the main island which is fixed on schedule – if you missed one timing, you must wait for the next boat (4 hours wait). And then if you plan to go to Matira beach or discover the island, you must pay for transportation. The food and drinks were also very expensive on Motu island.IMG_2315If I could do it differently, I might want to spend only one night in Tahiti. Then I would take the ferry to Moorea and spend three nights there. Another five nights on the main island Bora Bora and the last two nights on Motu island Bora Bora. Of course, if one has more vacation days and money, they could also spend some days in Auckland. As what I remembered during my motorcycle trip 10 years ago, Auckland was amazing!

IMG_1606This place is pure magic, it lives up to its reputation as “the most beautiful island in the world”. I felt so blessed to have experienced this special island. Bora Bora was every bit of a paradise from everything I had to imagine and see. It seemed no matter which way you looked, the vistas were jaw-dropping.  I am sure that no matter where you choose to stay in Bora Bora, you will be as impressed with this tropical paradise as I am. I couldn’t get tired of staring at the lagoon, or cruising around the warm waters staring at the horizon, walking and climbing up to a lookout point to take it all from above, and just lying on the beach, simply doing nothing.

A friend asked whether Bora Bora is more beautiful than Maldives, Boracay, Palawan, Bali, Saint Tropez, Sihanoukville or any other beautiful beaches that I have been… I honestly think that once we started comparing, it will steal the joy and happiness of living the moments.  Once we start down that road, we will never, ever find an end. So yes, to me as long as I enjoy my travel journey, and experience the world for all it’s worth, that’s all matters.

The official languages of French Polynesia are French and Tahitian. Tahiti uses French Pacific Francs (XPF). Singapore is 18 hours ahead of Tahiti.

The total duration for flights from Singapore are more than twenty hours including transit time but excluding the waiting time, layover in Tahiti, and a ferry to arrive in Bora Bora (SIN-AKL = 10 hours / AKL – PPT = 5 hours / PPT – BB = 1 hours). 

IMG_2296Travel Tips

  • TIP 1 – Change XPF at the Airport, If you use USD currency to shop, they will charge more.

  • TIP 2 – Book hotel in advance to secure booking and get better room and rates.

  • TIP 3 – Bring light clothes and lots of swimwear with sarong/ beach cover-ups.

  • TIP 4 – Sit on the left side of the plane to Bora Bora – mesmerizing views of the island.

  • TIP 5 – Must bring at least a sweater for chilly weather at night.

  • TIP 6 – The sun in South Pacific is much stronger than it feels. The breeze masked its intensity. I came back with 50 shades of grey!!! Bring sunblock and apply often.

  • TIP 7 – Mosquitoes also like hanging out in paradise (especially at main island Vaitape). Don’t forget to pack insect repellent.

  • TIP 8 – Book popular activities (diving, snorkeling, boat, etc) before you arrive in Bora Bora. There is a limited number of operators and they tend to get booked up.

  • TIP 9 – Book popular restaurants ahead of time. Most restaurants offer complimentary return shuttle from your hotel/ferry dock.

  • TIP 10 – Bring walking shoe and water shoe. Bring snorkel masks and inflatable rafts.

  • TIP 11 – Bring snacks and cans of tuna and curry. You can buy bread at the supermarket to go with it. A microwave oven is provided at Hotel Village Temanuata.

  • TIP 12 – Bring torchlight for night walk to the restaurants (if you stay at the main island)

  • TIP 13 – Bring your favorite drink sachets – tea, Milo, coffee, sugar, and sweetener.

  • TIP 14 – Buy Monoi oils (authentic Tahitian products) as a souvenir – good benefits for skin and hair.

  • TIP 15 – There are no networks in Tahiti. Get free Wi-Fi simply by dining once at the restaurants so you can always have access to WIFI when you walk and stand near the restaurants. If you buy a card, it costs USD5 for one-hour usage and slow network.

  • TIP 16 – If you choose to explore other islands, try to get a cheaper flight by purchasing an island-hopping pass from Air Tahiti.

  • TIP 17 – This place is good for all; couple, honeymooners, and families. Bora Bora will blow your mind as it is spectacularly gorgeous, picture perfect.

  • TIP 18 – Bring your smile to paradise and enjoy the whole experience …

lOGO IN blank canvas

5 thoughts on “Bora Bora, heavenly!

  1. Beautiful photos! we visited those islands on a cruise to Australia. So glad we got to experience the islands, even if only for a day each.


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