Beautiful Bora Bora

Trip Start Oct 03, 2010
Trip End Dec 11, 2012

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Flag of French Polynesia  , Society Islands,
Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bora Bora was formed around four million years ago after volcanoes erupted from the sea bed. As the volcano sank back into the Pacific Ocean, a ring of coral reefs, or atolls, formed to mark the ancient coastline. The infamous Bora Bora lagoon also formed between the reef and the island around this time. The volcanic core that still remains on the main island of Bora Bora is actually sinking at a rate of one centimeter per century. It will take about 25 million years for Bora Bora's main island to sink completely into the ocean, leaving just a coral atoll.

Today, Bora Bora is a mountainous island with three peaks, Mount Otemanu as the highest at 2,379 feet (725 meters). Often draped in white clouds, these natural landmarks take on mysterious qualities that remind visitors of Bora Bora’s ancient mythical past.

Many historians believe that Bora Bora has been inhabited since the ninth century, after the first Polynesian settlers sailed through Teavanui Pass, the only break in the coral wall. They named the island Vavau, which means, "First Born," as ancient legends suggest that this land was the first to rise from the water.

Historical accounts differ on how the island got its current name, but somehow it evolved into Pora Pora and then eventually Bora Bora, probably in 1769 when Capt. James Cook established the Leeward Society Islands: Raiatea (largest island of the Leeward group), Bora-Bora , Huahine, Maupiti, Tahaa, Maiao, Maupihaa, Tupai, Manuae, and Motu One.

Two European explorers both laid claim to the island a year apart in the 18th century, English navigator Samuel Wallis for Great Britain followed by the French navigator Louis Antoine de Bougainville. The French won out in the end. Protected by its warriors, the island resisted colonization until conquered by France in 1888. In 1946, Polynesia, including the Society Islands, became an overseas territory of France. By 1958, it became French Polynesia. The islands received internal autonomy status in 1977, with several modifications since, and have been slowly increasing its local executive power.

Americans first noticed Bora Bora during World War II. Because of its geography, the American military used the island as a supply base in response to the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. The 5,000 GI's set up huge naval guns to defend against a surprise attack by Japan (which never occurred) and built the island’s first airfield on Motu Mute. The runway was French Polynesia’s main connection to the outside world and was used for international flights until the current Tahiti Faa’a Airport was finally built in 1961.

Our Experience

We spent two and a half wonderful weeks in Bora Bora where we experienced the pleasure of  diving into crystal clear aqua/blue water, about 7 ft deep off the back of our boat, with only pure white sand below us.

We swam with man-eating sharks (not really) and stingrays at a place called the Lagoonarium where they are all enclosed so that you can swim with them, and we also did a snorkel with the Mantarays at another location, their wing-span being about 8-10ft wide.  They were just awesome...just under us about 5-6 ft with us swimming on top of incredible sight and experience for both Ray and I, as we'd never seen Mantarays before, let alone swim so close to them.

We also did another snorkel at a place called the Coral Garden with hundreds of tropical fish of all colours swimming up to you being very curious, within arms reach, again in crystal clear waters.
We also visited numerous resorts...Hilton, St. Regis, Sofitel etc etc. where we stopped for lunch and used their pools...acted like one of the guests...they never knew any if we needed a pool to swim in with all this beautiful water around us.  Anyway it was nice for a change.

We also did a jet-ski 2 up and circumnavigated the whole lagoon (about 20-25kms) which took about 4 hours (with a couple of stops).  Unfortunately the weather wasn't perfect that day...rained a little, but still very enjoyable.  After the jet-ski we also did another ATV 4 wheel drive 2 up ride where we ventured up quite steep hills  where we needed to put the units into low gear 4 wheel drive...they climb like mountain goats.  Ray kept saying this would have been good fun on the dirt bikes.  When we reached the top of the dirt tracks there was a magnificent view of the lagoon below and islands in the distance.

We made sure during our stay that we moved around the island, the weather dictating where we would anchor for the night, depending on where the wind was coming from and where we would find the best shelter.

On one of those nights, we picked up a mooring ball outside the famous restaurant, Bloody Mary's.  It's amazing the amount of people that go through this restaurant.  Given we didn't know that we'd have to make a booking, we ended up just having drinks that night and just a light meal at the bar.  Before we knew it, bus-loads of people from the resorts - mainly honeymooners (who had obviously made bookings) were coming in to take advantage of the seafood buffet which was laid out for them to choose from.  It was all displayed raw (on ice of course) and you selected what you wanted, and it would be cooked for you and brought to your table.  There were several hostesses there explaining the menu in French, English, Spanish, Italian, German and we're sure many more languages so that no guest would be incovenienced.

It was also fun seeing the "Board of Fame" outside the restaurant listing all the celebrities who had visited the restaurant throughout the years.  Unfortunately, there was no more space for Ray and I to place our names on the board...what's with that !

There is just one word of advice that we'd like to give to those who may think of visiting Bora Bora in the future, as a single person...don't do it !  The place is swarming with honeymoon couples, and couples in general.  Even the old Club Med resort here (who basically targeted single people) has been closed fact there are quite a few resorts which have closed down and are now derelict and have become an eye-sore when you see them up close.  The state of the world economy has extended its tentacles even out here in the South Pacific.  Quite unfortunate to see.

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peter rossis on

envious of both your tanned bodies, great blog, fantastic photos can;t wait to talk to you both lots of love Rossis family

Robin and Cheryl Wilson S/V Just Imagine... on

Your travels have taken you many wonderful and beautiful places. We love reading your blog. Enjoy!!!

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