Our first look at the tiny Society Island of Bora Bora reflected how beautiful yet changeable the views can be. As the Viking Sun dropped anchor just across from the town of Vaitape, the peak of Mt. Otemanu was shrouded in thick, dark clouds that promised the outbursts of rain that would occur on and off throughout the day. Around noon, the cloud cover dissipated somewhat, revealing more of the rugged mountain, and changing the look of the crystal clear waters surrounding it. And by the time we sailed away at the end of the day, the clouds were just kissing the top of Otemanu’s 2,379 foot vertical, revealing lush vegetation almost all the way up to its rocky summit.
In the colorful port of Vaitape, we boarded a small motorboat and spent the next hour cruising through the crystal clear waters of this enchanting island paradise. Sailing across the turquoise lagoon, we sat back, relaxed, and admired the breathtaking views all around us. Bora Bora’s scenery is considered by many to be some of the most stunning in the South Pacific, and strains of “Bali Hai” kept crossing our minds. The shallow lagoon is home to a wealth of colorful tropical fish, and our boat captain/guide jumped out to play with a stingray! The opposite side of the island offered a slightly different perspective, and a glimpse of the second Bora Bora mountain peak, Mt. Pahia. A host of birds greeted us overhead, and the overall effect was relaxing and magical.
After our delightful cruise, we returned to Vaitape and hired two cab driving brothers for a delightful private tour around the island. They were rightfully proud to share the beauty of their home island, even showing us the parcel of land their grandmother “sold” them for one beer. Here four generations live together, all contributing to the family resources with a variety of jobs from driving, to fishing, to working in the public sector and in local retail establishments. Their dream is to build a small hotel some day, and we believe they’ll be successful! Although it was closed for renovations, we made a photo stop at the famous restaurant, Bloody Mary’s, and in spite of the construction going on, one could see that this must be a fun place to gather with friends. They took us to numerous, white sandy beaches, one more beautiful than the next, and introduced us to their cousin, who makes hand-made batik fabric for colorful pareos.
And no visit to Bora Bora would be complete without mentioning the ubiquitous water bungalows. Standing on stilts over the ocean, these unique resorts and residences are the quintessential answer to the dream of being at one with nature…even those with skylights and their own private piers!
American novelist James Michener brought Bora Bora to the rest of the world in the 1950s when he called it “the South Pacific at its unforgettable best.” Today, five-star resorts coexist with small beachfront properties and some abandoned hotels that are in need of some TLC. But any way you look at it, Bora Bora is truly one of the most breathtaking places we have visited to date!