Fondest memory: Since there's not a whole lot going on at night in Bora Bora, it's not hard to go to bed early and get up early enough to watch the sunrise. If you're at a hotel on the east side of the island, you'll have a perfect view of the sun rising over the lagoon, motu, and Taha'a in the distance. In the early morning, there is little activity so the surface of the water is very still and looks almost like glass. The pictures are from just outside our bungalow at Sofitel Beach Resort. After catching the sunrise our first morning, I made sure to wake up every morning after that to catch the sunrise. Too beautiful!
Anytime is a good time for bora bora, well anytime is a good time for a holiay :-) However most of the rain falls between Nov - April. So i would sugest after May, the weather is still warm, in the 30's. However the trade winds are arounds all year, but thats not too bad. theres more info on http://www.borabora-tahiti.com/Tahiti-Weather.html
Fondest memory: the blue lagoon is AWESOME
At those stalls you get the cheapest food – which still isn’t really cheap but a lot cheaper than in proper restaurants and hotels. And often it is just junk food like hot dogs and chips.
Do not expect to pay any less than 1200 to 1500 CFP (10 to 12.50 Euro).
The roulotte you see on this photo is in Vaitape, next to the wharf. There are several ones in Vaitape, and also in Nunue and at Matira Point. Some are no real roulottes anymore as they have become part of a bigger snack bar complex, like the Roulotte Matira for example, and it would not be possible to attach them to a truck and roll them away – where their name comes from.
If you look at several maps of Bora Bora you will be surprised at how many locations you will find the village of Faanui. On some it even is noted at its actual location ;-)
On a map that you get on www.bora.org the locations of the hotels are noted quite well. However, the Intercontinental Beachcomber is nowhere noted as such. And when you read this tip, perhaps it is already renamed, or whatever they do to irritate people. You do not find the Avis car rental company on the map either.
The best map in the big Polynesia guides is in Lonely Planet.
To find the locations of the WW2 guns, additionally print the circle island report:
and the directions in the Moon Handbook:
That was a fun encounter that can well and truly be listed as a favourite memory:-)
I chatted a while to the fisherman and his catch when Kimi the Bear climbed out of the backpack and asked if the fisherman would be willing to pose with him for a photo.
He agreed and had a big laugh. When I asked him his name we had an even bigger laugh, as his name was Timi, and really spelled like this, and so we had Timi and Kimi on a photo together. (You can see it on Kimi’s Bora Bora page.)
The fish Timi caught was Bonito, a kind of barracuda.
The music instrument he blew into is what they call a Putona in French Polynesia. The Maori in New Zealand call it Putatara (also: Pu Tatara). It is made from a large triton (conch) shell. The shell itself is called “wahine na te mano’ (wife of the shark).
Such shell trumpets can be found in many places in the world, and were known to the ancient Greeks and Romans as a Triton's trumpet.
The Maori version was made by cutting off the spiral end of a conch shell and fitting on a wooden mouthpiece. When blown, it produces a loud, clear note suitable for signalling. It is also used for ceremonial purposes such as to announce the birth of a male child of rank, or to gather people together for a special occasion. Often when you attend a Maori ceremony, sometimes just the start of the Haka (Dance of War), it starts with the sound of the Putatara. To me it sounds like the horn of a big ship.
… and if you move around the coconut palm you see that those lucky people with the satellite dish also have their garden in the lagoon.
Ok, it is not an overwater garden – but funny and a bit surreal.
Please do not rate this tip!
I use to question the idea of people like us from so-called civilised countries when they think they do good to the people in the Third World by bringing them all the material stuff of our material world. If TV, clothes, alcohol, food or movies. I always have the impression they are happy the way they live in the jungle, or wherever they are discovered by discoverers and anthropologists.
We have seen what happens: Aboriginals get addicted to alcohol, other peoples become ill from changing their diet to cheap and nutrient-free junk food, they shoot each other with our guns, and they are not happier from learning via TV what is happening in the rest of the world, just better informed. And all this while we try to get back to nature and travel to their remote countries some years later and complain that even the last corner of the world is developed and too touristy…
Anyway. Just some thoughts I got when I looked at this photo, taken somewhere between Faanui and Anau. A private paradise in crystal clear waters, surrounded by lush tropical vegetation – with the striking huge white dot of a satellite dish!
In the Hidden Guide I read that “some locals are tired of tourists”. This may well be the case but we did not meet any of them, apart from the car/bike rental lady – who should work in another job if she does not like tourists…
Fondest memory: As miscommunication between us, the car rental office and the mechanics – no, it is never good if you cannot speak directly with the rescue service… - led to a long wait, we parked the bicycles and us in the shade of a hedge along a property.
As no help arrived for quite a while and hubby got quite stressed, I was happy that a friendly local came to the fence on the other side of the road, and we chatted. He also offered to call AVIS once more to give them the exact location.
His name was Yves, and he was a professional musician and a soon-to-be father. His wife gave us a friendly wave.
Yves asked if we were thirsty and came back with a 1.5 litre bottle of water. We emptied most of it until the replacement bicycle arrived, so you can imagine that it took quite a while.
Looking at the time our photos were taken, we must have been waiting about an hour, and standing in the late morning heat it felt even longer.
However, the chat with Yves was very interesting. While loud music sounded from his house, he told us about his life as a musician and his music-related travels to other islands of the South Pacific, He has even been in New Zealand, if I remember right to Pukekura or Pukekohe(Auckland) and Rotorua.
He was born in Moorea and thinks Moorea is nicer than Bora Bora (we think it is more interesting because it is much bigger) – but his favourite island would be Maupiti. I have heard this from other people, too. So surely we have to get there if we come back.
We also talked about life on those islands. He said as the locals earn a lot of money they can afford life and do not think it is overly expensive. The average monthly income would be 200,000 CFP, and this is good enough to get along. Well, this is just 1650 Euro – which is enough to spend two nights on a motu LOL
If you have read my transportation tip about cycling, you might know that hubby’s bike had a flat tyre.
I wondered how this could happen, as until this point between the north tip of the island (Taihi Point) and Puhia Point the road had been well sealed. But nothing to wonder about, it just happened.
For the only time during our cruise I was happy that John had his mobile phone, as I had left mine at home, and that it was even ready for use, not just for reading satellite locations on the ship. And I had the AVIS number in my purse. So I could call them – even twice, as after the first call nothing happened, as the mechanic did not search the whole stretch of road I had given as the most probable northern- and southern-most points, or he had not been told.
So we looked for some shade, and found it next to a high hibiscus hedge. And there we waited.
The tourist office is opposite the wharf in Vaitape, at the Centre Artisanal de Bora Bora.
We got our info brochures and maps at the car rental company (Avis) where we hired our bicycles. But get your stuff at the Visitor Centre, they have a lot more and better brochures.
Open Mon – Fri 7.30am – 4pm
Phone 67 76 36
I thought the service of the Bora Bora Activity Desk I had contacted well beforehand was excellent.
The following website is very, very good to find out more about Bora Bora (and some other French Polynesian islands), including transport, accommodation, restaurants, activities, etc.:
Unfortunately most travel guides are updating contact details very slowly. So you find a lot of phone and fax numbers but very few internet links, websites and email addresses – which makes the planning process very slow. On the Bora Bora website you find plenty of links, and as said, the Activity Desk was very helpful and answered fast.
Everything is expensive in French Polynesia, and they say, even more expensive on Bora Bora. We did not have the impression that the name adds another 10 to 20 per cent to everything. We were even pleasantly surprised that we had to pay 400 CFP (3.30 Euro) only for a can of Hinano beer in a pub in Vaitape ;-)
At a roulotte – a snack bar – at Matira Point we paid 300 CFP (2.50 Euro) for a can of pineapple juice. This was the price of all soft drinks – and they had no Diet Coke.
As Bora Bora was our last port of call in French Polynesia we spent our last CFP’s there. We had 2700 (23 Euro) left. For this we got a tin box of coconut tea, a small pack of espresso coffee, and a tiny box of macadamia chocolates, and with “tiny” I mean that it did not contain more than four chocolates.
You got no biscuits or chocolate boxes under 1000 CFP (8.33 Euro). It was about the same in Papeete.
Before the arrival of the Europeans Bora Bora was known as Vavau and also as Mai Te Pora which means: “risen from darkness”, also: “created by gods”. And in a third source I read it means: “first born”.
Legend says it was the first land to rise from the water. (Which BTW we know is not true…) From Mai Te Pora the name changed into Pora and Popora, finally Pora Pora, then Bora Bora.
The first inhabitants arrived around the 9th century. Internal wars about the island raged for centuries. Three major tribes were involved in those battles, the Nunue, Faanui, and Anau – names you will now recognise as the names of settlements. Puni, the King of Faanui, rose as the winner of the fights and brought peace to the island just before the Europeans arrived.
Bora Bora had its own sovereign until it was annexed by France in 1888. The last queen was Terii-Maevarua II. She was the granddaughter of Queen Pomare IV of Tahiti (the second-last sovereign of the Pomare dynasty), and died in Tahiti in 1932.
Tapoa I and Tapoa II reigned the island during the first half of the 19th century. (The latter BTW married Aimata in 1822. She later became Queen Pomare IV, mother of the last king of Polynesia, Pomare V, who had her remains removed from her tomb when he felt his – alcohol-related – end was near, as he wanted to rest at the tomb in Tahiti…) Tapoa II’s adopted daughter Terii Maevarua was Queen from 1860 to 1873, then her niece – the already mentioned Queen Terii Maevarua II, came into power. This lady’s life also had a modern feature. She divorced her husband, Prince Hinoi, in 1887 after only three years of marriage. A year later she gave Bora Bora to France.
The island was first sighted by Europeans in 1769. The first European to set foot on it was Captain James Cook in 1777.
During World War II more than 4500 US troops – exactly 4450 troops and 178 officers - were stationed on Bora Bora. This started after Japan had raided Pearl Harbour on the Hawaiian island of Oahu on 7 December 1941, which initiated the War of the Pacific. While the USA calculated which perimeter it could defend until a counter-offence could be mounted against Japan, Bora Bora became the first of a chain of refuelling bases across the South Pacific, on the direct route from Panama to Australia. The code name was Bobcat.
An armada of 2 cruisers, 2 destroyers, 2 cargo boats, 2 troop carriers, and one tanker with 20,000 tons of materials, weapons and military personnel arrived on 17 February 1942 from Charleston in South Carolina. There were no vehicles, and no roads on the island, except coral paths for bicycles, and coconut log bridges across streams.
Soon paradise was filled with all those troops, defense artillery, a seaplane squadron, etc. Peace and quiet were destroyed but young locals obviously enjoyed the mechanical monsters they had never seen before.
All footpaths and bridges were destroyed by heavy vehicles, heavyduty roads were built, and eight seven-inch guns hauled up the hills. (Three of four batteries can still be seen today.)
The guns were never fired in hostility, as the USA defeated the Japanese navy in the Battle of Midway (4 to 7 June 1942) six months after Pearl Harbour. And lucky Americans and Bora Borans: The range of the guns hardly went beyound the outer reef, meaning they were totally useless.
In 1943 an airstrip was built on Motu Mute. It has remained Bora Bora’s airport until today.
The island was handed back to france in June 1946.
Everywhere along the beach, we saw dogs digging holes in the sand and burying half of their body in them. It seems to be the best way for them to find some freshness…
They apparently also appreciated the shade of our little car :-) No sooner had we stopped the buggy that 2 dogs came along and lied down right behind the car until we left.
Numerous cats were running around the Maitai hotel... usually during lunch time ;-)
But it was forbidden to feed them... quite a difficult thing to do when you are as fond of cats as I am :-(
Some of them were really cute :-)
During one of our walks, we came across those strange structures along the beach.
We learned later that they are meant to hold outrigger canoes above the water, so that the salt does not attack the hull.
Motu Tehotu, 98730, French Polynesia
Good for: Couples
Motu Ome'e BP 506, Bora Bora, 98730, French Polynesia
Good for: Business
I would highly recommend the Interncontinental Thalasso Resort & Spa if you enjoy luxury amenities....more