Le Spa is the spa located at the Sofitel Bora Bora Marara Beach Resort, just a few feet from the restaurant. My wife and I had a one-hour massage shortly after we got there to relax from the plane rides and we enjoyed it so much, that we got another one before we departed so that we would be relaxed for the long flight home. The masseuses offer three different fragrances of oil for the massage and it is performed in a relaxing hut on the water. I would definitely recommend this to relax sore muscles before or after a long flight to Bora Bora
The first inhabited motu you see when you arrive by ship is the Motu Toopua, with the overwater-bungalows of the Bora Lagoon Resort in full view. At the southern end of this motu you would find the Bora Bora Nui Sheraton.
Bora Bora is enclosed by the reef and such motu (please note: the plural is NOT: motus but motu, although it is used to not irritate people with no knowledge of the local language). The east side of the island is nearly fully surrounded by motu, the biggest one, the Motu Piti Aau, is about 5 kilometres long. On it are a water taxi base, a waterski operation, even an archaeological site, and three hotel resorts. There are only very small passes between the motu(s) on this side.
The northernmost motu is the Motu Mute which is the site of the airport.
Even big cruise ships can enter the lagoon that makes Bora Bora so spectacular. But there is only one passage through the reef, the Te Ava Nui/Teavanui Pass (Passe Teavanui). It is east of the island, and north-east of Vaitape.
One tiny motu – one of those islets – is sitting on the reef line, the Motu Tapu (Sacred Island).
Next you pass a bigger motu, the Motu Toopua which is home to two resorts. The houses and church of Vaitape are dotted along the shoreline.
The water in the lagoon, however, is far too shallow to dock at the shore, so cruise ships do anchor at some distance from Vaitape, the island’s main town and (modest) business centre. Tenders then take the passengers ashore.
If you can, get on a boat *or to a motu( before sunset, already from the lagoon the sunset looks stunning.
We were sailing away shortly before sunset, and got amazing views when we were already outside the lagoon, so we got the whole panorama.
There were some small clouds over Mt. Otemanu, and made the old volcano look as if it were smoking. Kayakers gave us a farewell, racing behind the ship. They thought the ship was not going fast enough!
Then the colour of the sky changed into light orange tones, as if you sail out to the west, as we did, you only get the reflections of the sunset over the island. But that was beautiful as there was quite some cloud, and that is when you get the reflections.
The cruise ship sailed into the sunset, towards Maupiti and Motu-iti. (There are several islands of this name in the Pacific, and in general it means nothing more than “small island”, motu = island, iti = small.)
Speaking of views: If you fly to Bora Bora absolutely try to get this window seat on left side! Just have a look at those photos from the air, and you know why:
Bora Bora is a small village. As you the dock there are "greeters" tents for the various commercial arrivals. Just to the side is a large barn converted into a mart filled with stalls manned by the locals making and selling their craft, Pareos, jewelry and such. After you have walked through you come out onto the main (read only) road which loops around the island. Directly in front of you is an area in which you can rent different types of transportation. Little cars/carts, bicycle etc. To the right you are greeted by 2 statues, 1 a Vahine (girl) and the other pictured here.
There are many little jewelry shops selling the beautiful Tahitian black pearl as well as galleries for the indigenous arts. There are various shops and eateries right along the quay.
When you are at the rock of Hiro, a sort of trail to the left goes down and passes by a rubbish dump. Then you loose track of it and have to work your way through a dense bush before you reach those WWII guns left there after the American supply bases had been deserted. They had been brought on Bora in 1942 during the Operation Bobcat.
The path is totally unmaintained and rushes through a dense vegetation…wear long-sleeves and trousers !
Not absolutely worth it, but if you are at the rock of Hiro, why not pressing on as far as there ? Nice view on the ocean from up the gun :-)
A cute white and green wooden house that is well worth a picture. Behind this nice neo-colonial façade hides a pearl shop (Tahiti Perles) belonging to the Robert Wan group.
Plans for the building of a museum in a near future are being disscussed.
Well, you really have to look for it... The stone is completely hidden between the covered market and an administration building.
Alain Gerbault, former tennisman, was the first Frech sailor to make a single-handed circumnavigation of the world.
The stone has a bronze inset representing the sailor, along with an engraving mentionning his circumnavigation on the Fire Crest (April 25th 1923-July 26th 1929).
Just in front of the harbour, the church of Vaitape is also worth a picture. You will see its charming red roof from far away, when you arrive with the shuttle. A little red spot against the green Mount Pahia.
Its architecture and colours are similar those of so many Polynesian churches, so typical and special ! The kind of church my childhood Barbie doll could have chosen for her wedding :-)
Vaitape is the administrative center of Bora. Several shops, restaurants and bars, a post office and a bank. Also a food-van or two selling cheap food.
Vaitape is also the main harbour, where all the shuttle boats from the airport arrive, along with passengers from cruise ships. This is also the place to go during "Heiva" time !
In spite of its small size, Bora counts several marae but they ain't that easy to find without a guide (no indication on the spots). So it was quite difficult for us to decide if this place was a mere pile of stones or the rests of a sacred ground… After some research, we found the petroglyph we were looking for, and so I guess this was well the marae of Fare Opu. Our book said on this marae, set along the sea, we could see the beautiful drawing of a turtle. But no further information.
We didn't want to take one of those guided tours for tourists, but in this case it would have been interesting to get some explanations...
Continuing your tour of Bora, you will come across various fields of the famous tiaré flower (Polynesian Gardenia) before you reach the entity of Faanui and it's beautiful church.
I coudn't help stopping for a picture ! Those smooth colours on a green mountain background and a menacing sky... it was really fabulous ! Definitely one of the nicest churches I saw in French Polynesia.
Pursuing the tour of the island, don't forget to stop at the Marine Museum. The place contains model ships faithfully reproduced by Mr Bertrand Darasse, a passionate of maritime history. Each model is related in one way or another with Polynesian history. Mr Darasse told us a few stories about those boats and their “making of" (scale 1/150). We were both amazed by such a care for details !
My favourites are the Bounty of course and the little Kon Tiki :-)
The entrance to the museum is free.
After the Belvedère lookout, the next interesting spot is the view point at the rock of Hiro. Another stunning view, one of those postcard views you expect to see in French Polynesia.
Pull your vehicle along PK 15.6 at the feet of a very steep rocky path and start climbing. Ten minutes later, you’ll be on top of a hill, next to rock of Hiro.
Spectacular landscape all around the spot, great view on Mount Otemanu on the way up, and panoramic view on the Raiatea and Tahaa at the top.
And again those green-blue shadings...
In front of the Club Med, you’ll see a stair way going up into a dense forest. You first have to jump over a ditch to reach it. Then the way up is quite steep to the top. After climbing up for 20 minutes, you reach a first viewpoint overlooking the area. The path then leads you a bit higher to a second viewpoint. From up there, you will view a 360° panorama on the Pointe de Matira and the South-East coast. An amazing contrast of colours ranging from emerald green to turquoise and deep ocean blue.
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