Shark/Sting Ray Feeding, Bora-Bora
One of the highlights of my trip to French Polynesia was taking the Safari Lagoon Excursion out to the reef, where we were able to actually get out of our boat, and swim with small sharks.
When we arrived at the destination where the sharks were known to be, the guide anchored the boat, then tied a rope to two pieces of coral. As soon as the rope line was secure, he sent several pieces of bread sailing into the ocean to bring reef fish out.
After the fish were out, a small amount of chum was brought out which summoned the rays. When the rays were out with the fish, he invited all of us to join him, where we were allowed to come out as far as the rope, however he made no guarentees for our safety past the rope. With cameras out, we watched as he sent chum hurling toward the sharks and really stirred them up, giving us a great view!
On the Safari Lagoon trip we took in Bora Bora, we had the pleasure of meeting this nice little ray (ok, so he was not that little). There must have been 30 rays that were in this vicinity while we swam with them. They were very calm and really just liked being fed. I think that although they were wild, they have been fed so many times that they actually knew we were coming!
Our guide seemed to be able to command them through whistling, however that might have just been for show.
At no time did we feel any fear out here with these rays, except when the guide would sneak up behind us and have one lay on our backs!
It sounds crazy, but on Bora Bora it's not an unusual activity--the sharks are supposedly harmless and not interested in people! Two Tahitain guides took a small group of us out on the lagoon. The journey was an adventure, as we stopped in the middle of a torrential rainstorm. I think the raingear being thrown at us as the first few drops fell should have clued us in. It seemed to only rain on our boat, because after a while we began moving again and someone turned the water off!
When we arrived at the spot where the feeding was to take place the guides began whooping and hollering and calling the sharks as they threw raw (bloody)fish into the water. I curiously looked into the clear water and soon dozens of blacktip reef sharks appeared, along with just as many rays. I should mention that at this time we were already in the water ,"safely" behind a rope tied to the boat. When the sharks were finished eating the guides took the rope away and intructed us to swim with the sharks, which we did!! It was amazing, but ended too soon becuase they left when they realized there was no more food, I guess!!
Shark feeding is one of the most popular excursions on Bora Bora. You will be taken to the outer reef by an outrigger cano. You will slip into the water with your snorkel and mask and watch Tahitian divers hand feed back-tip reef sharks right before your eyes. During the feeding you have to hold on to a rope in order to keep some distance from the sharks. It's an unforgettable experience!
We did the half day private tour w/ Keishi tours, and it was by far the best part of an already incredible trip. Pierrot (our guide) picked us up from our resort around 9 in the morning. We headed straight out to feed the sharks. I have heard most stay inside the barrier reef, but Pierrot took us out into the Ocean into a dive spot. He chumed the water a little and there were sharks surfacing in no time! My wife decided to sit the shark feeding out, but Pierrot and I got in the water. It was very intense, but not so much that I felt in danger. After swimming and feeding the sharks for a bit, we moved on back into the lagoon to feed the Rays. We stopped in an area about 4 foot deep and had about 20 rays circling us in no time. We got in and there were very friendly! After a half hour or so we moved on to snorkel and saw the most beautiful fish. Pierrot gave us bread that we could feed and the fish were loving it. Moving on, we stopped by the dock where Pierrot's family dropped a cooler into the boat. It had all the beer / champeign you could drink. We docked on a private motu and he proceeded to setup a table and chairs in the water and grill up a FEAST for us. The food was excellent. We had bbq'd lobster, mahi mahi, salad w/ homemade dressing (ala Pierrot). After we gorged ourselves he took us back to our resort. It was worth every cent. It was about $600 US for the two of us, but it would have been $200 pp just to shark feed. We basically got a private tour and dinner for the same price as if we'd have done all those activities seperately. I highly recommend this tour!
We did the lagoonarium eco-tour, booked through our hotel, Sofitel. We did not actually go to the lagoonarium on this excursion, but it was probably my favorite thing we did in Bora Bora. We were picked up at the dock promptly at 9 AM and headed out around the island. The main tour guide was Steven "Spielberg", who loved to make movies. Steven, Niho, and the others on the boat were great - making jokes, playing Polynesian music, and telling us about the history and nature on and around Bora Bora as we made our way to our first destination, near Motu Tapu. They chummed the water and quickly there were numerous reef sharks and other tropical fish around the boat. We jumped in the water and snorkeled around, watching the sharks and fish eat. Niho (I think he's part fish) would swim down and grab their dorsal fins and have them pull him around. I didn't try that - not because I was afraid of the gentle sharks, but I couldn't hold my breath that long! After about a half hour, we headed to our next destination in much shallower water and were almost immediately swarmed by sting rays. The rays came up to eat even allowed us to give them a kiss! Then we headed to our last destination - the coral garden near Motu Toopua. The swarms of beautiful fish were amazing. We had the chance to feed the fish and swim around the coral seeing all the fabulous marine life, including eels and clownfish. Here, Niho swam to the bottom (about 20 feet), laid down, and blew air rings up to the surface. I was amazed how long he could stay underwater. After that, they took us back to our hotel. This was a great excursion - highly recommended to anyone visiting Bora Bora. The sea life is amazing and the tour guides were great. You can also buy a DVD of the trip that Steven records. Its very expensive (~13,000 xpf), but we splurged for it since we had such a nice time.
We actually went swimming with the sharks. We were told that these types of sharks aren't interested in eating people, so we were safe. It was still pretty scary though.