I was in Bora Bora with my ex-partner. The island is exquisite and one of the most beautiful places that I've ever seen. However, we were walking along the road, which is extremely narrow -- just a strip of land really -- from the Sofitel Motu to a small marche up the road from there, and he was almost hit in the head by a falling coconut.
This isn't unusual at all in the tropics so we didn't blame Bora Bora! Just avoid walking right under coconut palms.
The only other danger I can think of that we encountered on Bora Bora probably barely qualifies. There were a lot of sea cucumbers (a type of rather large sea slug that looks like a big gray cucumber) on the ocean floor. We were told that they could irritate the skin if we stepped on them. Not sure if there are always so many, since they were really packed, so we wore light sandals to walk in the water. I actually wore a pair of China Flats that I bought for about $8 in Papeete when we first got into French Polynesia.
Other than that, Bora Bora is stunning!
Oh yeah, it is possible to get punched in the wallet though ;) If you can manage it, GO.
We were on Bora on rubbish collection day which was a Monday.
You see the orange truck in the background on this photo.
Once the truck overtakes you, then you overtake the truck, and in the end the truck must have turned around (or it was a different truck) and came from the opposite direction, and overtook other cyclists and people on scooters – who in return had to overtake the rubbish truck when it stopped...
Some people – including here on VT – tell you about dangers and crime in Polynesia that the biggest danger is to be hit by a falling coconut.
The warnings you get on site are different. I have also asked locals if they or their car has ever been hit by a coconut, and at least those said no. We have seen a coconut fall onto the road right in front of our car on Moorea, so I can well imagine that it does happen. We also saw quite some cars on Bora Bora – like on none of the other islands we visited – with damaged windscreens. They could surely have been hit by coconuts when the cars were parked on the roadside. But in this case I wonder if the coconuts also were to blame for the missing wheels of some of those cars…
I am sure property crime and burglaries do happen on Bora Bora, and I would not want to run into the guy we saw hanging around on those concrete constructions at Faanui Bay alone or at night, I can assure you. While most people were welcoming and friendly, there surely were some elements to be cautious of.
When we cycled around the island, the dogs were not the only danger on the road. The other problem were absolutely mad motorists.
In once situation I already saw my husband dead in front of my inner eye, or at least badly injured. A tour bus was just going to overtake him when a SUV appeared from behind and started to overtake the bus – and all this on a narrow two lane road! Lucky hubby (and me!) the bus driver must have looked in the rear mirror a second time and braked and stayed behind my husband, and the SUV raced past the bike and the bus, and only then the bus overtook my husband.
This near-accident happened outside the big danger zone which are the five or six kilometres out of Vaitape in both directions. Especially to the south, between Vaitape and Matira, you encounter quite some traffic, as Matira is the major hotel and tourist area on the main island, so a lot of goods are transported, and mostly SUV’s commute back and forth. Many drivers overtake cyclists without giving it a thought, even if oncoming traffic is approaching. So be extremely cautious on this stretch of the road. “Normal” locals do not pose a real threat as most of them travel on scooters.
Newish travel guides warn of property crime occurring on Bora Bora.
Obviously young locals develop drug habits there as well, and steal from tourists to finance it.
So you should not leave your valuables unattended on a beach. If not possible otherwise, get into the water alternately, and do not leave jewellery, passport, money, etc. only in a drawer in your room. Lock it away. If there is no safe in your room, deposit the stuff in the hotel safe at the reception.
Dogs run free everywhere on the islands, not only on Bora Bora. We just experienced the bad side of this easy going attitude here at the most extreme, as we were cycling, and obviously dogs do not like cyclists.
However, I have to say, not all dogs ran after us. Most kept on snoozing in the shade of trees. But sure, one really bad one is enough to scare the hell out of you, and one of these roaming dogs ran after hubby, barking loudly, and then turned towards me. I already started sweating, and wondered if it would be good enough to give the dog a blow with my foot.
But after running a hundred metres, the dog had run out of steam (or had lost interest) already. Perhaps they are no good runners because there are not a lot of cyclists they could chase on a regular base for a proper tourist scare training programme.
Unfortunately you never know which dogs are peaceful, so always be cautious. And if you cycle be sure you wear jogging shoes, so you would really be able to hit the dog with your foot.
And be prepared that there are dogs everywhere even if you do not see them. Once I got off the bike to take a photo of a beautiful view, and then got aware of one dog. But the growling came from a different direction. And there were four more dogs dozing in the grass under a short coconut palm. They were close to invisible in the shade. And suddenly I was surrounded by them. Whereas most dogs did not bother there was nearly always one more aggressive one that made you decide not to make another step in their direction, and in rare cases get back on your bike and leave immediately and forget about the view. The latter does not really matter on Bora Bora. There are so many spectacular views… Still it is annoying that dogs keep you from enjoying them – as you do not intend to steal the magic…
You might not spot it on this small picture - but there are already two more dogs waiting in the background...
If you decide to rent a car (which is a good idea), watch out for pot holes every where on the road. These are huge holes and I'm not talking about one here and another there, the road is covered with holes! After the rain, many parts of the road are flooded, too.
I thought it was funny when I saw an old lady on a moped with motocross helmet for the first time, but after driving the road, I know she needs it to protect her.
It is ridiculously expensive here. No matter how many times you read that before you go, it will still shock you when a continental breakfast is20euro.
Here are some prices to give you an idea. All prices are in local currency XPF
DInner for 2 at La Bounty (mahi mahi and salmon 1/2 caraf of house red) $4400 (budget dinner)
2 Pasta dinners, no drinks at La Bounty $2900
Dinner for 2 at Bloody Mary's (med price selection) 2 drinks, 2 beers $7850
Bagette in Market $47
6 Hinano's in market $984
1.5 L water in market $115
30 minutes internet in hotel $1000 (very slow)
internet in La Pattiserie in Vaitape $44 per minute ( even slower)
Hotel Bora Bora BBQ and show 8900 EACH
We were told by the restaurante that they offered free shuttle service to our dock with purchase of a meal. Our tour guide verified this with the restaurant (in their native language...so no language barrier) and then we verified it twice with the restaurant before eating and while eating. At completion of our lunch we said we were ready for the shuttle, and they said it was only available with dinner. So instead of taking a $50 cab ride, we decided to walk. We walked 1 1/2 hours to our port. All things considered, if I'm going to be walking somewhere, walking on Bora Bora is a good place to be.
You will be doing alot of boating when you are in Bora Bora, and with boating inevitably there will be wind. For those of you with short hair, this should really not be a huge issue, but for those of you that have long hair, it is super important for you to remember a hat or "scrunchy".
Here are the results if you do not heed my warning:
If you count on bringing your own laptop for the purpose of accessing the internet, I would recommend that you do not waste the space in your baggage. Although many places had internet access, none of the ones I saw actually allowed you to connect because the whole island seems to be on static IP addresses. The other bad thing about the internet access on the island is that they do not allow you to add any programs to their computers, so even uploading things to shutterfly or ofoto is impossible! Bring extra memory cards!!
You don't want to meet this guy!!!!
While snorkeling I encountered an eel, which poked its head out from its hiding place. I was some distance away, but close enough
to observe its sharp set of teeth, which really gave me the creeps!
You may find any of these three sharks while in Bora Bora's lagoon:
Blacktip reef shark: olive-brown in color, about 1.5 m long and identifiable by black edges on its tail and fins, slightly curious, so be careful.
Whitetip Reef Shark: longer, identified by white spots on fins and tail, indifferent to divers, not dangerous, don't worry.
Grey Reef Shark: about 2.5 m long, completely grey in color, it's a curious fish, can be dangerous, so watch out.
For the most part, the locals will tell you that the sharks will not bother you, and if you go to the shark feeding you will see this is true of the blacktip reef sharks.
Well obviously, taking a picture of yourself on a palm tree can be dangerous :-)
So, think twice before sitting or walking on coconut trees that lie on the beach... and watch out :-)