I have always wanted to go to Bora Bora. From seeing pictures online, that was one of my ideal places to go (when I get older), but I didn’t know that it will happen sooner than expected. It was my birthday and the opportunity came, so I seized it and made the best of it – hey! one life to live right?
Brief History: Bora bora is a small island of about 32 square km in the South Pacific, north west of Tahiti in French Polynesia, with a population of about 10,000 inhabitants. It boasts one of the most beautiful white sand beaches in the world and is famous for its over-the-water luxury bungalows. Its economy is driven almost entirely by the tourism industry, which employs about 90% of the inhabitants. Also contributing to the economy is a huge pearl industry which produces the most beautiful and natural pearls of the highest quality, as well as the fishing industry. At first, it seems like there is nothing much to do out there apart from basking in the sun, but there is actually not enough time to do everything during a one-week stay.
Our flight to Bora Bora departed on a Friday shortly before midnight from Los Angeles International, which is one of the main global transit hubs for flights to Bora Bora. We got onto the plane totally exhausted after making it through a full day of work and long hours of traveling. The most I can remember from then was sitting down, briefly eating, passing out, waking up, then passing out again until we arrived at Faaa airport in Papeete (the capital of French Polynesia) in the early hours of the next morning (Saturday). We had about 2 hours of transit time in Papeete before boarding the next flight directly to Bora Bora. As we all walked into the airport from the plane, we were greeted by a 3-man live band (2 men playing local music instruments and a lady dancing) with beautiful Tahitian music. Here is a brief (and very horribly taken – hey! blame that on exhaustion) video of how we were received at the airport:
When we made it past security, the local representative from our travel agency was waiting for- and warmly greeted us with fresh flower lei. At this time of the day, there wasn’t much to see or do and the time we had left was just sufficient enough for us to check in and board the next flight. We arrived the local airport in Bora Bora about two hours later where we were warmly welcomed and greeted again with fresh flower lei by our resort representative (fresh flower lei is such a big deal on the island). From that point, the real service began – our luggage was picked up and we were ushered to the resort’s speedboat together with some other arriving guests to the resort – Conrad Bora Bora Nui. The resort itself was on a private island, about 15 minutes from main land – that might not seem far but the visual perspective from a speedboat was a different story.
Upon arrival at the resort, we were warmly greeted by the concierge in a traditional Tahitian fashion – formally a very slight bow and with the words “Ia Orana”. We later discovered that “Ia Orana” could mean “Welcome”, “Good Day”, “Good Morning”, “Good Afternoon”, “Good Evening”, etc. basically for almost any kind of greeting . Gosh! Only if languages were that easy to learn. OK where was I? The concierge, yes. She ushered us to the reception area, offered us some fresh local tea (very delish!) and helped us complete the check-in formalities. We were taken on a tour of the small private island in a golf cart and we were shown the various amenities from the spas, pools and gyms, to the different restaurants and bars, as well as the different shops. Below is another room tour of our bungalow:
We then went to have breakfast (yea, we arrived in the morning) at the buffet, which had a wide variety of delicacies (local and international). In addition to the large food display, there were also items à la carte which you could order to be freshly prepared at no extra cost. Did I mention that we had breakfast with a view? Oh! I was also very excited to speak French without being judged 🙂
We spent the rest of the first day resting and looking around the place. Unfortunately for us, the weather upon arrival was terrible; the winds, the waves, the rains, the high tides – just everything beach-horrible. Saturday night was the worst night ever during this experience as I had a very hard time sleeping for fear of the bungalow flooding since the weather was really that bad. The next day (Sunday) we had planned a canoe breakfast, but unfortunately it didn’t happen due to the wild waves, which couldn’t accommodate a canoe. We ended up rescheduling it to Monday, but that still didn’t happen because the tides were still very high and unstable that morning, so we just cancelled it – add this to the list of one of the countless things that went south during this otherwise amazing trip. Nonetheless, Monday was the start of what I call a very amazing trip with lots of fun activities. Watch out for Part 2 for a detailed account of everything we did.
To be continued…
**Disclaimer: The information on this blog is based on personal experience, opinion and discussions with some locals of Bora Bora. It is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional advice. This information does not represent every travel experience in Bora Bora and should not be considered as such.**