Bora Bora

Category: Ships Log

August 10th - August 14th

Exploring our final island in French Polynesia.


One of the nice things about cruising in the French Polynesian island groups is that the islands are fairly close together and we can usually hop from one to the next on a day sail. After leaving Raiatea and Tahaa, we traveled with Cool Running a short 25 miles (about a 5 hour sail) to Bora Bora. Bora Bora is best known for its white sand beaches, large turquoise lagoon and Mt. Otemanu, a 730 m lush green mountain that towers over the island. Palm covered motus with long white sand beaches also line the barrier reef. Because of the nice water, I believe Bora Bora must have the highest density of over-water bungalows of almost any island in the world. It is hard to find a motu or shallow lagoon in Bora Bora without them. And as we found from our search for wifi signals, most are very expensive resorts charging upward of $1000 per night! At any rate, although beautiful, Bora Bora caters to very wealthy tourists and was the most expensive island we visited in French Polynesia. It also had some of the most rolly anchorages we’ve experienced in the Society Islands and not from the wind chop! Jet skis, water taxis and ski boats would zoom by every few minutes, often passing just a couple feet from our boat. Although excited to see Bora Bora, we were soon missing the calm and quiet of some of the other islands.


The large waves breaking on both sides of the pass into the lagoon are popular with surfers. This surfer caught a nice wave as we were sailing through!


Motor-sailing into the lagoon.


Our first day we anchored on the east side of the island because we wanted to check out a dive site our guidebook said you were guaranteed to see manta rays. Ever since the Marquesas, we have become enamored with manta rays and try to see them whenever we can. It was very shallow on this side of the island though, and en route to our anchorage Cool Running bumped the ground with their keel. We decided not to travel much further and anchored in 15 feet of clear turquoise water near a motu surrounded by over-water bungalows, which turned out to be the Four Seasons hotel. From our anchorage we could see some of the bungalows even had their own private inifinity pools! The next morning we dinghied over to the dive site with Cool Running. It was fun to go diving again, but the actual dive site wasn’t that great. The corals were not in good shape and the visibility was poor, although we did see one large manta ray from a distance. Later that afternoon we moved around to the southwestern part of the island where the guidebook said the corals were in better shape. Again we anchored in front of a nice motu surrounded by bungalows (this time it was the Hilton). We enjoyed a wonderful dinner of grilled marlin on Cool Running (they are excellent cooks) and the next morning we all went snorkeling at Bora Bora’s “coral gardens” (it seems most every island has a snorkel site called the coral gardens). The site was much nicer than the manta ray site, and we enjoyed an hour of great snorkeling over much nicer coral and saw a huge 4-foot long barracuda. The fish are also used to being fed here so we had a fairly large group of butterflyfish and convict surgeonfish following us around (these seem to be the easy-to-buy with bread species).


Sunset behind Bora Bora our first night.


Full moon glowing above the over-water bungalows.


Our view during the day (I managed to get a shot without jet skis or water taxis) - you can't beat the lovely blue lagoon of Bora Bora!


Chris diving at the manta ray site.


Our wonderful dinner of grilled marlin, baked potatoes and salad aboard Cool Running with Georg and Sandra.


Heading to our 2nd anchorage near the coral gardens. This motu had no bungalows on one side of it!


Chris being attacked by butterfly fish as he gets in the water at the coral gardens.


Even as he tries to swim away from them, a pack of butterflyfish still follow!


Unbeknownst to me, Georg is dropping breadcrumbs on my head. No wonder we can't escape those fish!


After our relaxing two days of diving and snorkeling, we figured it was time to finally find a wifi signal we could access and provision for our upcoming passage. We grabbed a mooring ball at the Mai Kai Marina, just outside the main village of Vaitape. We explored Vaitape, which is basically just a street of souvenir shops and boutiques charging twice as much as the other islands, and did our final provisioning at the large grocery store. We were able to find everything except eggs. Apparently they no longer have chickens on Bora Bora and have to import their eggs from Tahiti. The next supply ship wasn’t due for a couple days, so no eggs until we reach Western Samoa. Our final evening we enjoyed some great live music at the Mai Kai Marina bar by a local Polynesian and one of the cruisers. The local Polynesian had the most beautiful voice and sounded like Iz (the singer from Hawaii). Many cruisers showed up for the show and we got to see several people we hadn’t seen since Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico (they all left from Mexico a couple weeks before we did). We finally caught up to the Puddle Jumpers!


Approaching the town of Vaitape and the Mai Kai marina.


Downtown Vaitape. It is a very busy place and packed with cars!


A nice sculpture of a Polynesian dancer along the road.


The main wharf and ferry terminal in Vaitape. We are getting ready to head back to our boat after filling all our jerry cans with diesel.


The following day we threw off the mooring line and headed for the atoll of Suwarrow in the northern Cook Islands. We are back to some long passages now. Suwarrow is about 700 nm from Bora Bora, so about a 7 – 8 day sail for us. From Suwarrow our plan is to stop in Western Samoa (500 nm from Suwarrow) and then onwards to Fiji (another 700 nm from Western Samoa).

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