Bora Bora, just think of the name and you will envisage unending aqua seas, local dancers in grass skirts dancing away, a cocktail in hand and the most dreamy backdrop. It is indeed paradise in the middle of nowhere. Think stunning turquoise lagoons, lush green mountains and white sand beaches, this lover’s paradise is nothing short of a dream. Bora Bora is French Polynesia’s leading lady. Hence, it wasn’t a tough choice when I had to choose one island out of the beautiful hundred in French Polynesia.
After a six hour flight from Auckland we finally made it to Tahiti where we were welcomed with garlands and were told to wait for our next flight to Bora Bora. As time passed by and check in gates opened my excitement had no bounds. I bit my nails eagerly as people started boarding the flight to Bora Bora. The moment I realised it was an ATR aircraft with no specific seats, I ran to catch the window seat to witness landing in heaven. Barely 45 minutes later I could see blue lagoons and shaded turquoise waters. I tried to spot my hotel too. The flight then landed on a motu(small island) and the airport was nothing less than a cane hut, making the exit simple and hassle free. Upon arrival, our hotel boat welcomed us with garlands and whisked us away to our piece of paradise.
As our boat speeded towards the island, the beautiful white sand beach, the soaring peaks of the mountain and the uninterrupted blues fascinated me. Men in shorts happily greeted us with Ia Orana (yo-rah-nah) and handed us our welcome drink. For me the inevitable love affair with this island began that very moment.
Where to stay:
With the number of properties on this island, you will never fall short of choices. Don’t let anything dissuade you from visiting this piece of paradise. This island has hotels for all kinds of budgets, from luxurious ones to bed and breakfasts. Most of the hotels have a stunning lagoon, beautiful set ups and luxurious over water bungalows. All the resorts are located on separate motus(tiny island)and not on the main island. But this is never a concern, as you never want to leave your villa, let aside your resort. Currently some of the most amazing properties would be the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora and St Regis Resort, Intercontinental Le Moana Resort, Intercontinental Resort & Thalasso Spa, Sofitel, Hilton Resort and Spa and Le Meridien.
Where I stayed:
-Located on the southern tip of the main Bora Bora Island, Intercontinental Le Moana was simply paradise. You are welcomed by white sand beaches, coral gardens, beautiful over water bungalows and a happy staff greeting you with a big smile all day long.
– Located the farthest out of the main resort in the turquoise waters with an open ocean beyond, offering the most dreamy views of the lagoon and Mt Otemanu, our Horizon overwater villa was just what I had dreamt of. The room was huge and was made out of bamboo and cane giving you that perfect Polynesian vibe. I was in love with our glass coffee table that allowed you to peep into the beautiful ocean and feed the fishes. The private deck and terrace in the room is where I would lie all day with a cocktail and enjoy the most breath-taking sunsets and star gaze at night. The ladder on the deck is simply a pathway to heaven. The best part was that every villa was equipped with two sets of snorkelling gears, so you could jump into the water whenever you wish to.
-It’s the location of the property that I loved the most, as you get the best views of the mountain, it also provides an easy access to the main island where you could spot most of the local restaurants. Also, the hotel offers shuttle boat services to visit other properties too.
-Since all the restaurants in the hotel serve their last order at 9.30pm, make sure to stock up something in your room if you’re a night bird like me.
-Also if you can, do try the breakfast delivery by a flower decorated canoe straight to the terrace of your overwater villa. Trust me, it’s the best way to surprise your loved one! Even the buffet breakfast of the hotel is outstanding. I will never forget the kind lady who served us hot nutella crepes every morning.
-Words can’t describe the incredible service by the lovely Polynesian staff in this hotel. They made us feel so special that it makes me want to go back and stay with them again. One of the staff in the restaurants was kind enough to make me a flower tiara.
– Apart from a private beach, the hotel has an amazing pool, two restaurants and a bar where they make some amazing cocktails.
Where to eat:
On this island, expect loads of seafood, fresh straight out of the ocean and into your plate. Mahi Mahi is their local fish and you cannot leave the island without trying it. Also, try and pick dishes with local ingredients to have a fresh and tasty meal.
Apart from the restaurants in your hotel, you can take a trip to the main island and check out the local cafes there. One place you cannot miss is Bloody Mary’s (closed on Sundays), a restaurant, which has attracted VIP’s and hotshots like George Michael, Sean Penn, Pamela Anderson, Cameron Diaz and many more. From sandy floors to the most amazing frozen strawberry margaritas and waitresses in flower tiaras, this place was as Polynesian as it could be. For food, you could choose your meat or fish and they cook it immediately and serve it with fresh vegetables or rice. Even though I preferred their lunch menu to dinner, the place is only buzzing at night. Bora Bora Yacht Club, La Villa Mahana, Lagoon restaurant by Jean-Georges are amongst the other good restaurants. Also do buy some midnight munching snacks from a local grocery store.
Things to do:
-Just a two-minute walk outside Intercontinental Le Moana on the main island, is a bike rental shop where you can hire bicycles and ride around the island. I did that all day and it is undoubtedly the best way to explore this little piece of heaven.
– There are boat tours where you can snorkel, feed the sharks, swim with stingrays, scuba dive or simply go kayaking. You can book your lagoon excursions from the hotel concierge.
-Head to Anau and Tapu for lemon shark sightings and manta ray encounters.
-You can also hop islands by air or take a ferry and spend a day on the other islands.
– You can also discover the marine life on an Aquabike or you can ride tandem on a personal submarine scooter.
– We also spent an entire day at the Spa at Intercontinental Thalasso. When you book yourself for a massage you can also access their hydrotherapy areas that consist of different sorts of Jacuzzis, multi sensory outdoor spa, a tea lounge and much more. I spent around four hours enjoying the outdoor area and would absolutely recommend this. Every penny was worth it.
– For all photo-obsessed people like me, there are also private photo tours that can be booked to capture that once in a lifetime memory.
– You can also book a romantic sunset cruise aboard Vitamin Sea.
Don’t leave without:
-A visit to Bloody Mary’s (book in advance)
-Snorkelling and Kayaking
-Clicking the best pictures, especially if you’re a shutterbug fool like me.
-Staying in an overwater bungalow
-Trying the hydrotherapy at the Thalasso spa
-Eat Mahi Mahi and drink Mai Tai
Fly– With connections from only three cities, Tokyo, Auckland and Los Angeles, there are limited flights to Tahiti. Getting around requires flying on Air Tahiti. Choose your connections wisely as the flights to Bora Bora are limited too. I would reckon spending a few hours at the Tahiti airport (please carry snacks, the airport has nothing) instead of spending a night at a near by hotel.
Note: I started my holiday with New Zealand and then visited Bora Bora. There are options to visit other islands like Mo’orea and or explore Tahiti. But honestly, there is no place on earth like Bora Bora. For once, doing nothing is one thing you will enjoy the most.
If you’re looking for paradise on earth, then this is it! With a dream every night of the blue lagoon, the unending turquoise landscape and the enchanting melody of Ia Orana, I hope to go back someday. If you’re planning your honeymoon, then be rest assured of a private oasis in an exquisite island, more of a romantic reality. I will never forget the soaring mountain peaks, picturesque lagoon and the luxurious floating villas.
P.S- You can also get married here, the Polynesian ceremonies are simply stunning!
Click the gallery below to view pictures!