Day 94 – Bora Bora Tour – August 23rd, 2015

Our final tender port of the 2015 World Cruise. On entering the lagoon we splashed the anchor, swinging around the pick, a short distance offshore from the main Bora Bora island. Although only a short 2 hours, our tour today was very similar to yesterday, being a scenic drive around the island, with a few stops at points of interest.

Disembarking the tender we were directed to the buses, which were “Le Truck”. Although almost new, they were probably the most uncomfortable ride we have experienced. They are built on a Mercedes truck cab and chassis. The passenger compartment is built from wood, has open windows and is attached to the chassis. Similar to our pick-up truck, with minimal weight, the passenger compartment sits at the top of the springs, resulting in a very harsh ride. When moving along the road the structure creaked and groaned almost continuously, and the seats were so close together I couldn’t sit with enough room for my knees. The guide sat in the comfortable cab with the driver, with a single speaker providing his commentary. Located at the front, it was deafening for those of us at the front, so those at the back could hear.

Bora Bora Tour really uncomfortable Le Truck buses 

The local buses built on a truck chassis.

As we set off on our adventure around the idyllic island, the guide mentioned that while the roads aren’t the best, the first few miles are particularly poor. He certainly wasn’t joking, with potholes almost sufficient to hide a mini. The first few miles were a slow rocking, rolling and bumping along, with the excellent driver trying her best to miss the worst of the potholes. Our first stop was one of the many protestant churches on the island, which also provided a view of the lagoon.

Bora Bora Tour Protestant CHurch which was first stop

Being a Sunday, services were taking place, so we were unable to visit inside.

Bora Bora Tour view out to the lagoon from the Protestant Church

View from the church towards the lagoon.

Back into the bus for another 5 minutes, our next stop was at a road side market. Judi went in to check out the usual selection of wares, while I nipped across the road to enjoy the water views.

Bora Bora Tour coconut crab at the market stop 2

A coconut crab, which was at the market entrance.

Bora Bora Tour view across the lagoon at the market stop

View out across the lagoon from the stop at the market. We rounded the headland in the distance and drove around the bay down to the left.

Bora Bora Tour Black Pearl resort from the market stop

This is one of the iconic sights of Bora Bora that I have seen in many photographs and films, that I hoped to see, a resort of chalets built on stilts over the water. Apparently they have numerous similar resorts, but they are located on the barrier reef islets across the lagoon from the main Bora Bora island. Each resort has a property on the main island to transport customers to/from the resort. This particular resort is the Black Pearl Resort.

Bora Bora Tour typical local home

Similar to Tahiti, the average home can best be described as small, but functional. This is a typical example next to the market.

Back on the bus we spent the next almost 15 minutes driving past some spectacular scenery, which included a row of chalets built on stilts, just offshore. The guide explained that it was a timeshare type property, with chalets being owned by a number of actors, musicians and various sports stars. Behind the chalets we saw the crystal clear and blue waters of the lagoon changing colour from deep blue in deeper water to very light blue close to the shore. With the clear sky this would have provided an exceptional photograph, but we kept on driving for a few more minutes. Rounding a few corners, we eventually stopped at what the guide described as an excellent photo op.

Bora Bora Tour scenic stop for photo op

Stopping on a palm tree lined road at the edge of the water, this was the best view, based on the location of the sun, which precluded any shots across the lagoon. The water is crystal clear, gaining a deeper blue, when the water depth increases.

Bora Bora Tour looking through the palm trees at the lagoon

This was one of the better quality roads, with almost the same shot taken through the palm trees.

Our next stop was at the highest elevation attained by the ring road. Looking across the small bay that juts into the main island.

Bora Bora Tour elevated stop looking at bay with mountain in background

Looking down on a small bay.

Bora Bora Tour elevated stop looking across lagoon at islets and barrier reef

With the bay in the above photograph off to the right, this photograph is looking across the lagoon at the islets of the barrier reef. Although difficult to see, these islets have many of the high end resorts, most of which have their chalets built over the shallow waters around the islets.

Bora Bora Tour elevated stop looking across lagoon with different colours of water

Looking across the lagoon at one of the high end resorts.

Returning to the bus, we headed back to sea level, with the next stop being the highlight for most, the only public beach on the entire island.

Bora Bora Tour public beach with fine sand and crystal clear water

Looking along the fine sand and coral beach with gently sloping crystal clear water. The water must have been a toasty 80 degrees and protected by the barrier reef has little more than ripples on the surface. If this isn’t paradise, it most certainly is really close.

Bora Bora Tour public beach with crystal clear water

View of the other side of the beach, with the water right up to the rocks.

Bora Bore Tour public beach looking across the crystal clear water of the lagoon

Looking out across the lagoon from the public beach with the breakers piling up on the barrier reef in the background.

After a brief 5 minutes that precluded any opportunity of taking a quick dip, we were back on the bus and heading to the final stop at Bloody Mary’s, a famous restaurant/pub frequented by many  well known stars.

Bora Bora Tour Bloody Marys sign

Outer entrance to the property, with the boards on each side listing the names of film stars, musicians, politicians, etc who have visited in the past.

Bora Bora Tour Bloody Mary restaurant 2

Bloody Mary’s, which must be the ultimate in a business that rests on its laurels. Inside it is dark and dingy, the deck is basically sand and they charge a fortune for what really are poor drinks. The chap in front of us bought a Bloody Mary for US $7.50. He received a cheap plastic and flimsy souvenir glass with “Bloody Marys” printed on the side. This was 1/2 filled with ice, probably a splash of vodka, tomato juice and a touch of Tabasco. No celery stick. He actually had no idea what a bloody mary included, thinking it was rum. Nobody that purchased one could taste any alcohol in the drink. I stuck my head inside to check it out, while Judi petted the local cat in the shop, then we headed across the road to their jetty.

Bora Bora Tour Bloody Mary dock looking back towards the restaurant

From the offshore end of the jetty looking inshore at the restaurant/pub.

Bora Bora Tour Judi with Sea Princess in background

Judi at the end of the jetty with Sea Princess in the background.

On returning back to the harbour I walked around getting a few shots, while Judi meandered through the market. However, with very little on the shore we jumped on one of the tenders and tootled back aboard.

Bora Bora Sea Princess at anchor working tenders

Sea Princess swinging on the anchor in the lagoon, a short distance offshore.

Bora Bora tender dock

Tender port.

In summary, we had seen many spectacular photographs of the amazing water views in Bora Bora and eagerly awaited the drive around the island. While most enjoyable, it could have been so much much better, as we drove past some really spectacular vistas. While normally a proponent of the ship tours, based on this experience and subsequent conversations with other passengers, I think when we return next year we will consider a water based tour from a local operator on the dock.

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