Sunday, May 5, 2013

Hawaii / Tahiti 30 Day Cruise - Day 19 Bora Bora

Wednesday Day 19 – Bora Bora

We awoke to our first daylight view of Bora Bora and its beautiful blue and turquoise lagoon.  The Westerdam is anchored in Pofai Bay and we will be tendering to the town of Vaitape.  Novelist James Michener described Bora Bora as “the world’s most beautiful island” and it certainly lives up to that description.  The lush mountainous interior dropping down to the beautiful teal blue lagoon is beyond description, it certainly exceeded my visions of what Bora Bora would be.  Because of the mountainous interior, most of the inhabitants of Bora Bora live on the coast.  On Bora Bora the guide books say it’s all about the water.

Today, Nancy, one of our fellow roll call members, had arranged a three quarter day tour with snorkeling and lunch with a company called Patrick’s.  After meeting with our group and tendering to shore, we met with Patrick’s tour and were on the motorized outrigger and on our way.  We crossed the beautiful lagoon to our first snorkeling spot of the day where we would be swimming with the manta rays and sharks.  It was incredible snorkeling with rays gliding beside and under you, they looked like stealth bombers as the moved around in the water.  It was also exciting to be swimming besides sharks, although we were told they weren’t dangerous it made me a little nervous anyway.  Great snorkeling in the warm tropical waters with rays, sharks and many other colorful tropical fish.

A view of the Paul Gauguin and Westerdam from the tender boat on our way to shore.
We passed one of the many hotels with over the water 
bungalows on our way to our first snorkeling spot.
The guide on our boat.  A native Bora Borian, as well as a colorful character.
Val happily anticipating swimming with the rays and sharks.
The second boat on our tour.  Looks just like ours.
Dave snorkeling and taking photos with his GoPro.
Two manta rays.  One swimming over the other. 

Looks like a stealth bomber.
We think this fish is a gar fish, but we're not sure.
The sharks were beautiful, plentiful and friendly.

After getting our fill of rays and sharks, we were on our way to the next snorkeling spot.  This was in deeper water with more fish and coral reefs, and we ended up having a little adventure here.  Our guide told us we should probably wear our fins and we soon found out why.  After getting in the water we were enthralled by the fish and beautiful coral, but soon noticed that we were being pulled away from the ship pretty quickly so we decided we had better start back to the boat.  Val and I are both decent swimmers, but we struggled to make any headway against the current.  Everyone else was having the same problem and I was beginning to think we would just have to go with the current and get picked up by the boat.  When the guides noticed most of us in trouble they threw a rope out to swim to and we pulled ourselves to the boat.  The guides had to jump in and get one person, but we finally all made it back to the boat somewhat exhausted.  It’s too bad the current was so strong, because it was a beautiful spot to snorkel.  So that was our little adventure for the day.

We continued on around the island and our next stop was a beautiful little motu where we would have lunch, and what a lunch we had!  They had tables set up in the shallow water so you could sit in the water and eat your lunch, but we decided to sit at a table on land in the shade.  It was a Polynesian barbecue with a pig cooked in a pit, barbecued tuna, chicken, whole lobsters, taro, tapioca, breadfruit, pineapple, marinated raw fish and a few other things I can’t remember the names of.  In true Polynesian fashion our plates were palm fronds and we ate with our fingers, this was truly a delicious feast.  After lunch we had time to wander around the motu, wade or swim in the lagoon or just relax in the shade.  Definitely a slice of paradise.

We were serenaded by our guide as we headed to our lunch on a motu. 
 Notice he's steering the boat with his toes.
Our lunch sport for the day.
Fresh lobster on the grill.
Uncovering the cooking pit.
A roasted pig and side dishes for our lunch.
More lunch being prepared.
I was so hungry I didn't think of taking a picture until I'd eaten half my meal.  My ideal meal, good food, no dishes to wash and you get to eat with your fingers.
One way to stay cool while eating lunch.
Val and I in paradise.
Val and our guide (can't remember his name).
Patrick of Patrick's Tours.  Many locals have traditional tattoos.  
Ancient Polynesians had similar tattoos

After the lunch break we completed our circle of the island and were brought back to Vaitape and the tender dock.  The trip around the island was very interesting with the guide pointing out landmarks and telling interesting stories.  There were many beautiful looking hotels around the island with most having the inviting looking “over the water bungalows”. Val and I decided we had a pretty nice “over the water bungalow” on the ship. Our guide was fun and quite a character and added to the fun of the day. He was a Bora Borian and told us about his culture, as well as played his ukulele and sang to us as we sailed through the beautiful clear water.  This was truly a great day. Patrick’s tour had been highly recommended on both Cruise Critic and Trip Advisor and he certainly lived up to his reputation. 

On our way back to the Westerdam.  The red outrigger on our canoe 
provided a nice color contrast with the blue sea water.
More music provided by our guide as we complete our circle of the island.
After returning to Vaitape, we returned to the ship, showered and rested a bit.  Around 4:00 we took the tender back in to Vaitape to look around.  Our stay in Bora Bora was a two day overnight stay so there was no deadline to get back to the ship.  After walking around town for a while and going through the shops and buying a few things we started looking for a grocery store as we wanted to replenish our supply of soft drinks.  We brought our own soft drinks with us as it is less expensive and easier than having to go to a bar to buy them on the ship.  We were a little surprised to see that a six-pack cost the equivalent of $7.50, but that is still less expensive than the ship so we made our purchase despite the price.  It did show just how expensive it is to live on these islands as that grocery store was one used by locals, not a tourist shop getting what they could from the visitors.

We returned to the ship around 6:00 and saw there was a Polynesian barbecue going on back at the Seaview pool, but we’d already had our BBQ for the day so we decided to have dinner at our regular time in the dining room.  After dinner we walked around the ship and looked in on the pool party, but it had been a long day for us and another busy day tomorrow, so it was back to the room for us. I might add that we are lucky to have a full moon here and it just adds another touch of beauty to the already breathtaking scenery.  We are looking forward to another day on Bora Bora tomorrow when we will be exploring the interior of the island.

The Polynesia BBQ at the Seaview Pool on board.
The end of a wonderful day.


  1. Oh MY! A friend who was on this cruise was you sent this to me, as I am taking it in 2017. What a wealth of information and how generous of you to share it this way. Thank you...although over a year away...I am super excited just looking at this blog!

    1. Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed our blog. It was a great cruise and I'm sure you'll enjoy it.