Bora Bora (On passage to Tonga 19:37:75S 168:22:75W)

Zipadedoda of Dart
David H Kerr
Wed 11 Jun 2008 10:19

(It seems that once again Mailasail is up to its tricks and did not post this e-mail. Once again it had been sent on a Sunday!!)



This has proved to be one of the most difficult Blogs I have had to write to date. The primary reason being the need to select the appropriate pictures from the dozens we took of Bora Bora and its surrounding reefs, Motu’s and aquatic life. What has been chosen in the end is a cross section to give you a “flavour” of the place. Frankly it does not do the place justice from a visual perspective. But we had to draw the line some where, otherwise my Satphone bill will bankrupt me!




So FINALLY, we departed Raiatea on the 24th May for Bora Bora. It is a 30nm trip and the view of Bora Bora and its impressive Volcanic peak as you approach is a special moment. Especially as the weather was being absolutely ideal. Brilliant sunshine, gentle breeze and no rain….for a change. The very settled conditions making the most of the aquamarine blue colour of the water.


   The view to the principle village of Vaitape from the Teavanui Pass on the West side of the Island



We were sporting our new Biminis and virtually everything was sorted on Zipadedoda. Just one minor issue (we hoped) with the Boom to resolve.



    Zipadedoda anchored off the jetty for “Bloody Mary’s” Restaurant, on the SW corner of the lagoon


Robert & Wendy from Heidenskip had arranged a Rally party on the Saturday night at the famous “Bloody Mary’s” restaurant on the south west corner of the Island. This was a wonderful opportunity for everyone to get together and so it was literally a Rallying Call!


Prior to the “event” at Bloody Mary’s, we were invited onto Heidenskip, together with Paul & Harriet from Anahi. As usual we were very spoiled by Wendy & Robert.




  From the left. Robert, Wendy (Heidenskip), Paul & Harriet (Anahi) enjoy a pre-dinner drink.


Bloody Mary’s is something of an institution on Bora Bora. It is where the rich and famous come to be “seen” (apparently).  It is a little pretentious, with a name board outside that sports the names of some of the more notable guests. Interestingly they were virtually all American, including Bill Gates and his wife. The architecture is basic, rustic, with sand floors. There is even a cloak room for depositing your shoes, should you wish to have the sand between your toes all night (and the matching sand flies………….).


The cocktail after which the restaurant is named is, it has to be said, a memorable drink…very yummie.  It was fantastic to see everyone there and there was a great atmosphere, despite the fact that they had not placed us all where we had booked, in a side room to the main restaurant. The food it has to be said was dreadful. The service in the restaurant was slow and the staff aggressive and arrogant. The prices were just plain silly. But in spite of these impediments, we made a point of enjoying ourselves. We also managed to keep the bar open 2 hours after closing time. So then the staff really did have something to be grumpy about. But Andy from Spectra and Alan from Happy Wanderer wanted to finish off their local currency as they were leaving for the Cook Islands in the morning, and the staff could not deny them!



  The wise BWR Ralliers?  (AKA, Bennett, Andy and Alan.) Cheers!


The next day we took ourselves ashore and went for a walk. We ended up at the Bora Bora Hotel, with Hugh and Shaun from Stargazer and Reinherd and Shelia from Blue Raven (who have now dropped out of the Rally)who were having lunch there and so joined us for a drink a little later.  Sheila was very impressed with the meal so we resolved to have lunch there the next day.


This we did, but not before getting our large dingy erected with the 8HP engine so we could do some serious mooching around the Island.  We set off the next morning early, and were simply overwhelmed by the beauty of the East side of the Island. This despite the fact that there is too much tourist development and wall to wall Native Hut style hotels, with the huts over the water on stilts, all with the obligatory thatched roofs. In isolation these developments are attractive or can be stunning. But not at the density they have here. It was also interesting to note that a lot of the hotels had very few guests. ( Don’t get me wrong. This is nothing like the concrete and glass eye sores of the Spanish Costa’s.)


All of that  said we REALLY enjoyed the dingy trip over the crystal clear water, and brilliant white sand, and the stunningly beautiful scenery. We got so sun burnt I am now thinking of getting a Biminis for the Dingy………………………..


    A romantic pair of Sting Rays cruise over the white sandy bottom



So after all that effort, we retired to the beach restaurant and bar at the Bora Bora hotel for lunch. It is a romantic and well set out venue for lunch. The staff were very polite, attentive and had a smile. The food was good and the prices, buy Bora Bora standards, reasonable.


They also laid on entertainment in the form of a tame Dove who hopped onto our table in search of his own lunch! A very cheeky chappie (or chapess). Especially when he tried to steal a chip. WE drew the line at that point!



  Tame Dove at the Bora Bora Hotel Beach Bar & Restaurant


The lunch was sufficiently good that we resolved to have dinner there the following evening.


The next day we participated in an organised trip in a glass bottom boat. This was to tour around the “best” four snorkelling sites on the Island and its reefs. There were 11 BWR participants and the cost was not too outrageous.  The sites were as advertised in the brochure. Great and varied.



  Beautiful Coral head, just teaming with tropical fish of unimaginable varieties sizes and colours


We also visited one site where they feed Sting Rays. This is in 1 to 2 metres of water. The Rays come right up to you and “bump” you for food. In some cases they climb right up you, which can be a little scary!! Sadly I had the camera on the wrong setting here so all the still pictures were no good. But I did get some amazing video footage of the Rays in action, and people shying away from them. I shall be posting the Blackmail notices shortly……only kidding Ellie.


At another site where we were snorkelling and swimming, I spotted one of the most deadly creatures in the sea. “Parked” on a sea cucumber there was an innocent looking beige  come sandy coloured fish. About 8 to 10 inches long. A Stone Fish.  Being stung by one of these creatures usually results in heart failure, unless immediate steps are taken to remove the poison. None of my fellow swimmers was aware of its presence, so I made certain no one came near it. 



  Death in waiting…a Stone Fish


The penultimate stop on the trip was a Shark feeding point, just outside the reef, near the one and only entrance pass. There were loads of Black Tip Reef Sharks and a couple of Lemon Sharks. In addition loads of Trigger Fish, and Moarea (sucker fish). All vying for the food provided by our boat handler. As this is such a regular event, there were even Black Headed Terns, who would swoop down and steal the food just as the sharks tried to eat it. One lost some tail feathers…………..


Yes I was daft enough to swim, snorkel and duck dive with these guys. But they were only little. 1.5 to 2.5 metres long, and well fed!! I also got some amazing video footage as well.


  Black Tip Reef Sharks prowl for food.


This was a truly wonderful day out and we were both exhausted by the end of it.


So it was that the next morning we set off once again to Raiatea to get the (hopefully) last of the teething problems sorted out with the boom.


So what of Bora Bora? Frankly we did not see enough of it, or meet enough local people to make a fair judgement. It is VERY different to all the other Islands, and it is clear that a lot of folks go on holiday there because of its famed beauty.  (It’s a classic honeymoon spot, especially for Japanese couples, so much so most restaurant menu’s are in French, English and Japanese). Is it a victim of its own success? Possibly, because with the fantastically high prices, and ever weakening US dollar, the Islands tourism is in decline. (Note that our romantic diner for two with Lobster and French wine at the Bora Bora Hotel was a great evening with good food. But was it worth the cost of a small car in the UK???) Here, more than anywhere else in the Society Islands, tourist come once, and do not return. Maybe that is a good thing. It will stop further development and perhaps make the staff in Bloody Mary’s try harder!


Finally, if I were sailing in the area ever again, I would come back here for the snorkelling and the aquatic life, but not much more. Unlike Tahaa, Huahine and Moorea, which we fell in love with and would definitely come back to spend more time and perhaps even relax……………………



  Sunset over Bora Bora………..




Next up, something completely different. Rarotonga and the Cook Islands…………………………..