Day 18 Wednesday January 31 and Day 19 Thursday February 1, 2024 Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Day 18 - Wednesday January 31, 2024, Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Arrival 08:00 Overnight in Port
We have arrived at our last destination in French Polynesia. Tahiti and her islands are considered the largest marine territory in the world, covering an area 5.5 million square kilometers. This is equivalent to the size of Europe. The land above the sea represents 4,000 squared kms spread over 118 islands and 5 archipelagos.
Many tours are available to explore Bora Bora. Janice decided on an aqua safari tour and will share her adventure with you. Since I am somewhat claustrophobic it was not a tour for me. Hi everyone!! I chose this tour as I've always wanted to scuba dive but decided on this mini version of it. You walk the ocean floor 10 meters below the surface where a 40kg helmet is placed on your head and resting on your shoulders with air pumped into it. It was really cool, and I saw some amazing fish and got to touch a manta ray. Seeing the fish from the ocean floor was lovely and a different perspective than snorkeling especially in Bora Bora with the water so many beautiful shades of blue.
Comfort food was the required lunch for the day when Janice returned to the ship as she felt a little seasick as she had not taken her gravol, and hadn't eaten as you cannot take any food off the ship in French Polynesia. Two local officers are on board to ensure that this rule is abided to.
At 16:00 we booked a sunset cruise through viator where we were picked up at the pier in a boat for 12 people. It turned out it would be us, and another cute young couple on their honeymoon who were staying at the Hotel Intercontinental on the other side of the island. Because sunset was not until 18:30 we cruised around the whole island. Champagne and fresh fruit was provided as we waited for the sunset. This is the third sunset cruise I have taken in Bora Bora and the third time clouds covered the sunset. Janice did not make the first sunset cruise we did on the Paul Gauguin cruise ship. Well maybe next time although it is still beautiful scenery and watercolors.
With clouds covering the sun it was off for dinner to St. James Hotel. The boat moored at the restaurant and we along with the newlywed couple climbed off into the bar portion of the overwater hotel. You get strange looks when you are chauffeured to a hotel on a private boat. I should note that this is low season in French Polynesia where a lot of travelers sadly have not returned since Covid.
Returning to the ship we were able to see the last 30 minutes of a show presented by local performers on the outside deck- The Magnificence of Nature Surrounding Us.
Day 19 - Thursday February 1, 2024, Bora Bora French Polynesia
Overnight in Port Last Tender 15:30 Departure 16:00
Our last day in French Polynesia. We do not want to leave but are looking forward to visiting new places, cultures, and countries. This is the first time we are sailing west from Tahiti. Paraphrasing a line from Star Trek - "to boldly go where Janice and I have not gone before."
Windstar Wind Spirit is still in port having also overnighted here. The sailing yacht accommodates 148 guests. This might be a nice way to see French Polynesia again if the stars align and we get to return.
The much larger sister ship Windstar Star Breeze with its maximum capacity 312 also appeared this morning.
Our Viator snorkeling and lunch tour departed at 09:00 from the tender pier. The scheduled return time was 16:00 which would make us miss the last tender, so Janice had negotiated ahead of time for them to return us to the ship on time. Again, there was only one couple on the tour. Nice for us but hard for the locals who make a living in tourism.
The tour guide was twenty-year-old named Manu and his cousin Tiny (who was not tiny) was the driver as the uncle was apparently too hung over to make the trip. During the three and half hours prior to lunch we visited three areas to either snorkel, walk with the stingrays and swim with the sharks.
There is only one entrance into Bora Bora and our first stop was outside the reef swimming in water 5 - 10 meters deep. You could see waves crashing onto the reef. Let's hope the pictures do it justice. While getting ready you could see grey tipped reef sharks circling the boat. In the past, the boats would feed the sharks but not anymore. Jumping in I started to count the number of reef sharks. I think I was up to 25. They would come straight at me then turn away. Again, I wish I had an underwater camera. Manu pointed out a Barracuda swimming amongst the reef sharks as well.
The motion of the ocean did not agree with Janice as the swells of maybe 1 meter were affecting her. She left after maybe ten minutes to try to settle her stomach and eventually the gravol kicked in. She could have used some crackers, but as mentioned earlier we can't bring any food products onto the island.
Leaving the outer reef, the tour took us to the shallow waters where stingrays and reef sharks swam amongst us. The water is so blue and clear.
The final stop is to the coral garden where the depth of the water was 3-4 meters. Lots of fish could be seem in the coral. On the bottom of the seabed, you could see the message set in stone - I love Bora Bora with a heart shape as well. I guess this was done by scuba divers.
With the snorkeling adventure complete it was off to the private motu of Manu's family for a lunch and a demonstration of tie dyeing.
We are now back on the ship, and I see a full tender boat arriving back to the ship at 15:20. One final tender to collect the final guests and crew and we are off leaving paradise.
Clouds are coming as we pass Taha' a. No sunset picture tonight.
With everyone back on board and the anchor brough in it is off to American Samoa, Pago Pago 1,105 nautical miles away. Clouds are coming as we pass Taha'a so no sunset pictures tonight.
Saying goodbye to French Polynesia is always hard but I do not think it will be our last visit.
We are now cruising new waters and new territories.
· Of the three islands - Taha's population 5K, Bora Bora's population 10K and Raiatea's population 13 K
· The only hospital on the three islands is in Raitea. By boat its 4 hours from Bora Bora. So don't get sick or injured in Bora Bora!
· Taha's produces 80% of the vanilla produced in French Polynesia
And big thanks to a fellow passenger who provided with underwater pictures taken on snorkeling trips in French Polynesia.