In January 2018, we traveled to French Polynesia to sail on the m/s Paul Gauguin for an 11 night voyage to the Cook and Society Islands. This series is a journal of our experiences and observations so that you, our reader, can see what it's like to experience Tahiti/French Polynesia. We hope this inspires you to travel to this and other destinations.
Days 7 & 8: Bora Bora
This morning we arrived to the lagoon just inside the barrier reef and in front of the main island of Bora Bora. Let me tell you, the place is as beautiful as you might have heard and then some. The ship dropped anchor and we tendered into Vaitape in a nice smooth ride, much different than our experience in the Cook Islands. The people are very friendly in French Polynesia, and Bora Bora is no different. We were greeted by a group playing guitar and ukuleles, smiling and singing in the native language. Our group all hopped into a cab and headed down to check out two of the best resorts in Bora Bora.
Our first stop was the InterContinental Bora Bora La Moana. You can check out a more detailed report of this beautiful resort here. The resort is all bungalows with the majority being over the water. The views of the water from the various bungalows are spectacular. Nearby is one the most famous pearl farms and guests in the lagoon bungalows frequently swim over and snorkel over this farm. At the end of the pier there is an open platform where special events like ceremonial weddings, renewal of vows, or other private parties can be held with full views of the lagoon and its many shades of perfect blue water.
Next we boarded a water taxi to be transferred to the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa. If you are in the market for the trip of a lifetime, I would recommend you spend your vacation here. The all bungalow rooms are top notch. Every detail is looked after and the views of Ote Manu are spectacular from the diamond rooms and especially the Brando suites. Learn more about this 5 star plus resort in our full report. The spa is designed to give those guests who choose to partake in the various treatments, the most relaxing and rejuvenating experience ever. You come to this resort to get away from it all and rejuvenate with the beautiful water, the delicious food, the amazing service and the world class spa.
After our tour of the resorts, we enjoyed our afternoon at Matira Beach, a public beach on the south end of Bora Bora. The beach is wide open and to us felt like it could have been a private beach because it was very sparsely visited by locals and tourists alike on that day. The water is very calm and warm and the shallow water extends a great deal from the shore. On a warm day, it is just what the doctor ordered to take a dip and cool off. There are a few restaurants along the beach as it extends from the InterContinental Le Moana northeast for about a mile. We met this friendly local guy who in my mind best personifies the attitude of this beach.
We next headed to the famous Bloody Mary’s restaurant and bar for a cocktail after our refreshing swim at Matira Beach. Bloody Mary’s is known the world over for its lively atmosphere, fresh fish dinners, delicious cocktails, and all of the famous celebrities who have visited. There is a board in front of the restaurant listing the more famous visitors, everyone form Denzel Washington to Clark Gable has at some point has been to Bloody Mary’s. We ended our first night dining under the stars at Le Grille and anxiously awaiting our next day's fun.
After being completely wowed by our first day and night in the most beautiful place in the world, Bora Bora, we were very excited to get under the water and experience the marine side of this tropical paradise. The dive site we explored was called Tapu, named for the small motu, or island, where the dive site was located just off shore. The visibility was incredible and the variety and number of fish were just astounding. We were able to see a nice sized spotted eel, a sea turtle, and a few black tip reef shark among other marine creatures.
After our dive we enjoyed a lovely morning and early afternoon at the private beach offered to guests of the m/s Paul Gauguin. The water is very clear and the perfect temperature for enjoying a nice relaxing beach day. The ships’ bar staff brought over some soft drinks (no alcohol is allowed since the cruise line does not own the island) and the marina staff brought over some kayaks and stand up paddle boards that guests could enjoy in the beautiful azure waters.
After returning to the ship for a lovely lunch, we took in a very enlightening lecture on the people of the Marquesas Islands, one of the island groups found in French Polynesia. I had a chance while at the beach to speak with the guest lecturer, Pierre Blanchard, and his wife more about his background and experiences in the South Pacific. One the small things you get to enjoy as a passenger on Paul Gauguin Cruises, is unfettered access to the guest lecturers and entertainers. Marc and Abi were the guest hosts/musical entertainment and were phenomenal. But you wouldn’t know they were the entertainment unless you went to their shows. They were embedded with the guests and just seemed like another young couple on holiday.
In the evening, my wife and I set out for a romantic sunset cruise around Bora Bora in an outrigger canoe. The canoe was very large yet intimate. There were bench seats and the canoe fit a max of 10 people. The guide for our trip, Glenn (named after the US astronaut and senator John Glenn), took us on a leisurely cruise around the lagoon, passing a coral garden that was so clear you could see the fish swimming in the water below. Next we cruised around the Conrad Resort and all of its over the water bungalows. We then headed out to the only ship channel that allows access to the lagoon around Bora Bora. Glenn told us about how the fishermen wait until dark to pluck lobsters who come out at night on the barrier reef as we waited for an amazing sunset. The colors of the sunset in Bora Bora were just incredible. We were given champagne in addition to Glenn serenading us with his ukulele to set the romantic mood. This was a great experience and I highly recommend it for honeymooners or couples visiting Bora Bora looking for that romantic spark.
Stay tuned for the next chapter in our voyage. Have any favorite memories of the Cook Islands, Tahiti, French Polynesia, or Paul Gauguin Cruises? Leave a comment and share your story. If you would like some additional information, or to reserve your trip to the Cook Islands or French Polynesia, contact us here.