Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Photo: rachel_thecat [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: rachel_thecat [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
You’re finally doing it. You booked a trip to French Polynesia. It’s been your dream destination for years, maybe even forever. You don’t even care that you’ll be surrounded by honeymooners—you probably won’t see much of them anyway. You’re looking forward to the bluest water, the volcanic peaks, and your own overwater bungalow. Bora Bora, here you come!

Your first stop is Papeete, on the island of Tahiti. A second, 45-minute flight takes you northwest to the Motu Mute islet off of Bora Bora. Sit on the left side of the small airplane to catch the first glimpse of the Pearl of the Pacific. Breathtaking doesn’t begin to describe what’s below you. After landing, a boat shuttles you to Vaitape, the largest town on the main island. You’re welcomed at the pier with friendly smiles, “ia oranas,” and a cool sea breeze. It’s only going to get better.

Bora Bora is part of the group of Society Islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Two ancient volcanoes, Mount Otemanu and Mount Pahia, loom over the island, which is surrounded by lagoons, motus, reefs, and water that’s a thousand shades of blue. Bora Bora was uninhabited until the Polynesians crossed the Teavanui Pass in the 9th century. It was later used as a US military base during World War II. It’s now considered one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Photo: Maitai Hotels
Photo: Maitai Hotels

You’re welcomed to the Maitai Bora Bora with a colorful lei and a cool drink. You pass tropical gardens, beach bungalows, a white-sand beach, and water that now looks translucent en route to your own room. The little, wooden bungalow sits on stilts over the water. The deck has a view of Motu Piti ‘U’u Uta, and a ladder leads into the water. Inside, you can still see the fish through a glass coffee table, and the bed is decorated with Tahitian Gardenias. Maitai means “all goes well” in Tahitian, and, by the looks of it, all goes very well.

The first few days, you feel like one of the honeymooners, since you barely leave your small area, much less the resort. You climb into the water to snorkel with curious rays, sip Ti’ Punch at the Beach Bar, eat swordfish skewers at Haere Mai, and stare at your gorgeous surroundings. You’re hesitant to explore, though the rest of the island must be just as stunning.

Eventually, you ride a glass-bottom boat to see hard-beaked parrotfish and yellow moonfish on a Boston Whaler. You swim among a coral garden, sea turtles, and baby sharks at the Lagoonarium. You don a helmet and a weight belt to walk on the sea floor on an Aqua Safari. And you hike a slightly treacherous trail up Mount Otemanu for the most amazing view you’ve ever seen. Dreams really do come true.

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