Catriona discovers the best of stunning Bora Bora without blowing the budget!
Bora Bora was created by a huge volcano roughly three or four million years ago. It was first sighted by Captain Cook in 1769 and he paused there briefly on his last voyage in 1777. In 1820, a London Missionary Society station was established there and today, Bora Bora remains chiefly Protestant. The church is in the centre of town and the congregation wears brightly coloured clothing and fragrant crowns of flowers on their heads. They welcome tourists to their services which begin at 11am on Sunday.
Spectacularly mountainous Bora Bora is dominated by three peaks: Mt Hue reaches 619m; Mt Pahia 661m; and Mt Otemanu 727m. The island is just nine kilometres from north to south and four kilometres at its widest point. A 32km road runs around the coast and is easily tackled by bicycle. Scooters and cars can be rented if you'd prefer.
A wide, sheltered and navigable lagoon encircles the island with sandy motus edging most of the outer reef. The Teavanui Pass on the western side is the only pass into the lagoon.
Vaitape, the gateway to the island, is also on the western side, and is the island's main village and a laid-back one at that. Only a couple of hundred people live there but it supports a shop selling exotic black pearls, a bank, snack shop, church, car rental company and docks.
Thierry Mulatier is a mix of French and Tahitian and he and his wife Lisa run private boat tours. They are the epitome of the welcoming Polynesian, and on top of that can show you the cheap way to enjoy Bora Bora.
Bora Bora, and in fact the whole of Tahiti, is quite expensive, mostly because everything has to be shipped in right down to drinking water. While some hotel rooms cost thousands of dollars a night, you can do it cheap and stay in a traditional family-run pensione on your own island.
Pension le Paradis on Motu Paahi has seven fare, or traditional Tahitian huts. They are bright and breezy, have no television, refrigerator or phone but you are welcomed with a traditional coconut drink from the owner and her daughter.
Each fare has a private shower and toilet and mosquito netting big enough to cover a couple. A larger thatched fare serves as the restaurant, and there are pedal boats, kayaks and snorkelling gear for guests who wish to explore the many motus and islands. Other activities can be arranged, but most people are happy to just relax at Pension le Paradis.
A snorkelling visit to a family-run Lagoonarium is good value. It is full of bluejacks, rays and sharks, and there is a lot of fun to be on the shore as well as in the water.
An island in French Polynesia.
Coral Seas Travel offers seven-night packages to Bora Bora including return economy airfares with Qantas on codeshare with Polynesian Airlines, transfers and twin-share accommodation starting at $2220 from the east coast; $2484 from Adelaide and $2706 from Perth per person.
Accommodation is two nights at Le Mandarin in Papeete and five nights in a Pension le Paradis bungalow on Bora Bora. Conditions and surcharges apply.
Teiva Tours with Thierry Mulatier start at around $275 for two hours.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.
Ph: (02) 9281 6020www.traveltotahiti.com.au
Coral Seas Travel
Ph: 1800 641 803 02 9231 2944
Teiva Tours with Thierry Mulatierteivatours@hotmail.com
Ph: 0011 689 73 7574
Pension le Paradis
Ph/Fax: 0011 689 67 7553
Qantas Ph: 13 13 13