Bora Bora…a name which evokes a place that is already close to being considered as “paradise”. I actually had the chance to go there for a week; sailing in one of the world’s most beautiful lagoons, enjoying the marvelous views, and of course, taking lots of pictures.
Bora Bora is a name that sounds familiar to everyone. This island is often considered as one of the most “paradisiac” places to stay on earth. After over a year in French Polynesia, I still haven’t paid a visit to this place, even if it’s only 60km away from Raiatea and we can easily see Bora Bora from here. I must admit that the local image of Bora Bora is not exactly the same as with the rest of the world. People are complaining that this island was “colonized” by international luxury hotels and that all the money brought by these tourism activities remain in the hands of the international economic groups without many significant repercussions on the local economy. In a way, there are two Bora Boras – the outside barrier of the lagoon is the one belonging to the luxury hotels with the most beautiful (private) beaches you can find; and the island itself, is for the locals, who are living their own traditional (and often poor) way of life.
Well, that’s why we hesitated to go there, as the local image of Bora Bora isn’t really so good.
But this year, for my birthday, I had two very good friends who were visiting from Nice and we decided to celebrate these two events (their visit and my birthday) by going on a sailing cruise in Bora Bora!
Sailing is perhaps the best way to discover the island, as all the charms and the beauty of the place is about the lagoon: you can spend the whole day just sailing around the island, the water is green and not very deep, sand is everywhere, and snorkeling/diving there is amazing.
Bora Bora is magical even looking at it from the sea because the center of the island is marked by a fascinating mountain, a former volcano which now tends to sink but has a very special shape. When sailing around the island, the shape of this mountain changes every time. I took a lot of pictures of it, from every different place of the lagoon. Here’s a selection of shots from the same mountain, but seen from different angles.
And when you go sailing, you must find a good place to dock your ship for the night. That’s actually great as you get to enjoy a different sunset every night and a different sunrise every morning! You can’t enjoy something like that if you’re staying on land! Visiting Bora Bora by sailing on its lagoon shows you how beautiful this place is, and why it deserves its name, “Pearl of the Pacific”.
Besides that, sailing in itself is a fantastic way of traveling. It’s total freedom! It was our first time on a sailboat and there’s a kind of magical feeling surrounding you when you feel that only the wind makes you move, without the noise of a motor, only the natural energy of wind. And the technical aspects of sailing are great to discover as well. Our skipper (we rented him with the boat as nobody of us knows how to sail a big 44feet long sailboat) was so nice and kind enough to explain sailing techniques to us, and let us participate on the technical operations and even let us navigate under his control. That’s truly amazing when you have control of this huge boat, being careful about the wind force and direction as it can change quickly and can be dangerous if you don’t know how to handle it. Well, it was a fantastic experience to do that.
And of course, sailing is a bit like camping, you are living on a reduced space, but this creates a great mood if you’re with good company (and that was the case!)
Well, if you once have a chance to come to French Polynesia, do include Bora Bora on your itinerary – you won’t regret it! But one advice: avoid the luxury hotels and prefer a little sailing cruise, it’s really a fantastic experience, not so expensive, and cheaper as a room in one of those big international hotels!