We badly wanted to escape the polar vortex that hit New York last winter and thaw out somewhere nice and warm. I was thinking of an easy hop to one of the Caribbean islands, but Keith had a grander idea in mind. Since we were going around Valentine’s Day, he wanted a destination that was not only toasty but really romantic as well. How grand and really romantic was his plan? Well, how does island hopping in French Polynesia sound? I didn’t veto his plan.
So off we flew to Tahiti, then to Huahine and we wrapped up the island hop in Bora Bora, dubbed as the “Jewel of the South Seas” and one of the world’s most beautiful and romantic islands.
I heard some people referred to Bora-Bora as the “ultimate island paradise.” And I used to think that those who said that probably had not yet seen many beautiful, exotic islands. But I now found myself agreeing. Within moments of arrival, the island cast a spell on me. Its beauty deeply moved me. With tears in my eyes, I remember telling my husband, “Thank you for taking me to this paradise.” It was magical from the moment our plane started its descent in Bora Bora. We were mesmerized by the sight of spectacular palm covered motus (islets) that surrounded the main island, and the stunning water in multi-tones of blue and green and so translucent that the coral reefs can be clearly seen through.
We found Bora Bora’s airport so delightful and exotic. Palm trees hedged the end of the runway. Even the baggage claim area was so picturesque; it’s outdoor and set against the backdrop of a pretty beach.Outside the airport terminal, boats instead of cars await the passengers. After being welcomed by our hotel staff with leis, the hotel’s private boat whisked us out of the airport into the enthralling lagoon and into our lovely hotel.
Bora Bora’s fabled blue lagoon is “So stunning, that there are really no adequate words to describe it” said novelist James A. Michener. And I’d like to add that there’s no picture that can really capture it.
We were filled with awe as we arrived in our home in Bora Bora, the Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort and Spa. Situated in a motu by itself and nestled between the lagoon and the ocean, it was absolutely breathtaking.
On the balcony of our overwater villa.
We loved and really enjoyed our over overwater villa. It was lovely, very private, with a great uninterrupted view of the ocean and the horizon, and really romantic. The glass windows on the floor were fantastic features.
We chose this resort not only because it’s beautiful and romantic, but also because of its eco-conscious initiatives. Each bungalow is powered by solar panels that are placed on the rooftop. It has also implemented Biorock technology to spearhead coral reef preservation.
In our first morning, we woke to a sound of loud splashing underneath our villa. We thought someone was snorkeling by. We run down and saw that it was a big school of fish jumping up and down the water. It was an amazing sight.
We heard people say that there wasn’t much to do in Bora Bora. Being active, that was something we were not too excited about. But we found that there was actually a lot to do. Within our resort alone, there were wide array of activities to keep us busy – other than lazing on the beach and luxuriating at the spa, there was paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkeling, jetskiing, etc. There were also a great variety of outside activities we wanted to sign up for. Whether we got to do all of them was another story.
On one of the days, we went for an exhilarating lagoon safari which took us around the island. We stopped in several places to feed rays and sharks and to snorkel, and we ended in a picnic on a private and romantic motu.
(One of the most popular attractions in Bora Bora is swimming with the sharks and rays in Lagoonarium. Be warned that the marine life there is caged. Why see them in a captive environment when you can enjoy them in their natural habitat? )
At the end of our lagoon safari, we headed to this private islet called Motu Tapu, the most photographed isle in South Pacific. It was the private beach of Queen Pomare IV, who was the 4th monarch of the Kingdom of Tahiti in the 1800’s. It is now owned by Hilton Bora Bora Nui and is reserved for invited guests and those staying at the hotel.
It was wonderful and romantic to have Motu Tapu all to ourselves. It was a perfect little paradise to relax after an active exploration of the lagoon. The only other soul on the motu was the daughter of Tepeva (he dropped us off and came back for us) who prepared the traditional Tahitian barbeque lunch for us. We had grilled fish, grilled chicken, sashimi fish marinated in coconut milk, salad and vegetables. It was plentiful and delicious.
There were more outside activities we had planned to sign up for. We wanted to go hiking but the trails were closed due to the erosion caused by the heavy rain that fell before our arrival. We also wanted to go helmet diving, but there was only one company that offered it and they were fully booked. There were other things that we could do like deep water fishing, kitesurfing, etc.
But then we realized that we were okay if we didn’t do much because we were happy just to do this….. The calming sight of the stunning water and the delicious breeze lulled us into sweet relaxation. Our restlessness was defeated.
And for an utmost relaxing and romantic indulgence, we treated ourselves for a divine couple massage for Valentine’s Day. The resort spa location itself was so romantic. It was on top of the hill with the most splendid vista.
I felt so blessed to have experienced this special island with my husband. We said that it was a place we should experience once in our lifetime, but we have already decided that it warrants another visit.
Bora Bora was every bit of a paradise from everything we had seen in and around of our resort motu, but how about the mainland? Is it as much a paradise as the surrounding motus? We explored the mainland to find out and to learn more about the people of Bora Bora, their culture and livelihood. We will share our insight with you in our next post.
- The sun in South Pacific is much stronger than it feels. The breeze masked its intensity. We recommend that you use sunblock with higher SPF than you normally use and apply often. Bring enough supplies from home. Everything can be expensive on the islands. Also pack aloe soothing gels, in case you get sunburns. (We wished we did.)
- Mosquitoes also like hanging out in paradise. Don’t forget to pack insect repellants.
- We booked our French Polynesia trip through Tahiti.com. It is convenient booking through them if you are going to several islands. We customized our itinerary and they booked all the hotels, and international and inter island flights for us. Their rep Ryan was very helpful and responsive.
- Book popular activities (diving, aqua safari, lagoon cruises, etc) before you arrive in Bora Bora. There are limited number of operators and they tend to get booked up.
- Also book popular restaurants ahead of time.