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The Bora Bora Experience

The temperature today was about 84 degrees with partly cloudy skies, but plenty of sunshine.

Our second day on Bora Bora promised to be an adventure. On the agenda was an organized day tour that would take the four of us on a boat trip around the island, a chance to swim with sharks and rays, a Polynesian picnic lunch, and a visit to the Lagoonarium. To catch our tour on shore, we picked up shore passes for the first (8 a.m.) tender shuttle from the ship to land. Once at the dock, we searched for our tour guide among the throng of people buying and selling tours for the day. A smiling local fellow walked up to us and ask to see our prepaid tickets. “You come with me,” he said as he smiled. “I love you!” Then he escorted us to a bus that took us to their dock. We boarded a fairly large open boat that would be our transportation and diving platform for most of the day.
Bora Bora has a coral reef surrounding it (see the little picture on the left). The first stop for our group was very near the reef. We put on our snorkels and masks; no flippers were necessary because the water was only about five feet deep. Once in the water, we were surrounded by visitors: nurse sharks and huge sting rays. Our guide advised that we could pet the sting rays on their back—don’t touch their tails or their underside where they have a mouth and teeth—and we could watch the sharks...but no petting (as if we wanted to pet the sharks…). It was an incredible experience to swim right next to these ominous creatures.
Borabora_ray_2.png Borabora_shark_3.png
After 30 minutes or so, we climbed back aboard and sailed over to another area in the lagoon called “The Garden”. On the way, we passed over an area of the lagoon where the water is only 3 feet deep. It is possible to walk from the island out to the reef. To demonstrate the point, we cruised by a large buoy anchored in the middle of the lagoon. Sitting atop it was a young woman in her bikini bottoms, holding an umbrella to provide a little shade.
At The Garden, the boat stopped and we put on our snorkeling equipment and jumped in. The water was deeper (about 20 feet), but very clear. No sharks or rays here, but plenty of colorful little fish were swimming about. Some folks saw a Moray eel, but we were on the wrong side of the boat.

Our last stop was the Lagoonarium. This is actually a series of enclosures built out into the lagoon from a lovely little beach. In one small pen, several sea turtles are kept for observation. The other enclosures were much larger, allowing us to snorkel in them. One was stocked with nurse sharks, sting rays, and assorted tropical fish. Another was stocked with more of the same with the addition of a large gray/black shark. Some of the locals demonstrated how to “catch a ride” on the big shark by grabbing onto the big fin growing out of his back. We passed on that little trick! The last pen (Susie’s favorite) was stocked with a lot more of the colorful tropical fish; the only scary creature there was a fat, old puffer fish. But he never puffed up and tried to sting anyone.

After snorkeling for a while, we were treated to a “motu picnic”. The buffet style lunch included grilled chicken, grilled tuna steaks, rice, tropical cole slaw, taro (a root that is eaten here like we eat potatoes), banana tapioca, and heaps of fresh fruit. What a treat to eat under the palm trees right on the beach! After lunch there was more time to swim with the fishes before boarding our boat for a ride back to the bus. In the process of taking us to the various stops throughout the day, we actually managed to sail around the entire island.
Back on the main island, the bus returned us to the tender dock and we headed back to the ship. A shower was in order to wash away the sand. We followed that with a cheese plate from room service for a little happy hour in our room. At 6:30, we met Michelle and Jerry for a drink in the lounge near the dining room. A string quartet provided some background music. Then it was a leisurely dinner and an early bedtime. A full day of sea, sand and sun had tuckered us out.

Posted by jeburns55 15:19 Archived in French Polynesia

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