Cover image credit: www.freequentflyerblog.com
Welcome to my first Port Highlight post. In these posts I’ll pick some of my favourite ports and places that I’ve visited, and I’ll tell you a bit about my time there.
Today I’ll be giving you a little insight into the beautiful port of Bora Bora.
Bora Bora is an island group in French Polynesia, located in the Pacific Ocean. The main island is dominated by an extinct volcano with two peaks, Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu. A lagoon and barrier reef surround the island. It’s a tourist hotspot, well known for its luxury resorts; it’s a picture-perfect location and it famously costs a pretty penny to stay in the over-water bungalow-style hotels.
Image credit: www.overwaterbungalows.net
I had always wanted to visit Bora Bora after having seen it in pictures and movies. It was a dream destination, but somewhere I never actually thought I’d get to. I was lucky enough to visit when I was sailing on the Oceania Insignia on its 2016 world voyage.
Working on ships, you sometimes get the opportunity to volunteer as an escort on guest tours. This means you get to go on a tour for free that the guests pay for, in exchange you have to wear a uniform (which is just a polo shirt in most cases), help the guests with anything they need whilst on the tour, and then report back to the destinations team whether the tour ran smoothly or not. Tour escorting can be great if there’s places you’d like to see that might be difficult or expensive to get to on your own, or even if there’s a port you’ve visited a few times before and you’d like to see something different. During my time in Polynesia I was escorting tours every day to make the most of the ports.
On arrival to Bora Bora we were anchored just out to sea and had to ride in a tender boat to get to the pier. I was off the ship first thing to start a jet boat circumnavigation tour of the main island with a small group of guests and our boat driver (and island local) Luciano. The views were stunning, and the water was – and is still – the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen; it was so clear and constantly changing from turquoise, to dark blue, and everything in between as we moved through it.
During our trip around the island we stopped at a coral garden for some snorkelling. This was amazing: the water was crystal clear and there was an abundance of colourful fish. I had taken a lot of photos on the day on a waterproof camera, and I got some great snaps of the fish and even a monstrous looking eel. Later, however, when I was going through the pictures on the camera, I tried to delete a blurry photo and ended up deleting the entire contents of the memory card, hence why there’s not many of my own photos on this post.
Side note: My number one travel photography tip would be to never edit or delete photos on the go directly from your camera. Always wait until you can upload them to your computer, so you can see all the details and don’t end up accidentally deleting the wrong photos.
By the way, if you’re looking for a decent waterproof action camera that won’t break the bank, I’d recommend Crosstour. If you want for something to get occasional snaps of your holidays etc. and don’t fancy paying out for a GoPro, they’re definitely worth a look:
After our snorkelling stop we jetted to a sandbar, which is a ridge of sand in the ocean built up over time. We anchored in the shallow water and Luciano served us fresh local fruit and played some traditional French Polynesian music on the ukulele. After this we were able to take a short swim around the sandbar and even saw some rays swimming really close to us. It was nice to just relax in this peaceful spot, with no one else around.
Our morning tour was now over so we headed back to the pier. After a quick tender ride back to the ship, a fast change out of my escort uniform, and another tender ride back to the pier, I caught a bus to Marita Beach, often called Bora Bora’s best beach, to meet up with some friends. We enjoyed the water and the gorgeous white sand, then we took a walk to the famous Bloody Mary’s Restaurant – which is often visited by celebrities – for some food. The food was great, although we didn’t spot anyone famous. After this we headed back to the ship ready for our all-on-board time of 5pm with departure at 6pm.
Despite having such a short time here, and only visiting once, Bora Bora is a stand out and memorable destination for me, and this was one of my all-time favourite days both on and off ships. Having left ships now I’d love to get back there on holiday one day, although I’ll have to work really hard to save up for it!
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