Written by jenandfrank on 27 Dec, 2004
Motu Toopua, Nunue
689 603 300
What a phenomenal trip! My husband and I receive several monthly travel magazines. Whenever a year-end "Gold List" comes out, we are always so disappointed when we see that the Nui was again forgotten. I’d like to think…Read More
Motu Toopua, Nunue
689 603 300
What a phenomenal trip! My husband and I receive several monthly travel magazines. Whenever a year-end "Gold List" comes out, we are always so disappointed when we see that the Nui was again forgotten. I’d like to think it’s because of the remote destination and that not enough people have been. This is one of the most incredible resorts we have ever been to and definitely in the top three (if not number one) on Bora Bora. This resort, only 2 years old, has every amenity and luxury feature you could want, and although room sizes and views vary, they all include the same thing.
From the beginning at the airport, you are met by a few of the hotel’s staff, who welcome you with shell necklaces and take care of all of your luggage. They offer a free water taxi from the airport (on their incredible boat, which dwarfed the other hotel’s boats). Once onboard, there is about a 20-minute ride to the Motu, during which you will see tons of incredible photo opportunities and begin to relax, knowing what you are about to experience. You are greeted at the dock by different staff members, who take you to your own couch (within the over water lobby), where there is a glass of fresh local juice, a muffin, and your hotel check-in information waiting for you. You do not check in at a front desk, and you do not wait in line. Our boat was filled with guests, and we were all greeted by our own staff member. The lobby had two computers with internet access that were free of charge and a two-person concierge desk that was always staffed. There were also areas to feed the fish below (they looked like baby sharks, though I know that wasn’t the case), and they had bread out for the guests to use.
Our over-the-water bungalow was the VERY last one in the 300 section, so we opted for the golf-cart lift that was offered to us. What an incredible resort! The lobby is located over the water and about 200 yards from the rest of the resort (you walk along a very long boardwalk). At the end is the restaurant (on a "mountain" almost above you) with some shops and the pools and pool grill. This resort offers several different types of accommodations: over-the-water bungalows with no obstructed view (called Horizon over Water bungalows – there are 82 of them that are over 1,000 square feet each, as well as two royal suites that are almost 1,500 square feet), Beach Bungalows that are behind other bungalows and close to the water (about 900 square feet and offer decent views), Hillside Lagoon View bungalows and royal suites (which are nowhere near the water but offer incredible bird’s eye views of the lagoon), and the Lagoon View suites (which are more like a regular hotel room). All rooms include everything you would expect: air-conditioning, two TVs with cable (despite the fact that we only found two English-speaking channels), minibars, hairdryers, etc. We had a Horizon over Water bungalow. We paid up for it ($850-plus a night), but boy was it worth it (I know you think that we are insane).
First of all, we were the very last bungalow, so the only thing we saw was the lagoon, fish, boats, and the most incredible sunsets. The lagoon was crystal clear. I mean incredible, something I think you could only really experience on Motu rather than the actual island of Bora Bora. I have attached a picture of Frank standing on our dock (the bungalows are equipped with your own lanai deck and dock with outdoor furniture and a shower), and I am taking the picture from our deck above. Look at the coral in the water behind him; it looks like it is at the water’s surface. Meanwhile, it was at least 20 feet deep. This is one of the reasons this hotel is so incredible – the water is unbelievable. We had an octopus on one of the corals below our bungalow!!
The inside of the bungalow was spacious, extremely clean, had lots of Tahitian decorations, and just absolutely beautiful. The bathroom was all marble and had a shower that could fit five people, a Jacuzzi tub (with glass areas that lifted so you could feed the fish below from your tub), a separate toilet area, two double-sink counters, and all Aveda products. The bedroom was dream-like, with a canopy bed, TV, desk, and dark wood. There was a separate living room/den area with a TV, couch, chair, etc., and this area could be closed off by sliding doors so that someone could take a nap and someone else could watch TV or go in and out to the lanai deck. The bungalow offered several pieces of furniture that allowed us to feed the fish without going outside. (Through our coffee table – can you imagine?) Room service and housekeeping were quick and excellent, and the turn-down service was a real treat. We were given fresh flowers, clean robes, and palm-esque sandal/slippers every night, and they left rose-petal designs on our bed. All rooms were equipped with snorkel gear and beach towels in case you didn’t want to leave your bungalow.
The pool was another treat. There were complimentary bottled water and Evian spritzes all day long, plus fresh fruit in the morning and fresh-baked cookies at 2pm everyday served by the pool staff. Infinity pools, waterfalls, and palm trees abound. The hotel also offered free kayaks and paddle boats that you could pick up at the pool desk.
Due to the fact that you are on a Motu, the beach is very private, and we often found that most people stayed in or near their bungalows, so the beach was generally very empty, as was the pool. Nonetheless, the beach was gorgeous, pure white, and was cleaned/raked everyday by the staff.
The main restaurant is located on one of the "mountains" at the Bora Bora Nui. This restaurant is opened every day for breakfast and dinner only. If offers panoramic views of the hotel and the surrounding lagoon (thus explaining the name Iriatai Panoramic Restaurant). The service is incredible, as is the international (leaning towards Italian) cuisine. Their executive chef is a famous Italian chef from Rome who makes a pasta carbonara dish so good that you think you are eating it in a piazza in Rome. (We had it as an appetizer at dinner, but a full serving is available at the pool grill for lunch). The menu is pricey, though, as is most of the island as well. Their chocolate cake is ridiculous – make a mental note.
The pool grill is on the beach, off the side of the pool area. It is a nice place to relax in the shade on the beach or just to sit and have a drink. It has average prices for a resort lunch.
The spa is at the top of the highest point of the resort and quite a walk (get a ride if you’re not in shape). We found the spa to be very pretty, with incredible 360-degree views, but our couples massage was not what we received in Moorea and not what we were expecting here. My masseur was sick and stopped every 2 minutes to blow her nose – real relaxing. We also opted for an outdoor sunset massage, which I think, in retrospect, was a mistake because it was a bit buggy (the spa is surrounded by trees, plants, flowers, etc.). When all was said and done, I would have passed considering it was over $300 and I couldn’t relax at all.
Next to the spa was the gym and the wedding chapel – trust me, walking to this gym is enough of a workout.
The hotel offers a free water taxi to the island of Bora Bora that takes about 15 minutes or so. Many of the other hotels charged a small fee. The taxi had a schedule that you received before leaving; it basically left every 30 minutes or so. It was very convenient and allowed us to go out every night and leave the resort.
Check out the breakfast situation when you arrive. We were never told that breakfast was included in all of the rates, but apparently it was! This is not the kind of place to pass up on a free meal.
We did not see one child or group of friends at this resort. I am guessing it’s due to the steep prices and/or the long flight to get there. That was fine by me – no offense, but after spending this kind of money, who wants to hear kids playing.
Written by Josh S on 13 Jan, 2005
The manta ray’s milky white underside just scratched the surface of the water as it performed a graceful somersault in front of the underwater spotlight. Our eyes widened and we stood dumbstruck at nature’s magnificence revealed so easily, standing on the dock under the moonlight.…Read More
The manta ray’s milky white underside just scratched the surface of the water as it performed a graceful somersault in front of the underwater spotlight. Our eyes widened and we stood dumbstruck at nature’s magnificence revealed so easily, standing on the dock under the moonlight. The creature made several passes by the dock, with its mouth agape as it fed on plankton attracted to the light. Sublime moments such as this are supposed to be possible only after much effort, but at the Hotel Bora Bora, they seem to be a common occurrence.
A short 45-minute flight from Tahiti, the largest island in French Polynesia, Bora Bora is surrounded by perhaps the world’s most cinematic lagoon. As our turboprop banked low through puffy clouds, we gazed down on the volcanic Mt. Otemanu rising abruptly from the turquoise waters. We were picked up promptly at the airstrip, which lies on an islet, or motu, fringing the lagoon, and were whisked to the southern end of the island, directly to the pier of Hotel Bora Bora. Manager Martial Thevenaz, a friendly Swiss expat, met my companion Sylvia and I there with a cocktail and a welcoming smile. Instantly we felt the stress of the last 24 hours of travel evaporate, and we allowed ourselves to be swept up in the romance of the place.
The hotel, part of the Aman Resorts group, has been extensively remodeled since its establishment in the mid-60s, and Aman’s legendary Midas touch is evident everywhere, from the stylish teak furniture to the privacy and discretion afforded to all guests. We spent the first few nights in a luxurious pool faré—basically a small villa complete with our own private plunge pool. Our air-conditioned faré offered an adjoining living room, a large bathroom with a stand-alone tub, a bedroom with a four-poster bed, and a separate den—more than enough space for two.
The resort occupies perhaps the most prime piece of real estate on the island, with stunning views of the mountains and easy access to the main town of Vaitape and Matira Point and environs, site of most tourist accommodations, yet removed enough to feel completely private. The meticulously landscaped grounds evoke the lushness of the environment while the architecture incorporates traditional Polynesia motifs in a way that manages to be luxurious without being gaudy. It sounds silly, but we felt like "smart travelers" compared to other couples we met staying at different resorts on the island—with a great location, five-star accommodations and facilities, and a friendly and welcoming nature, the Hotel Bora Bora seemed the best place from which to experience the island’s many charms.
While the resort’s white-sand beaches and fantastic food could support any dedicated couch potato for weeks, we had a more active vacation experience in mind. We spent some time snorkeling off the resort, but soon we were ready to venture further afield and dive the island’s famous reefs. The adjacent Bora Bora Dive Center offered easy access to the best of the island’s diving, and we were soon speeding our way to Teavanui Pass, the only break in the lagoon’s circumference, dynamited by the U.S. Navy during World War II. I was a relatively experienced diver, but Sylvia was completing her certification, and on her very first open-water dive, she was immediately surrounded by a dozen or more gray reefs sharks and lemon sharks. The surge of the current flushed new water through, keeping the visibility up to 80 feet, and we floated across a huge garden of beautiful hard coral as sharks and many species of brightly colored fish surrounded us.
Later that week, we dove some of the shallower sites inside the lagoon, as well as one site off the north end of the island in the rough water outside the lagoon, where I saw dozens of blacktip sharks and more spectacular coral gardens. The dive masters at the Bora Bora Dive Center were extremely helpful and safety-conscious and successfully negotiated Sylvia through her certification process.
Other recommended activities include biking around the island (it’s only 32km all the way around) and having a lunch feast of traditional Polynesia fare on an outer motu). Both are great ways to experience some of the "real" Bora Bora on a one-to-one level, interacting with locals and the island environment. I tried several times, unsuccessfully, to find out how to climb Mt. Otemanu or its neighbor Mt. Pahia, having read about the hike in several guidebooks. However, unfortunately, no one seemed to know whether this was still possible. We also decided that the lagoon tour, complete with shark feeding and stingray petting, is best avoided. While they may be a brief thrill, it’s far more interesting to interact with these animals while diving or snorkeling when they are truly wild, rather than in a contrived "feeding" environment in which some rays are literally picked up out of the water. Plus, if you’re used to traveling independently, the "group tour" aspect of the experience is quite a turn off.
The list of additional activity options at Hotel Bora Bora is long and includes tennis, massage, jet skiing, sailing, heli-tours, horseback riding, deep sea fishing, sunset cruises, parasailing, and the use of a game room (who wants to watch movies in such a place?). Most are available for additional charges at typically insane Bora Bora prices, though the resort’s prices are comparable to those elsewhere on the island. Remember, in a place so far removed from most of global commerce, even a hamburger can cost $30… so just be prepared.
Despite the island’s relative isolation, however, we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food at the resort’s Matira Terrace Restaurant (a mix of Asian, Polynesian, and French influences), area restaurants like the famous Bloody Mary’s (where the food outshone their signature cocktail), and several places along the Matira strip. The food was uniformly excellent, and we found that with a cheap beachside lunch at a local joint and a nice dinner, our meals were comparable to what we’d spend at home.
On our last night, we moved into an overwater bungalow, something that has become an emblem of Polynesia luxury accommodation. Ours was no disappointment and those at the Hotel Bora Bora offer the paragon of privacy, luxury, and exoticism. With our own private deck and swim ladder, paradise was certainly the word most readily on our lips. As we watched the sunset from our deck and sipped the complimentary champagne as the tropical breeze cooled our faces, we felt like the luckiest couple on the face of the earth.
Bora Bora is reached via a short flight from Tahiti on Air Tahiti, while Tahiti is serviced by Air Tahiti Nui directly from Los Angeles. The flight is a pleasant one, with a friendly staff, good food, and new Airbus planes. From the West Coast of the USA, it’s a much easier trip than going to the Caribbean.
The Hotel Bora Bora is part of the Aman Resorts group, and details have not been overlooked. Rates range from $700/night for a standard bungalow and $875 for a pool faré to $925 for an overwater bungalow and $975 for a beach faré. More information can be found on their website at www.amanresorts.com/bora/home.htm, by calling (65) 6887 3337, or by emailing email@example.com.
Additional information on the island can be found on the official tourism website at www.gototahiti.com.
Written by BeauandHolly on 31 Jan, 2005
We spent 2 weeks at the Club Med Bora Bora on our honeymoon - it was simply incredible! The resort was very nice, with a little cabana right on the beach - literally 20 steps from the water. There were beautiful views of a secluded…Read More
We spent 2 weeks at the Club Med Bora Bora on our honeymoon - it was simply incredible! The resort was very nice, with a little cabana right on the beach - literally 20 steps from the water. There were beautiful views of a secluded bay, a long dock with views of tropical fish underneath, and daily trips across the lagoon to the motu, and snorkeling, windsailing, kayaking, and sailing were available on the premises. Also, Club Med operated a shuttle into Vaitape, which we enjoyed several times. We were very fortunate to be there during the Heiva Festival and were able to watch the finals for the champion single dancers, both male and female. We so enjoyed the drums and dancing, and the people were very welcoming and friendly.
We also went diving several times with Top Dive, an EXCELLENT dive shop we would fully recommend. We were able to dive with sharks, manta rays, and even saw a sea turtle, not to mention all the other wonderful underwater flora and fish!
Bora Bora was a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime excursion. If you have the chance to visit this beautiful retreat, do not pass it up!
Written by jenandfrank on 19 Jan, 2005
Top Dive – Vaitape, 689-60-5050. French. This is definitely considered (as it should be) the finest dining on Bora Bora. It is located north of Vaitape on the lagoon and with only 47 seats. Reservations must be made (way in advance)…Read More
Top Dive – Vaitape, 689-60-5050. French.
This is definitely considered (as it should be) the finest dining on Bora Bora. It is located north of Vaitape on the lagoon and with only 47 seats. Reservations must be made (way in advance) and can be done online or with your concierge. The website is www.topdive.com (Top Dive is also a hotel). It's extremely romantic, with beautiful views of the Bora Bora Lagoon. (If you are out on the terrace, you can watch manta rays in the water below you.) The restaurant has huge cathedral ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, marble floors, candles everywhere—just about everything inside was done top-notch. It’s open for lunch and dinner and offers a free shuttle bus from the docks and other hotels on the island. Their chef, Phillipe Bachman, creates many exquisite dishes using fresh seafood, some even flown in from New Zealand. Their menu is seasonal, and the wine list is extensive. (This is not a place you will find chicken served). They also offer a prix-fixe, three-course menu. I had mushroom raviolis and the mahimahi (the chutney was insane). My husband had the warm ham salad and the filet of duck. We shared a crème brulee for dessert, which was incredible. Our meals and the service were excellent (on the slow side, like the rest of French Polynesia), and we wanted for nothing. The portions tend to be on the smaller side, but we both left satisfied. If you typically do not order an appetizer and dessert, this place probably isn't for you (you will leave hungry). They also offer a five-course tasting menu with wine if that is something of interest to you. Special meals can be prepared with advance notice. It’s definitely worth the trip—not as pricey as we expected, and we didn’t hold back either. It is highly recommended.
Formerly called Temanuata, it is now considered French "superior" dining. This is another restaurant that offered a free shuttle from the docks (most restaurants do to be competative). This place was casual, with indoor seating but open windows and doors, so you felt like you were outside.The walls are made from coconut tree trunks, and there are several shells hanging from the beams in the ceiling. The food was acceptable but overpriced. Quite honestly, we were shocked that our concierge spoke so highly of it and that this is considered by the locals to be the best restaurant on the island – have they been to Top Dive? The service left a lot to be desired and they were a bit rude. They were slow – VERY slow – dinner took us over 2 hours. Chef Eric Lafond, who once cooked at Hotel Bora Bora and Le Meridian, has really lost his edge. For dinner, my husband had the steak, which was (at best) acceptable. I had a local catch of the day that came with a small tasting of poisson cru. The fish was so plain that I could have made it myself at home. We both had the house salad to start, which was good. We weren’t served our drinks until the middle of our meal despite the fact that the restaurant was empty and we asked several times. When it came time for a supposedly "delicious" (preordered) dessert, we knew we were going to miss the last Nui water shuttle back to the hotel, so we tried to cancel the dessert, explaining to them why and asking to have their shuttle take us back to the dock as soon as possible. You would think we were asking for their first born – they made such a big deal about it. Mind you, our dessert hadn’t even been made. The owner/manager (Regis Jaquet) made a big deal, yelling at us in front of the other patrons. Needless to say, we weren’t the only ones in the same situation, and when a few other people heard what was going on, they chimed in as well. Now feeling like an idiot and knowing everything on this island is word of mouth, he became very apologetic to us and personally drove us to the dock. Although we appreciated the ride and his apologies, they were far from sincere. Had it not been for the other couples complaining as well, would he have continued to berate us in front of the restaurant? Who wants to have a night out and pay for that? Note: It is closed on Saturdays for lunch and all day Sunday, and they do NOT accept American Express. I do not recommend eating here.
Written by jenandfrank on 18 Jan, 2005
The shark-feeding tours are the big thing on Bora Bora. We booked ours through the Concierge at the Nui. We paid just under $75 each (and I’m sure the Nui got its cut) for what should have been a 3-hour tour. Our tour company was…Read More
The shark-feeding tours are the big thing on Bora Bora. We booked ours through the Concierge at the Nui. We paid just under $75 each (and I’m sure the Nui got its cut) for what should have been a 3-hour tour. Our tour company was Matira Tours (689/23-55-78). They picked us up at 9:30am at our hotel (they also have 1pm departures), and there were about 20 of us on the trip. Matira runs tours everyday except Sunday and also offers Motu Picnics and snorkeling-only trips. Some tour companies bring you on outrigger canoes and some on regular boats (almost like those used for diving trips).
We took a regular boat (33 feet long), which was my preference because the canoes were just too low to the water if you know what I mean. The boat was well-equipped, had a canvas top to block out the direct sun, and also offered an easy ramp to get in and out of the water. We were too chicken to actually get off the boat despite the fact that everyone claims the sharks won’t bother you since food is in abundance for them, but this is how the trip played out. You catch the boat, and while heading out to the reef, the captain points to where you are headed. Funny how he said, "It’s about 100 yards from that hut"… um, that was OUR hut he was pointing to. That was comforting since we had been in that water everyday since we had got there.
Anyway, you sail to the barrier reef and are given masks and snorkel gear with no fins because they scare the sharks. While you are preparing yourself, the staff begins to chum for sharks. They were throwing in squid, tuna, and mahimahi among other things. Their goal was to not only get sharks near the boat but also stingrays and as many other smaller fish as possible. The two guides hop in the water and tie a rope around two large pieces of coral (sometimes if your tour agency meets up with another, they tie the rope from boat to boat and they do the excursion together with a large group). The sharks apparently know not to cross this rope (right). Once in place, you are expected to jump into the water (about 4 feet deep) and stand behind this rope. While holding onto the rope for stability, the guides start to feed the sharks and put on a small show for you. Thankfully, the water is so clear that we could see everything that was going on from the boat. This way we weren’t disappointed that we missed much in fear of our lives. Along with the 4- to 5-foot blacktip reef sharks, we saw 3-foot sting rays, angel fish, butterfly fish, and tons of other tropical fish that I couldn’t name if I tried. Almost like they were in a trance, the sharks would go to the rope and turn around every time. It was very odd. yet interesting (I would have been peeing in my pants had I been in the water with a shark coming straight for me). The guide said to not to be disappointed if the sharks didn’t get close to the rope because sometimes they just aren’t interested.
So the excursion was fun, everyone seemed to be happy, and now it’s over, so everyone is told to pack back into the boat. Some people were complaining they were cold and didn’t pack properly - obviously that wasn’t an issue for us (I guess they figured after swimming it would be hot out, so they didn’t pack extra clothes). The staff had prepared cut pineapple and began to serve that and fresh coconut milk. Before you could say French Polynesia, the weather started to rapidly change and it began to pour. The staff started running around the boat to drop the canvas "walls," and meanwhile, the boat got turned around. Well, now it’s pouring, there is no visibility, and the staff has no idea which way is back to the hotel. Although they were all speaking in Tahitian, it was obvious that they were semi-freaking out. Great, that’s all I needed to see. We have sharks circling our boat, the locals have no clue how to get back, and people onboard are starting to have panic attacks. I thought that, for a brief second, the movies Blue Lagoon, Castaway and Gilligan’s Island flashed before me. Classic. So after a lot of arguing, one of the staff members took a shot, I think, and although we weren’t headed straight for our motu, we got close enough that he tried to make it seem as though it was a planned detour. It was amusing now but very scary then. Overall, it was a great experience that lasted about 5 hours instead of 3. It made for great stories to say the least. Maybe next time we would consider going in since we saw what took place, and it is said that no one has ever been touched by a shark on one of these trips before. This is highly recommended.
Written by jenandfrank on 28 Dec, 2004
Bora Bora was named and built by U.S. GIs in the 40s. I have heard two different comparisons to Hawaii; one was that Tahiti as a whole receives fewer visitors in one year than Honolulu does in one month, and the other was that Tahiti…Read More
Bora Bora was named and built by U.S. GIs in the 40s. I have heard two different comparisons to Hawaii; one was that Tahiti as a whole receives fewer visitors in one year than Honolulu does in one month, and the other was that Tahiti receives fewer visitors in one year than Hawaii does in one day. Either way, my point is that this is a place to get away from it all: secluded, quiet, crystal lagoons, perfect beaches, superexotic. High season here is determined by each hotel and/or the airlines. Unlike most warm locations, it is not based on a rainy season, simply because the weather here is very unpredictable day to day. For those first-time visitors to Bora Bora, what you should know is that the airport is located on a motu (small island) called Motu Mute. So regardless of where you are staying, you will need to take a boat to your destination. Most hotels offer a water-taxi service and some, we heard, charge, but the Nui did not. Note: Most people fly into Bora Bora, and the flights are open seating. We had great views from both sides of the plane, although some people will tell you to sit on the left side. Vaitape is the capital of Bora Bora. Cars (and scooters) can be rented right off the dock/marina, and we found they did not need to be reserved in advance. The cars are small, and the roofs are basically canvas (so if you get stuck in the rain, you are screwed, like we were--soaking wet). Our 4-hour rental from Europcar (tel. 67.70.03) was $80, and that did not include insurance. The island is less than an hour’s drive all the way around (20 miles). We drove to Hotel Bora Bora for lunch, because after all, it’s famous and almost always top-rated in travel guides. It seemed a beautiful hotel, but a step below the Nui. Lunch was very good, but the staff became indifferent toward us once they discovered we weren’t guests of the hotel. Other than in Vaitape, there is no need to rent a car, scooter, etc. (there really isn’t even a need in Vaitape, unless you want to drive around the island). None of the motus have roads, so walking will be key on this trip. If you are looking to buy some basic food or snacks, there is a fairly large supermarket to the left of the docks in Vaitape, a 2-minute walk. We bought some snacks, bottled water, etc., and used our minibar to hold it all. We found that this was great and cut back on some overpriced hotel expenses. Local cuisine is created using sweet coconut, vanilla, and fresh seafood. The "national" dish is poisson cru, which is raw fish and diced vegetables soaked in a mixture of lime juice and coconut milk. Other (nonfood) shopping is somewhat limited, and prices are higher than on some other islands, especially for black pearls. Generally speaking, if you are a seafood lover, French Polynesia is a great place to be. They have so many local fish that we could never dream of getting at home, and everything is ridiculously fresh. My husband is not a fish eater, though, and he still found ample choices everywhere we went. French Polynesia in general discourages tipping. I thought this was ridiculous, and we tipped anyway, but for some people, that is a plus. I will say though that no one refused a tip. Overall, I would say the Polynesian islands are not for young groups of friends or children, mainly for the lack of things to do or places to hang out at night. Plus, you will see that most everyone is a honeymooner or an older couple celebrating an anniversary or something. It is a very low-key and romantic place to be. Someone recommended that we bring floats with us (to use off our bungalow, to snorkel, etc.). Apparently, they are hard to get over there and are very overpriced. What a great idea that was. They were very inexpensive at home, they are packed flat, and we put them right in our suitcase. After each island, we just left them for the staff and blew up new ones at the next place. If you are into water activities, this is the island for them--snorkeling, scuba, kayaking, jet skis, shark-feeding tours, etc. The shark-feeding (water safari) tours are the big thing on Bora Bora. We were too scared to get off the boat, but we did take the tour and heard rave reviews from those who actually went in the water. For a more detailed account, read my journal on it. But for the basics: You are taken less than a mile offshore, and the boat staff starts to chum to bring sharks in your area. You get into the water on the other side of a rope and watch as the staff feed the shark and bring them close to you (and the rope). French Polynesia is part of the EU, and the French unemployment benefits are higher than U.S. minimum wages. Thus, most of the citizens of Bora Bora are affluent or comfortable, to say the least. This is why there are no beggars or people trying to sell you things everywhere you go (like Mexico, for example). Overall, we found that everyone spoke perfect English, and that Americans were welcome. Many people ask how they can travel to this location on a budget. Well, I’m not sure about budget travel, but to get better pricing, I would recommend passing on the over-water bungalows and staying either in a garden bungalow or the other regular hotel-like accommodations that are offered. That said, to be fair, traveling all this way and not staying in an over-water bungalow, I think, would be a mistake. That is part of the charm of these islands--to be able to be in a secluded area, totally relaxed, in this beautiful hut, over the most incredible water you’ve ever seen. We found this site, to be the most helpful before we traveled; unlike most locations, the travel sites for the French Polynesia are limited. At this point, if I had to choose one island to go back to before I die, it would most definitely be Bora Bora. Any review you read that claims anything other than perfection while visiting this island never left their room. Close
Written by torstinj on 13 Jul, 2005
My husband and I went to the Bora Bora Nui Resort and Spa for 10 days in June, 2004. This was our second trip to Bora Bora, so we were pretty familiar with the island and all the surrounding hotels. The hotel is about 2…Read More
My husband and I went to the Bora Bora Nui Resort and Spa for 10 days in June, 2004. This was our second trip to Bora Bora, so we were pretty familiar with the island and all the surrounding hotels. The hotel is about 2 to 3 years old and is known to be the top luxury hotel in Bora Bora. (It also boast a very high price to prove it as well.) Here's a hint: the hotel is a part of the Starwood system, so become a Starwood Preferred Guest by singing on via the Internet before you plan your trip. You will be able to get some really great deals through Starwood. We received a premier over-water bungalow, which is normally priced at $1,300, for about $850 with our Starwood membership.
Before choosing the Bora Bora Nui, you may want to consider which side of the island you would prefer. Many first-time tourists really don't think about this, but there is a pretty big difference between the east side and the west side of the island. The Nui is situated on the west side (southwest to be exact). The west side of the island has a lot more tropical wind and the breeze is stronger and more frequent than on the east side. The west side also has an amazing sunset if your bungalow faces the sea. Due to the climate, it has plenty of coral, which means that you will be able to see many more colorful fishes under your bungalow than you ever would on the east side. I would say that the biggest downside is that the majority of the hotels are on the west side, so you will be seeing more boat traffic, cruise ships, and commercialism.
Now, if you’re looking for tranquility, beauty, and serenity, I would choose a hotel on the east side. Personally, this is my favorite side. There are very few hotels, so it stays very quiet. The tropical breeze is much calmer, which makes the water clearer, beautiful, and much more colorful than the west side. There must be six to seven different hues of blues, greens, and purples in the waters on the east side of the island. There is also a mystical sense to being on the east side, and you do not feel on the opposing side as much. One side note: The Ritz-Carlton and the Four Seasons will be the last two hotels built on that side of the island. We were told that they will be opening in 2005 and 2006 respectively.
Now, about the hotel itself. It really is very luxurious and offers the largest amount of guest space on the Island. Everything in the hotels spells grandeur and luxury. From the mahogany floors in both the bedroom and the living area to the oversized bathtubs, you feel pampered every which way you look. The service is also the best I have seen of any Tahitian hotel (we have been to five others so far). The people really try very hard to please you and are highly trained at making your stay as comfortable as possible. The surrounding grounds are definitely the best I have seen in Tahiti for a resort, perfectly manicured, but with a natural tranquility about it. You really feel like you have landed on Fantasy Island (and believe me, they try very hard to make your every wish come true). And the spa! The spa is an absolutely must, even if it’s just to visit, have some free ginger tea, and view the surroundings. We took some of our best Tahitian pictures by the spa. Another hint: the grounds of the Bora Bora Nui are very large. If you don’t feel like walking, the staff will escort you anywhere via their golf carts. All you have to do is call them for a pick up just 5 minutes before leaving. You will need to take a golf cart up to spa, since it is perched on hill.
Lastly, here is the only drawback of the Bora Bora Nui. Unless the hotel has changed recently (hopefully they did, because there were quite a few complaints), be prepared to pay very high prices for pretty mediocre food. The hotel mainly caters to an American clientele who are used to a variety of savory foods; however, the hotel tries to be conscientious to the many other nationalities by using subtle flavors. This results in a very, very bland cuisine, with a very boring menu. While we were there, we met a few other couples, and this seemed to be the ongoing, general complaint. We ended up eating cheeseburgers and fries (the best dish on the menu) for most of our lunches and going to the main island for dinners at night. I have to say, though, if you are not too picky with food, the hotel surroundings and staff will make it up to you with the beauty and service they provide. If that’s still not enough compensation, then there’s a great French restaurant (brand-new) on the main island. I believe it’s called Le Mahanna. Just ask anyone there. They will know about it. The food is five-star quality, with amazing flavor, and is the same cost as the hotel’s. You must book early, because the chef only caters to five tables at a time. He is keen on personally talking to you about your food choices and then taking your order before going into the kitchen to cook your meal. And what a meal it is! Try to go at least once, even if you decide the food is not so bad at the hotel.
All in all, we would definitely go back to the Bora Bora Nui for a few days. Then we would go to the new Ritz-Carlton or Four Seasons to experience the mystic side of Bora Bora.
Tahiti is known for many beautiful things, one of which is its art of tattooing. We decided to get Tahitian tattoos for many reasons. We were referred by many locals to Marama; his studio is about a 15-minute walk from the Club Med along the…Read More
Tahiti is known for many beautiful things, one of which is its art of tattooing. We decided to get Tahitian tattoos for many reasons. We were referred by many locals to Marama; his studio is about a 15-minute walk from the Club Med along the main road. He does a wonderful job of listening to what you want, why you want it, and then personalizing the piece of art. And with Marama, it truly is art. And what better way to get a tattoo than sitting in a chair in a hut overlooking the ocean? Not too shabby…
He offers great prices and beautiful artwork, and it is VERY SAFE AND HEALTHY! Our tattoos were fully healed within about 3 to 4 days.
Written by StephCat on 06 May, 2004
We used the following packing list, based upon recommendations from the Tahiti Explorer message boards. Everything fit into two carry-on sized convertible backpack luggage pieces (one from REI, the other Pangea brand) and one medium-sized duffle (primarily for our snorkeling gear) that we checked.…Read More
We used the following packing list, based upon recommendations from the Tahiti Explorer message boards. Everything fit into two carry-on sized convertible backpack luggage pieces (one from REI, the other Pangea brand) and one medium-sized duffle (primarily for our snorkeling gear) that we checked. In retrospect, we could've gone a little lighter -- items that were especially useful or conversely not useful at all will be annotated.
Written by Prosperine on 04 Apr, 2002
Once the guide released the chum, we were surrounded by a frenzy of fish. Manned with our snorkel gear, we waited patiently for the sharks while holding onto a rope. We were visited by 3 black-tipped reef sharks. Unfortunately, they kept at…Read More
Once the guide released the chum, we were surrounded by a frenzy of fish. Manned with our snorkel gear, we waited patiently for the sharks while holding onto a rope. We were visited by 3 black-tipped reef sharks. Unfortunately, they kept at a distance.
We continued onward to search for moray eels and snorkel a bit. The guide tried to coax the moray out of its hole, but it wasn't cooperating. When the guide asked for a volunteer, my boyfriend stepped up. The guide put a spiny sea urchin in his hand and told him the dangers of getting stung by one of its toxic quills. I wish I had taken a picture.
We continued onward to a private motu where we had fresh coconut milk and pineapple and watched the storm clouds roll in.
On the way back to the hotel, we were given a minute tour of the other hotels and motus in Bora Bora.