After our adventure in unspoiled Raiatea, we visited the nearby island of Bora Bora. The flight took ten minutes but the airport is on a separate island to the main resort island. So we boarded the Air Tahiti ferry with locals and visitors that were not staying in the luxury resorts but we could not fail to notice the arrival facilities for those that were staying in them, as they were whisked away in powerful leather seated speed boats. Bora Bora is quite a small island, set on a spectacular lagoon, and is famous for two things. Firstly, a large part of the island’s accommodation is in seriously expensive luxury resorts. Second, Bora Bora is a mecca for honeymoon couples that are able to afford this kind of extravagance.
We spent eight nights in a delightful, small, locally-owned resort, with a beach-front bungalow, and a sheltered deck overlooking the lagoon. There are few restaurants in Bora Bora and a handful of supermarkets. We dined in our resort twice, visited a well-rated beach-front eatery three times, and sampled the island’s most popular restaurant, Bloody Mary, – the food was excellent, the service poor and the seats were low wooden stools and seriously uncomfortable, the floor was sand and in short, over-rated as the number one restaurant and way overpriced. Otherwise, we managed to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner on our deck overlooking the sea and that was truly wonderful.
If you look closely, many of the American and French visitors to Bora Bora are on package holidays and the rest are closeted away in luxury resort compounds. Bora Bora does not cater well for independent travellers like ourselves. Compared to many other islands, Bora Bora is beautiful but definitely not as lovely as other islands that we visited. Too many local people earn their living off tourism, so the island has lost its natural culture. There are surprisingly few shops, unless you are looking for cultured pearls.
Spending nearly a month in French Polynesia, we had become highly selective in choosing tours and excursions. We quickly noted that Bora Bora tours, on a like for like basis, were two to three times more expensive than on other islands in French Polynesia and we hate being ripped off.
In conclusion, we would recommend sampling Bora Bora as a small part of a multi-island visit to French Polynesia but be warned, it does not provide value for money.