Bora Bora

May 4 to 9, 2001

 Our Travel Experience

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Tourist Info


Our Travel Experience

We had a hard time deciding on whether or not to stay in an overwater bungalow. Since overwater bungalows were quoted at over US$500 per night, staying in one would have totally blown our daily travel budget. In the end, we had a nice time for just slightly over our budget since we found a cheap waterfront bungalow. Our main decision in not going all out and staying overwater was due to our initial poor impression of French Polynesia in Papeete. We decided that we didn't really want to spend so much money in a place where we didn't find the tourist staff helpful.

Tara originally calculated that we'd have a week to spend in Bora Bora. However, due to a middle-of-the-night flight arrival and a middle-of-the-night flight departure, our week turned into only five nights on Bora Bora. Since we had such a short time, we wanted to picks a good place to stay from the start. Therefore, we decided to rent a car and drive around looking at guesthouses before commiting to a particular one.

We ended up inviting another two travelers along on our hunt for a place to stay. We had met Mary and Ben in the Papeete airport and they also were arriving with no arranged accomodation. Usually, arriving at 2pm on a weekday would be no problem, but since the tourist information offices in French Polynesia had proved themselves to be useless, we figured a rental car was the best route. Good thing we weren't relying on Tourist Information - they had closed at noon on the Friday we arrived!

All four of us squeezed ourselves and our luggage into what passed for a mid-sized car and headed out to explore a few accomodations on the cheaper end of the scale. The first, Bora Bora Yacht Club, had two very unfriendly people in the front office and they didn't seem to have floating bungalows anymore either. The second, Blue Lagoon, was run by a very friendly German-speaking man. However, we could not see the room right away. We'd have to come back in about an hour. The third, Chez Rosina, was OK, but very, very, very bare-bones and the room we were offered was packed with three beds instead of one double bed and a desk. The rooms for rent were also in the far back of the house and had absolutely no view of the narrow, dirty beach across the road. The fourth, Village Pauline, was right next store and, though there were nicer-looking bungalows, they were also across the road from the beach and since camping was so, so, so outrageously priced, we decided to not even have a look inside a room. The fifth place we stopped at, Chez Nono, looked very promising - unfortunately, everyone else on Bora Bora in our same price range also thought so, since Chez Nono was full until the following week! Ben and Mary had success at the sixth place, Chez Robert & Tina. Even though the woman who showed us a room was rather nasty, they decided to stay since the room itself and the shared kitchen/bathroom facilities were nice. We decided that we'd rather continue looking since there was no hot water. However, it was getting dark and since the nasty woman at Chez Robert & Tina had told us that she'd be leaving in 10 minutes, we were worried that maybe other guesthouse owners would not like us showing up just to look at a room. Therefore, we took a room at the next place we saw, Pension Temanuata. Tara was very impressed that the woman who showed her the room was friendly. The room itself was also a cute, little stand-alone bungalow. We ended up staying at the Pension Temanuata for all five nights. After two nights, we were able to move from our Garden Hut #5 to Beachfront Hut #1. The front desk staff was always very friendly and we enjoyed ourselves.

Since we liked Mary and Ben, we drove back to Chez Robert & Tina and invited them to come with us to a "Pizza Hut" we'd seen while hunting for accomodation. The small, non-chain restaurant with many dogs, was tasty, but it took forever for our lasagnas. While we waited for our food, we really enjoyed a conversation on traveling since Mary and Ben both worked for Lufthansa as flight attendants. It was interesting to talk to two people who had the same job as the hundreds who'd been flight attendants on the hundreds of plane fights we've taken.

Our arrival day into Bora Bora was overcast and slightly rainy. Our first full day in Bora Bora proved to have the same overcast and rainy weather. Therefore, we relaxed in and around our hut. Our balcony was covered, so we could sit outside without getting wet. This was very convenient. Tara decided that she wasn't in the mood to look for better accomodation, so we decided to stay one more night. Tara went to pay for the nights.... and couldn't find her Visa card. This resulted in us hunting through every piece in our packs to no avail. In the end, Tara decided to call the last place she'd used her card at - The Royal Papeete Hotel. Surprise, surprise - Tara had been without her Visa for over a week and hadn't realized it. Her card was left behind at the hotel in Papeete. Lucky that we were headed back to Papeete in 6 days.
It was this morning that we discovered our staple foods for Bora Bora - chicken and corn ramen plus a ham and cheese sandwich on a long roll of French bread. The man at the front desk had advised us that the grocery across the road was closed on Sunday, so we needed to stock up today. Well, stock up we did: ramen, ham, cheese and 3 loaves of French bread. We ended up eating A LOT of ham and cheese sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner during our five nights in Bora Bora. 
After a relaxing morning at our hut, we decided we may as well use the car that we were paying for and set out to drive around the island. We were not impressed! When we looked out over the water, the view was nice, but up-close the beaches were nasty, the houses were run-down, the beaches were dirty or muddy and we even passed a dog who had been run over. We had very little desire to stop at any place all the way around the island. Even the main town did not appeal to us. We only stopped since there were watermelons for sale. Surprise, surprise - Ben and Mary were at the watermelon truck also. We decided not to buy a watermelon since they were so overpriced. We did decide to continue the day together. 

We stopped at the Blue Lagoon for internet access and ended up staying for hours. We were obliged to buy a drink with the internet access, so while Seth enjoyed the web, Tara, Mary and Ben sat on the balcony and enjoyed a pretty sunset out over the water. When Seth was done, Tara took her internet turn and then Mary and Ben also sent some e-mails. We again had a wonderful conversation and compared a lot of cultural issues between America and Germany. It was really a fun evening. Instead of going out to eat again together, we all decided to save money. There were ham and cheese sandwiches awaiting us at home.

The next day, even though the weather was not perfect, the four of us rented a boat to go snorkeling. It was great fun - especially after Seth agreed to stay in the boat and let us drift along with the strong current! We even saw a spotted eagle ray swim/fly in front of our boat right before we returned it. The sad part of the day was that Tara could not pull her own weight into the boat. Definitely time to lose that extra weight put on in Disneyworld.

Again that night, it was ham and cheese + ramen for dinner (as well as lunch on the boat).

The following day was a day of total rest in front of our bungalow. It was very enjoyable to just stay at home and do nothing. We loved watching the geckos inside our hut on the ceiling.

On our last day, we decided to splurge and go diving with the manta rays. Neither of us had been diving in over a year. The most recent dive was from Hayman Island in Australia. The Great Barrier there wasn't nearly as spectacular as we remembered it from 1994 and Seth was sick multiple times on the boat ride back to the resort. We were not looking forward to this dive, but we figured that it would be special and unique to see mantas 20 meters down.

The dive actually was very easy and we got to see mantas! We're glad we did it.

Our time in Bora Bora was nearly over, so Tara felt compelled to take out the free kayak at the hotel. Seth also went for a pit of a paddle.

The most of our time was spent right in front of our little hut. Both the garden hut and beachfront hut had nice balconies. Especially at the beachfront hut, we watched some very pretty sunrises and sunsets.

The final morning, two hours before we'd scheduled a van to the airport ferry, we decided to go snorkelling off our beach. I'm glad we did! We saw a cute puffer fish, many small bright blue fish and even a manta settled onto the bottom. Then, the big surprise came as a single spotted eagle sting ray glided by. And even better, three more, playing rays, swum/flew by giving us a good view of their games. It was a wonderful end.

Category Rating Comments
Overall Experience -
Ease of Journey -
Accommodation Temanuatu Pension
Activities -
Coolness -
Tourist Info
Temanuatu Pension
Near Matira point
10,111 Pacific Francs per night for Fare #1, a beach front bungalow
9,??? Pacific Francs per night for Fare #5, a garden bungalow