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Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Yes, it really is that beautiful

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There are some places in this world that live in our heads as having almost mythical beauty. We see them in pictures, dream about them in movies, and wish we could know if it really looks like that. Bora Bora is one of those places. The iconic images of its impossibly blue lagoon and the dark, towering Mount Otemanu rising in the center had been seared on my brain for as long as I could remember. Let’s go there.

As the folks from the Tahitian tourist board say, Bora Bora is known as the “Jewel of the South Seas.” It is the most celebrated island in the South Pacific, French Polynesia's leading lady. Her beauty is unrivaled and her fame, unwavering. Bora Bora is one of the few places on earth that everyone hopes to witness in their lifetime—and once you see it, you are forever enamored.

We fly to Bora Bora on Air Tahiti from the magical little island of Huahine (more on that in another post). Flying between the islands in French Polynesia is something to be experienced. There is no security, the airports are open air, and the scent of flowers is everywhere. It’s literally the exact opposite of most airports. No long security lines and crabby attendants, just people waiting to put leis around your neck.

The flight into Bora Bora is breathtaking. As we approach, we circle the lagoon and get a bird’s eye view of all of the overwater bungalow resorts on the outlying motus. It’s cliche to say it takes my breath away but it does. When we land, we walk across flowered walkways and see that there are stands set up throughout the open air terminal with women in colorful dresses holding armfuls of fresh flower leis. Palm fronds sway in the breeze, people smile and wave “Ia Orana!” The hotel ‘shuttles’ are beautiful boats that whisk you away to your intended destination across the impossibly blue lagoon. I have to pinch myself to make sure I am not dreaming.

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This is the airport bathroom. Imagine that.

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The hotel shuttle skirts the island while we all look around in awe. We arrive at the Intercontinental Le Moana Bora Bora and are met with cool drinks and warm greetings of welcome. As Platinum Ambassador members, we are upgraded to an overwater bungalow and everything about it exceeds every expectation. The property is stunning, the lagoon is breathtaking and the people are wonderful.

It really feels like we are in some otherworldly movie set. The colors are brighter, the air is warmer, and the flowers smell like heaven. Speaking of flowers... In French Polynesia everyone wears flowers every day, and I mean everyone. Men women and children wear brightly colored flowers on their head and around their necks, and many men wear pareos instead of shorts. It’s really beautiful.

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Each bungalow has a glass coffee table that looks down into the lagoon. The hotel has had local marine biologists start little coral gardens under each bungalow to serve as fish nurseries, and they provide eco friendly fish food that you can sprinkle down into the water. I have wanted to say those words...” I am feeding the fish through a hole in my bedroom floor!” If anyone had ever told me that I could spend hours looking down into the coffee table I would’ve had thought they were crazy but it’s amazing and, quite frankly, a little addictive. “Wait, the blue wrasse is coming back! I can see the eel’s head!” Just like in Moorea, the occasional black tip shark slides by, giving us the eye but never threatening. Again, if anyone had ever told me I’d jump in a lagoon with sharks and not give it a second thought, well...you know.

The elusive moray eel finally shows himself and you’d think we just won the lottery.

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One night we decide to explore a little and take a taxi to the Bora Bora Yacht Club. for dinner. The scenery on the way looks like something out of a South Pacific movie. I know I keep saying it, but it’s true. Children play in the surf, people wave, and color after color whizzes by the windows like a giant mixed up rainbow. The yacht club is a hit. We enjoy a beautiful evening on the water and can not help but notice a couple at the table next to us. They’re celebrating an anniversary and despite the incredible location, they don’t put their phones down during the ENTIRE MEAL. The wife is continually staging pictures, providing direction to her husband and the staff, and actually has the waiter bring the champagne twice because he did not do it to her satisfaction on camera the first time! She announces every post on Instagram as if it’s a sport during their so-called special dinner, and we shake our heads.

Have you ever seen a taxi that looked like this? I feel like I am in a garden!

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We ask the taxi driver if we can stop at a store for a few things. We marvel at the rows and rows of fine French wine, patès and baskets full of baguettes. We laugh at seeing Lays potato chips flavored with ‘rotisserie chicken’ and ‘ancient with smoked ham’. We’re tempted to find out what that even means but pass for this time.

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Our time at Le Moana is spent lounging in the water, enjoying meals by the lagoon, joining other guests for sunset happy hours, perfecting our French rosè drinking skill and generally being in awe of such a beautiful place. At night, there is a celebration of Polynesian dance. In the torch lit evening, under the full moon, the gorgeously colorful dancers spin and sway. The energy is palpable. The music intensifies, drums beat, and stories are told.

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There are times when I write that I honestly don’t know what to say. I feel like no words could really describe the beauty of this place so for now I will just leave the rest of the photos right here for you to enjoy while I dream of returning to Bora Bora someday. It will live forever in my memories

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Next stop...Tahiti!

Posted by traciekochanny 09:10 Archived in French Polynesia Tagged islands flowers beach lagoon moth french_polynesia bora_bora blue_lagoon leis le_moana matira_beach

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