A cruise to Tahiti and the Society Islands is a vacation of a lifetime. On a recent Paul Gauguin Cruises sailing, we spent two days in Bora Bora, the "pearl" of the Society Islands.
Bora Bora is one of the most popular honeymoon destinations on Earth
A few weeks before our cruise, we pre-booked a Half-Day Lagoon Tour with Vavau Land & Sea Adventures through their website (http://www.boraboraexplorer.com). We were told that a representative would meet us at the pier where the ship's tender drops off guests. As promised, Patrick was there holding a sign with my name when we disembarked the ship's tender.
We boarded Patrick's mini-van for the short drive to the MaiTai Resort where our outrigger boat was waiting for us.
We were greeted there by Rai and Ari'i, our local guides for the half-day tour. Another guest from the MaiTai Resort was already on the boat when we arrived. After we boarded the outrigger, we sailed off to the Intercontinental Resort to pick up a few other guests. We actually took about an hour of the tour time making stops at two different hotels/resorts to pick up guests for the tour. However, when sailing between the pick-up spots, we got some great views of Bora Bora while being entertained by Ari'i and Rai's musical talent along the way.
Rai and Ari'i sing Polynesian songs as we sail through the waters surrounding Bora Bora
With everyone on board (9 people total), we head off for our first stop where we will snorkel with black-tip reef sharks in the ocean!
Rickee watches a Black-Tip Reef Shark swim by
There are couple of other tour boats already anchored here with tourists snorkeling with the sharks. There is no shortage of sharks swimming through the clear waters. Guides throw fish out to feed the sharks, which draws them closer. Still, the sharks keep their distance, never coming closer than about 10 feet to snorkelers. And, if you do not want to get into the ocean with the sharks, the water is so amazingly clear that you can easily see them from inside the boat.
After about 30 minutes of swimming with the sharks, we are back on board the outrigger heading to a sandbar where we have the opportunity to swim/snorkel/stand with stingrays. The water here is no more than four feet deep, so even those who cannot swim can interact with the gentle, and quite friendly, stingrays.
Stingrays will swim right up to you
Unlike the sharks, the stingrays seem to enjoy interacting with swimmers. They glide past you under the water, brushing up against your legs, which can be unsettling at first. They definitely see people as a food source as guides hand feed the rays. You can feed the rays if you want. Just ask the guides to show you how. And, if you are feeling really affectionate, you can even kiss a stingray!
Rickee kisses a stingray
The guides are in the water with you the entire time, holding the rays for you to pet, kiss, or feed. There are also a few black-tip reef sharks here lurking around in the distance. We spent about 45 minutes at the sandbar and, for me, it was the highlight of the tour.
Tour participants stand on the sandbar as stingrays swim around them
Our next stop on the tour was the Coral Garden, a shallow area with several coral formations where guests can snorkel with the fish that inhabit the area.
Rickee snorkels above a large coral formation
There are many varieties of colorful fish to be found here, and I think this was Rickee's favorite spot. We spend about 45 minutes at this location.
Colorful fish inhabit the coral garden
After re-boarding the outrigger, Rai and Ari'i take us to a nearby motu (a small island) where we have the opportunity to hike up some steps to a great lookout spot.
Me and Rickee at the top of the lookout point
After the climb up to the lookout point, and back down, we are treated to some local fruit and pineapple juice.
Local bananas, grapefruit and pineapple juice
After our brief visit to the motu, we board the outrigger one last time for the ride back to MaiTai Resort. We say goodbye to Ari'i and Rai and a 4X4 vehicle is there to take us back to the pier where we can meet the ship's tender. Our half-day tour began at 8:30am and ended at about 1:00pm. At a cost of around $105 ($US) per person, we felt like the tour was a great value and we can highly recommend it. Whether you are visiting Bora Bora as part of a cruise vacation or staying at a resort, Vavau Land and Sea Adventures offers a variety of tours to fit your schedule.
For more information, visit their website at http://www.boraboraexplorer.com