Thursday 10 March 2016
Internet Access and Bank in Vaitape
7:40am Anchor in Bora Bora
8am Disembark for activities
Barges throughout the day to/from Motu Tapu and Vaitape
5pm Last barge to return from Motu Tapu and last barge to return from Vaitape Village
6pm Meeting in Conference Room to discuss Disembarkation
7:30pm Farewell Dinner
** Blue Towel, water shoes, sunscreen, hat, snorkel gear **
Like many others on board the Aranui, I was excited to stop in Bora Bora. I was up early in the morning and enjoyed the approach into the narrow pass of Bora Bora from our private balcony before breakfast. Looking at the blue water of the lagoon was beautiful and the small little islet of Motu Tapu with its white sand beaches drifted by as we sailed past. Just inside the pass into the lagoon of Bora Bora, the Aranui 5 anchored just before 8am.
Kirsten and I had enough time to enjoy a bite to eat but didn’t realize we were so late for breakfast. We arrived at 8:30, just as they had wrapped up breakfast. Fortunately the staff were gracious enough and brought over a basket of pastries, some toast and a fruit plate left over from the buffet they had just packed up. This was going to be our last meal on the Aranui as we were planning on disembarking from the ship here. Most people disembark around 3:30pm after enjoying lunch on Motu Tapu but the first boat to shore on the main island left for Vaitape at 8am.
Following breakfast I waited for the first barge to Motu Tapu that left at 9am. As lunch was not until 12:30pm I was one of three people on this early morning barge. Other passengers were taking advantage of the myriad choices of excursions including a Truck tour of the island, a circle island lagoon and snorkel trip, of a shark and sting ray feeding and swimming trip, scuba diving or a helicopter ride.
Motu Tapu was a beautiful little Motu. It is a private little Motu used by the Hilton Hotel for its guests but the Aranui has arranged to use it for its passengers. I could walk across the centre of this little island in about 4 or 5 minutes or around the entire perimeter of white sandy beaches in about 15 minutes. The islet was also surrounded by shallow turquoise water on all sides that just added to the magical feeling of the island.
In the centre of the island there were about twenty picnic tables set up and already an older man and his two sons were cooking up some fresh fish from the lagoon on a barbecue of charcoal briquettes. They were getting ready for the picnic that was to start for all of the cruise passengers at 12:30pm.
As I pulled out my camera to take some photos, the older man pulled out his ukulele and started singing the song “Bora Bora” while his son blew a welcome greeting on a conch shell and the other son beat a rhythmic sound on his drum. It was the perfect welcome to the island.
Lunch for cruise passengers included not only the locally caught fish and entertainment, but also supplies and supplemental food from the Aranui.
A 30 minute boat ride took me back to the Aranui where I met up with my wife and then took a 15 minute boat ride to the main village of Vaitape in Bora Bora. Once there, we walked across the street to rent a car. Car Rentals in Bora Bora are typically about $100 per day so most people will take taxi’s but I had a lot of driving to do so I like the flexibility of having my own vehicle.
In the afternoon, we decided to take a 15 minute helicopter tour of Bora Bora with two other Aranui passengers. In that much time, we were able to circle the entire island and take lots of photographs. As we lifted off, the 50 shades of blue from the lagoon came into view. Soaring in the sky, we hovered over white sandy beaches, crystal blue and turquoise lagoons and remote little islands that dot the perimeter of the island.
Then at one point, we approached the tall mountain in the centre of the island and circled the back side of the mountain. We turned and entered the cloud covered peak where it started to rain in wisps of fog and cloud. Exiting the cloud covered mountain we cruised over toward the island airport with the shallow shades of blue and white sandy beaches. Before long, it was time to head back and we cruised over where the Aranui was anchored and back to the Helicopter base. A helicopter tour is an incredible way to see the island of Bora Bora and to get a birds-eye view of this remarkable lagoon.
We missed the last barge back to the Aranui at 5pm. In the evening as we were driving to our Pension/B&B noticed things moving on the road ahead of us in the headlights. As we approached, we noticed that they were large coconut crabs crossing the road. For the next few kilometres we had to dodge dozens of crabs that were crossing the road in the dark. For someone used to avoiding large deer crossing the road it was interesting to see a tropical version of the same thing.