Category Archives: French Polynesia

French Polynesia islands including: Marquesas, Society, Astrolls, Tuamotus, and Gambiers

Bora Bora illuminated in the background

Bora Bora Insights

Bora Bora is one of the most famous islands in French Polynesia (next to Tahiti).  It is a small island covering 38 kilometers and has two towering mountains.  The tallest Mt Otemanu is 727 meters tall.  This island was formed 4 million years ago after many volcanic eruptions.  The eruptions continued over hundreds of thousands of years.  Since then, the island like all islands, in French Polynesia has been and continues to sink.  Its lagoon is encircled by a wide coral reef that encloses several big motus with white sandy beaches.

Bora Bora's lagoon and surrounding motu's

Lagoon and surrounding motu’s

The island’s initial name was “Pora” and then that changed to “Pora Pora” which means first born – the first island drawn out of the ocean after the creation of Havai’l (Raitea).

A little History about this island:

  • Originally called “Pora” then “Pora Pora” and finally “Bora Bora”
  • 1769 Captain Cook discovers the island
  • 1888 The island attaches itself to France
  • 1942 U.S builds large navy base and airport
  • 10,550 Inhabitants which entirely cater to tourism
  • 7 million years old and is considered nearly an “atoll”
  • 1946 Americans left the island

New “Rules” Impacting Cruisers

In May 2019, Bora decided to mandate that all visiting yachts must use moorings and be charged for the service.  Prior to May, yachts were able to anchor in approved anchor zones at no charge like all the other islands in French Polynesia.  This new “rule” has been wildly unpopular for a number of reasons.

  1. The main purpose of forcing cruisers to use these moorings was because the locals were not using lights at night and were running into anchored boats. Not sure how this is the fault of the visiting yachts….
  2. The fees are expensive.
  3. The boats are not insured should the mooring fail and no plan has been put into effect to check and maintain the moorings.
  4. Eleven boats have had moorings fail since this rule has been in place June 1, 2019.

We prefer to anchor because we know our ground tackle and we trust our skills and expertise in anchoring.  We also don’t have to rely on anyone or anything else to keep our boat, our home safe.

Cruisers are certain this is just another revenue generating tactic that will be implemented in other French Polynesian islands.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the upcoming months.

Bora Bora is known as “the pearl of French Polynesia” but to be honest, it is very touristy and crowded.  It is beautiful, has crystal clear turquoise waters, green mountains, and friendly locals.  But Raitea, Mo’orea, and Taha’a have the same things with far less tourists, free anchorages, and a more intimate feeling.

Bora Bora illuminated in the background

Bora Bora illuminated in the background

Because Bora Bora is so well known it can get crowded with tourist.  But knowing the hidden gems and out of the way activities makes this a magical place.

Marae greeting tourists to Bora Bora

Float time at Bora Bora

Wayne’s time with us was quickly coming to an end so we had to get him to Bora Bora.  The trip from Taha’a to Poofai Bay, Bora Bora is about 30nm.  It was a stunning day, blue skies, calm seas, pretty water, and no wind.   I mean literally we had no wind.  It was a 5-hour motor, but we got there, dropped the hook in an exquisite bay and jumped in the water for some float time.

New Bora Bora Anchoring Rules:

Francis, the local BBMS (Bora Bora Mooring Services) representative, approached us within 30 minutes of jumping in the water. He informed us that we were in a “day stop” and could not remain there overnight.  He then told us that we had to pick up a mooring ball and pay for each night.  If there were no moorings available at an anchorage we wanted to stay, then we could drop the hook.  But only if there were no available moorings.  Ugh.  $30 for 1 night, $50 for 3 nights $100 for the week.  We had heard of these new rules from other cruisers on our French Polynesia Cruisiers Facebook Group.

We paid Francis for a week and picked up the last available mooring in front of the famous Bloody Mary’s bar.  Well, when in Rome…go to Bloody Mary’s!  We hit happy hour and then closed the place down!  Don’t get the wrong idea, they closed at 2130.

Bloody Mary's Bar

Bloody Mary’s Bar

The boys slept in the next day (you can imagine why).  I was up early and got to watch an outrigger race which is part of their annual celebration called Heiva.  There had to be well over 100 outriggers paddling against the wind and current.  It was truly impressive. I cheered them on from the boat.

Outriggers racing in Heiva

Outriggers racing in Heiva

We flew up the Texas Flag – just because we can.

Sugar Shack flying the Texas Flag

Sugar Shack flying the Texas Flag

It was sad to send Wayne off.  The airport anchorage was about an hour motor.  We dropped the hook in 3 meters of water and had ourselves some more float time with Wayne.  Another fun shot of the three of us on the bow.

Wayne, Matt and I in Bora Bora

Wayne, Matt and I in Bora Bora

The airport had a beautiful statue on a little motu.  She faced the airport so you actually see here as you take the ferry to the mainland.

Marae greeting tourists to Bora Bora

Marae greeting tourists to Bora Bora

We had a great time hanging with Wayne and look forward to his return visit in December.

Bora Bora illuminated in the background

Apooiti Bay: Missed the Mark

It was a restless sleep as the boat yanked hard on its chain throughout the night.  There was a weird current and or sea change that caused the boat to jerk on her anchor waking us with a start.  But it was another beautiful day with the sun shining, bright white puff clouds and see through, blue water.  It was time to do some provisioning so we moved to Apooiti.

Apooiti (pronounced “a-poo-e-tee”) is a fairly large bay with a marina and several charter boat companies.  We needed to dump trash and recycling and pick up some provisions before we moved on to Bora Bora.

Not sure what happened, but we came up short on our navigation.  First time we’ve done that!  We dropped the hook at Carneage which is a boat yard a ¼ mile south of Apooiti.  No big deal.  A super friendly worker showed us where we could dump our trash and then told us how to get to Apooiti by dinghy.

We pulled up at the Apooiti marina and found the grocery store.  But like most days we arrived during lunch and they were closed.  Most island stores close from 12-2p.  Drat.

Apooti Marina

Apooti Marina

We decided to hop back in the dinghy and go around the corner to Uturoa.  This new village is about 1.2 nm from Apooiti, but with our 25hp outboard it only took us about 15 minutes to get there.  We grabbed our provisions, zipped back to the boat, and headed back to TauTau to anchor.

TauTau Anchorage

This spot is so beautiful we had to come back a second time.  We were the second boat to drop the hook here, but another 2 boats joined us before the sun set.  We enjoyed some float time and were rewarded with a gorgeous sunset.  The top photo shows Bora Bora peeking through the atolls (tall mountains in the background), a beautiful motu in the center and the private hotel on the bottom.

Sunset Beauties

Sunset Beauties