A bumpy ride to the top: Worth the drive in Bora Bora

Bora Bora's aquamarine water is almost artificial looking.
Bora Bora’s aquamarine water is almost artificial looking.

Could there be a more sinister April Fool’s joke than to wake up on what should be a spring morning to find the ground covered in white? Well, for us this morning it was no joke. Good thing we have our memories of exotic Bora Bora, one of the islands we visited in February – it made the winter a little less hideous for us this year!

It’s an island that had been shrouded in exoticism and mystery for us. On the other side of the world, the island of Bora Bora, a member of the Society Islands which are part of French Polynesia, is one that we North Americans often think we might never visit. The town of Viatape where we anchored off shore is a small, very French spot with some pearl shops, a tiny duty-free outpost and a pharmacie (which of course, being French has a wonderful selection of French skin care brands!). Wander down the street, buy your sun screen if you can find your brand and then take an off-road tour.

Our vehicle for the tour.
Our vehicle for the tour.

Just as are all of the islands in that part of the world, Bora Bora is the top of an extinct volcano, in fact it rises in two peaks. This means that the center of the island is at a much higher altitude than the coast – it also means that there is essentially only one road on the island. Well, it might be more accurate to say that there is one road over which you’d actually drive a car, and that road rings the island. So, if you want to get into the center, get up high and see indigenous flora up close, you have to take an off-road vehicle. That’s what we did – and were certain to have both a driver and a guide.

Quintessential Bora Bora as seen from up on the volcano.
Quintessential Bora Bora as seen from up on the volcano.

As we turned off the coastal road with its breathtaking beaches, we began our climb up a steep, rutted, muddy track that couldn’t really be called a road. It was full of rocks and turns and major potholes.  Indeed, it was a bit like a carnival ride. Not to worry, though, we made it.

Our guide
Our guide

Our guide, who in his off hours was employed feeding the sharks in a huge glass aquarium at one of the luxury resorts on the island, took us to a vantage point owned by his family. He shared this extraordinary spot with us, telling us that it is now difficult to keep the young people on the island after they’ve been away to school – often to France.

We visited a pearl farm and had an opportunity to watch a craftsman extract a pearl from its oyster home, thinking all the while that this was the provenance of the Tahitian pearl we bought in Papeete.

The trip was spine rattling, but we wouldn’t have missed it for anything!

If you have a few minutes, come along on our tour of Bora Bora through the magic of our video!

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