Hilton Bora Bora Nui and St Regis Dock in Vaitape
Boats from the Hilton and St. Regis maintain scheduled pickup and drop-off here for Vaitape.
Most of the tourists scurried off the dock, but we found the dock to be a great, inexpensive vantage point for many pictures defining our experience in Bora Bora.
We found ourselves bypassing boat shuttles to spend extra time sitting on the dock watching the Polynesian sunsets, locals canoeing for exercise, enjoying wine and cheese picnics, and just chilling with the cool ocean breeze.
Chatting with other tourists waiting for their boats, gave us extra insight in activities, shops, and sights we should see and do.
Tip: The dock leads directly into the Robert Wan showroom. Smart guys find the path to the left to avoid the showroom...
From the main street in Vaitape: Face the Robert Wan showroom and look for the foot path on the right side of the building to lead to the dock.
Map of Bora Bora
You have seen mall directories, but have you seen island directories?
This very nice lacquered wood hanging map of the activities on Bora Bora is worth a read. Stop here for a picture postcard to post on Facebook to prove to your friends you finally made it to your dream island.
You can stop anywhere in Bora Bora and get the perfect postcard picture, but this little mom and pop stand is the absolute best place to re-enact the Corona commercials in Bora Bora with either a Corona or a Hinano.
Go here mainly for the view, and a refreshing pause after walking along the main island road. Just sit on their porch and watch the waves crash against the reef and sip on your cool beverage.
Walking around the island is hit or miss. Walking roadside is safer than attempting similar walks around Bermuda (which is for persons with a death wish), but the island isn't as conducive for these walks as you may expect.
Also, beaches do not surround the island and are not large by any standard when you encounter - so you won't be able to walk for hours like you can on Florida's Gulf Coast and Atlantic Coast beaches.
You'll want to catch a taxi to the Intercontinental Bora Bora Le Moana Resort for easy access to the beach and the Snack Hut.
The Bora Bora Airport
Unless you travel exclusively by boats or private jets, you will be flying the 45 minute leg to Bora Bora on Air Tahiti's modern ATR fleet.
The airport is on a motu, originally built in WWII, and carries the IATA designation of BOB. Some travelers confuse BOB as the airport code for Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, California - which is actually BUR. Personally this would be the kind of airport Alzheimers I prefer.
The airport has the few, standard amenities you expect from any airport - but don't let the schoolroom size waiting area prevent you from walking around the airport building and taking in your first or last sights of Bora Bora.
The small souvenir shop had some unexpected last minute finds, so it's worth a visit.
Jet setter tips:
1. Sit at the back of this plane for trips to Bora Bora - you will be closest to the door when deplaning.
2. Grab a window seat on the way to Bora Bora. You'll get great aerial shots of the island before the plane reaches its approach.
3. If your flight is departing in the evening, catch a meal or snack at the Bora Bora airport bar. You may face long lines at night, and closed eateries at the airport in Papeete - Faa'a International.
4. For departure, listen attentively to the conversations around ticket counter between other travelers and airport agents. You may find critical flight info about your return flight (wildcat strikes, cancellations, etc.) before you get to Papeete. The airport will not have agents from Air France, Air New Zealand, Hawaiian, or Air Tahiti Nui to assist you - so you'll need to prepare.
Path to WWII gun
We had trouble locating this gun, especially the path to hike along to reach the view.
This is a short and strenuous vertical hike for the sure footed.
The path to the gun intersects the main road from Vaitape.
Parking along the main road is OK if you rented a vehicle.
WWII Naval and AA Gun Battery
The emplacement consists of the naval gun, the AA gun, the magazine, and the observation and range post above the gun.
For fans of military history this, and the 3 other World War II guns placed on Bora Bora by United States forces offer great exploration. For tourists just wanting a reachable, elevated view - this emplacement offers a wonderful view.
Accessible by steep, short walking trail from the main road.
Check the More Information link for a zoomable panorama of the gorgeous view of the lagoon from this emplacement.
, Bora, Bora
Here is a puzzle for you to figure out on your visit, and you'll find this location in central Vaitape:
Is this a person's grave or just a marker?
This is one of the only markers on the Bora Bora island, and it took a bit of research to figure its significance.
Tip: Restrooms are available in the pavilion adjacent to this marker.
"Alain J. Gerbault (1893-1941) was a French aviator and tennis champion, who made a circumnavigation of the world as a single-handed sailor. He eventually settled in the islands of south Pacific Ocean, where he wrote several books about the islanders' way of life.
In 1947, his body was recovered and buried on Bora Bora, where a monument to him was erected."
The most popular American tourist restaurant. We were warned by our friends ahead of time of our desire to dine here twice. All we can say is they were spot on!
How do you describe the overall experience at Bloody Mary's?
Combine the atmosphere and quality of American chain restaurants Ruth's Chris, Morton's, Trader Vics, Roy's, and Duke's with a fresh, local Polynesian approach perfect for an American dining experience in Bora Bora.
Plus, if Jimmy Buffett happened to play a set while you were there, you would perfectly feel a part of the music video that must be filming here.
When you walk in, you are greeted by the menu options clearly explained and recommendations on preparation. Arriving a bit early in the evening will guarantee good photos of the celebrity bric-a-brac and exterior spots.
Be sure to visit the restrooms for a unique experience, and pick up a unique destination t-shirt for the folks back at home.
A shuttle picked us up at the dock, and dropped us back at the end of our dinner.
, Bora Bora
Looking to include a touch of Polynesia back in your home? This home decoration and clothing store located in central Vaitape offers a nice selection of unique items to fit all budgets.
The helpful staff will assist you selecting eligible purchases for receiving tax refunds.
Bora Kaina Hut
Another well respected French Polynesian restaurant.
, Bora Bora
Everyone needs to know the local grocer to buy your extra food, picnic supplies, and beer. Don't expect a WalMart, but Chin Lee offers a good selection of grocery items for your trip.
Visiting grocers in foreign countries is a great way to connect with the local ways of living. Grocers provide an inexpensive way to test new tastes and discover food products you may have avoided due to language barrier descriptions.
Groceries in Bora Bora are expensive by American standards, however purchasing groceries is an easy way to reduce meal expense at resorts.
Tip: Pack a collapsible cooler to easily carry chilled items back to your resort.
La Villa Mahana
Need a romantic dinner in a quaint setting?
This small seating French fine dining restaurant offers delicious, modern creations from wonderful Chef Damien Rinaldi-Dovio.
The outdoor seating should be requested, and provides the most romantic dining spots.
Additionally my notes on this restaurant involve eating with dinner guests consisting of 4 salamanders, 1 poisonous centipede creature on the patio, and a cat. These creatures added ambiance and experience from a safe distance, and complimented our dinner conversation.
Miki Miki Jetski Tours
A great individual way to tour the lagoon, while riding on your own jetski. You will follow your tour guide as he darts across the lagoon, and happily skis at full throttle.
Midway during your journey, you'll stop for a fresh coconut and grapefruit snack with the other tour participants.
Our experience included chasing large manta rays, getting friendly with a determined crab, and exploring coral outcroppings. Oh yeah, almost forgot - you will get wet, you will lose your hat, and this is the excuse you use to buy a waterproof camera.
This is a rain or shine activity.
From the land location, you can rent bicycles.
Musee de See
We spent a little extra time finding this gem of ship model building, which can easily be bypassed from the main island road.
The owner graciously opens his garage to reveal a museum with detailed ship models depicting ocean exploration history. The museum is free and on the opposite side of the island from Vaitape.
Donations welcomed in this otherwise free, unique garage based private museum.
Robert Wan Vaitape
The Robert Wan showroom showcases exquisite Tahitian black pearl jewelry from the Robert Wan collection.
Robert Wan operates several pearl farms, and supplies cultured black pearls to Mikimoto.
Don't leave Bora Bora without an indulgence of Robert Wan's fine cultured black pearls and jewelry.
Even if you have no intention of purchasing, you should visit the showroom and take in the artistry of the jewelry on display.
They offer duty free shopping.
Sofitel Bora Bora Marara Beach
Why lock yourself in to a single resort for your meals?
Leaving your lunch options open lets you explore other resorts' meals and ambiance without having to book a stay.
We stopped here just for a bite to eat, and the start of our roadside hike down to the Intercontinental.
The hotel's common areas have a wonderful view of the lagoon.
The hotel bar's deck graciously accommodates a lunch with a view.
After swimming around the bungalows at our resort for most of our stay, we decided near the end to take a plunge in the Lagoonarium.
The best way to describe this adventure is a petting zoo for sharks, rays, big fish, and little fish. You are the medium fish in this unique attraction.
Our group started out in the morning snorkeling near the edge of the Bora Bora lagoon, then onto gardens of coral to swim with a multitude of fish and a hungry moray eel, another stop to pet rays and swim with sharks - all before our final stop at the Lagoonarium.
Between each stop our crew entertained us with their musical talents and jokes, and pointed out various features of Bora Bora from the lagoon.
Full or half day excursions determine how much time you can spend at the actual Lagoonarium. We were able to pose with a sea turtle, and lazily drift with the current snorkeling among multiple sharks and rays in the final area of the attraction.
Cameras are welcome, and frankly our best pictures and movie footage came from this half day excursion.
, Bora Bora
Tourist Office for visiting other areas of the island.
We never made it during their visiting hours.
Vaitape Book Store
, Bora Bora
We found this shop to have a nice collection of books, magazines, and gifts.
Especially interesting was the poisonous fish book and fish identification chart we purchased here. Seems we had many encounters with dangerous fish under our bungalow - the lesson here is look, don't touch.
This shop is ideal for small gifts, less touristy and more educational or informative.