When we first landed on the island of Bora-Bora, we didn’t think that our total stay will last almost 4 months. So we quickly decided to do what we’d usually do when we had very little time somewhere interesting : book a day tour with a local guide, so that we could see in no time the essentials of the place, along with a little presentation of the island’s lifestyle. Get a first taste before we try to come back on a next trip. Or in that case, before we got the unexpected opportunity to stay for 7 weeks and then come back for 2 months later on in the same year.
Much cheaper than local hotels, and very much Polynesian style, we stayed in a guesthouse near the Cape Matira. The Polynesian culture is a lot based on sharing, that is for life, food, experience, good times, and anything else that is shareable. So, staying in a guesthouse and getting everyday the chance to mingle around with other guests and our local hosts, was for us pure luxury. The family that was hosting us had a little business on the side. They owned a few boats made for transporting tourists from Bora’s main island to the motu(s) across the lagoon, for daily day trips during which a few attractions were proposed.
We booked a day tour for about 80-85 euros per person including lunch (I can’t remember how much it was in Pacific Francs CFP). For the islands, that’s a good price for a very nice day, totally worth it for the service, the fun and the food discoveries. We were accompanied by a Polynesian boat driver and a Japanese lady (our guide for the day) who happened to be living on the island for 15 years. We embarked pretty early in the morning and started our day by a short tour of the South part of the lagoon, getting close to the Southern Coral Reef too.
Not so far from there, we came back to a more quiet area, we all got off the boat to walk in the lagoon (the water level often is quite low in a lagoon, so you can walk with water up your hips, even on locations that are hundreds of meters away from the shore). So we were in the water, when our boat driver came down too, carrying foods in his hands, and suddenly we were surrounded by small sharks and rays !!!!!! Our driver assured us that all was safe as long as somebody came everyday and fed them. So he did, feed them that day, and when the rays were not fooling around with us coming onto our bodies (OMG, I screamed!), we were putting on our mask to wait and see under the sea level for the sharks to come around and swim around our group of both frightened and amused tourists. Sorry for the blurred pictures, but that day was a little bit windy in the area and these were the clearest images I could get.
Then we turned back and stopped at the Coral Garden to do some snorkeling. A very long session of snorkeling because there was so much to see ! Corals of all sizes and variations of colors; fishes of all kinds and colors, stripes and dots and plain and flashy, and you name it! I had never seen in my life, ever before, such a large variety of fish on a single spot. I used to not even be a fan of snorkeling, but the “show” of dancing fishes all over was so stunning that we couldn’t stop swimming around to get to find out about more and more species.
With all these highly intensive emotions and physical activities, the morning went by pretty fast, and that’s with pretty hungry stomachs that we left the Coral Garden.
Back on the boat, our guide drove us to the largest motu across the main island of Bora-Bora. We learnt a bit later on (when we kinda recognized the grand-mother who was setting up the beach area where we would have our lunch) that the motu was owned by the same family that was hosting us on “land”. The place has a complicated name that I forgot, but it could just be called Paradise. Just see for yourself what we got to feed our eyes with before we fed our tummies.
While lunch was on the way, our guide gave us a lesson of folding Pareo, that piece of fabric that we use to “get dressed” on the beach when we don’t put on regular garments. Polynesian ladies (and myself when I was there) only wore pareo on top of swimming suits, on a daily basis, even to go grocery shopping or so. That is so convenient! The weather is so hot anyway, who would want to put real clothes on?!
Then the boat driver, who also turned out to be partly in charge of our food, gave us a demo of Coconut opening. With a very savant technique, he showed us how much logic there is in opening that fruit. After we “waow”-ed him a few times, he showed us how Polynesian people hang or hammer up coconut skins on trees to dry them off and use them later for all kinds of stuffs, and how they grate the fruit for cooking use or soap making, etc. And finally, he taught us how to make the Raw Fish Salad that we would have for lunch among other dishes, which is a typical local salad. Click for the recipe!
For lunch, we had the Raw Fish Salad with rice, but we also had a fabulous fresh swordfish in an Asian style soya sauce mix. We tried local starch and veggies, such as manioc and uru (that tastes a bit like potato), and exotic fruits for dessert such as coconut (obviously), papaya, dragon fruit and star fruit imported from China. After the completion of this meal that we ate with bare hands, Polynesian style, we enjoyed the beach and went snorkeling a little more to find out about the nice Maui sculptures dumped down under water by the owner’s husband, so that fishes would come around and amuse the “tourists” like us. Before going back to Bora-Bora, we’ve been taken West of the island to try and catch the sight of Manta rays that sometimes swim around Bora, but we were unsuccessful that day.
Here are some more pictures of our amazing day so that you can dream a bit longer.
And before you leave, did you know my first cookbook got published? It’s called Cookbook #1: A French Girl’s Cooking Adventures in Her Kitchen, and it’s available online, you’re just a click away, RIGHT HERE!
Created and Written by Sophie Rebibo-Halimi. © 2015, All Rights Reserved.