My trip to Bora Bora – a page from my Travel Journal

I remember a quote by the late Pavarotti (bless his soul) when he first visited Pangkor Laut, an upscale resort in Malaysia. He said that when he saw the island, he wept because it was so beautiful – obviously, the resort uses that quote profusely in their ads. Well, I can definitely relate to those emotions. When I arrived in Bora Bora, an island located northwest of Tahiti (map), I guess the excitement of being here combined with the baffling beauty of this place made me a bit teary-eyed. I just can’t believe I’m actually here – I keep reminding myself every hour or so and updating my Bora Bora travel blog to save every experience! I’m THAT excited!

My trip to Bora Bora – a dream come true

Arrival in Bora Bora – a dream come true!

Bora Bora is everything I thought it would be… and more. I’ve seen pictures of it in countless publications, documentaries and travel programmes but it’s not till you’re actually here that you begin to fathom just how magical this place is. I mean, I’ve been to many places around the world that have similar surroundings but Bora Bora just has, let’s call it, the ‘X-factor’.

The iconic Mt. Otemano towers above the Bora Bora lagoon.

I think it’s a mix of the lagoon’s breathtaking shades of turquoise, aquamarine, sapphire, emerald, fluorescent green and electric blue – you could spend a day or two here just trying to get your mind around the myriad of colours; the impressive rock face of Mt. Otemanu that towers over the whole lagoon; the crystal clear water and pristine white sandy beaches; the low-rise resorts (that give the place a very exclusive feel) with their idyllic thatched roof overwater bungalows; the constant scent of frangipani and tiare Tahiti (the national flower that’s used for almost everything); and the fact that you’re in the middle of the South Pacific!

I can now understand why people are willing to spend a large chunk of their life-savings just to make a trip to Bora Bora. It’s really like a little piece of heaven on Earth – I wouldn’t know how else to describe it.

Overwater bungalows seen from the boat.

Arrival in Tahiti

I arrived in Papeete on Tahiti after a six-and-a-half hour flight from Sydney on Air Tahiti Nui. It’s funny how you go back a day when you cross the International Date Line from west to east. I left on a Sunday morning and arrived on a Saturday evening. Anyway, we arrived safely in Papeete in the dark. I just think it’s amazing how navigation systems work so brilliantly to steer a plane precisely to a tiny dot in the middle of this massive ocean.

I could hardly contain my excitement as the plane approached Tahiti!

We were greeted at the airport with garlands made of fragrant tiare Tahiti. The next day, I got up early to catch my 7:40am flight to BOB (Bora Bora’s airport code). When I opened the blinds, I was just stunned by the view. The hotel faced the airport and its runway but beyond that loomed the deep blue Pacific and the dramatic peaks of Moorea. Wow!

The Papeete airport and the peaks of Moorea in the background.

The flight to Bora Bora

The 45-minute flight to BOB was quite special. You could sense the excitement of the passengers as the plane descended through the clouds. As we broke free of the last cloud, a magnificent vista awaited us: a massive multi-coloured lagoon bordered by lush green atolls, the fringes of which broke the waves from the open ocean, and a mountainous island in the middle crowned by steep lofty peaks. Seeing Bora Bora from the plane window was incredible! I later found out that it’s also possible to go on a microlight flight tour or helicopter tour to see the lagoon from the air.

The airstrip was on one of the atolls, which meant that you had to take a boat to wherever you were heading. We were met at the arrivals hall with more garlands and ushered to a waiting boat.

View of Bora Bora lagoon and Mt. Otemanu from the plane.
The boat terminal at Bora Bora Airport.

Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island

My luggage was taken care of and we were whisked away into the lagoon to the resort, the Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island. The boat ride to the resort was nothing short of stunning. The colours of the lagoon and the shape of Mt. Otemanu kept changing as we sped along. Awesome. We were greeted at the resort’s pier by the lovely Rebecca and a guitarist (who also doubles as the resort’s bouncer I believe) and were served an ice-cold Tahitian beer!

Mt. Otemanu touched by a cloud.
Feeling very HAPPY!
A warm welcome on Sofitel Private Island.

Overwater bungalow in the Bora Bora lagoon

The Sofitel Private Island is situated on a private island in the lagoon, with a small number of bungalows scattered over the hill, beach and over the water. I opted for an overwater bungalow (I can’t imagine coming all this way and not staying in an overwater bungalow!!) and it was just beautiful.

Overwater bungalow at the Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island.
I would sit on the deck every day and just stare out at the colours of the lagoon.

It had a large bedroom and bathroom; a living room with a coffee table which featured a glass floor, making it possible to see the fish in the clear water below; and two decks, an upper deck in the shade and a lower deck with deck chairs and steps which led down to the water (you could go snorkelling right off the deck) and an outdoor shower.

The bedroom in the overwater bungalow.

I kept pinching myself for the first half hour as I just could not believe I was here and what I was seeing. The colours of the lagoon were quite simply mystifying. I sat out on the deck for the rest of the day and just gaped at the scenery and the many fish that swam by below us.

The beach at Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island.
One evening, I climbed to the top of the hill of the private island for this stunning view.

Snorkelling in the Bora Bora lagoon

The next morning, I grabbed my snorkelling gear and swam around the reefs for several hours. The corals weren’t too spectacular (guess I’m spoiled after seeing those magnificent reefs in Malaysia and Australia) but there were large numbers of multi-coloured fish such as the emperor angelfin, triggerfish and parrotfish. I then spent the afternoon on the deck, enjoying the view, listening to my iPod and looking out for black-tipped reef sharks; I saw quite a few of them as they leisurely swam by our deck just before sunset.

In the late-afternoons, just before sunset, I would sit on the deck and watch the many fish and baby blacktip sharks swim by.

Bora Bora lagoon tour

The following day, I went for an island tour which included shark and manta ray feeding. We first visited the edge of the lagoon, a shallow area near one of the wave-breaking atolls. In the distance, huge waves from the open ocean pounded on the atoll while we calmly bobbed up and down in the relative calm of the lagoon. 

Views of the lagoon and Mt. Otemanu from the catamaran.

Swimming with sharks

One of the two guides jumped into the water with a bucket full of fish. We jumped in along with him and within minutes, we were surrounded by a school of black-tipped reef sharks, some up to two meters long. They swam around us for a bit, checking us out, then ventured closer. I was quite surprised when one of them swam up to within two meters of me, then made a quick turn – I discovered why when one of the guides hauled me back into the boat: I had cut my foot on the sharp coral and though it was only a small cut, the little blood that emanated from the wound was more than sufficient to make a shark gauge if I was suitable for lunch!

The boatman could also sing really well!

Surrounded by stingrays

We then circumnavigated the island and judging by the silence, I think everyone on the boat was just absolutely mesmerised by the astounding scenery. Our last stop was near our resort in a shallow spot. As the boat anchored, about a dozen stingrays glided by beneath us. What a stunning sight! We were soon in the water swimming around these gentle, inquisitive creatures.

Swimming with the stingrays.

They swam up to me several times and hovered around for a bit, long enough to allow me to run my hands across their backs. The largest rays had wingspans of more than two meters with tails of about the same length. This was definitely one of my most amazing experiences so far during this trip. Check out this Bora Bora snorkelling excursion and this Bora Bora catamaran cruise.

I left Bora Bora after four unforgettable days. For me, it was a dream come true. I sometimes still can’t believe I’ve been to this little piece of heaven on Earth.

My last glimpse of Bora Bora right before the plane flew into the clouds.

See more photos of Bora Bora.

38 Responses

  • […] the silky water of the sea lapping around my toes. Feasting my eyes on the colours of the lagoon in Bora Bora. Lying on the deck of a boat in the Whitsundays and staring at the Milky Way above. Curling up in a […]

  • Bora Bora is definitely a must visit, even at least once in your life. Its probably the closest thing to perfection on earth! Its one place that doesn’t fall short of the hype of all the publication, etc. Yes it is expensive but it is all worth it.

  • […] lagoon, amongst which the large manta ray. I described this experience in my Travel Journal entry, A Little Piece of Heaven: “As the boat anchored, about a dozen large manta rays glided by beneath us. What a stunning […]

  • I’m still dreaming for Bora-Bora one day and staying in one of those (expensive) over the water bungalows. Who can afford this anyway?!?

  • Hi Sarah,
    Bora Bora is a pretty expensive destination yes but there are often great deals from the US (flight/hotel combo’s). Look out for these.


  • Wow, I’m trying to figure out how I can get to this amazing place! Is it expensive once you’re there? Thanks for sharing this piece of heaven on earth, hopefully I’ll get to have my senses dazzled by Bora Bora at some point in the not too distant future…

  • Boatman and underwater guide doubles as performer! | velvet escape's blog

    […] Read the accompanying post: ‘A Little Piece of Heaven‘. […]

  • great post! A friend just reposted it. I can see by the date I am a bit behind. We went to Bora Bora on our honeymoon and it was the most amazingly beautiful trip ever! If you go back the Pearl Beach Resort was fabulous as well. Thanks for helping me reconnect with my trip. May of your details, such the one strip airport island were details that stuck with us as well. If you are interested our blog about the trip can be found at:
    Thanks for bringing back memories!

  • Your post brings me back, just like when we watched Couples Retreat. Bora Bora is simply stunning.
    Your description of the lagoon colors are spot on!

  • […] the accompanying post: ‘A Little Piece of Heaven‘. See other Velvet […]

  • […] the accompanying post: A Little Piece of Heaven. Thursday, June 3rd, 2010 Oceania TAGS: French […]

  • Beautiful!! Reading this is getting me so excited to go in a few months!

    We also decided to splurge for the OWB. I figured I didn’t want to go all that way and not stay in one.

  • Thanks for your comment Dina. You can get to Tahiti with Air Tahiti Nui or other airlines. From Tahiti, you can fly to Bora Bora (it’s a 45-min flight). It’s a very expensive destination but I thought it was so worth it.


  • Wow, it sounds heavenly, I hope I can go there someday…. What’s the main transportation to go there, being in the middle of Pacific like that? Is there boat or we have to do airplane? Btw, the first picture slightly remind me of the island in the TV-show Lost.

  • […] A Little Piece of Heaven […]

  • Woot! This is my ultimate dream destination! Great post and photos. That is just so fabulous…. I don’t think we ever gonna go there, so I’ve to be satisfied with your photos here. *dreaming away*

  • Hi Jayne,
    Thanks for your lovely comment. It really is a magical place. I can still smell the Tiare Tahiti! Simply magical indeed.

    Best regards,

  • I have been traveling for 57 years and I’ve been to Bora Bora several times. When people ask where is the one place I want to return to- No contest— it is Bora Bora.
    I felt like I had been born there, it really is magical. Great post, by the way.

  • Thanks Mark. It is really a stunning place. Think the post says it all…. 🙂 My screensaver is a picture I took of Bora Bora so I’m reminded of this little piece of heaven every day.


  • You have painted a wonderful picture of Bora Bora that makes me want to up and catch the next flight out of Bangkok.

    Mt. Otemanu looks surprisingly like Torres Del Paine of Patagonia, in the Southern part of Chile. Quite the opposite sides of the earth but both stunning.

  • Oh my god, I almost cried after reading this post. Perhaps it’s not only because of the beauty of BOB, but also that you had such an amazing experience (and I haven’t). When will I ever get to BOB?? When I do, I will most certainly cry, too…knowing the happy, sappy soul that I am. That photo of Mount Otemanu is so painfully and absolutely stunning, brilliant, awesome, gorgeous…I’m running out of superlatives! Oh, this is a photographer’s paradise! Can you tell that I’m gushing right now? Thanks for sharing, Keith!

  • Hi Amy,
    Thanks for your comment. I can definitely recommend a visit – it surely is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences, at least it was for me!


  • Thanks for sharing. You have transported me to Bora Bora with you. Now, I guess I have to start saving up to visit this little piece of paradise one of these days!

  • Thanks for your comment Erica, and for the award! That’s very cool! 🙂


  • Thanks Gray. I would’ve loved to stay longer but Bora Bora does burn a hole in your pocket!! Heaven does come at a price! Haha!
    Thank you for your comment. It really is great to hear what my readers think of my posts.

    Best regards,

  • Wow, Keith, this sounds like it was such a fantastic trip for you. You write such beautiful descriptions, that, even without the stunning photos, I felt like I was right there alongside you. I’m half surprised you didn’t decide to stay permanently! 🙂

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