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5 Days in an Overwater Bungalow on Bora Bora

SmarterTravel

Author: Jill Weinlein
Date of Trip: October 2014

My husband and I were married on Oct. 14, 1989 and flew to Bora Bora in French Polynesia for our honeymoon. At the end of our romantic trip, we vowed to come back to Bora Bora for our 25th Silver Anniversary.

DAY 1

On Oct. 14, 2014 my husband and I sat next to each other on Air Tahiti Nui for a 9 hour overnight flight to Tahiti. We then boarded a smaller plane to one of the most beautiful Leeward Island, Bora Bora.

Looking out the window of our plane, we admired the turquoise blue water peppered with overwater bungalows. Somewhere down below was our bungalow # 19 at the InterContinental Le Moana Bora Bora.

Once our plane landed on a motu, a reef islet formed by broken coral and sand surrounding an atoll, an InterContinental staff member welcomed us, placed a lei over our head, took our luggage and placed them in a small boat to take us to our resort.

On the boat ride to our resort, we pass the luxurious Four Seasons Bora Bora resort, St. Regis Bora Bora, Le Meridien and the InterContinental Thalasso Resort and Spa. All of them were stunning with clear blue lagoons, exquisite overwater bungalows and plan trees blowing in a gentle breeze. We stopped at the InterContinental Thalasso to drop off some guests on our boat. All of these resorts are located on private motus and not on the main island of Bora Bora.

As we approached the InterContinental Le Moana dock, a young shirtless man dressed in a pareu, blew into a shell to alert staff and guests that our boat arrived. It’s a French Polynesian tradition.

The resort is located on the best beach in Bora Bora, Matira Beach. There are 62 luxury Junior suites built on stilts over the aquamarine lagoon. There is a handful on the lagoon side sitting on the soft white sand beach. We were assigned to an overwater bungalow # 19 that had a sitting area with a glass table that looked down to fish and a coral garden in the clear water.

Our bedroom offered a King Size bed and views of the nearby Sofitel motu. The bathroom had a soaking tub and open shower. There were two televisions, Internet service, a refrigerator and couch perfect for reading or napping.

We unpacked, put our swimsuit on and jumped into the lagoon from our bungalow. Later we climbed up the ladder from the water onto our dock and took a shower outdoors on the deck to clean up after playing in the lagoon to go to dinner .

There are two restaurants at the Le Moana – Noa Noa Terrace Restaurant and the Vini Vini Bar. Both offer indoor and outdoor seating with Polynesian decor. In the evening the resort offers themed dinners with live entertainment at least twice a week.

The night we arrived the Noa Noa Terrace was offering an International buffet and live Polynesian dance show.
After the entertaining evening, we walked back to our room on the wooden pathway built above the water and gazed at the brilliant star and constellation above.

DAY 2

After a morning swim we sat out on the sunny terrace to enjoy a lavish breakfast buffet at the Noa Noa Terrace restaurant.

While finishing our breakfast, we noticed guests taking an outrigger canoe. Others paddled into the lagoon in kayaks or paddle boards. The resort has snorkel and fins for guests to check out. A few guests sat under an umbrella on a lounge chair with a good book.

The hot season is often the rainy season from December through April, while the dry season is July through October.

Outside of the InterContinental is a tour and bike rental shop offering bicycles to ride around the island for $18 a day.

We started our ride at Matira beach to admire it’s crystal clear water. From there we rode past the closed Bora Bora Hotel to the Bloody Mary’s restaurant and bar. Opened since 1979, you check your shoes at the door and walk on the sandy floor. This hot spot has attracted a VIP and celebrity crowd. In front of the establishment is a board listing the names of many of the famous guests who have visited. It’s closed on Sundays. Be sure to visit the Men’s bathroom – It’s one of a kind. The Women’s has a waterfall sink with a ring to pull to activate the water. Very cool.

On to the city and port of Vaitape with a few banks, restaurants, stores and pearl shops.

Riding back to our resort, we stopped at a few snack shops, saw the Island dump and a few parking lots for locals to park and take a boat ride over to the the resorts on the various motus.

I was told the Mayor of Bora Bora allowed these resorts to be built on the motus as long at they only built 100 or less overwater bungalows. They also had to hire locals to build the grass thatched roofs and to help staff the resorts.

We stopped at the Maitai Resorts for lunch. Sitting on the sand at a table under a coconut tree and gazing out to the Sofitel Motu, we nibbled on Ahi tuna burgers and drank Hinano beer.

When we reached our resort, we turned in our bicycles and admired the fiery sunset as it melted below the horizon.

After an evening swim, we dressed and walked along the beach to a sushi restaurant near the Matira Beach hotel for dinner.

DAY 3

We took an outrigger canoe and paddled to a popular snorkeling spot after breakfast. Then we paddled over to a Motu to enjoy the white powder sandy beach and shallow clear water.

Back at our resort, we walked over to the local store and bought a baguette and cheese for lunch. We sat on our deck and had a light lunch, read a book and took a nap.

In the evening, we took a free cab ride to Bloody Mary’s. After checking in with the hostess, we walked over to the bar and met Herman the bartender. He fetched us a Bloody Mary and Mai Tai, while sharing with us the history of the ownership of this world renown bar and restaurant. The owner, Sir Dexter from Southern California bought the hot-spot in 1981 from the original European owner.

After our cocktail, we walked over to the fresh fish boat to order our appetizers and entrees. We had the choice of grilled fish, chicken, steak and baby back ribs for dinner. Appetizers range from fried shrimp, raw fish marinated in citrus and spices to steak kabobs. Entrees were mostly fresh fish that was caught that morning that included Marlin and Ahi tuna. It’s served with steamed vegetables, fruit and white rice.

Save room for the warm chocolate cake with coconut ice cream. We got into a small bus with other diners for a complimentary ride back to the Le Moana.

DAY 4

Near the resort is the Nono Tour Teremoana tour company. They offer an around the island boat tour with stops for snorkeling, shark feeding, swimming with stingrays and lunch on a private motu. Janko was our guide and entertained us from 9:30 am to 3:30 p.m. singing songs with his small guitar and sharing stories about Bora Bora. The majority of the other guests were French, yet Janko always made sure to speak in English, as well as French in telling his stories.

Everyone loved Janko, including the slippery smooth stingrays. They would swim up his body and kiss him on his face as he fed them raw fish. He made us an authentic Polynesian lunch with grilled Marlin, raw fish marinated in coconut and spices, baked taro and tapioca, a delicious coconut cake, fresh papaya and pineapple.

He told us about how the U.S. set up a base in Bora Bora in 1942 with over 5,000 servicemen staying on the island for four years. The United States built the Bora Bora airport, paved a road all around the island, strategically placed canons and lookout towers, built a church and deep harbor.

After our day with Janko we had a new appreciation of the island. We showered, swam off our dock and walked to a casual pizza restaurant about one block away from the resort.

DAY 5

We had to check out by 11 a.m., yet our flight from Bora Bora wasn’t until 6:30 p.m. to fly to Tahiti and then to Los Angeles, so we asked the front desk if we could take an InterContinental boat ride over to the InterContinental’s sister hotel, the Thalasso Resort and Spa on a private motu. We wanted to tour the resort and have a late lunch. The boat ride is not complimentary to the Thalasso Spa and Resort, however they would take us to the Bora Bora airport after our visit.

This resort is unique in Tahiti because it uses alternative resources of energy by developing a SWAC seawater air conditioning system. They take the deep sea water cooled by the ocean to save 90% of electrical energy running the air conditioners.

The Thalasso Spa is one of the largest on the island located in three overwater bungalows with a see-through floor to see the fish.

The resort opened in 2006 with 80 overwater bungalows in 5 categories. Guests are usually from California, Texas, New York, Brazil and China. The InterContinental offers a loyalty program offering upgrades, 4 p.m. check out and other benefits.

The enchanting wedding chapel has a floor made of glass to see the coral gardens and fish below.

We had a late lunch at the Sand’s bar before showering and boarding our boat to ride to the airport.

While waiting for our flight, my husband and I agreed to come back to Bora Bora for our Golden Anniversary or sooner. It is truly paradise.

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