Day 21, Bora Bora
Bora-Bora is our final port of our four day stretch. We are scheduled to arrive at 8 AM and not depart until 10:30 PM. I never did understand why we were staying so late as there weren’t any evening tours and there wasn’t any nightlife that I was aware of.
Once again our plan was to rent a car, which I had reserved online through Europcar. I prepaid the $95 fee. We ended up putting in $10 in gas so the total cost was $105. We shared this with another couple, so it worked out to about $25 a person which is quite reasonable when you compare this to other circle the island tours.
Our car reservation was not until 10 AM. With tendering starting at 8 AM, it didn’t feel it was necessary to arrive early to get tendering tickets. I got in line at 7:30 AM and got tickets in Red Group 12. I spoke with other people who needed to get on one of the early tenders to meet their prearranged private tour. They arrived at 6:00 AM and the line was already strectching from the Dive-In almost to the doors to the Lido. They said there was one couple who arrived at 5 AM and used their towel animals to hold their spot in line. I was surprised that towel animals were successfully used as placeholders, but I did find it amusing that it actually worked.
Once the tendering started around 8 AM, numbers were called off fairly quickly. Many people get an early ticket, so they depart any time after their number was called, but this can cause some early tenders to leave with empty seats if they don’t initially call enough numbers. We didn’t have to be ashore until 10 AM, but I felt comfortable that my Red Group 12 would get me ashore close to 10 AM. As it turned out the tendering went very quickly and by 9:30 AM they had already called for open tendering meaning that tickets were no longer required. I would suggest to avoid scheduling anything ashore before 10 AM (for an 8 AM arrival) in tender ports if you want to avoid the hassle of dealing with tender tickets.
Note: We received a note later in the day from the Hotel Director requesting that everyone return unused tender tickets to the front desk. When we ultimately went ashore it was open tendering so we didn’t need tickets, so I handed my tickets to the person scanning our cards as we left the ship. Sometimes people will get a ticket for one day with the intention of using it on a subsequent day. This tactic is often unsuccessful as it is difficult to predict which color will be used on any particular day and where they might start the numbering. For example people may think that they are alternating between blue and red beginning with Group 1 but may be disappointed to find out that the next port they start using red 30 as the first group. It will be interesting to see how the tendering works at our next port on Cook’s Island.
We headed down to Deck A around 9:30 AM. Our timing was perfect as the tender was almost full when we arrived, and it departed almost immediately after we boarded.
Renting a Car
There was a small group of musicians greeting us when we arrived along with a dozen or so people hawking various tours or rental cars. While we had a car reserved, you probably could have found a car available after you arrived.
The Europcar rental office was a short walk from the tender pier and having looked up the location ahead of time on Google Maps, I found it sooner than I might have otherwise.
Completing the rental paperwork was a breeze and we were soon on our way – this time heading clockwise around the island. We were on the road by about 10:30 AM and once again the roads were is great condition with a 60 KPH speed limit. This island is much smaller than Moorea – maybe 18 miles around.
Circle the Island
After about 10 minutes of driving, we spotted a tour bus stopped along the side of the road. I figured I would stop behind them and see what they were doing. We took some nice photos of the lagoon before we crossed the street and discovered a small shop/factory that dyed Pareo’s using a type of sun bleaching process. There were a couple of folks playing Ukuleles and they were more than happy to play my Tahitian favorite – Vinni Vinni, Vanna Vanna.
We found a few items that we were interested in buying, but discovered that the prices here were non negotialble – they held firm – and since it was more than we wanted to pay – we moved on.
As we continued around the island we would stop every 10 minutes or so to take some pictures or take a closer look at something of interest. We found a beautiful scene, photographed here, that was breathtaking.
At one stop we spotted an older man pushing a wheelbarrow filled with coconuts. He stopped near us and examined some coconuts that were on the ground – we gathered he was looking for coconuts that were already sorta dried out that he may use to make something.
We had read about the WW II era naval guns that are located on the sides of the mountains, but most of these are only accessible by 4WD vehicles. The Europcar rental car agent showed us the location of one gun that was accessible by a 2 WD car, but we were unable to find the turnoff. The agent said there was a sign, but we never saw one. If you want to see these guns, I would recommend more research regarding their location or take a tour that is dedicated to seeing the guns.
Toward the end of our circle island tour we stopped by Bloody Mary’s, the famous tourist attraction. We got some $10 Bloody Mary’s and some $13 Cheeseburgers and our total lunch bill for 4 people was $90. The food was OK, but you wouldn’t come here just for the food or the Bloody Mary’s – you are paying for the experience of eating at Bloody Mary’s!
After lunch we headed back to town, only a few miles away, and returned the rental car at 2:15 PM – the entire trip, including a leisurely lunch took 4 hours.
The town consists of a collection of tourist shops selling shirts, pearls and other stuff that you will find everywhere in French Polynesia. We spent another 20 minutes wandering thru a few shops before we headed back to the ship.
In the Lido Market this evening they decorated for a Polynesian Cook-In. They set up an auxiliary bar, showed off a roasted big and were chopping up some coconuts to make some interesting drinks.
Our dinner guest this evening was Hyperion Knight. He is an engaging conversationalist and is wonderful dining companion. We all enjoyed his numerous anecdotes about his background and experiences in the music business.
Tonight in the Queens Room was Nathan Coe Marsh, a magician similar to Fred Moore, and in fact they both used one of the exact same tricks in their respective shows. Nathan would engage audience members for virtually every trick, and his presentation was good and the tricks were fine, but I felt that he took too long to complete each trick which made the show seem to drag.
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