Bora-Bora, French Polynesia
Staying in Touch
To make a long distance call from Bora Bora you must purchase a phone card; they come in a variety of increments. Public internet access is available at Cafe L'Appetisserie, at back of the Centre Commercial La Pahia opposite the Protestant church just north of the wharf.
Where to Eat and Drink
Bloody Mary's, open for lunch and dinner (689-67-72-86, reservations highly recommended) is a casual sand-on-floor joint with great water views and numerous claims to celebrity patronage. It's a scene, casual and fun.
Top Dive (689-60-2050-2050, reservations required), a French restaurant open for lunch and dinner, is considered the finest eatery in all of French Polynesia; cuisine leans toward classical styles.
What to See and Do
Off Road Adventure: Six-passenger Land Rovers circle the island on the two-lane highway but the special part is they go off-road and poke in and around numerous way-off-the-beaten-path sites from the usual (cannons and such installed by U.S. servicemen who occupied the island during World War II) to gorgeous landscape views from a variety of high peaks. The highlight for shoppers is a visit to a local artist's studio who hand-paints pareos; make sure you request a stop there. Warning: terrain is steep and rough and passengers who are pregnant or who have back maladies should not take this trip.
Shark and Ray Feeding: One of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences, passengers don snorkeling equipment (minus flippers) and swim amongst affectionate stingrays (you are encouraged to kiss them--that's how sweet they are) and black-tipped sharks (not threatening and they don't come very close). The tour also includes a snorkeling stint in the golden coral banks that surround Bora Bora--the best snorkeling on the island.
If your cruise ship hasn't arranged for a private motu (or island beach on the outskirts of the lagoon), head for Matira beach, a 1205-minute trip by car from the pier at Vaitape. Other options include some of the resort beaches (which prefer cruise passengers that also eat a meal there); among them are the Hotel Bora Bora and Sofitel Marara Resort.
Car rentals from Europcar (877-940-6900, from $60, two-hour minimum), which range from a Cabriolet to mini-mokes, are across from the Viatape pier. You can also rent bicycles ($14 a day) in Viatape. Le Truck is the island's bus service but its service is highly irregular and not recommended. Taxis are available at the pier.
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