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Quotes (Diane and Buil's experience follows the others):
All these from DianneC "Masked
I also was able to swim past the ropes on our
shark/ray feed. It was really awesome. The sharks were very gentle and one 5
footer "rubbed" against me. It is something I will NEVER forget.
"Maeva's All Day picnic really suprised me.
It was @ $66 per person for an full day event, and it was a great
They took out @22 people. We started at Matira
Point, just past the public beach, at Chez NoNo. Then a boat to the shark (Black
tip reef) & ray feeding area. After the feeding we were invited to go past
the rope and swim with the sharks. (Since the crazy old American lady did it
first, some of the French group ventured out too.) Quite a few stayed in the
boat on this part.
Next was a trip to the Coral Garden. They dropped
us off at the far end and then picked us up down current. Back in the boat (we
could have walked) & around the corner of the motu to the swimming/ picnic
This was a treat. Woven palm trays with leaf
plates. Grilled barracuda that melted in the mouth, Poisson Cru (I love this,
but passed), taro, breadfruit, marinated banana, watermelon, pineapple and yummy
"Tahitian Cake" that is like a sticky cobbler. Ours was pumpkin.
The guides sang and danced (does anyone know the
words to 'Rosalee'?) Then had us up and moving like idiots.
We followed this with a search for manta rays
(unsuccessful) and a visit to a separate group of sting rays where we swam with
and fed them.
Drop off was at the quay, so our boat ride was
practically around the island.
...tender port...can rent a funny little bubble car...basically a motorcycle
with a chassis, and your arms will buzz for ten minutes after you stop driving,
but it's pretty fun... around the whole island in a couple of hours.
Or there is a small two-seater car that is slightly faster. The bubble car was
$60 for eight hours, plus $10 for gas (required)...a little less for two or
four hours...got one and went around the island, returned to a beach
and spent the afternoon, and then drove back.
...the only tour I took that I can not recommend is the Lagoonariam in Bora
There are two nice beaches...that are public. Both...to the right as you leave the tender and face the
island. One is a couple of miles...guess...down the road...see it on
the right...a strip of white sand...probably people on it...beaches in French Polynesia tend to be very narrow; nothing like L.A. or
beach is a public one...in front of the Hotel Bora
Bora; I think...Matira Beach...probably the prettier beach...almost no coral...can go way, way out from shore and still be only up to your
waist in beautiful aquamarine water...for the same reason the snorkeling is
non-existent; nothing to see.
...a famous bar/restaurant called Bloody Mary's, which is between the port
and the beaches...supposed to be pretty interesting because of the
decor...Across from the first beach (the one right off the road) is a little
place called Ben's...a snack bar run out of the front of Ben's house...had some
food...a great experience. Ben is a very sweet Polynesian guy...He's lived all
over, including the U.S...a very slow, deliberate, and great cook. Order home
fries and he'll get out the potatoes, peel them, cut them up, and then fry them.
They're delicious! The prices are high, as in all of French Polynesia, but we
shared a sub for $12.95...about 14" long, and could barely finish it
between two of us...a fresh mahi mahi sub; someone...sold him the fish that
morning...I loved the place and will go back in an instant.
...along the road between the beaches and the port is a cyber café...on
the ocean side of the road; you'll see a sign in French..."Internet" and something about consultation...$6.00 for half an
hour (minimum) and they make you buy something to drink because "it's a cyber CAFÉ".
I had a coffee for $1. They speak only French but you'll be able to make
yourself understood. Be warned that the keyboard is very strange--things are in
different places...don't plan to type anything very long.
...don't-miss excursion. Renaissance offers a horseback riding trip.
Sign up early as there are only five horses (but they do it four times while
you're here). My friend went on it and said it was incredible...you take a boat across the lagoon, and then
through a jungly part and also through the water. She raved about it...$60
but well worth it.
...everyone agreed that was the most gorgeous of them all.
In fact, as we sat at breakfast on the Panorama deck, marvelous music coming
over the speakers, I just burst into tears at the beauty of it all, then I
started taking pictures of the incredible reef, the shoreline, the little
village of Vaitape
...took a sunset cruise (unfortunately the sunset was
disappointing, but sailing along on this huge sailing catamaran was great,
but...is it ever expensive for 1 hour!).
...took the Circle Island Tour by Le Truck (plenty of photo
stops, fabulous scenery, very good guide), which went by our favorite places
from 10 and 5 years ago. I recommend this one; you really see something of the
island! Another good one is the helicopter tour...we had done that in 1989 and
...did go on the snorkel tour in Bora Bora,
and saw tons of Sting Rays.
...The 160 mile trip back to Papeete, even over the
open sea, was so smooth we never noticed the slightest ripple!
We just got back last week and want
you to spread the word about a company on Bora Bora that
helped us organize all of our shore excursions. Topdive does scuba, but the
wife, Maeva, has a side business booking excursions. She was set up on the dock
and met the tenders. I had arranged with her through e-mail all of our
activities, but when other passengers heard about how much less we paid than
through Ren they flocked to her table. She did a 4x4 (the best of the whole
trip) for $45, 6 hours of snorkeling at various locations for $50, including the
coral garden and swimming with rays, and 2 hours of a waverunner for $125. These
were the best deals on the whole trip. She said Ren is trying real hard to put
her out of business, so we told her to stand up to them. She’s a great lady!
The website is www.diveguide.com
Her e-mail is Maeva@topdive.pf.
Susie Burke Kansas City, MO
DIANE and BUIL's EXPERIENCE:
The R4 was scheduled to anchor at 7am. The first
tender was scheduled to leave the R4 at 7:45am. For this first day, the
last tender from the pier back to the ship was scheduled for 10pm. We tendered to the Vaiape wharf.
The first day we rented a car(?) from Eurocar, about one
block from the wharf on a road parallel to the shoreline. It was a
Cabriolet, a two-seater convertible with a canvas top but no sides above the
foot high restraining side which has no clutch, no air (she, the agent, laughed
when air was mentioned and circled her arms and hands to indicate...all around
you), one forward and one reverse, 45 kmph top speed, and sounds like a
lawnmower, but it is a lot of fun. They have regular cars and they are
almost the same cost to rent. We chose not to rent a normal
car. There weren't many cars with air, if any. The cost was 7500 CFP
(8 hours) and 1200 CFP paid Eurocar for gas. One did not need to put any
gas in the tank. We drove around Bora Bora three times. Mostly
paved, except for a short (100 yards) uphill then downhill section. Great
fun. We stopped at Bloody Mary's restaurant and it was not so commercial
as expected until we looked at the t-shirt prices. Drinks were about $6
for a Bloody Mary, $8 for a margarita, $9 for a pina colada. We had a few drinks
and left. It got very crowded when the buses were there. We stopped
and swam on a nice Public beach just a little way down the beach from the Bora
Bora Beachcomber Parkroyal. We split a grilled fresh tuna sandwich (about
the size of a French loaf of bread...around 2 feet) with French fries (hot and
good) at an unmarked beach restaurant...great sauce, extremely outstanding food.
It was 1400 CFP. One of the owners, Motai Vaiwmarae (and Olivia Melararci)
gave me their business card. It was the Mahana View Restaurant at the
The second day the first tender was scheduled to leave the
R4 at 7:45am. For this second day, the last tender from the pier back to
the ship was scheduled for 5pm.
The second day, we took the ship's Lagoonarium tour.
We knew it would be like a marine zoo, in which you could mingle with the
animals. But we wanted to see some of the marine life we might have
missed. The evening before, after we booked it, we were told it was
crowded. Good thing we expected it, and it was not so bad. We loaded
up onto a large outrigger canoe at the wharf and were entertained by a wacky, happy
Polynesian and his sidekick walking along the edge of the 4 to 6 inch ledge on
the top of the sides of the outrigger canoe and talking to us. It was 45 minutes
to the Lagoonarium. Near the end of the trip (last 10 minutes), they
strummed banjo like instruments and sang. When we arrived, we climbed out
of the outrigger canoe into ankle deep water to wade ashore. We saw a thatch
covered (no sides) banquet size room with tables. We deposited our goods
and went in two groups to swim and snorkel in the penned areas. These
penned areas were a chain link fence in the water to the bottom encircling the
marine life in a u shape with the shoreline as one of the four sides. The
first pen had huge number of different fish mostly medium sized to small and was
crowded with people. However, it was fun being in with so many and varied
fish. The second pen was also crowded with people but had many larger fish such as
tuna, small sharks, turtles, rays and such slightly larger marine life.
Crowded but fun. The third pen was very large, so the people did not
cause crowding if you swam a bit, because it could take you some time to get to
the end of it. It had larger sharks, more and different rays (eagle
rays), and also such things as moray eels. Our sidekick guide put meat in
his mouth and swam down and fed the moray eel from his mouth. It didn't
seem wise, but I guess that was the show. After a short while, most of
the people were out of the water and I had the pens to myself. A short
while later, the pareu demo (with a bit of humor) took place and we ate lots of
bananas, coconut, grapefruit. Purchased and split a Hinano beer from the
small store next to our thatched covering. We left and arrived at the
wharf about 5 minutes or more faster than the trip out. This turned out
to be the favorite tour for many, though we just thought it was ok, and could
be disturbing to some.
We tendered back to the wharf after lunch on
the ship to find a cybercafe and send an e-mail from Bora Bora. When we
went out to the road parallel to the shoreline, we knew about a cyber cafe about
2 miles to the right (south). We were told there was one north only a few
blocks. It turned out to be the place we stopped for an ice-cream the day
before. It had one Mac computer and needed the owner, Marc-Andre, to be
present to begin use. He eventually arrived after a lengthy, interesting
discussion with an expatriate US guy. We managed to fumble thru the
European keyboard and send out a few e-mails, though we took about 15-20 minutes
(it was 7 or 8 dollars). It rained very hard, then we went back to the
wharf to catch the last tender after it began to let up a bit.
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