French Polynesia

Bora Bora: Paradise Redefined

Paradise just like beauty – on the eye of the beholder. Bora Bora definitely redefined what paradise means in my mind.  Waking up with the view of overwater bungalows was so unreal! Even though the bed was so comfortable, I couldn’t gave up one second of Bora Bora! As my husband was lying on bed and needed few minutes to “warm up”, I sprayed insect repellent, grabbed my camera, and had my peaceful morning walk. I never have a habit of morning walk back at home; I only have it in during vacationing in beautiful places. The morning was so quiet, very peaceful to enjoy views like this; the location of Intercontinental Bora Bora Thalasso is perfect for the view of the mountain peak!

I walked all the way to the end of the overwater bungalows for the spectacular view of the mountain:

Panorama of Mount Otemanu and the lagoon:

The sky was so clear that can clearly see the whole mountain peak! However, it was not perfect timing yet as the sun was not high enough to show the turquoise color of the world famous lagoon.

I walked back to our room and screamed, “Hun, it’s so clear out, wake up hurry!” LOL

By the time we got out again, the turquoise color appeared yay!

I pulled my husband all the way to the end of the overwater bungalows! Love the pattern of the clouds and not covering the mountain peak!

Since we were rushing out, we forgot our tripod! Hubby used the video stabilizer as the tripod for a photo of us two 🙂

We walked back to our room and I asked hubby where he want to eat tonight? We need to plan our time according to the boat transfer schedule to the sister property Le Moana (located in the main island) if we decided to dine out. Also, Intercontinental Bora Bora Thalasso charges a fee of 1810 xpf (around $18) per person for the shuttle in the evening to discourage guests from dining out!!! Looking at the schedule, the last “free” boat out to Le Moana is 2:15 pm. The shuttle times are not convenient at all if you look at it closely:

The times with an “*” symbol means the time for the bus schedule from Le Moana to Vaitape (the main town) and cost 1150 xpf (around $11.50) per person. Sometimes I think, why do you need to charge guests when they are paying a $1000 per night per room, seriously? After studying the schedule, I came up with: we’ll take the 12:15 pm boat out to Le Moana, walk to Matira Beach for lunch, and then come back to Le Moana to catch the 2:15 pm bus to Vaipate. Then, take the 5:30 pm bus from Vaitape back to Le Moana and then wait for the pick up to the famous Bloody Mary for dinner. We can either catch the 8:30 pm or 10:00 pm shuttle back to the hotel. Decision made! I called the Concierge to make the reservation at Bloody Mary, the Concierge called back and confirmed the pick up at Le Moana at 6:30 pm. We were told that we need to make a reservation at the reception for the bus to town. We took our tripod and walking toward to the reception (another advantage of on the right “Y” closer to the reception)!

Even though the short distance, we made few stops for photos haha!

The second overwater bungalow on the left side is our overwater bungalow room 101!!!


We finally made it to the reception to make a reservation for the bus transfer to town, I also asked to make the reservation for the night shuttle coming back and found out that there’s no charge on the boat coming back!!! In other words, as long as you leave the hotel by the 2:15 pm shuttle, you can come back after dinner at night free of charge!

Done with reservations and we have few hours before the 12:15 boat, we continued the way to navigate the hotel. We made a stop on the bridge for a photo of the mountain from a different angle than our overwater bungalow:


The water is crystal clear that we can see the bottom. On the other side of the bridge is the view of the hotel spa and are they farming Tahitian pearls?

Continue walking, we reached the hotel pool; hardly anyone there!

We felt so exclusive haha!

We walked down to the beach for another panorama shot:

Now know what I mean by the hotel has the best location to view the mountain?

The beach has a lot of sharp shells so important to wear shoes when walking on the beach or water shoes when snorkeling!

Non-motorized equipment are free to use such as stand-up paddle (they only have two so might need to wait for availability), kayak, snorkels, etc.

Lights, cameras, actions!

The property is absolutely gorgeous, every single angle is post card perfect!

We stopped on the other bridge that leads to the left “Y”, on one side of the bridge can see the hotel chapel:

I heard that snorkeling here is great for kids as the water is shallow and very calm!

The other side of the bridge has the best view of the beach and of course the mountain as backdrop! The best of all, we had the whole beach to ourselves without anyone there wow!

Perhaps it was the start of the low season, we only saw a few couples and families here and there during our 4 nights stay! We took tons of photos from that spot and finally moved on when we saw a couple came for photos. We walked toward the overwater bungalows on the left “Y”, here you can see the whole beach, it’s so pretty!

Further down, another angle looking back at the beach:

There’s a little “island” and a cute little coconut tree right in the middle that you can probably walk there, I forgot to walk there awww maybe next time:

Continued walking down to the end of the overwater bungalows to see the difference in the view of the mountain:

They are doing repairs during the low season, that’s how they repair overwater bungalows!

Oh my the turquoise water pulled my attention away again!

Continued on…


Hum…which “Y” has the better view? I can’t decide 😛

Looking back at hubby with the tripod haha!

The sun was getting hot, I was smart enough to bring the two free bottles of water with us! We spent quite some time taking post card perfect photos!

On our way back, the chapel again!

See there are two people on the beach! We usually have a hard time looking for spots without people to take our photos during vacation but this time we have a hard time finding people in our photos LOL! We took a shortcut via the beach to get back to our room and made a few more stops!

The coconut trees here are shorter than in Hawaii!

We finally back!

We decided to walk all the way to the end to retake our photos with our tripod hehe!

The sun was very strong that I reapplied sunscreen!

Back to our overwater bungalow, I walked out to the deck for more photos, I admit, I am addicted to every angle of Bora Bora! How can you not fall in love with this? The weather was perfect, thank heaven!

We were so into the photos that we completely forgot our breakfast LOL! Well we had an hour before the shuttle and have some fruits left from our welcome plate of fruits so we had that as a quick snack! We rested a bit and then walked out for our shuttle to Le Moana. I packed insect repellent, sunscreen, some cash, and a bottle of water (hubby put ice in it so it stays cold longer).

More photos on the way of course!

The overwater bungalows on the back are Le Meridien, smaller than Intercontinental’s! The boat arrived on-time! The boat capacity is 12 people…hum what if it’s full? It was not an issue when we were there, again, it was the low season!

The boat ride was tons of photo-ops! Looking at our deck:

and overwater bungalows:

Arriving at Le Moana, their overwater bungalows are much smaller!

I heard they have corals underneath their overwater bungalows so better for snorkeling!

Le Moana’s beach:

One thing I dislike about Le Moana is that it’s tucked inside a narrow road! It was crowded with locals hanging out near the entrance hum…it looked like it’s a public bus stop there? Anyways, once we walked out of that narrow road, we took a left to get to Matira Beach Restaurant. There’s no “sidewalk” so watch out for cars but the road is wide enough! We walked pass Matira Beach and a snack place and continued to walk. About 10 minutes or so we arrived at Matria Beach Restaurant only to find out that they are closed GRRRR! They will be reopen tomorrow, Jan. 8th. Sigh, once again, double check the restaurant to see if they are open or not on the weeks after New Year, they might still on extended vacation!

Disappointed and by this time we were starving so we turned back to the snack place we passed by. It’s called Matira Snack right on Matira Beach.

I ordered the steak, did not have high expectation of it!

Hubby ordered a stir-fried noodle, it was…..erm…tourist quality at best.

Hubby didn’t realize the sauce was dripping LOL! We ordered two cans of Fanta and cost 3600 xpf (that’s around $36) CASH only! There are few tables in this snack place and two dogs on the beach came by searching for food. We noticed mosquitoes and quickly use the insect repellent wipes. Unfortunately, hubby still got a bite on his leg oh no!!! All we could do was pray that it was not the virus carrying kind!!

After lunch, we walked back and checked out the shops on the right hand side out of the hotel road:

On the right of the hotel logo is the narrow road lead to the hotel front entrance.

A little souvenir shop on the right hand side when coming out from the hotel road:

Nothing interesting to buy though!

Keep going, there’s a pizza place and a convenient store, we saw many hotel guests come here to stock up alcohols!

They have breakfast items like breads and hams too!

We walked back and hang out at Le Moana for some photos while waiting for the 2:15 bus to town. The bridge lead to the overwater bungalows with sign “hotel guests only”:

Their pool:

Beach and view:

The bus to town was pretty big, it was really a bus instead of a van. Only us two in the bus though haha! It was getting cloudy on the way to town!

My first impression of Vaitape: not impressed!

The bus driver dropped us in front of a “plaza” with few pearl shops and across the street is this:

Chin Lee Market is across the street as well:

We walked down the main street and visited some pearl shops…didn’t find anything that I like 🙁 Reason why I am not impressed with Vaitape….small, limited souvenir shops, and dirt road! It gets very dirty and muggy when it rains! I visited many main towns of Caribbean islands like Bahamas, Aruba, Cayman Islands, St Thomas, Saint Maarten, and I am so sad to say Bora Bora’s town is the worst! I thought Bora Bora suppose to be a rich island, it’s a French territory I heard has high minimum wage, so why the town looks like this? Can’t they at least pave the road and parking lots?

We walked pass the port and there’s a Bank of Polynesia (if you need to access ATM for cash). We walked into the port area and there are some craft shops inside, not much interesting to buy though!

There’s a cute white church, hubby joked I was short that plants got in the way!

It was probably like a 5 minutes walk from one end to another end of the shops on the main road! We turned back to the market to stock up on juices and we need another stronger insect repellent! No luck finding it in the market. We continued walking down the road and there was a pharmacy there!!! We bought a bottle, it’s a watery-lotion based with 30% DEET!

This one worked like a champ, it smelled better, and leave our skin feeling better (instead of sting feeling). We highly recommend this one! We were so bored to try to kill some time till our 5:30 bus back to the hotel!

We got back to the hotel and half an hour more till Bloody Mary’s pick up, we found out the same bus goes to town will be dropping us off at Bloody Mary’s. While we sat on the outside of the lobby for the half hour wait, we applied the new insect repellent. Unfortunately, I didn’t apply any on my face and got a small bite on my chin. OMG, now both of us got bitten and we can only pray!

There are few couples on the bus to Bloody Mary’s, it’s one of the “must-dos” in Bora Bora! We arrived and first thing I saw was the board of famous people who visited the famous restaurant!

The other side I took after we finished dinner:

We walked in and I turned back to take those photos:

There’s a pier there hum movie stars arrived by yacht?

Me at the famous Bloody Mary’s!

We said we have a reservation – she found our name and room number and asked if we would like to start with the bar first or straight to dinner. Straight to dinner as I don’t drink 🙂

Here’s the menu for tonight! The lady introduced each, what a unique way to present their menu!

We placed the order there right away and then we were seated.

very simple but unique restaurant with sand floor!

Hubby ordered a local beer to try it out!


Hubby ordered a tuna kebab, it was 1500 xpf (around $15), it was very good!

I ordered a beef kebab, cooked medium rare, it was very tasty but the dipping sauce was weird!

The waiter helped us to take a photo of us two having our memorable dinner at Bloody Mary’s!

My main course was New Zealand steak cooked medium rare, it was so good definitely worth the money, it was around $35.

The portion and the quality were way better than the one we had at the hotel last night!

Hubby ordered the moon fish steak, he said it was great, better than he expected! Usually when he orders fish steak, it’s mostly overcooked and dry but not this time!

Dinner including tips was 11850 xpf (around $118) and it was the best meal we had in French Polynesia! People said Bloody Mary’s is touristy and overrated but we thought it’s great portion and quality, why not give it a try? It was a little bit more expensive plus the round trip shuttle cost if you leave after 2:15 pm, but we both agreed that we would rather paid a little extra for better food!

After dinner, we walked out to the entrance and there were vans and taxis there. As I remembered, the driver who dropped us off said he’ll make frequent trips back to drop off/pick up guests. We didn’t find the bus but instead a lady came out of the taxi who just dropped off another couple at the restaurant asked where are we heading back. I said Intercontinental, she said come on in and it’s free of charge. We were a little bit skeptical at first and asked again to confirm it’s free. Well it looked like Bloody Mary’s contracted many drivers to pick up and drop off guests back to major hotels. We made it back to Le Moana and caught the 8:30 pm boat back.

There was a small section after the bridge of the pier to the reception that was completely dark with no lights. Luckily, hubby carried a flashlight in his camera bag, I guess you can use the flashlight function in your cellphone to light up the road too! The after dinner walk would be more pleasant and enjoyable with the view of the stars on such a clear and dark sky but the Chigenguya outbreak made us walk faster to get back to our room to minimized the chance of getting another mosquito bite (we fortunately didn’t have another bite since). Our room was so comfortable, we relaxed by watching some episodes of Chinese drama (the free in-room wifi was fast enough to stream videos) and with a cup of delicious mango juice we bought at town. Tomorrow, we’ll have our snorkeling tour with Raanui Tours, I emailed them yesterday to reconfirm our reservation! Goodnight Bora Bora!

2 thoughts on “Bora Bora: Paradise Redefined

  1. Thank you for sharing your pictures. I especially liked the pictures of Vaitape and the area outside the IC Le Moana. I read on TA about the little stores and where they were located at but your pictures and captions did a better job of describing them. Now I know what to look for. This is our first trip to French Polynesia and in 3 weeks we’ll be at the Sofitel Private Island.

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