Bora Bora

Aug 05, 2018 - National Geographic Orion


The iconic jagged cliff face of Bora Bora, Mount Otemanu, loomed over our explorations today as we traversed land and sea. This stop on the itinerary had grand significance for many onboard; a well composed picture in Bora Bora can endow bragging rights for years to come. Circumnavigating Bora Bora by wildly painted local vehicles, and then retiring to a private island? Even better.

If anyone hadn’t experienced the ‘Le Truck’ yesterday, this morning offered another opportunity to get cozy with the famous Polynesian transportation. ‘Le Truck’ is a charming term for what in fact is a school bus in retirement—bedazzled and born anew with an alarmingly colorful paint job. Bumping around the mountainside, we visited historical sites, scenic overlooks, and met some of the local wildlife, feeding hibiscus flowers to the land crabs that enjoy them as a staple of their diet. But perhaps even more wild than the wildlife was the sarong station where locally woven fabric was dyed to order, and the most fashionable styles were modelled and demonstrated. Never again will we wonder what way is best to wear our sarongs. For those with a little more gumption in their spinal discs, we also had a fleet of rusty jeeps that took to the back roads of Bora Bora. The reward for getting bounced over the best potholes in Polynesia was access to some of the most scenic vistas. Countless hues of aquamarine and baby blue spread out before us as we perched on the slopes above the town of Vaitape. Today we surpassed the postcard, and it is only day two.

To relax and rehabilitate our bodies in the afternoon hours, we decided to rent a private island nearby Vaitape. Why not? While we were at it, we got a band to play classic French Polynesian music and invited the hotel department over to serve some chilled rum punch. The first snorkel of the trip was accessible a few paces from the beach and our music may have even drawn in some extra fish, curious who was throwing such a super cool party. The afternoon wrapped up with clear skies, unnecessarily attractive sunsets, and a bevy of topics for the nightly recap, as the natural history staff can barely contain their desire to share bits of scientific and cultural knowledge. Not bad Bora Bora, not bad.

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About the Author

Ian Strachan

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

One steady constant in Ian’s life has been the ocean. Born by the rocky shores of mid-coast Maine, his family repatriated to far north Queensland in Australia early on in his life where he became a dual-citizen and sparked his passion for exploring new environments. Living only an hour away from the Great Barrier Reef served to direct, if not focus, the exhilaration of discovery and set him on his current path. Returning to native soil for education, Ian was fascinated by altogether too many subjects, leaving him with a bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College in Psychobiology, focusing on animal behavior and perception, and with minors in Astronomy, History, and Environmental Science.

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