May 11, 2019 - National Geographic Orion
Today we visited one of the most iconic locations in French Polynesia, Bora Bora. This island is 143 miles northwest of Papeete and is surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef.
Being the first full day of our trip, most were already on the outer decks witnessing the dramatic entrance of National Geographic Orion’s into the main lagoon. The characteristic turquoise waters were mesmerizing, and the two grand peaks of Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu were slightly covered with a cloud-ring at their summit, lending them the perfect enigmatic effect to our eyes.
Shortly after breakfast, we disembarked onto the main city’s jetty at the major settlement of Vaitape. A whole row of four-wheel-drive cars and two large trucks with wood-backed structures mimicking open window buses were our transportation for the morning. They all took off to different locations using the only road that rings the island.
All of us who chose to travel by car were surprised to see our trucks climb steep roads to access vantages otherwise impossible to reach. The views were what I could only describe as a “feast to our eyes!” There is no other way than appreciating the magnificence of an island than from above, and we surely did that this morning.
This island also was utilized by the United States during the Second World War as a military supply base. An oil depot, airstrip, and defense fortifications were constructed, and eight 7”/44 caliber guns were set up at strategic points round the island and we were fortunate to visit one of them in reputable shape. Since the island saw no combat, the base was officially closed on June 2nd, 1946.
After our tour, we headed back to our ship for a well-deserved lunch. The afternoon was dedicated to a host of water activity, including kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and snorkeling offered off a motu (island) rented exclusively for us during the whole afternoon!
The first views of tropical fish swimming among coral reefs were fantastic, and the unbeatable combination of kayaking and paddleboarding in almost mirror-still waters made a perfect end for our first day in French Polynesia!
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