French Polynesian Islands of Bora Bora and Tahiti

French Polynesian Atoll

Coral Atoll

Cruising into Bora Bora it suddenly became clear what an atoll looks like. Completely surrounding some of the islands is a coral reef sticking up out of the water. To get to the island there needs to be a break in the reef somewhere, but this circular reef serves as good protection to the island and a place where fish gather, an atoll.


Pressure to find that Perfect Photograph

(NOTE:  I posted the two New Zealand blogs out of order, so now we do a bit of backtracking)

Hearing of Bora Bora we likely imagine vivid images of long, slender palm trees leaning over white sandy beaches and brilliant turquoise waters. I hoped to capture such an image.

However, the reality is that on the one single day your cruise ship drops you on these various islands, it may be raining or sweltering hot.  Also, you do not know which direction to turn for that one special beach photograph. You may even be on the wrong island for such a photo.  However, all cab drivers will eagerly take you for a ride and lengthy tour of the island, which will likely end up at their family’s trinket shop.


A Tour of Bora Bora

On Bora Bora we opted for a ship sponsored tour.  It was raining very hard most of the day.  We were shuttled around in a Land Rover, being jostled with six other people, spinning up mud, climbing our way to the highest point on the island.

Highest point on Bora Bora

View from highest point on Bora Bora

Never would I have suspected that we would see US installed gun turrets aimed out over the sea in Bora Bora.

Bora Bora gun turret

Bora Bora gun turret

These were installed in World War II as a defense against Japanese attacks. None were ever used in actual combat, which was a good thing as we were told the installed cannons had a range of about 10 miles, which sounds like a lot, until you learn the Japanese battleship cannons had a range of 30 miles.

Apparently these Land Rover tours have been going on for quite some time.

abandoned Range Rover

Very old abandoned Land Rover (for Lou)

Tour is not Over Until you visit the Gift Shoppe

Just as all museums exit through the gift shop, many cruise ship tours end at some relative’s art boutique or souvenir shop. This tour was no exception. After one of the steepest, muddiest roads I can imagine, we end up at a shop which specializes in island scenes painted on silk. Absolutely nobody ends up here by accident; only those on four-wheel drive tours make it this far. The guides did not seem too anxious to leave until additional sales were made.

Bora Bora Silk Painter

Bora Bora Silk Painter  (notice he is painting upside-down)

We got an added tour shopping bonus as they dropped us at the world-famous Bloody Mary’s bar.  I had never heard of it, but it has quite a cult following. Walking the sand floor, you can sit atop coconut stools. Very touristy, but it has been around since 1979.  I have a photo of a girl in her bikini at the bar, but that photo was rejected by my editor-in-chief.


Island of Raiatea

More rain. These islands are green for a reason.  So what to do in the rain?  Photograph beautiful lilies in an outdoor shopping mall.


Lilies in the Rain

Lilies and Streaks of Rain


Purple Water Lilly

Purple Water Lilly

When the rain cleared up momentarily I was able to walk around and find graffiti, all with a nautical flair.


Island of Mo’orea

Forecast is for rain in the morning, fog lifting by noon and temperatures climbing to just above sweltering…

Cruising into Mo’orea the rain was diminishing and fog was lifting, revealing a very jagged volcanic island. The black and white versions here are not much different from the color images.

The cab driver assured me this was the most beautiful and popular beach in the area. There may have been three people on the beach, counting me and this Polynesian gentleman. To cool off, he was taking his daughters for a ride in a boat he built himself and was very proud to talk about. Tattoos are a big part of their culture. He thought it a bit odd I wished to photograph his feet and that I had no tattoos.  But for me, this photo captures much about the Polynesian way of life.

Polynesian lifestyle

The Polynesian lifestyle


Finally, that leaning palm tree.  However, it was growing out of some lucky person’s back yard, not the white sandy beach I envisioned.

Goodbye to Oceania Cruise Lines and French Polynesia, our 17 day cruise from Lima, Peru to Tahiti is at an end.  The monsoons continue.

Departing Bora Bora.


Rained Out in Tahiti

This is my one photo of Tahiti, an iPhone panorama.  We had severe monsoon rains the entire week.  The photo below was taken at our resort the morning we left, our only day of sunshine.  With the help of an Amazon Fire Stick, we managed to watch the Super Bowl in the bar of our Tahiti hotel with fellow Americans.

Next we began driving around New Zealand in a caravan (camper van) which I posted out of order, so next week you will see Australia!

10 thoughts on “French Polynesian Islands of Bora Bora and Tahiti

  1. Without the physical experience of the heat & rain, the trip looked perfect, tattoo and all.
    That Land Rover was an earlier edition prior to GM and Tata motors acquisitions. I doubt the later releases would ever compare to a true LR produced Rover in endurance.
    If some woman with tentacles popped her head out of the ocean and plucked my boat from the sea, I would want an LR produced by LR to get me to the shore.
    Thank you again for sharing your fascinating journey.

  2. I am so sorry you had so much rain on this part of your trip. It may have kept you from experiencing the terrible air pollution in Papeete though. The photos are terrific.

  3. Amazing azure waters!!! The photo of the palm tree with the flock of birds hanging out was my all time favorite! Is your wife your editor in chief??!!

  4. Mo’orea 2nd photo is amazing. I also liked the flowers but to bad the coconut bar stools on the sand floor hit the cutting room floor 🙂

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