Author: Aaron Hudy
Date: July 6th, 305 Days at Sea
Pic: A full moon lighting up Bora Bora's shallow waters in a brilliant green. The Southern Cross Constellation can be seen near the top-left of the picture.
Bora Bora is like no place on this earth. Bora Bora consists of an ominous and steep volcano peak on a central island, Mt. Otemanu (more on this later) surrounded by many smaller islands, called motus. All of this is protected by a natural reef that surrounds the island. But what makes this place so special is the various breathtaking colors and air-like clarity of the water. Only the main island has a few roadways but most of the resorts are scattered about the motus, which are absent any traffic.
Cari and I honeymooned here about 4 years ago and promised we would return. Little did we know that we would have the opportunity to barge in on our friends on their honeymoon (for the 2nd time!) four years later. The only ante required...a case of nice Californian wines.
On our last trip to Bora Bora we merely visited the island, but on the sailboat we experienced the entire island. Each day we discovered a new anchorage more stunning and more private than the day before. One of our favorites was strategically located between the new Four Seasons and St. Regis resorts in an expansive, circular lagoon. The winds were nonexistent on this night and the water was glassy. After the sun had set and before the full moon rose, the stars were glowing. That kind of night where you feel like you can reach out and grab them. And it was that night where I saw the Southern Cross for the first time, which is visible only from the southern hemisphere. After the moon lifted above the horizon, the lagoon of water glowed an emerald green as if it were some giant, under lit swimming pool. A scene I will not forget.
Another favorite anchorage was around the southermost tip of the island. To reach this point, we sailed across very shallow water that only a catamaran could do, sometimes only 5 feet. Even though this was the windward side of the island, we caught this spot when the winds were silent. Again, the water was clear enough that you could count the links on the anchor chain lying 15 feet below. From this point, we had views of the crystal clear water around us, motus on either side of us, the reef and the crashing waves up ahead and views of Taha'a and Raiatea in the distance. We enjoyed "aquarium-like" snorkeling here and even fed the sting ray (and soon to be black-tips who surrounded us) with left over skip-jack tuna. Again, we were all alone and celebrated this night with several drinks along with one of E's special home-cooked dinners.
From here we began working our way back to the other side of the island, so we could "hike" the 2,385 ft vertical volcano. Now, we had already taken on the most difficult hike of my life back in Dominica... 6.5 hours of climbing and descending to see a boiling lake. But hiking, or more like climbing, on Mt. Otemanu was even tougher. The distinction, at least for me, is that hiking involves navigating clearly marked pathways on your two feet. This "hike," on the other hand, involved the use of not only our feet but also the utility of our hands, knees and even backsides to summit grabbing onto roots, rocks, tree limbs or any other object to assist. This path was poorly marked and many times our ascent was vertical. After taking the photos at what we thought was the summit, the girls began repelling back down the mountain. That's when Seth discovered a path that led to the real summit. This provided unobstructed, 360-degree views of Bora Bora. It's unfortunate the girls just missed it...perhaps next time they can reach the top like Seth and I. Be careful not to mention this to either Cari or E as they are both still a little sensitive.
Now after all this time roughing it in the open seas, Seth and E could not escape the comforts of the local Four Seasons. Once we discovered the FS's unbelievable hospitality to "guests," we became regulars here enjoying all the pampering they could offer. From sipping on poolside drinks to indulging in their spa, we did it all.
Friends of Elizabeth and Seth might be wondering how they're doing on this year-long honeymoon. Where there is nowhere to hide when you don't want to be found. Where there are no other people aboard except the two of you. Where the two of you must captain a ship across some stressful situations. Where there are no TV's, telephones and the like to entertain you. And where the most space that can separate you from the other is about 38 feet! Some would say a honeymoon like this can make or break you.
But Seth and Elizabeth are flourishing. They're best friends in love. Their experiences have drawn them closer together. And while both miss their families, friends and careers, they are living in the moment thoroughly embracing this unbelievable opportunity they have to see part of the world together.
From our competitive Euker games (feed the pony), to the Michael Jackson dance party tribute (and debate) night, to the 4th of July party at Bora Bora yacht club, to our dining experience at Bloody Mary's, to savoring E's signature veggie pizza, to my learn-how-to-sail lessons from Seth, this was a trip with our good friends filled with lasting memories. Thanks Seth and E for another amazing sail.
Video: As our readers know, we've had an absolutely wonderful year sailing aboard our Lagoon 380 catamaran. But as we get closer to Australia and the end of our planned "Honeymoon," we are also starting to think about how best to sell our beloved boat. Please click on the video above for our first efforts in getting the word out. Hopefully you'll enjoy the tour!
Pic: Cari, Elizabeth and Aaron aboard Honeymoon with the blue-green water's of Bora Bora's lagoon in the background.
We had a great week with the Hudy's aboard. They last visited us in Dominica so it was great to see them again in Bora Bora. They came to Bora Bora on their Honeymoon four years ago, so it was fun to have them here for our first visit.
I had concerns that the island would not live up to the hype. Everyone has heard of Bora Bora, but we were worried that it would be over-touristy and exploited. So we were pleasantly surprised with what we saw and experienced. Nearly every night we had our own private anchorage. The water was so shallow that the moon light would turn the sea floor green. The resorts were accommodating due to their low occupancy rates and the 4-Seasons was simply to die for (it opened 10 months ago). We're happy to say that Bora Bora lived up to the hype and it has become one of our favorite islands thus far...
More pictures and stories to come...