Hotel Bora Bora
16 August 2008 | Bora Bora
Our date for hauling out in Raiatea (Aug 18) is coming up. The wind has been blowing 20 knots from the southeast which is exactly where Raiatea is. It looked like we might get a day of northeast wind that would allow us to sail over but the forecast has changed and now it looks like a light wind day on Monday (our haul out day) is the best we can do.
In order to get setup for the crossing we decided to move back to the west side of Bora Bora, where the one pass into the lagoon is located. We are all the way down on the southeast side and there is no way to get a big boat around the south end at Matira Point so we have to go all the way back around (tracing the shape of a horseshoe). It is, of course, a beautiful trip but it does take a couple of hours.
We headed out of the Piti Aau anchorage at noon in order to have good light. We motored around the occasional coral head in the otherwise beautiful sand bottom anchorage and left the 8 foot water for the deeper water near the island of Bora Bora. Once in the 60 foot zone we headed north up the coast.
The passage along the east side of Bora Bora is well marked in the deep water. You can stay in 80 feet much of the way but there is a slightly harrowing 10 foot pass through a natural channel in the reef that you must follow to get back to the 30 foot basin on the motu side just north of the Four Seasons. From there you continue north and cruise over the 10 foot bottom back toward Bora Bora around the marks at the north end of the basin. From here on you are back on the Bora Bora island side in deep water again.
We decided to anchor on the sandy bank in front of the Hotel Bora Bora at the south end of Povai Bay. There are great spots with nothing but sand here ranging from 7 to 10 feet. The northern most bulge of the bank gets very skinny right at the edge, maybe 6 feet in places. There are deeper places to enter but we saw a monohull following us bump here. They ended up backing up and entering the bank farther east. There are coral heads along the edge in places and some rocks on the bank here and there (it is a big bank) so it is good to keep a careful eye on the water until you know where you are. There is also a nice snorkel spot at the west end of the bank with many shallow coral heads just northeast of the channel around motu Toopua.
Once settled we decided to visit the Hotel Bora Bora. This is the oldest of the big hotels on Bora Bora. It is also one of the few actually on the island, the new trend has been to build on the motus. The Hotel Bora Bora is also one of the pioneers of the over water bungalow.
We arrived at the dock and were impressed by all of the shallow coral and the multitude of fish just feet from the pilings (careful parking the dink!). Unlike many of the new hotels the HBB has had time to settle into the environment and looks much more a part of the surroundings, as opposed to an intrusion on them.
The grounds of the hotel are classic and beautiful. It is situated on a point with lovely beaches on one side and a coral lagoon on the other. Hideko and I made our way to the beach bar to get a late lunch, early dinner. We do this often because we really only eat one meal a day. Some cereal or what have you with coffee and a late lunch/early dinner is perfect for us. It also works well because at the end of a hard day of diving/snorkeling or whatever we can get out to visit a resort, eat a nice meal from the (typically less expensive) lunch menu after the crowds have left, watch the sunset and still get back to the big boat before the light fades.
We had a great time at the Hotel Bora Bora. We met a friendly young lady from Tahiti who was studying Hotel Management during the year and working at the hotel for her summer break. We discovered that our visit to the hotel would be our last also. The hotel is scheduled to be demolished in a month! We were both very sad to hear that this beautiful place and all of its history were to be destroyed.
The plan is to erect a modern hotel in its place over the course of two years. Apparently the old classic is having a hard time competing with the newer hotels. In particular, the HBB has no pool and no spa, both items to be amended with the new build out. It will be sad to see such a lovely landmark destroyed. Hopefully they will integrate some of the wonderful bits of the old hotel into the plans for the new one.