Bora Bora: Arrival and the Le Meridien

Bora Bora from the Air Tahiti flight

Though geographically remote, Tahiti feels like most other tropical island destinations. There are still shopping centers, lots of restaurants and supermarkets with plenty of American food (including some that can’t be found in Australia… jackpot!) Bora Bora, on the other hand, feels like miles away from everything. Perhaps it’s the landscape or the insulated nature of the resorts, but the place is just a pure escape from reality.

Bora Bora taxi line

The Air Tahiti flight from Papeete was only about an hour with a stop in the middle at Moorea, another nearby island. The views from the propeller-driven plane were spectacular, serving to heighten the anticipation of the travelers (mostly honeymooners, couples celebrating anniversaries and the occasional professional athlete). After a great flyby of the island, we landed on the solitary airstrip and headed over to baggage claim. The airstrip on Bora Bora was actually the first on French Polynesia, built by the U.S. military during World War II as part of their fortification of the island. Perhaps not the legacy that we would like to leave behind, but the activity and infrastructure no doubt promoted economic growth on the island.

Our overwater bungalow at the Le Meridien

After collecting our bags, we walked outside and met our boat to take us to the hotel. Since the airport and each of the hotels sit on their own island, the only way to get around is by boat. Not that this is a bad way to travel… more anticipation and excitement. After a quick 15 minute ride to the Le Meridien, we checked in and took a quick tour of the hotel before hopping on a golf cart (seriously) and heading to our bungalow.

"Tahitian Television"

Of the many iconic elements of Bora Bora, the overwater bungalows stand out as one of the most recognizable. Though you can get beach- or lagoon-front bungalows as well, if you’re making the trip, why not go for over the water? Each bungalow comes with its own balcony and ladder directly into the lagoon below and is connected by a series of golf cart-size catwalks back to the main hotel. You also get what’s called a “Tahitian Television”, which is, well, just check out the picture.

The Le Tipanie restaurant

After settling in and unpacking a bit, we set out to explore some more of the hotel. In addition to the sets of overwater bungalows, there were also several larger units on the edge of the lagoonarium. A combination of a lagoon and an aquarium, the Le Meridien’s lagoonarium is basically a giant swimming pool inhabited by a variety of fish and turtles. We finished off the night at the hotel’s main restaurant, Le Tipanie. Situated on the edge of the lagoonarium, you can check out the fish and turtles while enjoying dinner thanks to the underwater lighting. The meals were great – local fare and an elaborate buffet – but the setting stole the show.

It’s difficult to articulate the serenity of a place like Bora Bora. As habitual city-dwellers, Kristen and I are pretty used to a constant level of ambient noise and activity. Here, there’s nothing between you, the sand, the sun and the sky, and endless ocean between you and the rest of the world. It really has to be experienced to be understood. Of course, there are still plenty of activities if you’re interested, and we were. Stay tuned 🙂

Ryan, Kristen and Mount Otemanu

Category: French Polynesia  Tags: ,
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