previous | Tahiti Part 1 | Bora Bora | Tahiti Part 2 | Moorea | Raiatea | Sea Days 1&2 | Samoa | Sea Day 3 | Fiji | Sea Day 4 | New Caledonia | Sea Days 5&6 | Sydney | next


Bora Bora
December 4-6, 2023

The airport was a little more busy than it was when we arrived the previous night but not crowded. As Traci and I were searching for where we were supposed to go to check in for our flight to Bora Bora, we were approached by a man who spoke English very well. He showed us the check-in counter and told us to meet him after we were checked in. I am normally wary of overly helpful people from whom I did not solicit any help. I thought maybe this guy was trying to sell a timeshare or something. My plan was to avoid him. My plan did not work as the guy motioned for us to join him at a table. I noticed there were other people at nearby tables that he had presumably gathered. I was relieved to find this was not a sales pitch. He met with us for less than five minutes. He simply wanted to let us know that there are other options for restaurants and excursions than what the resorts offer on Bora Bora. He handed us a list of these operators and let us know that they provide complimentary transportation to/from the resorts and might offer better prices than the resort. I don't know what his connection was to these businesses.

There is no air condition in the airport. Traci and I found a seat in front of a fan and waited for our flight to board. Things were running a little behind schedule.

It was a 50-minute flight on Air Tahiti from Tahiti to Bora Bora. There are no assigned seats on Air Tahiti. The flight announcements are given in French, English, and Tahitian. I had read several trip reports that recommended sitting on the left side near the front of the plane for the best views of Bora Bora from the air. Traci and I did exactly this but unfortunately, it was cloudy during most of our flight.

50-minute flight from Tahiti to Bora Bora

Bora Bora - Day 1

We stepped off the plane onto the tarmac. The area is surrounded by palm trees and beautiful blue-green water. The pampering began as soon as we entered the tiny Bora Bora airport. Traci and I were greeted by a representative from the St. Regis Bora Bora Resort where we would be staying for the next two nights. The smiling lady placed leis made from real flowers around our neck. The captain of the boat on which we would travel loaded our luggage.

Arriving at the Bora Bora Airport

Bora Bora Airport


receiving my lei of real flowers


In French Polynesia, a small island or islet is called a motu. Some motus are just a few square feet in area whereas other might be a few square miles. The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort is located on a motu that requires a 20-minute boat ride from the Bora Bora airport. Traci and I were on a small boat with three young men from China. One of them spoke a little English and tried to converse with us but I don't think he understood much of what we were saying.

20-minute boat ride from the Bora Bora airport to St. Regis Resort

Upon arriving at St. Regis, Traci and I were welcomed by a young lady name Chloe who would be our butler for the duration of our stay at the resort. She was from Mexico and could speak three languages fluently (Spanish, French, and English).

We were led into the reception area to begin the check-in process. We were given cold towels and a fruit drink while we waited. Check-in was easy but they sure gave us a lot of information about what is available at the resort. St Regis is a Marriott property. This stay was a milestone for Traci and me. We were already at the Platinum Elite level of Marriott's Bonvoy loyalty program. Our second night at St. Regis was the final stay we needed to become lifetime Platinum Elite members.

After checking in, Chloe gave us a tour of the resort via a golf cart. The property is jaw-dropping beautiful. There are colorful tropical plants, palm trees, a lagoon, the bright ocean with the famous overwater bungalows, etc... Chloe pointed out the restaurants, fitness room, public beach, tennis court, spa, and even another motu where a family actually lives.

We were driven to our lodging for the night - a beach villa. St. Regis offers a variety of accommodations ranging from the least expensive (but still expensive) option of a beach villa to the very expensive overwater bungalows (especially the ones that have a view of Mt. Otemanu). Traci and I had a strategy when we made our reservations. We decided to spend our first night in a beach villa and hope for an upgrade due to our Marriott status. We were informed at check-in that there were no upgrades available. The second night would be our bucket list stay in an overwater bungalow.

As Chloe gave us a tour of our beach villa, Traci and I were glad that our upgrade strategy did not work out as we had hoped. The beach villa was amazing! In fact, we liked it more than our overwater bungalow. That said, I still recommend spending at least one night in an overwater bungalow if you have never done so. As for the villa - it was huge! It had shiny hardwood floors througout. It had a foyer, living room, bedroom with a king-size bed, and a large bathroom with two sinks, a shower, and bath tub. The villa had two televisions. There were only about three channels in English. The rest were in French. There was good Wi-Fi throughout the resort. There were treats of locally-produced candy, dried banana slices, bottled water, and liqueurs awaiting us in the villa.

In addition to the large exquisite interior, the villa had a large yard. It had a private outdoor shower where petals from the plant growing next to it would gently fall to the ground from time to time. Although we never used the outdoor shower, I thought the flower petals was a nice touch. We had a private pool and a private beach behind our villa. The only negative I had about our stay was that there were more gnats and/or mosquitos than I cared to see flying around inside our villa. This was not a problem during our overwater bungalow stay.

Beach Villa at St. Regis Resort









All the accommodations at St. Regis come with bicycles. If cycling or walking is not your thing then you can always just dial 9 from any phone at the resort to request to be picked up in a golf cart. Shortly after Chloe's tour of our amazing beach villa, Traci and I explored the paths of the resort on bicycle. I cannot emphasize enough how beautiful the St. Regis Resort is. To top it off was the pleasant weather that day. It was overcast but in the mid-70's Fahrenheit. There was a light breeze that felt amazing. According to Traci's watch, we rode the bikes for three miles before returning to our villa. We did not see many guests during our bike ride. We saw mainly workers maintaining the property.

Exploring St. Regis Resort By Bicycle





We were not yet finished exploring the resort. Chloe told us when we first arrived that she had taken the liberty of making our dinner reservation for 8 PM at the resort's Bamboo restuarant. We had asked if she could change it to an earlier time since we had not eaten anything since our early breakfast at the Fare Suisse motel. She said she would see what she could do. In the meantime, Traci and I decided to walk to find the location of the Bamboo restaurant. Here is where things got a little creepy. As we were walking near the restaurant buildings, a nice lady asked if she could help us find something. We explained that we were looking for the Bamboo restaurant because we have a dinner reservation there later in the evening. This lady who happened to be one of the hostess of Bamboo greeted us by name without us ever telling her our names! She told us that she had spoken to our butler and that they were able to move our dinner reservation to 6:30 PM instead of 8:00 PM. It was 6:15 at the time but she told us she could seat us immediately if we preferred. We took her up on her offer. Bamboo specializes in Asian cuisine. It was delicious but like almost everything in French Polynesia - it was expensive.

ready for dinner


the view from our dinner table


During dinner, it rained heavily for about 5 minutes and then suddenly stopped. Rain had been a major concern of mine when we decided to book our trip for December. French Polynesia has a rainy season that lasts from December to March. The month of December can get over a foot of rain. After the brief heavy rain I saw during dinner, I thought to myself "If this is all we have to deal with on a daily basis, it does not seem too bad." I would later find out that the worst was yet to come - more about that later.

Bora Bora - Day 2

The next morning, I decided to take advantage of some the amenities of our villa while Traci went out for a 4-mile jog. Neither Traci nor I are swimmers or beach people. Despite this, I did dangle my legs in our pool for a while. I relaxed in our hammock and then waded into the water of the beach behind our villa. I had to wear my water shoes because the beach and the ocean floor had many rocks, shells, and other jagged items that made walking barefoot uncomfortable. I could see dark clouds and hear thunder in the distance but the weather was just fine where I was.

Traci managed to return from her jog before the rain started. We both got cleaned up and went to breakfast. Due to our Marriott status, breakfast was included in our stay. It was a very nice buffet filled with traditional American and European offerings. It also had Asian food such as fried rice and dim sum. I especially loved the pork dumplings.

We had a rather amusing occurrence at breakfast each morning. The buffet was served under a large open pavillion. Each morning, a cat would wander in and sit next to Traci's chair - regardless of where we sat. Even though Traci never petted, fed, nor showed any attention to it, the cat would just sit there silently almost as if it were her bodyguard.

This cat found Traci each morning and then stood guard.

After breakfast, we packed our luggage and were moved via golf cart from our beach villa to an overwater bungalow. This was a dream come true for me. The interior was almost identical to that of the villa; however, the bungalow was slightly smaller. The cool part about the bungalow interior were the windows in the hardwood floors that allows you to look for fish and other sea creatures below. We never saw any creatures swimming beneath our bungalow; however, we would later meet a neighbor staying two bungalows from us who showed us video of a turtle swimming beneath their bungalow.

The exterior deck of our bungalow had a lounge area, a covered dining area, and a ladder for climbing down into the ocean. Optionally, you could just jump off the deck into the water. This whole experience was a "pinch yourself moment". I could hardly believe I was there after wanting to do something like this for so many years.

Overwater Bungalow at St. Regis Resort






Traci had signed up for a free wine-tasting activity that the resort was offering at 3 PM. Even though, I do not drink alcohol, I tagged along anyway. It was a fun, informative tasting. Those who participated examined and tasted three or four different wines. For me, this activity ended up being a good way to meet others who were staying at the resort. Everyone I met that day was from the U.S.. I was later told by our butler that around 90% of the guests at St. Regis Bora Bora are American.

It was raining steadily as we were leaving the wine-tasting. We had learned to always be prepared for rain. The resort always has umbrellas available; however, since Traci and I had ridden the bicycles to the tasting, the umbrellas would have been impractical. Instead we used the disposable parcas that the resort provided to cover ourselves as we pedalled back to our bungalow.

With the rain now coming down in buckets, Traci and I relaxed inside our bungalow. We watch a funny movie called "Couples Retreat" on one of the few English channels on the television. The movie starred Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman, Malin Akerman, Kristen Bell, Faizon Love, Kristin Davis, and Jean Reno. It was filmed at St. Regis Bora Bora. This probably explains why the movie seemed to be played over and over on the channel.

For dinner that evening, we tried the resort's Italian restaurant. It was good but did not wow me like the Asian restaurant did the night before.

Bora Bora - Day 3

The heavy rain continued for the rest of the night and into the next morning. I was beginning to fear that our decision to travel to French Polynesia during the rainy season was not going to work out in our favor. The rain stopped and started throughout the morning. Traci was able to get in a 5-mile jog in between the downpours. As I waited for her to return, I was surprised to hear my mobile phone ringing. It was Norwegian Cruise Lines calling my Google Voice number to verify Traci and I would be boarding the cruise later that week. My Google Voice number worked because I was connected to Wi-Fi.

Traci got cleaned up after her jog and then we enjoyed the tea and hot chocolate that Chloe had delivered to the deck of our bungalow. This was our last day at St. Regis Bora Bora Resort. We had a late check-out for 3 PM. Until then, Traci and I had signed up to visit Vaitape (pronounced Vay top pay). It is a town located on Bora Bora's main island. To get there, we would need to take a boat to the island and then take a 25-minute bus ride to the town. St. Regis was offering complimentary round-trip transportation of this journey that left at 10:30 AM and returned at 2:30 PM.

I was somewhat encouraged as the rain had let up during our walk from our bungalow to the pier for the boat ride but that lull in precipitation was brief. The rain returned with a vengence before we got to the pier. Not only was it now raining cats and dogs but the wind had kicked up as well. The St. Regis staff was handing out disposable parcas and umbrellas. Traci and I boarded the boat with about a dozen other passengers. As the conditions and visibility continued to deteriorate, I wondered if this trip on the small boat would be cancelled.

Somehow the captain managed to get us to the main island in the turbulent water. We all dashed from the boat to the awaiting bus while avoiding puddles. As we were boarding the bus, the bus driver seemed to temporarily acquire an American accent when he exclamed, "Y'all crazy!"

His French Polynesian accent returned when he asked us passengers if we were really that desperate to go shopping in all this rain. I was not interested in shopping. I really just wanted to see how the locals live. The ride to Vaitape reminded me of riding through a lush green rural Caribbean community. To our right were simple houses and the occasional small convenience store or outrigger shop. To our left were communities extending part way up the mountain. Sadly, with the storm becoming more ferocious, I could see that some of the houses and shops to our right were already flooded. The brown water was higher than the front door step. To our left, the water was gushing down the mountain streets and alleyways. I could see debris floating in the water. I saw coconuts, trash cans, buckets, and even a sandal floating in the water.

We never made it to Vaitape. We got caught in a small traffic jam. When the bus driver asked us passengers if he should continue to wait in the traffic. There was a unanimous "No!".

With that, he skillfully turned the bus around on the two-laned road and returned us to the boat pier where we sheltered inside a building while the storm continued to rage. We had made the right decision to turn around because we later heard that the reason for the traffic jam was that the road had washed away. Furthermore, Vaitape had to shut down because many of the businesses there flooded.

We waited inside the building for almost an hour. It was too dangerous for the boats to be on the water with all the wind and waves. Eventually, the conditions improved and a large catamaran arrived to ferry us back to St. Regis. What an adventure!

Flooding prevented us from making it to Vaitape.

Traci and I were driven back to our bungalow in a golf cart. Now that the wild weather had finally subsided, groundskeepers were out gathering fallen palm fronds and coconuts. Back at our bungalow, Traci and I saw that the chairs on our deck had been toppled by the wind. About half of the cups and containers from the warm beverage service we had enjoyed on our deck earlier were now gone. I assume they are floating somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

Traci and I packed our suitcases and were picked up promptly at 3 PM for our ride to the main building for check-out. At the main building, the topic of conversation was the crazy storm. The St. Regis employees said they had never seen anything like it.

We received some parting gifts from reception - shell necklaces, luggage tags, and travel bag. We said goodbye to Chloe. She was top-notched during our entire stay. We were sad that our stay at St. Regis was already over.

leaving St. Regis Resort by catamaran

Traci and I were the only passengers on the huge catamaran that took us to the airport. It was around 3:30 PM when we arrived at the Bora Bora airport. Our flight was not scheduled to depart until 5:20 PM. Other than a handful of airport employees seated at a table in front of the airport's sole eatery, there was just Traci and me in the building. Neither of the two gift shops were open. I mustered the courage to use my French to ask one of the employees for the Wi-Fi password. Happily, the conversation went much better than my first attempts to speak French when we arrived in Tahiti a few days ago.

Traci and I sat surfing the web in the quiet, virtually empty airport until around 4:30 PM when a large boat of passengers arrived. Suddenly the airport seemed to spring to life. The small building was now full of people.

With the influx of passengers, the two gift shops were now open. I bought a Bora Bora refrigerator magnet for my collection. I could have bought one cheaper in Tahiti, or at one of the other French Polynesian islands we would visit later; however, I prefer to buy the magnets from the place I am actually visiting. Therefore, I ended up paying the expensive Bora Bora price for my magnet.

Just as we were about to walk across the tarmac to board the plane, the rain started again. Fortunately, the French Polynesians are always prepared for the elements. The airport employees handed out large umbrellas to each passenger as we walked across the tarmac and boarded the plane. Continue...

Magnet Purchased At This Destination: (click to enlarge)

Entire fridge magnet collection...


previous | Tahiti Part 1 | Bora Bora | Tahiti Part 2 | Moorea | Raiatea | Sea Days 1&2 | Samoa | Sea Day 3 | Fiji | Sea Day 4 | New Caledonia | Sea Days 5&6 | Sydney | next

[Back to the Main Page]