This post is really late…sorry! We haven’t had proper internet in weeks (#islandlife) and now we’re on safari in India so it’s even worse, but we’re trying. Here goes!
Strangely enough, we left Auckland on September 11th. In theory it should be a day like any other, but it always has a strange, ominous feeling to me (and probably most Americans). It’s been hard to keep track of the day of the week on this trip, let alone the date of the month, but this date managed to stand out, and it felt a bit strange to be waking up on September 11th outside of the U.S., especially when it was still September 10th back home. But alas, the world keeps turning.
We had an early morning flight to Tahiti so it was convenient to have the rental car to get there on our time rather than relying on a public transportation system we still hadn’t 100% figured out. We flew Air New Zealand, which meant no more abusing our oneworld status, BUT we still had access to The Strata Lounge via Priority Pass (which we got through our Citi Prestige). I wasn’t sure what to expect but it was actually a pretty nice lounge–the bathrooms had showers, they served hot food, and they had free drinks (though it felt too early to imbibe). All in all, a good way to kill an hour before our flight.
I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by Air New Zealand. We booked regular economy for the flight but they offer this cool premium economy option called SkyCouch where you can basically turn your 3-seater into a mini couch–looked like something worth trying next time! It wasn’t a full flight at all—I ended up with a 3 seater all to myself!—and the seats in economy were reasonably comfortable plus each seat had its own screen with a decent collection of movies and TV shows to pass the hours with. The food they served (I honestly can’t remember what it was anymore) was decent too—good enough to eat, which is something to say for airplane food. An airline I’d recommend!
The 5 hour flight to Tahiti went quickly, which is more than I can say for the 3 hour layover in the Tahiti airport waiting for our connection to Bora Bora. It’s hard to complain about paradise, but the Tahiti airport is SO boring that the 3 hours dragged a bit…but really, #firstworldproblems. The only thing I will note here is that I wanted a snack and headed to their tiny McDonald’s so I could continue my worldwide Mickey D’s taste test and was horrified to find that they only serve croque monsieurs at the airport location…what kind of McDonald’s doesn’t serve fries? Sacrilege.
Onto our connecting flight. The only airline that provides intra-island flights is Air Tahiti, so needless to say they’ve got a monopoly on the market, and they do not use those powers for good. Flights are expensive despite being incredibly short (some as short as literally 10 minutes), and the planes look like they’re from the ‘70s. This is not nearly important enough to prevent anyone from going to Bora Bora, but you’ve been warned.
Upon landing at the teeny, tiny Bora Bora airport, we were greeted almost immediately by staff from the Conrad Bora Bora Nui Resort, our swank-ass hotel* and one true major splurge for the trip. They helped us collect our bags and took us straight to the Conrad’s speedboat for the 20 minute boat ride back to the hotel (yes, the swank hotels each have their own island, #THISisthelife). Take note that this is all happening while it’s already pitch black out, so we honestly can’t see a thing and Bora Bora could be the most hideous place on Earth for all we know (though clearly it’s not). After check-in, we were taken to our overwater bungalow and given a brief tour—I’ve reenacted this for you in the video below but the actual Conrad employee did a way better job. We went and had dinner at their Chinese restaurant and eventually called it an early night, looking forward to seeing everything in the day time.
Man oh man, Bora Bora in the daytime did not disappoint. This trip has done the impossible—it has provided complete, undeniable proof that heaven is real, because really, there is no other way to describe Bora Bora. Sure, it helps that we stayed at a 5 star resort, but still…visually, this place is literal heaven on Earth. We spent the next 4 days in relaxed bliss, hanging out on the balcony of our hut, walking down to the pool when we wanted a change of scenery (i.e. when the sun wasn’t hitting our balcony anymore), and eating delicious food. Sitting around all day every day felt just a TAD lazy so we did snorkel a couple of times and spent 30 minutes on a kayak (where I filmed on the GoPro and Ben did all of the hard work 😂). We could have scheduled excursions to go snorkeling elsewhere or do other activities, but after paying way too much money for this hut and experiencing the magic of a stellar resort, why leave?
We also ate way too much during those 5 days, here’s the proof:
One night there was a Polynesian theme at the beach restaurant and they put on a fantastic show during the buffet meal (which was also amazing, by the way)–here are a couple of Boomerang videos (my new favorite thing):
Some things worth noting about the Conrad if you ever choose to stay there (and this also probably applies to the other major resorts in Bora Bora):
- Splurge for the overwater villa – they have garden villas, but if you’re going to make it all the way to Bora Bora, you might as well go all the way and sleep above crystal clear water. After all, it’s what they’re known for.
- Look into the all-inclusive option – it’s probably not cheap, but the drinks and food are pretty expensive anyway so it probably won’t take much to hit the daily expenses to make it worth it.
- Stay at least a week if you can – 5 days is the absolute minimum, but stay a week if you can afford it; we were NOT ready to leave after 5 days and considered extending but the rates were just too preposterous by that point. If you’ve made it this far into the middle of the Pacific Ocean, spend as much time as you can taking it all in.
- Take the direct hotel boat transfer for your flights – in theory, you have the option of taking a small boat from the airport island to the main island and then another small boat from the main island to the hotel island—and this option is much cheaper—but it’s annoying if you have luggage and far less feasible if you arrive at night or have an early flight out. The cost is usually added into the full package anyway.
- Take advantage of their activities/equipment – going to Bora Bora is expensive and staying at the Conrad is semi (or fully) preposterous, so save money where it hurts least—use their equipment for activities within the hotel grounds and don’t bother going elsewhere. They offer snorkeling equipment, kayaks, paddle boards, paddle boats, and mini golf, plus daily activities with hotel staff. Make every penny worth it!
I fully recognize that Bora Bora (and French Polynesia in general) is a place that many sadly never get to experience because it’s not easy to get to and it’s most definitely not cheap, but if you ever have the opportunity, don’t hesitate for a second—I promise you will not regret it. Even if you stay at the crappiest resort you can imagine, the feel of this place will permeate your soul. The people are so incredibly nice and welcoming, the weather is just right, the water comes in colors you wouldn’t think are possible, and even the night sky is gasp-worthy. This place is pure magic.
Up next, Maupiti—a much smaller, more remote mini-heaven.
*Our hotel was beautiful and swank and all of that, but I would be remiss if I didn’t also announce here that I am currently in the middle of a financial battle with them because they’re trying to screw us out of $500. I will spare you that saga of a story, but let’s just say that they messed with the wrong New Yorker.