I’ve been talking a lot about the hotel and eating so I figured I’d take a little “excursion” to talk about one of our activities in Bora Bora. One of our most expensive excursions in Bora Bora was also one of the best. We organized a morning snorkeling trip with Pure Snorkeling, a local snorkeling tour company. The concierge at the Intercontinental Thalasso arranged everything, though it did cost us a little bit extra than if we had just arranged it on our own. The final cost was 12,500 XPF or about $140 USD. Expensive, but worth it!
Pure snorkeling picked us up at the Thalasso dock. There were already two other couples on the boat – I guess they had been picked up earlier. Pure Snorkeling is great because they have a small boat and only take up to eight people total per trip (there were only six on ours). Our guide was a French Polynesian, Reynald, who had a great knowledge of the area and generally showed us a great time.
Our guide took us to four different snorkeling spots. The first was an area known for manta rays, but unfortunately we didn’t see any. It was also pretty cloudy. The best I can say for that snorkeling site was it gave us a chance for me to brush off my mediocre swimming skills.
Luckily, things got much better after that. Reynald next took us to the outer reef (outside the main Bora Bora ring) where the currents are strong and you can see forty feet straight down. While the coral itself wasn’t amazing, there were a lot of fish to see on the outer reef. Even better, there were lemon sharks swimming around everywhere. It’s pretty cool to see a shark slinking its way towards you – one of the few times I wish we had an underwater camera! There were also some scuba divers – supposedly that is a great dive spot to learn how to scuba because it’s so clear and not too deep.
On the way back to the inner reef, we saw a pack of dolphins playing in the water. Reynald drove the boat alongside them to “play” with the dolphins. It was pretty cool to see them in the water and right next to the boat. A couple from Australia actually jumped in the water to swim with the dolphins, which is kind of one of those things that you would imagine only doing at Sea World.
At some point on this trip Jess got to drive the boat. It was pretty funny because Reynald was basically just like “here you go!” and he totally left the helm. She is an excellent captain and I highly recommend her, especially for journeys that go in a straight line!
We stopped at a third site which was nice, but crowded with a lot of other boats. We did get to see a moray eel though. The highlight of the trip was our final stop – “The Wreck”. When Reynald was telling us about it I was like “why is it called the rake?” But I figured out that I just had misheard – the wreck is by a small vessel that wrecked on the reef. It’s a super shallow reef (less than six feet deep in some places), and Reynald said Pure Snorkeling is the only tour company that goes out there.
It was actually a bit freaky getting out there, the water was so shallow that your boat has to either go super fast or super slow. I was impressed – Reynald handled it all with aplomb – but there were times I was definitely nervous. I asked him how hard it was to drive through that section, to which he replied, “If any captain tells you he’s never struck reef he’s lying”. Luckily, he didn’t on our trip (obviously it’s not something that happens often).
Anyway, we had to swim in a line in the shallow waters, but the coral there was amazing. It’s one of the few areas that hadn’t been badly affected by a typhoon that hit a few years ago. The Australian couple said that the reef “reminded them of home” (the Great Barrier Reef), which is probably the highest compliment a coral reef can receive.
Ultimately, when everything was said and done, Reynald agreed to drop us off at the Intercontinental Le Moana (instead of the Thalasso) so we could eat on the island. Saving money on food again! We went home with weird tan lines from the life jacket, a desire to buy an underwater camera, and some great memories. If you’re ever in Bora Bora – Pure Snorkeling is the way to go. Thanks Reynald!
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