Transit day: it was a 45 minute flight to Bora Bora. I haven’t been here before but have seen and heard lots about its spectacular scenery – even so, it was literally breath-taking when the island came into view and the low land at the southern end went suddenly vertical into some serious volcanic peaks, the highest Mt Otemanu at 727 metres. Very impressive. And, of course, the colours of the lagoon and surrounding deep sea, and the white ring of the reef, were as classically gorgeous as ever.
We landed on the out-of-scale long and wide runway built out from a reef motu by the Americans during the war. From there - best arrivals hall in the world! - everyone has to transfer to their hotels by boat since the main island is in the middle. Our hotel, though, Le Méridien Bora Bora, is on one of the reef motus – the first to be built here and with the most photogenic view of Otemanu.
It’s a lovely, lovely place: traditional but sophisticated, neat and well-maintained, and most of its guests are smugly housed in over-water bungalows – including me, I’m glad to say, for the first time ever. Ours is at the end of a pontoon, much more private than I expected, and has two big glass floor panels, the better to appreciate the sea-life in the lagoon below. We have our own spiral staircase down into the water, and an outside shower for afterwards, as well as all the usual amenities inside.
The sun set behind Otemanu, which became even more impressive as a silhouette, reflected in the eternity pool. I watched the staff put dining tables out on the beach with high-backed cane chairs and lit torches next to each one – very nice; though, when we went past them after dinner, they also each had their own musician perched on a stool nearby which would have been not only quite distracting for the presumably honeymoon couples, but also a bit rowdy since they were all so close together.
We ate in Le Tipanié restaurant, under a high thatched roof beside the water where little black and yellow-finned mullet swirled constantly and beside which the staff teetered unnervingly as they served us. Our sommelier/hostess was Vanessa, a young French woman with a slightly intimidatingly authoritarian air, but she certainly knew her stuff, and we were glad she overruled our first choices of wine. The food was good, too.