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February 12, 2020
Bora Bora: Shark & Stingray Snorkel

Russell writes…

Today’s port in French Polynesia was Bora Bora. When we were in Moorea, we asked a guide why Bora Bora is so much more well known than that island. He said it was because of the GIs in World War II. Indeed, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the US chose Bora Bora as a military supply base. It had French Polynesia’s only international airport until 1960. (The guide also told us that one in every 10 Bora Bora natives has American blood. Those GIs…)

Our departure from Papeete last night

The moon last night was spectacular. We also located the Southern Cross constellation!

Our approach to Bora Bora this morning

We docked in Bora Bora’s largest city, Vaitape, at 8:00 am. Our excursion was not until the afternoon, so we had a leisurely breakfast then took the tender to shore. In the only shopping building anywhere around, Gail was thrilled to find a mobile. Unfortunately, they woman could only take cash. Fortunately, there was an ATM across the street. Unfortunately, the ATM was out of order. Fortunately, there was another ATM at the Post Office. Unfortunately, that ATM rejected Russell’s card.

We ended up taking the tender back to the ship, where we got some cash and put on our swimsuits. We took another tender back to shore, but there was no time to buy the mobile before we had to meet our excursion.

Gail’s mobile (Russell helped the seller woman get it down)

Originally, Russell had “Shark & Stingray Snorkel Safari.” Gail, who doesn’t snorkel, had “Lagoon Cruise & Beach Break.” After our fantastic catamaran adventure yesterday, Gail wanted to switch to Russell’s excursion. She was able to make the last-minute switch, and off we went.

We had two snorkeling opportunities. After sailing to a lagoon, we were released into neck-high water for an hour. We were thrilled when the guides started throwing bait into the water, which attracted manta rays and black-tipped sharks (and frigate birds).

Our excursion boat


“I touched a manta ray!”

We then sailed to a Coral Garden, where the water was much deeper. Russell snorkeled while Gail was happy to relax on board. Russell came back exclaiming he had seen a two-foot long sea cucumber. A short while later, the guide came up with the sea cucumber for all to see.

Russell snorkels among the coral reefs in iridescent waters

Gail chillaxes aboard ship

“I touched a sea cucumber!”

On the scenic cruise back to the pier, the crew serenaded us

It was another fantastic day and adventure. After returning to the pier, we went back to the store, where the woman had wrapped up Gail’s mobile in anticipation of our return. Gail also bought her first-ever ankle bracelet!

Back aboard ship, we got an update on the ongoing Coronavirus situation. The captain informed us that American Samoa is turning away all cruise ships. So after Bora Bora, we do not get to go to Pago Pago on February 15. Instead, we will spend the next four days at sea. What happens after that remains to be seen.

We never did get to see the tippy top of Mount Otemanu without fog on it

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