Like many people, I'm fascinated by the pictures I've seen of Bora Bora, but was curious to know: does anyone feel like there's another nearby island that's less touristy, more quiet, yet just as beautiful? My husband and I are thinking about trying to take our one-year anniversary trip to Bora Bora, but it's very expensive (of course), and so we were wondering if anyone had any recommendations for other islands nearby that are maybe less famous?
If you've ever gone to the different Hawaiian Islands you understand that each island is different, has it's own personality and each island has special things to offer that the other does not have. It is the same in the Society Islands.
As a Tahiti Destination Specialist I have had the opportunity to visit several of the Society Islands.
After millions of years of erosion, all that is left of Bora Bora is the center core of it's main volcano known as Mt. Otemanu. The island itself has shrunk down and where the coral reef once lined the edge of island has created a strand of islands known in the islands as motu that encircle the main island. These islands have created the most spectacular lagoons in the world!!! The light turquoise to deep blue colors of the surrounding waters are breathtaking. Many of these motu or islands are large enough to house some of the most luxurious resorts. One of these motu is where the airport runway is which was built by the US military. A ferry system takes you from the airport motu to your resort whether it is on another motu or on the main island. It also gets you to the main island. From the main island there are several panoramic view points overlooking the colorful lagoons as well as historical points of interest like the cannons that were set up to defend the island but never used. The views looking from the motu towards the main island of Bora Bora are my favorite! For those that are looking for the active marine activities you will find them on Bora Bora.
Although I love every island that I have visited, Moorea is my personal favorite. I love to snorkel and found it to be more abundant with marine life and coral life. The lushness of the inner valleys and agricultural lands are beautiful and surrounded with the forests that you would expect in the tropics. Most spectacular panoramic views is from Belvedere Overlook viewing towards Mt. Rotui in the center of the two bays of'Ōpūnohu Bay and Cook's Bay! From Belvedere Overlook begins a guided tour thorugh the forest and along the mountainside. You will cross streams, walk through bamboo forests, along purple wild orchids and Hau tree blossoms. Take a hike up to the Magic Mountain and be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the reefs below, and the bay. The agricultural valley in the center of the island where pineapple, banana and other plantations are surrounded by a crown of eroded volcanic mountain peaks. My favorite island for snorkeling with sharks and sting rays is a must do on Moorea.
My most favorite way to experience the Society Islands is on the Paul Gauguin Cruise. I've done the 7 days cruise and it offers the perfect itinerary, the ship sails during the night so you spend a full day touring Huahine, a full day at a motu around Taha'a then two full days at Bora Bora and two full days at Moorea and your last evening is in Pape'ete on the island of Tahiti. This gives you plenty of time to see what the islands have to offer you. And you get to see so much more than just one island. And your floating hotel travels with you so you only unpack and pack once! But I think the thing that keeps bringing guests back to the cruise is the staff! They are genuinely warm and friendly and eager to make sure you have a most memorable time. Although the dining is a 5 star experience the feeling is very casual and laid back. Absolutely not stuffy at all. One couple I met was on their 41st cruise on the same ship! It is the best value for seeing multiple islands.
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I love Bora Bora but I also love Moorea and Fatu Hiva. I started getting interested in the area when I went to the British Museum and London and learned about James Cook's adventures there and it turns out that he spent a lot of time there.Very few places to stay on this island, though so plan accordingly.
We also went to Moorea and loved it--stayed at the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa (formerly Sheraton) and just chilled there. Loved it.
If you're a Matisse fan, don't miss Hiva Oa. It'll give you a totally different perpective on his work.
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