French Polynesia

French Polynesia 2018: Bora Bora—Day 3 and 4

On our way to Vaitape from the Four Seasons Resort, Bora Bora

Sunday morning we caught a boat shuttle to downtown Vaitape, curious to look around, but as the concierge and the locals had said, “There isn’t much to see,” and they were right, but we still enjoyed our outing.

Monday, we ordered room service and ate lunch on the beach, before we packed for our afternoon flight back to Tahiti for a two-night stay at the InterContinental Resort.

As we neared the airport in Papeete, the cloud cover thickened and the crosswinds intensified. The last twenty minutes of the plane ride were so turbulent that the woman across the aisle began to cry, and her seat companion hugged her. Even David admitted, after we touched down, that he had concerns about landing safely.

When we arrived at the InterContinental Resort, we spotted two women who had been on our whale-watching tour on Brando Island. We greeted each other like lifelong friends and they joined us for drinks and dinner. In an agreement between the Brando and the InterContinental Resort, the women had a hotel room at their disposal until they flew out at midnight for LAX. It sure beat hanging out at the airport for hours, killing time.

We had dinner at Le Lotus on the resort grounds, and I have no recollection of what we ordered. We four were too busy comparing notes on our stay at the Brando, their stay on Mo’orea, and our stay at the Four Seasons in Bora Bora, and we talked about future vacations. We have remained in touch via email.

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French Polynesia 2018: Brando Island to Bora Bora

Day five on Brando Island, we said goodbye to the staff and caught our hedgehopper to Tahiti for a short layover before boarding an ATR 72 aircraft to Bora Bora. An ATR holds around sixty-eight passengers, a much larger plane than the six-seater Islander from Brando Island to Tahiti. The fifty-minute flight went quickly, and we were greeted at Bora Bora’s Motu Mute Airport by a representative of the Four Seasons Resort for the short boat ride to the hotel. 

Isabel, along with our concierge, greeted us on the boat dock and whisked us away in her golf cart. We had booked a beachfront villa rather than an overwater bungalow for our three-night stay. Because of a large group that would arrive the day we planned to leave the island, there had been some shuffling in the accommodations. As a result, we had been upgraded to a two-bedroom villa—3,300 square feet of space—and as with all beachfront villas, we had our own strip of private beach as well as a plunge pool. 

Besides soaking up the sun, beach walking, and snapping photos, we hadn’t planned any activities during our stay. In retrospect, we should’ve booked a day trip to the neighboring island of Mo’orea, which we learned was definitely worth seeing.

Sharing our pool

On our first night at the Four Seasons, we ate at Arii Moana and then retired to our villa to unpack and settle in. 

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French Polynesia 2018: Brando Island—Day 4

Obōz Footwear

Curious as to the stewardship of Brando Island, I wanted to know what conservation practices had been implemented to preserve the atoll’s natural resources and to minimize man’s impact on it.

How did they collect and store their water? What about waste management? And were they able to grow some of the food used in their three restaurants, or was everything transported to the island from nearby Tahiti? To get answers, we signed up for the green tour.

We met our guide at the concierge desk and away we went, pedaling our bikes to the first stop on our tour, the Sea Water Air Conditioning (SWAC) building. The concept, which is simple in principle but took years to implement, is to harness the cold naturally stored in the ocean depths and run it throughout the resort using the cold water to air-condition the villas. Marlon Brando first heard of the principle in the 1970s but did not live to see the idea become a reality.

Our next stop was the desalination plant, where Tetiaroa removes the salt from seawater and stores the desalinated water in huge tanks. The water is not used as potable water. No one told me, so I was filling my empty water bottle from the tap. I don’t seem to have suffered any ill effects. 

On to the sewer sanitation area. Here the gray water is separated from the solids and the waste water is used to irrigate, while the solids are shipped to Tahiti. Then what? I didn’t ask.

The island’s recycling program is extensive, and what they can’t dispose of, such as batteries or other hazardous materials, are shipped to Tahiti for recycling. 

We rode to the island’s airfield. Photovoltaic solar panels flank the airstrip. They provide over half of the resort’s energy needs, and solar heating provides all of the island’s hot water. 

The resort uses coconut oil biofuel to drive its power station whenever the oil can be purchased, and soon all vehicles on the island will be powered by the sun. As for the guests, you can reduce your carbon footprint by pedaling on.

The final stop on the tour was the organic fruit orchard and vegetable garden. The resort grows a wide variety of vegetables, fruit, and herbs, and I was pleased to note they use coconut husks as mulch in their planting beds. We did the same when we lived in Trinidad, even in our flowerbeds.  

We wrapped up the day with another trip to the spa for an afternoon massage, and later, dinner at Nami, the teppanyaki grill.

I thought you might enjoy some villa photos for an idea of the accommodations and one last beach walk. To see our back patio of our villa and the beachfront location, check out an earlier blog post: https://patkrapf.com//2019/05/09/french-polynesia-2018-brando-island-day-1/


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