Travel Blog  

2017 > 10

No other island seems to be so famous for its honeymooners as the small island of Bora Bora. Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in the archipelago of French Polynesia, it sure is isolated from rest of the world. Flight time of 24 hours from Scandinavia in the best case of connections makes it not the everyday holiday destinations.

Hopefully you just marry once so my wife and I decided to make that special visit to Bora Bora as our honeymoon three years ago. As always I usually want to fly the national carrier of the country, in this case Air Tahiti Nui was the choice. The airline operate a direct flight from Paris Charles de Gaulle all the way to Papeete with just a short enroute stop in Los Angeles. The Polynesian atmosphere and hospitality was greeted already when boarding the beautiful painted Airbus A340-300.

Window view of the four engined Airbus A340 above the Pacific Ocean

To get most out of our visit to French Polynesia, we made a combination stay at two Pearl Beach Resorts on the island of Moorea and Bora Bora. Since the Air Tahiti Nui flight back home depart from the main island of Tahiti we also got one day and night in Papeete to explore.

Bora Bora was the reason why going to French Polynesia and after a four nights acclimatization on Moorea to the easy going Tahitian living it was time to catch the domestic flight to Bora Bora. The domestic airline called Air Tahiti operates ATR aircraft around the Tahitian islands, which covers an area as big as Europe. The flight was around 1,5 hours and the airport was located in the edge of the lagoon with boat as the only transportation option to your resort. 

The national flower Tiare which you were greeted already when boarding the Air Tahiti Nui aircraft in Paris/Charles de Gaulle

The overwater bungalows at the Pearl Beach Resort at Bora Bora

Enjoying the national dish, Poisson Cru, in the overwater bungalow

From the first impression when arriving to Bora Bora was a feeling of paradise. That feeling got even better when opening the door to our overwater bungalow with crystal clear water underneath and beautiful views of the lagoon and Mount Otemanu. This would be our home for the coming five nights and we didn't leave the bungalow more than neccessary. Vacation mode was on and the days went by doing not that much else than sunbathing and snorkeling. The Tahitian sun was extremely warm so it was great to stay close to the water even though the swims didn't cool you down that much. Lunch was either eaten at the greater complex by the beach or as we mostly did ordered it to the bungalow. The dishes was of course mainly from the sea and don't miss to taste the national dish called Poisson Cru.

My wife enjoying the sun from the terrace of our overwater bungalow

Paradise beach

Great view of Mount Otemanu when waking up

Paradise beach with palms and fine grained white sand

What to do more on this paradise island apart from sunbathing and snorkeling? My wife and I want to explore and get most out of all our trips and this time was no exception even though we were a little more relaxed than usual. There is especially two activities you can't miss when being at Bora Bora in my opinion.

To really experience the true beauty of this paradise a helicopter ride is a must-do. I can't say anything else than I really recommend you to do the same. It might be a little prizy but it's worth every polynesian franc. The lagoon looks almost surrealistic from above and among the most beautiful view I have ever seen. I didn't know there was so many shades of blue and turquoise. The flight is about 15 min and we were lucky to have a helicopter pad at our resort. From there the routing took us around the edges of the lagoon to get up close to all other overwater bungalow resorts and then a close fly-by of the top of Mount Otemanu. In our case we also passed by the airport on our way back to the resort and managed to see an Air Tahiti ATR aircraft taking off. The flight was short but the same goes with the island so no problem to see it all. It was a truly amazing experience to see everything from above, more photos from the flight can be seen in the French Polynesia gallery.

This captain has probably one of the most beautiful offices out there

The 15 minutes helicopter flight offered spectacular views of Bora Bora and the lagoon

The shades of blue and turquoise are just amazing

The overwater bungalows as seen from above

Another great activity to recommend is to swim with sharks. There is several operators doing the cruises onto the reef where you find the blacktip shark. If everything seems alright with the sharks according to the instructors, you are free to jump right in and take a swim with a great number of those blacktips. During our snorkeling we also had some rays which actually were even more indiscreet. A truly memorable experience and I can assure the pulse was a little faster than usually when entering the water. The blacktip sharks shall be harmless to people and fortunately even to us that day. 

The transportation to/from the reef also included some great views of the lagoon, Mount Otemanu and the other resorts which passed by quite close. Finally the cruise ended up with a visit to a small rescue center for sea turtles and other endangered species in the area. 

My wife swimming with blacktip sharks

A lot of black tip sharks around you

As you can see from the photos from the air, the water in the lagoon is crystal clear and most of the bottoms on the shallow parts around the resorts are missing corals. By our Pearl Beach Resort there was actually several corals planted which you could explore up close. A lot of different species of colorful fishes had found their new homes here but most of the time you just had to jump into the shallow water to see some fish below or around your bungalow. From time to time even rays came swimming below the bungalows. Since I had brought my underwater house to the camera, I found it very interesting to be shooting half under/over surface shots when snorkeling around and had no problems spending several hours in the warm water.

I guess Bora Bora is not the destination of choice if you are cost conscious. It might be a pricy airline ticket just getting there and certainly a long journey from almost anywhere in the world. Anyhow, if you have the possibility I don't think you will regret spending the honeymoon or holiday for that matter at Bora Bora.

This is paradise!

Air Tahiti Nui Airbus A340-300 direct service to Paris Charles de Gaulle via Los Angeles

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A visit to the island of Gozo is a must-do when visiting Malta which can be done for a day trip or longer. We decided to spend a full day at the island and planned the activities carefully to get out the best of the day especially photography wise. Unfortunately we managed to nail the Independence day when most of the Maltese people were free and gladly spent the day at Gozo as well. Anyhow the crossing with the Gozo Channel Line ferries went smooth despite the crowded car lanes at the ferry dock. It's not possible to make a reservation for a certain departure time so just place yourself in line. We were quite lucky though that there was an additional ferry that day so we only had to wait for a 45 minutes to drive onboard.

Gozo Channel Line ferry with Malta island as backdrop

The weather was quite calm and the crossing went smooth, I truly recommend to be standing on the sun deck to get a glimpse of the Blue Lagoon on the smaller island of Comino during the crossing. You will also have the chance for some great photos of Gozo when approaching the island. After leaving the ferry we drove to the Church of Rotunda of Xewkija which was visible in the distance already from the ferry. The church is best enlightened during the morning which makes it good as a first photo stop.

The next stop was the most tricky one to find during our whole stay on Malta. I really can't understand why this beautiful view of the Ta Cenc cliffs hasn't been the main attraction after the fall of Azure Window. There was really no sign where to go to find the spot but drive to the village of Ta Cenc and then try to find a small gravel road leading to the Ta Cenc cliff restaurant. Just a few hundreds meters down the road you get a beautiful view of the Rotunda of Xewkija church on your left and shortly thereafter you can see an even smaller gravel road leading to the right. We parked the car here and walked along the small path and after 15 min you get the first glimpse of the beautiful limestone cliffs. There is several good photo spots along the cliff edge but be careful, it's a long way down to the water!

The best view of the Church of Rotunda of Xewkija was actually from the gravel road on the way to the Ta Cenc cliffs.

I really don't understand why the Ta Cenc cliffs haven't become the main attraction of Gozo, especially after the demise of the Azure Window...spectacular views!

My wife and daughter on top of the impressive Ta Cenc cliffs

My first thought when planning the Gozo day trip was to be as early as possible at the Azure Window to get less people at the island's main attraction. After studying the light conditions both at the Ta Cenc cliffs and the Azure Window, I found it much better to make the stop at Ta Cenc first to get that limestone cliffs nicely illuminated of the morning sun. I guess a sunset photo when facing the sun will creat some nice effects of the limestone cliffs as well if you have the opportunity.

Anyhow the next stop coming up was planned to be the Azure Window and nearby attractions of Dwerja Bay. The spot turned out not to be as crowded that I first thought and there was no problem at all getting some clean shots of the remains. The light was actually perfect during the noon as well. We went for a lunch in the touristic restaurant located at the site but the dishes was great and tasty. Some air condition and shadow for our one year old daughter was about time after been sleeping in the baby carrier earlier during our hike to the Ta Cenc cliffs. There is several more attractions to be done at Dwerja Bay than just looking at the remains of the Azure Window but a small child didn't make it a good idea to catch a boat ride or swimming to the Inland Sea through the cliff hole. We got some shots of the remarkable Fungus Rock before leaving for our next stop. 

Trying to be creative when the your are six months too late...

Dwerja Bay and the remains of the Azure Window

The hole leading to the Inland Sea

The Fungus Rock

A short drive to Ta Pinu, another beautiful church which could be seen already on the way to Dwerja Bay. It could be a good idea to make a short stop at the church before Dwerja Bay if you want the church in even better light. After Ta Pinu it was time to aim for the northern parts of the island to see the salt pans located there. It was a little tricky to find the right way and when you find it will definitely surprise you both quality wise and and how narrow it is from time to time. Anyhow some nice views can be obtain along the route of the sea and a yellow colored moon landscape. After a while you will see the first salt pan in different layouts and shapes.

Small and narrow country road well worth drive with spectacular views everywhere

Beautiful landscape of limestone formations along the road

One of many salt pan locations along the north shores at Gozo

It's now already afternoon and we haven't yet been to the capital of the island so that will be our last stop. Victoria or Rabat as the locals call it, located almost in the middle of the island. The main attraction, the Citadel, is elevated with walls and could be seen from far away. Our stop was very well in time for a locally produced ice cream from a ice cream bar on the main street. The Citadel as I said is elevated and require a steep walk up the streets for getting there. The view from the walls is beautiful and it's interesting to walk around the small alleys inside the Citadel. Outside the the Citadel there is a beautiful church and a square with restaurants worth a look. For our part we were quite satisfied with our full day at Gozo so it was time to go back to Malta. A 20 minutes drive to the ferry dock which was just as crowded as it was in the morning. Lucky this time as well to get onboard one of the ferries which was docked at the moment. The crossing took about 25 minutes and from the sun deck we had our last view of Gozo and Comino.

The Citadel at Victoria (Rabat)

For a full gallery of Malta travel photos, follow the link below.

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