Ever seen a muscular French Polynesian man make out with a sting ray?
The resorts at Bora Bora have a variety of water based activities and sports for their clientele to enjoy. We chose the Snorkel Safari group tour with Moana Tours. If you’re staying on the main island, Moana Tours can pick you up for your tour by bus. Otherwise, you get picked up by boat if your resort is on a motu (very small island).
Moana Tours is run by a family of local French Polynesians who have been in the industry for almost 40 years, and coined the phrase “snorkel safari”.
Our first stop is at a popular snorkeling spot past Toopua Point out on the barrier reef.
A lot of the coral around the resorts is dead and they’re working on new growth and regeneration. The amount we see out on the reef, though small compared to what you see on the barrier reef in Australia, is still a good size.
The water is crystal clear and a vivid blue. While the coral is not as vibrant as what I am used to in the southern hemisphere, the fish are in abundance and their vivid colours pop against the paler coral. And boy are the fish inquisitive about us – clearly they associate humans with food! We’re treated to some curious parrot fish in a rainbow of blue, green, yellow and even purple colours. The black yellow and white striped angelfish are pretty interested in us too. And I think I get a glimpse of a few clown fish, or Nemos as I call them.
Our guide wrestles with a moray eel after feeding him some tidbits of what I assume is meat or fish. I don’t get too close to the eel – I am far more intimidated by eels than I am by sharks. They look NASTY.
Our next stop is to play with the rays and sharks.
Despite having swum with sharks and rays in the wild before, I’m overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of them here. And at how affectionate these wild creatures are with our guide!
The rays launch themselves at him as soon as he jumps into the water, jumping out of the water to receive kisses. Our rather masculine guide smacks big open mouthed kisses on the rays in between cries of mon cherie.
They love it. It’s almost hard to touch of the rays because they’re too busy almost smothering him. It’s one of the most strange, yet endearing sights I’ve seen with wild animals.
The sharks stay at a comfortable distance on the other side of a rope drawn across the ocean. I’m not sure where the rope extends to (or where it’s from) or how the sharks know to keep a distance, but it seems to work so that the tour guide can keep an eye on the people.
Most of the sharks seem around my height down to a foot shorter than me, so they’re not intimidating, particularly if you’ve never swum with sharks before. And black tip sharks aren’t known for attacks for aggressive behaviour, which is good for first timers.
Further out beyond the reef, we stop for another shark visit. This area has a few black tips and some larger sharks that I can’t identify. They are similar in shape to whale sharks, but a lot smaller. Their rounder noses give them a friendlier look compared to blunt or pointed snouts on other sharks.
Our tour was made up entirely of people from staying at The Hilton, so it also included a visit to the Hilton’s own private motu. You can even organise a private tour there and have dinner or lunch on the island.
And if you get our tour guide, you’re in for a musical treat on the boat ride home. From Psy’s Ganam Style to David Bowie to James Brown, we’re treated to a variety of songs on his ukele, while one of the guests (?!) drives the boat back to our resort. One of the other highlights we didn’t expect was endless fresh fruit, water and beer on the boat ride. Responsibly, we’re offered the beers once all the snorkeling has been done!
Have you been snorkeling with rays or sharks? What’s your favourite marine life experience?
Location: Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Cost: Shark & Ray Snorkel Safari Shark & Ray Safari + 1 snorkelling spot in Coral garden Per Person $81 USD All afternoons except Sunday. COMBO “Land & Sea” 4X4 + Shark & Ray Safari Morning: 4X4 Safari + Afternoon: Shark & Ray Safari Per Person 3H (am) + 2,5H (pm) $156 USD per person. All days except Sunday.
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