What can be said or written about Bora Bora that hasn’t already been? Movies such as Mutiny on the Bounty and South Pacific have conjured up this idyllic Island Paradise to be the Home of Legends and the Place of Dreams.
Time, however, is not being kind to Bora Bora. Tourism is now the anchor of the local economy and is bringing about a subtle but real change to the island feeling. Gone is the simple lifestyle of quaint village fisherman and their families sustained completely by the land and the sea. When we first visited in 1990 there was less of everything. Sometimes less is more. Back then, there were few cars and we walked dirt roads overrun with large coconut crabs. Today they are gone replaced by paved roads and more cars per capita than most large cities. Along with the hustle and bustle of traffic there are the Ocean Cruise ships, non-existent in these waters 20 years ago. Today they come and go with clockwork regularity bringing with them the hordes of tourist crowds that exhaust the local infrastructure and leave behind them a land filled with waste and garbage.
The purist part of Bora Bora remains the atoll waters. More so on the east side of the island where the cruise ships cannot go. There you can still swim with the giant Manta Rays and enjoy the coral reef gardens, provided you go when the cruise ship launches are not there.
We are grateful we saw Bora Bora 25 years ago when it was still the Bora Bora of the movies and close up it was beautiful. This visit, while we were still able to enjoy a good Burger at Bloody Mary’s it was 5 times the price without the quaint setting and instead of island music it is rap music and Wi-Fi. Today it is Bora Bora the tourist trap, much more romantic from a distance than upon closer inspection. Bora Bora was once considered the jewel of the Pacific because of its natural beauty. In my humble opinion the new manmade beauty pales by comparison. This Jewel has lost its luster.