When Inna said yes to my proposal back in February of 2011, one of the first things we agreed upon was the location of our honeymoon… Bora Bora. It’s always been at the top of my list of destinations. And although it took almost a year after getting married, we finally made it happen.
(In case you don’t feel like reading about the trip and you want to skip straight to the pics, here’s a direct link to the full gallery of photos from Bora Bora.)
Getting to Bora Bora from Atlanta isn’t quick. It’s a five-hour flight to LA, three-hour layover at LAX, eight hours to Tahiti, an overnight stay there, another hour or so flight to Bora Bora the next day, and finally a twenty-minute boat ride to the InterContinental Thalasso. Once you get there, you truly are on the opposite side of the planet, and it sure feels that way.
The InterContinental Bora Bora Resort and Thalasso Spa is one of the top resorts on the island, along with the Four Seasons and St. Regis. It’s absolutely stunning and I’m so glad that we chose this resort over the others. From a photographer’s perspective, it turned out to be perfect because the InterContinental has the best angle of all the resorts of Mount Otemanu. We were upgraded to one of the best overwater bungalows available, so the view from our deck was unbeatable. I can’t say enough about the resort, and if you’re actually planning a trip to Bora Bora, you should read my review on Trip Advisor. I can’t imagine any of the other resorts being any better than the IC Thalasso.
All images Copyright © 2013 David Kosmos Smith
During our eight days there, we took several excursions. The first was a 4x4 jeep safari on the main island of Bora Bora. We got into the back of an open jeep with three other couples and headed up into the mountains. Moana was an awesome tour guide and made sure we had a blast sitting in the back of that jeep. He showed us coconut farms, a Tahitian pearl farm, and leftover American bunkers scattered throughout the island from WWII. It was a great way to learn about the history of the island and the local culture.
Our next excursion was a 30-minute helicopter tour of the island. Our pilot showed us an amazing birds-eye view of Bora Bora and even took us out to a small neighboring island called Tupai, which is unique for its heart-like shape. I’ll include my aerial shots from this trip in a later post.
Our third trip was a private snorkeling tour with yet another amazing guide, Alfonse. This may have been the most memorable tour as I nearly lost my right hand to a blacktip shark. We had several stops on this tour. The first was a little spot where people come to swim with stingrays and blacktips. It was a little crazy being completely surrounded by thirty or so sharks and maybe just as many stingrays. But the fear subsided fairly quickly and it was a lot of fun to swim with them.
The next stop was a coral garden and the main attractions here were two moray eels. Alfonse coaxed the larger one to come out of his hiding hole with some food, but the second smaller one was a bit more aggressive with us. He came at me, snaking through the water with his mouth wide open, and he wouldn’t back down. I pushed my Ikelite underwater housing at him, hoping to scare him off. He didn’t care, and he kept coming. I ended up kicking my flippers at him to make him back away.
Next up was swimming with lemon sharks. Because of my longtime obsession with marine life, I’ve always known what lemon sharks were. What I didn’t know was how big they get. We ventured outside the surrounding reef and into the open ocean to a spot where some lemons usually hang out. As we pulled up, a bunch of blacktips approached the boat and I ignorantly put my GoPro into the water, hoping to get some nice video of the sharks. I had my hand just under the surface of the water and I thought the hull of the boat was protecting me from any sharks underneath us, but with all the action going on, I must have dipped my hands too deep and a nice blacktip saw the GoPro shining in the sunlight. He came out of nowhere and decided to take a bite, but the tip of his nose smacked my right hand and I was able to pull back quick enough. Keep in mind, this all happened before I was to jump in and swim with the massive lemon sharks. Alfonse took the plunge first and laughingly called for me to join him. At this point, I was a bit more nervous than I would have been if that blacktip didn’t just scare the shit out of me. Hesitantly, I stepped down the ladder into the royal blue waters and I looked straight down. Two fat eight-foot lemon sharks circled below. I didn’t venture too far away from the ladder, but Alfonse didn’t think twice to dive down to them, even grabbing one’s dorsal fin lightly and going for a short ride. Now, I’ve stood fishing in chest deep water with some small three or four-foot sharks cruising by me in Destin, Florida, and never felt an ounce of fear. But this was on a totally different level. These sharks were huge and they were circling five to ten feet below my feet. Talk about adrenaline rush. Bucket list: check.
The three excursions we went on were incredible, but even exploring the island on our own schedule was just as amazing. Bora Bora is truly a photographer’s heaven. Everywhere you look, there’s a beautiful shot just waiting to be taken. The sunsets each night were insane with rich cotton candy colors, the water as blue as you can imagine, and the clear night skies showed off the infinite number of stars in the universe. This was paradise in its truest definition. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to find a more perfect place on Earth, and I’m not sure that I want to. I couldn’t have asked for a better honeymoon and I’m glad it happened in a place that I’ll never forget.
Copyright © 2013 David Kosmos Smith