By: 10xTravel Reader, Traci
Most people who book travel with miles and points will at some point consider visiting Bora Bora. If you’ve seen pictures of these beautiful islands, you know why. If you haven’t seen pictures, go ahead and google it — don’t worry, we’ll wait.
With that in mind, 10xTravel reader, Traci, took an amazing trip to Bora Bora and has some tips that could make your trip just that little bit better.
Take it away, Traci!
I recently got back from a trip to Bora Bora (we stayed at the Intercontinental Thalasso in an overwater bungalow) and wanted to share my “Top 9” tips.
Let’s get right into it!
- We flew n business class from Los Angeles (LAX) to Pape’ete (PPT) on Air Tahiti Nui’s tired old planes, which had angle-flat seats and ashtrays! However, it was a daytime flight, and the food and service were good, so it was fine. Luckily, they started flying their new Dreamliners in November.
- If you arrive at LAX (for your flight to PPT) from a connecting flight on American or Qantas, you don’t have to go through security again to check-in as long as you checked your bags all the way to PPT, or if you only have a carry-on. They say the check-in desk at the gate opens an hour before the flight, but go a little earlier — ours opened 75 minutes before the flight. Warning: it’s a long way to the end of the terminal, and you have to take a bus to get to the plane.
- While waiting for your flight, you can use your Priority Pass Select membership to eat at PF Chang’s. You and up to 2 guests can each receive a $30 credit toward food and drink. Expect a line, even at 11 am!
- If you’re looking to keep costs to a minimum while visiting, consider bringing some snacks with you — we got this idea from a TripAdvisor review. We took ramen (that we cooked in coffee cups using the tea kettle), peanut butter crackers, chips and, chocolates. Our Costco package included breakfast and dinner so these provisions were enough to sustain in between. Since we visited for the views rather than that food, we were more than happy.
- We had also read on Tripadvisor to save money by buying our own wine from the duty-free shop at LAX. However, if I had to do it again, I would either buy from the duty-free shop in Tahiti (they had a much larger and more reasonably priced selection) or, if checking bags (we didn’t), bring wine from home.
- As IHG platinum members thanks to the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, I was curious if we’d get anything. We were treated well — we got a free box of macaroons at the Tahiti Intercontinental (we stayed one night) and 2 free drinks (worth $50, yikes) at the Thalasso.
Prior to traveling, I wrote to the Thalasso to see if we could have one of 4 possible rooms that I had identified as having the best views — based on TripAdvisor. We were excited to find out upon arrival that they were able to accommodate us. We stayed in Room 123 but Rooms 221, 231 and 122 also have great views of Mt. Otemanu.
- If you’re staying at a resort on a small island, check in advance to see if they have an ATM (if not, bring cash). I assumed that our hotel (Intercontinental Thalasso) would have one, but they didn’t. To get cash would have meant a wasting time on an expensive journey by ferry and then taxi to Viatape on the main island. Luckily, our tour guide let us pay him by PayPal this time, but lesson learned.
- Speaking of tours, one of the best I’ve ever had, anywhere in the world, was with Vincent (a marine biologist/photographer) of Bora Bora Dream Photos. It was a 4-hour photo tour and excursion in which he took amazing pictures of us at various locations on his boat all around the lagoon (including in- and under-water snorkeling pictures). This was definitely worth the money IMO and you’ll have beautiful pictures (250 of them, professionally edited) of your time in Bora Bora.
- Baggage and seat assignment for Air Tahiti interisland flights:
For those of you wondering how this works, it’s very casual. The bag requirements for Air Tahiti are more strict than the international carriers (you’re only allowed one small carryon bag—max 11 pounds, 17 x 13 x 7 inches), but they didn’t weigh these, and I saw people getting on board with more than one bag.
However, they definitely did weigh our other bags (our rollerboard carryons were obviously over 11 lbs and had to be checked) — the way they do this is to give each person a 50 pound allowance (it can be spread over 2 bags) and weigh the family’s bags together, so a family of 3 would have 150 pounds total, which seems pretty generous.
It’s also open seating. People sit around the waiting area, and they open the line to go out the door to the plane about 30 minutes in advance. If you’re nervous about getting a good seat (hint: the left side of the plane is best for going from PPT to BOB) or sitting together, sit on a bench near the area where they let you go to the plane, and jump in line right away.
For nervous flyers like me who hate prop planes, I was pleasantly surprised by how smooth the ATR-72 felt (it was also larger than I expected) — having a short flight (30 minutes) and beautiful, distracting scenery also helped.
Bora Bora is jaw-droppingly beautiful, and probably one of the few places where even your highest expectations will be exceeded. You may even be frustrated that your pictures can’t capture for others what you are seeing with your own eyes. Unfortunately, after 5 days seeing 100s of shades of popsicle blue waters in the lagoon, I’m not sure I can ever go back to Hawaii. Have fun!
Editor’s Note: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.