The last time I rode a jet ski was probably at least 15 years ago in Thailand! It was definitely cheaper to do in Thailand too. But jet skis are a fun and exhilarating way to see the entire island of Bora Bora! It probably takes less than an hour to circle the whole island, but a lot of the tours are 2-2.5 hours with some stops in between. I have to say, you won’t get to stop and leisurely enjoy the views as much because you’re going so fast, but most other snorkel excursions should be in a slower boat for you to enjoy!
We booked our jet ski tour through our hotel concierge for about $260 for one jet ski and two riders. I was planning to book the jet skis before we got to Bora Bora, but the weather report kept saying thunderstorms every day, so I wasn’t sure what to expect! Also, with our private tour that we booked, I was a little bit hesitant to loosen the money bag drawstrings so readily again. So I decided to wait until we got there to book it.
Because the concierge price was similar to the companies I saw on TripAdvisor (~$250) and had a better cancellation policy (24 hours prior) and the ability to move the excursion to a different date should the weather end up bad the day of, we just booked through Intercontinental. Not all the excursions were that similar in rate vs. booking prior, though, so I’m just letting you know that the jet ski tour was comparable. 🙂
The day of our trip was slightly overcast by the afternoon, which was fine by me because it was pretty hot earlier in the morning! Our tour guide, Mana, picked us up from the hotel dock and got us situated with a jet ski and some life jackets. We were the only ones from our hotel that were leaving with him.
“You have a lead foot?” He asked my husband, a playful twinkle in eye.
Hubby grinned and reached for the keys.
Jet skis don’t have brakes, FYI. Well, at least these didn’t. You basically let go of the accelerator and trust your life to the ocean when you want to slow down the jet ski. “Keep your distance but keep up too,” Mana said. I tried driving the jet ski for a bit in shallower waters, but I’m not sure I could handle the rougher, deeper waters. The speed and waves do kind of cause you to bounce up and down in the water, so just have an idea what you might be getting yourself into!
Travel Pearl: You know how people look all cool in their jet skis with their ocean salt sculpted hair and the cool sunglasses on, revving the engine? Well, the sunglasses are for so much more than looks and sun protection. They protect your eyes from the stinging salt water as you zip through the water! Bring sunglasses that conform well to your face and will not fly off, or make sure you don’t care too much about the pair you wear in case you do lose it!
We first stopped by Intercontinental Le Moana to pick up 4 other riders. On the way over, we noticed that the water changed from crystal clear sea green, to aqua, to turquoise, to cerulean, to a deep royal blue, to almost indigo. The water was mesmerizing to watch and the mist of the sea water spraying our faces as we cut through the waves on a hot day was welcome.
Once we picked up the other guests, we followed Mana around the island. His jet ski would leave a trail of frothy white that clearly delineated the path he wanted us to take, sometimes around the buoys if there were any. We stopped to see Mount Pahia, the other dormant volcano on the island. Mount Otemanu was the higher peak on the main Bora Bora Island.
“It means sea bird, right?” I piped up. “Otemanu means sea bird?”
“Yes!” Mana agreed. “What does Pahia mean then?” I shrugged and asked him what does it mean? “I don’t know either!” He laughed. Jokester, this one was.
He made us look at how the crags in the mountain looked like the outline of a woman’s face with her mouth open to the sky. Honestly, it reminded me a lot of the Disney movie Moana and how the island was basically a giant sleeping lady covered in moss and greens.
We jetted off again, this time to a super shallow lagoon area where we took a break and got off to swim. It was shallow enough that we could walk in the water. The water here was super warm. Mana told us how he was born in Raiatea and grew up all his life in Bora Bora, Vaitape (the main island city). There are no hospitals in Bora Bora, so you have to go to Raiatea or Tahiti for it. One of the other jet skiers was a nurse who worked at the hospital in Tahiti. He was visiting friends in Bora Bora. Mana said the locals all knew each other on the island, since everyone grew up together and around each other. All the locals we had met on the trip were so nice and friendly!
Our next stop was a little motu beach cove with a little thatched open hut and picnic benches waiting for us. Here Mana tied all the jet skis together and anchored them down so they wouldn’t float off. The water was, again, shallow and incredibly warm! Mana told us to wait at the picnic tables while he went to grab some coconuts. I’m not sure if he climbed a tree or what to get these coconuts, but soon he returned with a few giant coconuts, pomelos, and palm fronds.
He showed us how to husk a coconut using a stake in the ground. Then he cracked open the coconut with a big stick until the juice trickled down his fingers. Before I knew it, he had asked my husband to compete with another guest in husking their coconuts! Hubby lost by a few seconds, but it’s all gooood. Mana gave me the stick to crack the coconut open. I had to thwack it twice (because the first hit apparently wasn’t strong enough) to get it open! I’m not typically a fan of coconut juice but this was so fresh and delicious after all that sea salt spraying on my face!
Mana wove a little palm frond basket/bowl in a matter of seconds to hold his fresh-cut pomelos and pomelos. Then he used a bread knife and cut the coconut flesh for us to eat. I never had coconut flesh before and it was a little interesting because Mana was eating it with a little bit of the brown bark/peel on the white milky flesh. It kind of felt like I was just chewing on leather at times, but I actually started to like it after awhile!
After this little break, we hopped back on the jet skis and circled back to our resort, completing our circle of the island. All in all, I’m glad we did it. It’s a fun couples’ excursion to do, and you get to see the whole island!