When we arrived in Bora Bora, two cruise ships that regularly circle around Fr. Polynesia (the Wind Spirit and the Paul Gauguin) were anchored in the lagoon. Towering over the small main town and the sailing yachts, they seem oddly out of place on such small islands. The Paul Gauguin left soon and we could hardly believe our eyes when we looked out the next morning and saw that the Wind Spirit (134 m long) had got a new neighbour that dwarfed even her: the Radiance of the Sea is 293 metres (not feet!) long and carries 2.500 passengers and 850 crew members on 12 decks. It’s hard to imagine how the local tour operators cope with such a rush demand.

Watching the tenders buzzing back and forth spilling their human cargo at the dock we decided to go for a program off the usual sightseeing route and went on a hike up the ridge south of the two main volcanoes just next to our anchorage. It was a strenuous walk over slippery slopes and through sometimes dense underbrush that eventually took us up a little peak with wonderful views all over the glittering lagoon. From our outlook we gawked at the hustle and bustle beneath: the coast and the motus are dotted with hotels, bungalow colonies grow over the lagoon like mushrooms, guided jet ski groups whizz around and excursion boats gather over the snorkel spots where fish are attracted by regular feeding.

When we got back to the pier all sweaty, scratched and muddy, several tour buses had just unloaded their passengers who were busy taking photos of the bay with pretty little Pitufa in the foreground and Christian’s undies merrily flapping on the washing line.

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