The challenge of writing about the islands of the South Pacific is coming
up with enough different ways to say “paradise.” Bora Bora is a lush, green
paradise surrounded by unfathomably blue waters, and it’s little wonder why so
many people dream of visiting this spectacular destination. Marina’s guests are currently enjoying
their second day on the island following an overnight stay.


Marina staff member Jessica Domm shared some photographs from a recent shore
excursion, Bora Bora Off-Road Adventure,
during which she accompanied guests on a thrilling journey to explore places
only accessible via vehicles equipped for off-road travel.


Guests enjoyed a drive through the small town of Vaitape on the shore of
Pofai Bay with stops along the way to learn about the local flora of Bora Bora.




The tour then ascended Pahonu Hill, offering spectacular views of Bora
Bora’s natural harbor and Matira Beach. As Blogger-at-Large for Oceania Cruises,
I’ve made fairly liberal use of the word “breathtaking,” but in this case the vibrant
colors of the Bora Bora lagoon literally take your breath away. Because of the
pristine clarity of the water and the varying depths of the lagoon, nearly
every shade of blue you can imagine is represented here in its utter
perfection. Some blues compete with the cerulean sky; others seem to be the
fluid incarnation of a lapis lazuli or a turquoise gemstone. It’s difficult to
stop snapping photos in a desperate attempt to capture the splendor, but if you
visit Bora Bora, be sure to allow yourself some time to simply gaze at the
spectacular scenery and savor the opportunity to be embraced by such wondrous
natural beauty.



Some of the evidence of human history on Bora Bora stands in stark contrast
to the island’s natural wonders. During World War II, Bora Bora was a US
military supply base with 7,000 military personnel, and seven massive cannons
were set up around the island to protect it from potential military attack. Guests
on the excursion visited several of the cannons that are still standing in their
original locations.

Guests also enjoyed a visit to a local pearl farm. Here they learned about
the art of pearl farming and why the world’s best black pearls come from the
atolls and lagoons of French Polynesia.


One of the last stops was Antena viewpoint, which offered more stunning
views of the sparkling waters, the outer reef that protects the island, and the
smaller coral islands known as motus that dot the lagoon.


If you haven’t taken a trip to paradise yet, 2013 and
2014 offer several opportunities to sail the South Pacific with Oceania Cruises:
Pacific Paradise, December 28, 2013; South Pacific Isles, January 15, January
25 and March 26, 2014; Pacific Isles
& Coral Seas
, February 4, 2013; Marvels
Of The South Pacific,
March 11, 2014; Tahitian
April 5, 2014; Islands &
April 19, 2014. While you probably won’t
want to miss the opportunity to swim in the crystalline waters of Bora Bora,
you also might consider a trip into the hills to take in some uniquely scenic views
of the seascape, while also experiencing some of the culture and history of
this gorgeous island.





6a0120a92e343a970b017c3624d1f3970b-300wiOver 1,200 miles from the nearest inhabited island and over
2,000 miles from Tahiti and Chile, Easter Island is one of the most remote
inhabited islands in the world. On Marina’s
recent call here, guests had a beautiful sunny day to explore this mysterious
island and the centuries old relics left by a once thriving population.

The name “Easter Island” was coined by a Dutch explorer who
encountered the island on Easter Sunday in 1722. The Polynesian name, Rapa Nui,
is said to refer to its resemblance to the Island of Rapa in the Bass Islands,
but some claim that Rapa was the original name given by settlers.

Uninhabited by humans for millions of years, it is believed
that a group of seafarers, probably from the Marquesas, landed on Easter Island
in 300 AD. With very few safe places to disembark, legend has it that King Hoto
Matua landed a double-hulled canoe on Anakena Beach and founded the first


Marina’s guests
enjoyed a gorgeous day frolicking in the crystal clear blue waters at Anakena
Beach and were even visited by some wild horses, a common sight on the island.
Horses were brought here by settlers years ago and now roam the island untamed.
Some estimates put the population of wild horses as high as 10,000.


What draws the more than 50,000 visitors each year are the 887 mystical moai statues carved by the ancient
inhabitants of this island. The tallest statue is nearly 22 feet high and
weighs 82 tons, and thus a great deal of mystery surrounds the methods that
would’ve been used to construct and transport these impressive monuments, built
long before the benefit of modern machinery.6a0120a92e343a970b017c3624d9ed970b-400wi




Almost half of the moai are still at the main quarry where
the statues were carved. The quarry is filled with statues that were never
completed, including the largest moai that, if completed, would have been 71
feet tall and weighed an estimated 270 tons.

The other half of the known statues were completed and moved
across the island. No one is sure exactly how this miraculous feat was
accomplished. Legends tell of people enlisting divine powers to command the
statues to walk, while other theorists describe an intricate system using
ropes, trees and human labor.



By 1868 all of the statues on the island had been toppled.
Some accounts recall an island clan pushing a statue over, but others refer to
“earth shaking,” and it is believed that an earthquake may have been responsible
for the toppling of the statues. Today, because of preservation efforts, about
50 moai have been re-erected on their ceremonial sites.


Marina will return
to Easter Island in April 2013 on the Pacific
sailing, in December 2013 on the Pacific Paradise sailing, and in April 2014 on the Islands & Incas sailing. All three
voyages are featured in Oceania Cruises’ latest Your World Your Way brochure that is hot off the presses. If you
haven’t had a chance to visit this remarkable island, hopefully you will be
able to take advantage of one of these wonderful voyages.