As part of our private Lagoon and Beach BBQ day, our handsome guide took us to 3 different snorkel spots. The first spot was to snorkel some huge coral heads and see the abundant fish life and moray eels, the second spot was in very shallow, waist-deep water to feed and pet stingrays (and see sharks) and the last spot was outside the reef in about 50 feet of water to swim with some larger reef sharks. I was having some issues with my camera at our first stop so I really didn’t get any pictures there but I did get some great ones of the stingrays and sharks.
The stingrays were a lot of fun. They know that boats mean food so they instantly start swimming right up to you and bumping you looking for a tasty tidbit. The rays are completely safe and their mouth is underneath so as long as you don’t try to stick your hand directly into their mouth, you’ll be fine. Our guide showed us how to put the food on top of their head to get them closer. As you can see, they were quite splashy and loved to get right up in your face.
We also petted them and I was surprised at how velvety soft their fins are – almost like a spongy velvet. After feeding the rays for about 15 minutes, we noticed some tell tale fins in the water. The reef sharks had arrived. These are black tip reef sharks that smelled the food in the water and came to get their share.
As you can see, there were quite a few of them. Seeing that shark fin in the water gave me a small panicky feeling but Will assured us we were safe. He would sometimes throw some fish bits in the water away from us. I noticed that if one came even remotely close to us and we made even the slightest movement, they would scatter away. They were pretty much skittish as cats. We put our masks on so we could see them underwater – they were so fast! Our guide kissed his stingrays goodbye and we headed to our next stop.
There is only one way in and out of the large reef that surrounds Bora Bora. So, we headed to the cut and out into the deeper water to see more sharks. Here the water was a deeper blue as it was about 50 feet deep. The sharks outside the reef are a little bigger as well. Here we saw more reef sharks but we also saw some much larger lemon sharks that cruise along the bottom. The lemon sharks were around 10-15 feet long. Our awesome guide even swam down free-style diving and got some of the lemon sharks a little closer to the surface for a better look see.
I was a little more nervous about jumping into the deeper water so I stayed pretty close to the boat but overall it was really cool to see sharks in their natural environment. We did jump in and swim here , though!
After these three stops, we were pretty tired from snorkeling so we headed off to relax for our BBQ private island lunch. After lunch, our guide actually offered to stop for one last snorkel but after eating all that food and having a bottle of champagne, we were pooped so we opted to take a leisurely ride around the lagoon and enjoy the scenery instead. If you go to Bora Bora, I highly recommend doing a private tour. It was pricey (about $900 for the day but it includes the guide, boat, gas and the lunch with champagne) and lasted about 6 hours. We would definitely do this option again. Some of the other boats we saw were not very nice or clean looking and some of them were just crammed with people. Group tours are a good way to save money though if you want to do multiple excursions.