Fly over the Polynesian islands with Tahiti Air Charter
It’s been about a year and a half since I started this travel blog, specializing in French Polynesia and I still haven’t written anything about the island of Bora Bora yet. What’s the reason? I simply hadn’t had the opportunity to visit the island, it’s as simple as that. Now it’s something I have done. Are you looking for something to do in Bora Bora?
Today, I am talking about other things on the island. I recently had the opportunity to be invited by Tahiti Air Charter to fly over the island of Bora Bora and Tupai. Being a fan of aerial views of the Polynesian lagoons, I couldn’t refuse. If you are planning your travel budget for French Polynesia, I believe it to be definitely worth including!
I will give you all the information at the bottom of this article about reserving the trip that I did, but also on the other possible trips to the surrounding islands.
Tahiti Air Charter is the only seaplane company in Polynesia, the first to offer private transfers between the islands but above all splendid overflights of the Society Islands (Leeward Islands and Windward Islands). It was with pleasure and a little excitement that I was going to try this experience. I was already imagining the magnificent lagoon of Bora before my eyes. The thing to do: pray for good weather during the flight.
I would like to point out that even though the company invited me on this plane ride, this article is only written by me and I am entirely in control of everything I write. In other words, if the experience had been bad, I would say so!
- Their history goes back to 2013 with the purchase of their first seaplane,
- It took a few years to reach the first commercial flight in April 2018,
- The seaplane is a Cessna 208 Caravan with a range of about 1700 km,
- The maximum cruising speed is almost 300 km/h,
- 8 passengers can be taken on board,
- The company is based on the island of Raiatea,
- Today, about ten people work in the company.
The seaplane ride
I fly more than ten times a year, but I am always as excited as ever before a flight. Besides, I’ve never flown in a seaplane before, with the exception of a flight over the island of Mayotte and its magnificent lagoon in an ULM. So, I return at the end of the afternoon with the free shuttle to Bora Bora airport for the flight. There is only one runway on the island, and it is actually in a ‘motu’, which are islets of white sand on the coral reef.
On arrival I meet the pilot and the co-pilot. It all goes very well. We also join a group of 4 Japanese people with whom I will fly. To get to the seaplane, you pass through one of the airport’s boarding gates. Five minutes of crossing the runway and we finally meet the “beast”. I don’t know much about it, but the red seaplane has a nice appearance. In addition, we are lucky and the weather is relatively nice!
That’s the beast I’m getting into!
Before boarding, the co-pilot gives us the safety instructions for the flight. Strange how the flight is still non-smoking! We are taken on a short tour around the seaplane before climbing aboard. The views of the runway alone on the lagoon with Mount Otemanu in the background are superb. The five of us go up a small ladder to get inside. What strikes me the most when I arrive is the limited space. Then I understand, it’s mainly the ceiling that’s very low (you can’t stand upright) and the interior is tiny. If you are in the front row, you can literally touch the pilot and co-pilot. We even attached my photo bag to the seat on the other side.
A few more reminders on the microphone and we are off on the runway at Bora airport, just like a standard flight, except that we are in a seaplane. Unfortunately, I knew from the beginning that there is no landing planned on this flight. It’s okay; I’m going to enjoy the view anyway, right? The seaplane starts and we’re ready for takeoff.
Within the first few seconds, the seaplane quickly gained height and an unobstructed view opened up to me. I had told the captain that I was here to take photos so I am well placed, on the right side with a view of Mount Otemanu. A quick look back allows me to see the maze of blue lagoon, which is impressive, I must say. Turquoise blue as far as the eye can see in many beautiful shades. Unfortunately, we must immediately leave Bora Bora, and head towards the atoll of Tupai, about 25 km away.
The last view of Bora Bora leaves us already dreaming of what we will see on the way back. The tour proposed today is a flight over the island of Bora Bora and the uninhabited atoll of Tupai. The seaplane then turned around and we saw once again the island of Bora, the runway of the airport from where we had departed and the magnificent white sand rising on the edge of the atoll. It’s splendid.
A few minutes above a beautiful blue sea and you can see the Tupai atoll appear, as if sitting on the ocean, in the distance, in the shape of a heart. For those who don’t know, an atoll is simply an island, in fact, an ancient volcano that has been eroded over time and has disappeared from the surface of the ocean. The remains of the ancient volcanic island are found in the centre of the atoll in the present-day lagoon. Today, the atoll consists only of white sand islands (the famous “motus”) located on the reef barrier.
So, let’s get back to this great experience. We can see the atoll, from very far away, a spot of turquoise blue and green (coconut palms) lost in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Looking back, you can still see the imposing Mount Otemanu on the island of Bora, the highest peak on the island.
Finally, the moment we had all been waiting for, at least for me. We have arrived, just above the atoll, and we fly over breathtaking expanses of blue. It’s incredibly beautiful, and I’ve rarely seen anything so amazing. The atoll is completely preserved since no one lives on it, and there is no tourist activity… In short, it is a true piece of paradise.
We pass over the lagoon of the atoll completely, which has a majestic blue color. Finally, words can’t do justice to what I could actually see. The pictures don’t look too bad, but I think the view from the seaplane is, in reality, 1000 times more beautiful.
We go all around the atoll and the views from the seaplane really leave you starry eyed… It’s time to leave the atoll and return to the island of Bora Bora. A few minutes later, we see the runway of the airport from which we took off. The views on arrival are once again magnificent. The most striking are the motus as if they were placed on the coral reef, separated by “hoa”, shallow intermittent channels where the water from the open sea and the water from the lagoon meet depending on the tides and currents.
These hoa are quite splendid. Looking like a turquoise blue vein that flows between these islets of white sand. It’s truly amazing to see it from the seaplane. The flight continues all around the island, allowing us to admire a selection of views, each more impressive than the next, of the island of Bora Bora, its lagoon, its white sand islets and all the pleasure boats and cruise boats bobbing around in the lagoon.
Another magical moment of the island’s flight is the passage over the famous “wave” as I call it. In the Bora lagoon, in a specific spot, there is a clear and magnificent demarcation between two depths of water in the lagoon. On one side, shallow water, probably a about a few meters deep at the most. On the other side of the waves, there is probably more than twenty or thirty meters of depth. The passage is clean, clear and the demarcation between the two depths is really well marked. I posted the picture on my Instagram account (come follow me, the more the merrier, right?).
The rest of the flight is just as beautiful and then it’s already time to go home. I don’t know how long the flight lasted, 30 minutes, maybe more? But how time flies by with such beautiful views!
My opinion on the excursion
Frankly, living in the tropics for almost 10 years now, I have had the opportunity to see many lagoons, but I must say that that is one of the most amazing experiences I have had the opportunity to take. It’s really, REALLY, unforgettable. The kind of moment that engraves itself in your memory.
As far as organization is concerned, there was nothing to complain about, everything was perfect, nothing went wrong. You’re probably going to say, that’s all very well and good, but how much does it cost to go out like that? Believe it or not, given the cost of living here in Polynesia, I would have thought that an excursion like that would be much more expensive. The price is 335€ per person. The transfer by boat to return to your hotel is also provided. So yes, it’s not cheap, especially if you’re a couple or a family, but I sincerely believe that the flight, the experience and the beauty of the scenery are worth the price.
Without a doubt, if you come to Bora Bora, it is really something I would advise you to do. For information on the reservations I made for the outing, see below.
What the company also offers
Apart from the flight, on which I was invited, which goes around the island of Bora and flies over Tupai, the company offers several other tours of the Leeward Islands including:
- The flight over Bora Bora, Raiatea and Tahaa: it must be magical with all those islets and vegetation. Two hours of heaven, in my opinion, which you’ll see before your eyes!
- The discovery of Tahaa Island by the day from Bora. Yes, it is certainly more expensive, but the excursion includes a visit of Tahaa, a splashdown, a meal. To sum up, a dream day!
- The discovery of Maupiti Island: it is a great way for those who have not been able to find a flight to go to the island itself… On the program of the dream day: discovery of Maupiti, boat, snorkeling on the reef and with manta rays, meal in a dream setting. If you only come once in your life to Polynesia, it is still a must!
- Finally, the discovery of the island of Bora Bora from Raiatea or Tahaa.
Furthermore, it should be noted that the company offers private flights for those who have the means and or who want peace and quiet. Flights such as Bora -> Tahaa, Bora -> Maupiti or Tahiti -> Bora or Bora -> Rangiroa (Tuamotu) also exist. You can find all the details of the flights on their website.
Tips for taking pictures in the seaplane
I end this beautiful experience with some photographic advice. If you like photography, now is the time to indulge yourself. The main advice:
- Ask the pilot, depending on your flight, where the best side in the seaplane is,
- Take a cloth to clean the window glass a little,
- Do not forget to buy a polarizing filter that eliminates the reflections of the porthole and highlights contrasts as soon as the picture is taken,
- Note that the company offers open-door flights for very special occasions….
That’s it, the end of a wonderful experience. I sincerely hope you liked it even if the pictures do not perfectly reflect the reality of what I could see and feel during this flight. Frankly, if you can afford such an outing during your stay, don’t hesitate. For those who are in the process of preparing their trip, here is the complete guide to travel on the islands in French Polynesia.
So, won over by this magnificent outing? Tempted by a little seaplane ride? Leave me your impressions in the comments!
Have a good trip
Thank you for posting this. That is such a great experience and I’m happy for being part of it.
May I ask you if you also wrote an article on a plane ride with a post man.in French Polynesia? I’m not sure but I thought I remembered an article on you flying to different islands with a postie?
Thank you from Germany, ute
Thanks a lot !
A postie ? That was not me I think 🙂