Papa – the term of endearment for the father figure of a family, a sign of strength & of protection.
It’s a theme reflected in the Tahitian meaning of the word “papa” used to identify a large, flat stone. In the case of Bora Bora papa sits imposingly above the warm tropical waters that lap Bora Bora’s outer reef, atop the coral reef that protects & indeed created these lagoon waters of an extreme beauty for which Bora Bora is world renowned.
Papa can be clearly seen here in the following image sitting in the background alongside the lagoon’s external reef:
Papa, or Papaiore as it is known which not so enticingly means ‘rat rock’, can be found at an easy 20-25 minute stroll across paradise’s lagoon. Nature has been generous to Bora Bora – the way to papa is nothing less than an enjoyable meander in waist-deep water, footed in powdery white sand starting from the world’s most beautiful beach across the world’s most beautiful lagoon. One sets out from Matira Beach accompanied by a guard of sting & leopard rays amidst schools of fish of every colour in waters overlooked by the benevolent Mt Otemanu watching over all those ready to receive her largesse.
The following photos set the scene for the traverse – a photo of Matira Beach where the adventure starts:
Papa is a spot of raw beauty, a place of abundance, a site where you’ll find her adorned with miki miki, pahua & maoa amongst other delights. Miki miki – a hardy plant whose wood is prized by Tahitians for its strength & durability & used extensively in local household decoration. Pahua – the colourfully lipped smaller clams much admired by snorklers, but greatly enjoyed by locals to whom the lagoon offers such gems freely & which they consume straight from the lagoon with a splash of lime before using the actual clam-shells to make exquisite household curtain features. The maoa, a larger shellfish also taken raw with lime & also a touch of taioro (fermented grated coconut) & whose operculum – meaning ‘little lid’ – the shell’s beautiful solid white ‘trap-door’, is used for jewelry or as an excellent paper-weight.
Seaward, a couple of quick casts of the rod will be rewarded within moments with a wholesome catch to fit one’s needs. Lobster is there to be found in abundance as are seasonal sightings of whales. This small corner of paradise is bestowed with a series of wonderful water-holes where the crystal clear waters of the Pacific come gushing in to produce nature’s own spa………………… Could this be heaven on earth?
One of the beautiful water-holes with views over the miki miki back to Mt Otemanu:
The delectable fluro-coloured pahua:
A beautiful maoa necklace:
Fishing & lobster collecting on the reef-edge with Tahaa & Raiatea in the distance:
The clean, clear waters afforded by ‘papa‘:
This outing is one not known to today’s tourist. It’s a secret, of sorts, unintentionally held by locals. But Bora Bora rewards those that merit it & this can be a most rewarding outing for those that adventure.
The little gem is a well worthwhile outing especially accessible to those staying at Le Moana Resort, the Maitai, Hotel Matira, Chez Nonos, Pension Robert & Tina, Village Temanuata or Rohotu Fare Lodge (all for which individual reports can be found on this site).