Island Treasures: Motu Tapu, Conrad Bora Bora Nui’s private islet
It’s the most photographed islet in the South Pacific—Motu Tapu—just a five-minute boat ride from the Conrad Bora Bora Nui Resort (formerly the Hilton Bora Bora Nui). It was the private beach of Polynesian Queen Pomare IV, who reigned between 1827 and 1877. She held exclusive receptions and parties on the islet, where access was “Tapu”—forbidden, sacred, by invitation only, thus the name Motu Tapu has carried over to this day.
Conrad guests can arrange to spend the day on this remote piece of paradise (download a brochure on costs and options on the resort’s website). It is an island treasure I was privileged to visit in 2010, along with a small group of journalists staying at the Conrad Bora Bora Nui, where ABC’s The Bachelorette TV show had recently ended its season. (It was the Hilton when I visited.) While my footprints in the sand have long since disappeared, my memories of a special day spent in this place of incredible beauty haven’t faded, thanks in part to the photographs I share here.
A motu is defined as a reef islet formed by broken coral and sand, surrounding an atoll (in and around Polynesia). In the Caribbean and West Atlantic, these islets are often called cays or keys.
After snorkeling and lunch, we were treated to a coconut husking demonstration, then were invited to drink fresh coconut water from the shell and taste the white coconut meat. A pareo tying demonstration followed. Pareos (or sarongs) are typically rectangular pieces of cloth, 2 yards long x 1 yard wide, and can be tied in many variations.
The photo below shows the view from Motu Tapu looking back to the main island of Bora Bora.
On the short return trip, we were serenaded with Polynesian songs as we passed by our overwater bungalows on the way back to the dock. It was an unforgettable day; one I wanted to share with you as an “Island Treasure.”
Even the airport is located on an islet or motu. Motu Mute Airport serves the island of Bora Bora in French Polynesia, surrounded by the lagoon. For me, it wins the prize for most beautiful setting for an airport! A boat transfer is necessary to get to the main island of Bora Bora.
Read more about Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora on the French Polynesia Destination page.
Read about Mopion Islet, located in the Caribbean: Island Treasures: Mopion Islet, Grenadines
Share memories of Island Treasures you’ve visited in the Comments below. I’d love to hear about them!