Day #66 - Pedalling in Paradise

Having read today's title, I bet you'll never guess what we did today? Haha
So today we hired a couple of bikes to ride around this beautiful island. Our plan was to take a leisurely tour, stop off at beaches, enjoy some cafe culture and generally have a chilled day. 
We started with breakfast at our hotel since it is included in our package. If you read yesterday's post about how extensive and delicious the evening buffet was, you'd be right in thinking the morning breakfast buffet was just as impressive.
Again, a chef was on hand to cook you eggs any way you wanted along with waffles, pancakes, French toast and crêpes. Alongside this a selection of hot and cold meats, beautiful cut fruits, cereals, multiple fruit juices, yoghurt, cheese and breads. 
Still having stomachs groaning under the quantity of food they ensured last night, we tried to keep breakfast light - but that was hard because so much deliciousness was on offer. Plus we needed to fuel up for our bike ride, right?!
Breakfast devoured, there was time for a quick plunge in the pool before we were collected from our hotel to be taken to the nearby Avis office to pick up the bikes. Yes, it felt odd going to a car hire place, being asked for driver's licenses etc. in order to get hold of a bike. Even more odd was the office is just a five minute walk from the hotel, but they insisted on picking us up in a car to take us there!
Forms signed and deposits paid, we set off on our pedal-powered adventure. Like Tahiti, there is just one road that circumnavigates the island so it really is impossible to get lost! We went anticlockwise, heading north from our location. 
The road had very little traffic - the majority of vehicles that we saw were fellow tourists on quad bikes, scooters, e-bike or cute little Twizy cars ("Got to try one of those," says James).
I might have mentioned how stunningly the island is but just to labour the point again, on one side of us the imposing 727 metre tall Mount Otemanu dominated the skyline. Its name means "the peak which sucks up living things" and it lies at the heart of the island. On the other side of us lay the serene aquamarine sea, with palm trees lining the shore. Various houses lined the route and these were simple, mainly one story buildings, either prefabricated designs or custom made from corrugated iron and wood.
Some were more basic than others, but all had a little land. Sometimes you saw a business being run out of one of these houses or an occasional purpose built structure, but we were surprised at the lack of places to stop off, grab a drink or a bite to eat. There were occasional soda machines people had installed on their properties for public use, but they didn't look like they were restocked frequently!
There was also no public beaches as we had expected. Although the sea was right there and the buildings did give way to stunning views of the coast, the beaches were either private, in accessible or too small.
So we kept on pedalling our way around the island. Eventually we had come all the way round to the "city" of Vaitape. While it is the largest settlement in Bora Bora, its population of 4,927, about half of the island's population, doesn't quite qualify it for city status in our opinion! However, it was a lovely collection of shops and markets catering to the tourist (a cruise ship nearby had just disembarked so some were doing a good trade). However, it being Sunday, most places were closed. I'm no businessman, but surely they know a ship is due to dock and would have opened up for all that trade.
We continued our journey and arrived back at the rental shop in good time - just under 3 hours to cover 32km.
It allowed us to see what else to explore on the island and gave us a good sense of what is out there beyond the hotel's boundaries. Plus, it was a healthy dose of exercise!
Back in our hotel, we enjoyed a light lunch before retiring back to the bungalow for a siesta and dip in the waters that surround us. 
Come the evening, we once again ventured outside our hotel to a small, family run restaurant (well, more like a cafe) that is next to our hotel. This establishment made great use of it's beach front location and gave a wonderful view of the one public beach that this island does offer - right across from our hotel!
We ordered a simple meal of croque monsieur and steak and chips. What was served, was very tasty but wouldn't win any awards. While we ate, an American family popped their heads in and didn't like what they saw and asked insensitively in my opinion, if there were any other restaurants nearby. They were recommended on that was pretty much next door. So, we thought we would check that one out too! As we were paying the bill and leaving, the venue's hostess (the grandmother?) asked us if we would like to see her tortoise! Not they usual question you get asked by a lady in her 80's. Of course we were intrigued and next thing we knew, she unceremoniously dumped this magnificent creature onto the counter for us to admire.  She told us she found it on the beach and it's been with her ever since.
So onto the restaurant next door which was quite a contrast to the first one. This definitely had better vibes and a very friendly welcome. I guess the place has a bit of a following since it had its own line of merchandise and teeshirts on sale. Again, it was a beachfront location, so we had yet another meal overlooking a spectacular vista. The menu here was more extensive and when the food came, we were blown away. Not only by the portion size but the quality of the dishes. 
Of course, having two dinners is rather excessive, but in our defence, the first one could be see as an appetizer. I was still recovering from the amazing buffet from the dance show last night and the sumptuous breakfast, but I did manage to enjoy the best part of a chicken burger (fresh grilled chicken breast in a bun - no reconstituted, breaded concoction) while James polished off eight beautifully tender lamb chops. We weren't going to have a (shared) dessert until we heard there was lava pudding on offer. We had a lava pudding in Hawaii because, well you have to, it being the home to volcanoes and such, but it was very dry and disappointing - no lava! However, this one was everything we expected it to be - light, chocolatey with a lovely rich chocolate lava centre. Yum!
On our return it was time for bed. There is something very peaceful about the sea at night, and walking along boardwalks to your room for the night, hearing the lapping of the sea outside is very relaxing and we were both fast asleep having again completed an amazing day. 


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