The Manta Rays of Bora Bora

As I thought about what to write about today, I looked outside the window. Snow, a wind chill factor well below zero. So, naturally, I thought of Bora Bora.

Several years back, my husband Mike and I sailed through the Society Islands of French Polynesia. We chartered a sailboat along with a captain who knew how to navigate the tricky reefs, which circle each of the major islands. We spent time on Tahiti and Moorea then sailed to Raiatea, Tahaa, Huahine, and Bora Bora. On the far side of Bora Bora, we anchored one night near a spot in the lagoon known for manta ray activity.

That night, Mike and I dined at a hotel on one of the larger atolls. Our table sat next to an Olympic-sized pool of vibrant tropical fish. When our captain collected us in the dinghy, it started to rain. One of my favorite memories is speeding through the dark night in the warm tropical rain – and laughing from sheer delight.

But the best was yet to come. Early the next morning, we snorkeled from the sailboat. A soft rain still fell over the lagoon, blurring the line between grey water and grey sky.

For a while, we simply enjoyed the spectacular array of bright, tropical fish that surrounded us. We spent a while evading a barracuda that had developed a stong interest in Mike.

Then, out of the depths of the lagoon, a giant shadow came sweeping toward us, its huge wings gracefully undulating. We dove down to meet this beautiful creature head on. The manta ray drew steadily nearer until only a few feet separated us. Its wingspan, twelve feet or more, framed a tiny squar-ish head. Below the water’s surface in the manta’s world, the three oof us came face to face – probably just for a few seconds, but it seemed a moment frozen in time. Pure magic. The hush of the briny water. The light filtering from above. And, the imperturbable gaze of this gentle ocean mammoth.

Another manta emerged from the deep, and our companion glided away. We headed to the surface for air.

The spell had broken, but the memory of that mystical moment in the waters of Bora Bora will be with me as long as I live.

thanks to The Active Explorer for the manta ray photo.


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