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Approach to the French Polynesian Island     

Trip Day Fifteen: Saturday, October 6, 2007     
Like other tropical islands of the Pacific, Bora Bora is composed of a volcano surrounded by a coral reef. This is thought by some anthropologists to be the origin of the Polynesians who immigrated to the Hawaiian Islands. It also is doubtless the inspiration for the mystical island of Bali Hai featured in James Mitchner's Tales of the South Pacific. A mountain on Kauai's Na Pali Coast served as a stand in for the movie.
The thing that makes this island so spectactular is the coral reef that circles the island. The lagoon within the reef is shallow enough in many places to see the pure white sand on the bottom. This makes the water appear to be turquoise. We were fasinated by this water in Aruba, and enthralled by it in Bora Bora. The white line that crosses the picture above is the surf crashing on the reef that breaks the water there.
Some of the turquoise lagoon water is just visible at the base of the island on the left half of this picture.
There, now you can get a better look at this phenomenon.
This is the text book example of the coral barrier reef. We're looking across the one side of the reef where we can see both sides of the ring that extend around the island. In the distance, a freighter is skirting the reef on the other side. The white bands are breakers splashing on the reef. This picture was taken at quite a distance, and the gray and white specks in the foreground are boats or waves between the us and the reef.

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