The Polynesian wayfinders rode the wind across the Pacific. Today, visitors to Bora Bora can harness a different force of nature: the sun.
Last fall, the Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort & Spa acquired the Okeanos Pearl, a SoelCat 12 solar-electric-powered catamaran it leases from the nonprofit Okeanos Foundation for the Sea. The 39-foot boat, which is produced by the Netherlands-based shipbuilder Soel Yachts, can run for up to eight hours at cruising speed, and its maintenance cost is about 20 percent that of a similar fossil-fueled watercraft. The hotel employs it for sunset cruises, lagoon charters, and private events—and also to make a broader statement about the importance of the environment to both the resort and to French Polynesia.
“I didn’t do this only for the Pearl Beach,” says resort general manager Julien Bressolles. “It was important for the destination to come up with a project like this.”
While the Okeanos Pearl is unmistakably luxe, there doesn’t appear to be anything out of the ordinary about it—until it’s seen from above, when the solar panels that tile the roof become apparent. Bresolles says that the technology has been as big a draw for some passengers as the Bora Bora sunsets.
“Many guests have an electric car—especially the people from California,” Bressolles says. “Now they have a Tesla on the water.”
Sunset cruises $110/person, private cruises $400/hour, boraborapearlbeachresort.com