Bora Bora is undoubtedly the Instagram king of the South Pacific. There’s nowhere better for a spot of snorkelling and lounging on a beach with a cocktail. And there’s more here than unlimited pina coladas here. We’ve discovered The Farm at Bora Bora Pearl Company and we’re going pearl diving.
Since 1977, The Farm has cultured black Tahitian pearls (regarded as some of the best in the world). Harvesting pearls isn’t easy and it can take up to two years before they’re ready to be plucked out of the ocean. First, oyster shells are split just enough for a tiny slice of mollusc shell is added, along with a small bead. Then, the oyster shells are popped on a net and thrown back into the sea. The staff work hard to keep them clean from algae to keep hungry sea turtles away. Here, they’ll dangle on the strings for about 18 months. Finally, at the end you can remove the pearl and repeat the process.
You won’t need to go too far off the coast during your dive but the water is very, very deep. Now it’s time to choose your your haul and get back on dry land. This is the toughest part of your day, you’ve got a decision to make: which oyster do you open? The rest are put back in the water, so choose wisely.
Although only three in every hundred pearls are deemed perfect, it’s unlikely you’ll get a dud pearl. But if you do, you’re allowed to choose one from the shop up to the value of your experience. It’s not ideal, but don’t be disappointing, there’s a little bit of luck involved with culturing pearls. And it’s certainly better than going home empty-handed. The luck swings both ways: most of the pearls will be valued around £200. You could find a pearl worth ten times that value and if you do, it’s yours to keep.
Your chosen oyster shell is gripped and the pearl is carefully extracted. This is the most exciting part of the experience! You have no idea how big your pearl will be or what colour it’s going to come out. It’s unique to you and is a complete surprise. Tahitian pearls are known as ‘black pearls’ but they can be green, shades of blue and even pink.
The final part of your experience will really show off your bounty. The Farm has their own workshop and they’ll set your stone for you. You can help them design the piece of jewellery but remember, they’re experts. As it’s likely that your pearl will have a few small flaws, they’ll be able to help you choose a setting that hides them well. It’s the perfect memento of your experience.
If you’re a bit of a diving fanatic and want to experience something different, pearl diving in Bora Bora is perfect. And, if you haven’t done much snorkelling and want to just dip your toe in the water, The Farm’s diving experience is a wonderful way to see a different side of the South Pacific and take home a unique souvenir from your travels.
The Farm in Bora Bora, French Polynesia.
Any time of year. But be sure to book in advance. And don’t worry about getting there, the company will pick you up for free wherever you are staying.
What you need to know:
You get to keep whatever pops up in your oyster so if yours is one of the truly perfect oysters and worth a few grands, it’s all yours. We’re going to be tempted to have more than one dive.