The excitement for Bora Bora begins before boarding the plane to the renowned island. Those who have done their research know that the stunning views on approach are best from the left side. The queue at the gate starts early. The Polynesians are still sitting. They’ve seen the view before. Moments before the gate opens, the locals get up and form their own line, parallel to the tourists. They know there are two lines. They’ve done this before. The second gate agent arrives. We board the small turboprop and, barring the unlikely event of an emergency, get ready to realize a dream.
A favourite destination among the recently hitched, the plane is half full of horny honeymooners. It’s the nuzzling newlyweds making me nauseous, not the turbulence. Even on a hazy day, the view is better tonic than Gravol. Upon arrival we all get leid.
I share the Sofitel’s private boat to the hotel with one of those newlywed couples – a Swede and an Italian. They are lovely, as is the twenty five minute boat ride over the lagoon with extraordinary views all around us. Motus (islands) are on the right. The main island is on our left. It’s the contrast of the craggy rock rising from its lush, tropical surrounding that is so stunning – prehistoric and regal – the turquoise lagoon surrounding it like a crown and the motus its jewels. We shift from side to side, snapping the views. I offer to take a picture of them together.
“Thank you. All our pictures from our four days in Tahiti are just of one of us,” the Swedish groom says.
It is a role I assume many times during my four days on the island.
“Photo – Two. Deux. Dos. Due. Zwei.” It is a great way to make friends (two days later the couple from the boat, Mika and Naomi, bring over a bottle of Baska – a bitter Swedish spirit – and we spend hours discussing the island, travel, languages, and our countries).
I am shown to my poor man’s over-the-water bungalow – a lagoon front bungalow which is mostly over the water. It’s pure luxury after my $75 per night bungalow on Mo’orea. I made the right choice. I open the patio doors to my private deck, with steps into the warm lagoon water. It all exceeds my expectations. I explore every nook. Look in every drawer. Smell every soap and lotion. Read every piece of literature. I am overwhelmed. I sit on the deck. It’s sunrise somewhere and a damn rooster crows, another responds, like some annoying avian game of marco polo. I don’t care. It’s Bora Bora.
After another raucous rooster night, I walk out onto the deck. The lapping waves against the shore and the roaring, breaking surf on the distant reef are both equally soothing. The Swede and Italian are two bungalows over, on their deck looking at the fish in the lagoon. I ask if the roosters kept them awake. He shakes his head, not knowing ‘rooster’ in english. I look around and make a ‘cock-a-doodle-do’, loud enough for him to hear, but not to raise the wrath of those around. He cocks an imaginary shotgun.
Roosters and mosquitos aside, Bora Bora lives up to the hype. The world financial crisis and recession has made it affordable, if you can get yourself to this remote part of the Pacific – that’s the expensive part of the endeavour. If you find yourself in this corner of the Southern Hemisphere, you won’t be disappointed.
Travel has a way of stretching the mind. The stretch comes not from travel’s immediate rewards, the inevitable myriad new sights, smells and sounds, but with experiencing firsthand how others do differently what we believed to be the right and only way. – Ralph Crawshaw