Bora Bora was the last important stop during the Pacific Grand Voyage. Why was the end of my trip also my beginning? Because a trip to Bora Bora was not only about visiting the most beautiful island in the world, it was mostly about altering my own frame of mind, altering my beliefs and superstitious. It was about being more ambitious, self-efficient and independent. It was about being true to myself, too. Probably the truth is that I cannot resist the temptation of bringing the memories back, to the place where I felt so much of a good energy, fortune and luck in my life. To the place, where choices I made, never felt so right. I should have left it till the end, the icing on the cake, the best of the best, to spell it out the most amazing place I have ever seen. But I’m too impatient to wait till the end. So let’s the story begin.
The journey with Air Tahiti (the only airline flying between the islands of French Polynesia) started a bit tense – my luggage was seriously overweighted, although I traveled pretty light. The luggage limitation is very strict and apparently very low (carry on: 3 kg and check in: 10 kg). The lady at the counter wasn’t happy at all seeing all my belongings. She started turning her nose up but to my amusement instead of moaning at me, she asked about the diving licence (which I luckily own). With Air Tahiti scuba divers are entitled to get extra 5 kg of check in luggage. It was just enough to cover my extra weight. That was definitely the most surprising advantage of being a diver – I have never imagined that spotting Nemo can lead into airline privileges. Only in French Polynesia miracles like that happen!
It is an open secret (shhhhh!!) that the best seats flying into Bora Bora airport are located at the left hand site of the aircraft. Booking system on the inter-island flights from Tahiti/Moorea to Bora Bora doesn’t allow you to ensure your seat in advance. Therefore you have to hurry up – after entering the plane from the rear, take a seat on the left hand side as you walk down the aisle. In most cases during landing it will give you the most breathtaking and satisfying view on Bora Bora island. During the flight you can see couple of other islands: Huahine, Tahaa, Raiatea, which are also quite pretty. It is really essential to be fast, the left-hand side seats are occupied within seconds. The view of Bora Bora is really worth a fight even if usually you don’t care about these things. Landing itself and the airport full of private jets gives you the taste what is going to happen next. And that is mind-blowing.
The airport is located on the outer island built within the lagoon of Bora Bora. To leave the airport premisses the boat transfer is necessary. If you are rich and famous, or just rich, or if you are on that once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon trip you will be most probably picked up by the pre-arranged luxurious private boat owned by the lagoon resort (St Regis, Intercontinental etc). If you are like me, a bit less famous and much less rich, you are picked up by the local boat (not pre-arranged at all) going straight to the ‘capital’ of BB island – Vaitape. It takes around 20 minutes to get there.
Once you get to Vaitape many different activities can be organised. Personally, I was most interested in taking the sightseeing flight around the island, but the conversation at the information desk was almost impossible to handle. I really couldn’t pass the proper message to the lady working at the desk, mainly that not only didn’t I have enough money to rent the whole helicopter but also I didn’t have my own helipad in the hotel I stayed in to ‘come by’ and pick me up. It made me laugh. And a bit sad too as it was crystal clear I wouldn’t be able to afford that kind of trip. It is a perfect excuse to come back to French Polynesia again.
Exploring the area by air was out of my reach, so I decided to explore it by land. I rented a moped for couple of hours and drove around the island. It takes around 3 hours to circle around, but with multiplied stops at different resorts, it took me much longer. I was a bit reluctant to the idea of motorcycling after an unfortunate event in the Cook Islands but curiosity overcame my fear and, after short time, I was driving like fast and furious again. It’s unbelievable how much freedom you have with the small machine like that. Bora Bora is most famous for its luxurious resorts which I shamelessly decided to visit and explore. I walked in, smiled, explained that I wanted to look around and I never encountered any difficulties, questions or anyone giving me a suspicious look.
The most luxurious, exclusive and secluded resorts aren’t located on the mainland island of Bora Bora but on motu (meaning small island in Tahitian) surrounding the lagoon. Without the invitation there is no way of getting there. The privacy is the highest asset these days and it’s well protected if you spend right amount of money on it. I had a privilege of staying in one of those resorts thanks to the kindness of my friend Frederic, whom I will be always grateful to, for giving me a chance of experiencing the slice of paradise in the best possible manner. I was so overwhelemed by the beauty of the place and his help, that I kept saying ‘thank you’ all the time, like I was in a ‘thank you’ trans, which made both of us laugh a lot.
St Regis Resort is one of the finest hotels in the world and you can feel that with every breath you take. Frederic booked for me a lagoon trip too ( a must-do in Bora Bora) and made my stay very pleasant. The trip itself was a fun way to discover the area, on a small boat with the music, taking stops to swim with the sting rays, lemon sharks, with the most delicious buffet at the end. The people I shared the boat with were extremely entertaining and at the end of the trip we all became good friends.
The real story of Bora Bora started much earlier than my actual arrival at the island. There are some other reasons why I appreciated the casual help of Frederic so much. He helped me to see the best of Bora Bora, but also he helped me to stay true to myself. The whole experience at the island made me believe that when we make right choices, we meet right people to support them. And this is why I believe that:
We girls we meet men during our travels. And they make our life heaven or they make it hell. The man I met, at the very early stage during my Pacific journey, was the pilot of United Airlines who definitely wanted to give me heaven on earth. Leo was divorced, handsome, ready to spend all the money in the world to join me on my road trip. I had many islands to visit yet but to him French Polynesia was the most appealing one. His French charm was almost irresistible. He promised over-water bungalows, he promised adventures and the shooting stars – in one word: a perfect summer romance. He promised to make my travel very chic too. But girls, always remember about that: chic is a frame of mind. In that case chic would be so cheap. It would be a cheap shortcut to the lifestyle that was not chic at all.
Paradise needs to be enjoyed with the right person. Even if the right person sometimes sucks and makes you angry and you think your relationship is over, it never really is. Your heart knows best who you want to spend your best moments with. So instead of enjoying paradise with the wrong man, it’s much healthier to enjoy it alone.
Bon chic, Bon voyage.