FIRST BORN PARADISE
“Wherever you go, becomes a part of you somehow.”
– Anita Desai
I usually think that I really live only when I travel and discover the unknown corners of our beautiful Planet. It started like a hobby and now it is an addiction, something that gives appetite for life. It doesn’t matter where and how I travel as long as I am wondering and exploring the garden of this world, its most spectacular beauty.
The mystical Island of Bora Bora is my dream. Why? Because it is not just a tropical heaven but the Island with the meaning of past. In the local Tahitian language, it is actually Pora Pora, because B sounds like P, which further means if we translate “the first born”. Maybe it is the first born but still the most secluded Island in the world, remote and mystical. The Island of Hawaii meets more people during 10 days as beautiful French Polynesia gets in the whole year. It is not so reachable and it is relative expensive for our budgets, unless you are investing time and energy into finding the acceptable alternatives and solutions and turn you Bora Bora into your conquered land.
When I imagine the white beaches, golden sunsets and breezing wind from the local palms, I could settle myself on almost every of many tropical islands around the globe. Their portray is more or less the same, they are like clones but still authentic. However, Bora Bora is not only authentic but also very unique. Do you know why? This part of Paradise doesn’t have any poisonous insect or snake. You can move yourself around without being afraid that you may provoke some little creature with toxins and pay for the lack of your attentive behaviour. This means you can sleep on the beach, free and relaxed, like Adam and Eve at the beginning of the story. Isn’t that a reason to go for Bora Bora adventure? For me, yes, immediately.
The French Polynesia is famous as Tahiti and has about 118 islands, divided into five groups. Somewhere in the middle of South Pacific Ocean, between America and Australia, Bora Bora has found its own secret place of enjoyment where we arent bothered by any dangerous and poisonous animal. All we have to learn is to breathe in freedom and breathe out stress, to learn meditation and to try to pain sapphire blue sky, inviting crystal ocean water and to catch the super tan on the soft beaches. The Bora Bora has only 3 villages: Anau, Faanui and Vaitape, the total surface is 29,3 km populated with 9000 residents. No public transport just walking or cycling. Peace and tranquility all over, ideal for honeymoons, lonely riders and artists but it is also a big challenge to all lovers of underwater universe. Snorkelling and scuba diving has a special meaning on this Island due to the fact that this part of the Pacific enables numerous examples of marine biology and meeting them is even easier because of calm and pure water. You may end up diving with sharks, turtles and other exotic ocean animals and after all, you can find your own happiness on Matira Beach, the best beach No. 8 on the list from 2013.
What I like about our Pora Pora is the information that there are only 2 seasons in the year. There is a winter or a dry period between May and October and the wet season or summer, between November and April. Everything else is merged on this iconic volcanic isle that has been created on the remains of the caldera of an extinct volcano, that erupted 4 million years ago. That is why Bora Bora is surrounded by lagoons and fascinating coral reef and we can still find the memory on volcanic activity, the two wild twin peaks: Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu. Nowadays, it belongs to France as a semi – autonomous territory but it used to be a self-ruled kingdom until 1888.
Gifted with touristic potential and local culture and gastronomy that attracts wealthy Americans, Europeans and Japanese, this volcanic island is the most beautiful in the world and definitely one of the most photographed and illustrated as a dream destination, life goal and final heaven. It is such a joy to meet domestic tradition that is focused on family values and hospitality. Maybe those people are really poor but to get on the island is expensive because it is a far away location, lost in the ocean eternity. In other words, it is reserved for billionaires and celebrities but it is not impossible to find your own access to this paradise and to use the gap. It is true that Bora Bora is considered to be one of the most expensive places but it is due to the lack of international airport and the long ride. First, you need to get to the international airport Papeete on the island of Tahiti and then to book the national plane to Motu Mute Airport with Air Tahiti ( usually 5-6 flights per day) and then to jump on private boat shuttle or public ferry that will take you to your booked villa.
Did you dream about sleeping in some of those overwater bungalows in Bora Bora? Me too but it is not without financial pain. To spend one night in one of those it has a range between 600 to 1200$ so it is better to search for a bungalow on the beach or with a garden. Thos huts are usually expensive but via coach surfing, you can try to meet some locals and to find private accommodation for less money and with more contact with Bora Bora population and traditional life. Maybe it is also a great chance to taste the delicious cuisine of French Polynesia that is 80% based on seafood. You shouldn’t resist to try all because it is not only a physical adventure but also a spiritual. The small isle is also the exporter of rare, black pearl: “Formed within the giant black-lipped Pinctada Margaritifera oyster which lives in the lagoons of the Tuamotu islands, the Tahitian black pearls are indigenous to this region. This rare pearl varies in exotic colour from silver green to blue and brown and is a sought after item by celebrities and visitors alike. A jewellery piece made of black pearls can go up to $45,000 in price.” But black pearl is not the only one gem of our Bora Bora, there is also a tasteful coconut and awesome Tahitian gardenia, with its flowers that are beloved on the island. And, when you dive into the deep water, you will find peaceful blacktip reef and Lemon sharks, barracudas and humpback whales.
If you are not in love with this first born heaven, you don’t really know how to live. Bora Bora is a proof that Nature knows how to keep its rare beauties safe and away from the mass tourism and consumption.
Thinking about the inspirational book and the movie “Eat, pray, love”, we all know where we should search for ourselves. Try to be a traveler, globetrotter and not just a tourist. Live through your travels, write your own adventures and simply be that brave, vintage heart that has kissed the whole Earth.
Maeva (maa-e-vah) – welcome !
2 thoughts on “LA ISLA BONITA: NOTHING LIKE THE ISLAND OF BORA BORA”
What a beautiful and inspirational article, Sarah !
I concur with you in that I’ve always found traveling both fascinating and enriching. I’ve always enjoyed the part about mingling with the natives in each place as opposed to sightseeing. To me, exchanging ideas with people from different cultures is the more interesting part of traveling, as it nourishes my soul !
Thank you for your beautiful writing and amazing illustrations, Sarah !
Sarah’s inspirational article reminded me of what the first Europeans who visited Bora Bora would have seen (i.e. very different topography from today)…
The Dutch navigator and explorer Jacob Roggeveen (1659-1729), working for Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC – The Dutch East India Company), first documented The Leward Islands of Polynesia (Bora Bora is one of them) in 1722. He recorded the volcanic isles and coral reefs as ‘Bora Bora’ from the local dialectal expression of ‘Pora pora mai te pora’ (i.e. Created by the gods); ‘pora pora’ meaning ‘first born’.
He did not claim the islands for the Dutch Republic (1581-1795), but there were scientists aboard his vessels and they did document various flora and fauna of Bora Bora: many of these species are now extinct, due to human activities, mostly (e.g. US-military occupation in World War II resulted in environmental damage).
Since 1945, the commercial operations on Bora Bora have impacted upon the delicate terrestrial and marine ecosystems; although, the present government of French Polynesia maintains strict laws on protecting regional biodiversity, etc. Eco-tourism is both popular and supported by the islanders and the authorities.
Nevertheless, there are pressures from significant decreases in rainfall since the year 2000, and increases in development and tourism strain the freshwater resources… Development around lagoons has decreased numbers of specific marine life (e.g. manta rays).
In addition, the negative impacts of human-induced climate change are raising ocean levels and further endangering the flora and fauna of Bora Bora…
Very different from what Jacob Roggeveen observed in 1722…