This Friday I wanted to celebrate as I just reached 100 followers and over 3,000 visits on a Wandering Memory (in under 2 months), and as such am reblogging my most popular blog post about our magical visit to Bora Bora – Thank you so much for all your support with the blog – I love reading all of yours and hope my posts can inspire you to visit and create wandering memories of your own… Thank you so much! David (p.s. sorry if you have already read this)
Since we have traveled a substantial amount, many people ask the question where is your favorite place? This question to any traveler is very difficult to answer, should I say:
- The most beautiful place?
- The most adventurous?
- The place with the most variety?
- The cultural significance?
- The most amazing people?
It’s just impossible to answer…
Especially as every location and experience brings something new to the wandering memory collection. I have however, found that the majority of people who ask that age-old question, really they want to hear the most beautiful place we have visited. Again, even this increased specification is a struggle, as what is considered beautiful by me is not necessarily beautiful to someone else. What I have found, through many years of answering this question, is that, you can never go wrong with a beautiful sea and/or beach.
Iconic in American circles, the pacific island chain of French Polynesia has its undisputed crowning glory, named Bora Bora. Depicted in many a work of literature and film royalty, Bora Bora has been consistently referred to as ‘paradise on earth’. Where better to take my girlfriend in order to propose she spend the rest of her life with me?
The French Polynesian island of Tahiti is the central hub of the islands and lies a couple of hours flight from this paradise island. When the island came into view from the air, it is as breath-taking as its legacy. The extinct volcano summit peers through the light cloud formations, covered in lush green tropical forest and surrounded by the most idyllic golden sand and crystal clear water.The site alone was enough to change moods, and create excitement. Upon the planes decent, the mystical lagoon appeared, glimmering a transfixing turquoise colour as the sun beat down on it. Then we could make out the hotels, not the high-rises of Hawaii or the mammoth hotel chains of the Caribbean, but subtle, spread out formations, mostly only a few stories high. These hotels branched off into the lagoon, giving a home to the iconic, stilted, lagoon villas.
This was it, only a few places in the world have ever had such an effect on me, and I knew even before landing that this was the place I would ask my beautiful girl to marry me. As the island runway was on the sand barrier hence not connected to the main island, a speed boat transfer was essential. We were met by private transfer, to take us directly to our resort, not before providing us with our ceremonious welcome with Polynesian leis (flower necklaces).
We had booked modestly, and by modestly I mean the majority of hotels had price’s ranging into the tens of thousands a night. We chose the Intercontinental Le Moana Resort, located on the main island overlooking the lagoon. Whilst researching, I had found that its sister resort, the Thalasso Spa, along with other iconic resorts such as the St Regis and Four Seasons were all significantly higher in price, and all based on the sand barrier of the lagoon. Initially I wanted to stay in them, as they are renowned and reviewed as being the most luxurious and best on the island. The interesting thing was actually the difference in view, as from the sand barrier was directly opposite the volcano, you could awaken to both the lagoon and the island – and what a view that is! As alluded to earlier, price ranges of these hotels were in the thousands ($) for a single night for just the basic room, unfortunately our budget definitely didn’t stretch that far…
The Intercontinental Le Moana offered everything we would ever need and more, an iconic sunrise lagoon villa stretching out into the crystal blue, green and turquoise sparkling lagoon. The Island did not disappoint, it was glorious and no words I can use would accurately do it justice. It is truly the island of dreams…
The golden sand beach runs along the shore for miles, with the entrance to the lagoon villas to the left of the resort, along a long wooden boardwalk. Our villa was towards the end of the boardwalk, and was beautiful, large in size with its own private balcony and boat dock. While Megan took the opportunity to bathe, I rushed to the shop to buy a pair of Polynesian pearl earrings, which I alluded to booking a few dives instead. The villa’s additional selling point was in the centre piece – a glass table that opened up to the below lagoon and allowed us to feed the fish in the artificial coral block below. Just another fantastic touch to an amazing hotel experience. From the boat dock, you could literally step into the warm crystal clear lagoon and swim, snorkel or just bathe in these magical waters. A clear night was soon upon us, where we were transfixed by the peaceful cloudless star filled sky, privileged to witness the occasional shooting star. We slept, that night with just the sound of the small waves in the lagoon lapping up against the stints of the villa.
I booked a Polynesian show, dinner and planned a romantic walk for the following day, after a day of diving. The dives were nearly as wow as the villa, and at that point in my diving experience, the best I had ever done, sharks, rays, turtles, tropical fish galore and of course the clarity was just sensational. It wasn’t a surprise that this island never failed to deliver, and I remember thinking what a ‘perfect place to get engaged’.
As evening approached, we dressed in the finest clothes and walked down the boardwalk to the Polynesian show and buffet. I remember it as if it was yesterday, firstly the food was awful, dry and flavourless. Even the ‘locally caught’ fish was bland and very uninspiring. This was shocking, as the seafood throughout the Polynesian islands was up to this point amazing. I suppose with such high expectations from the paradise island and a retail of $100 each, the food should have been better.
The uninspiring food, was then followed by the traditional French Polynesian show, this must be better right? Well that’s where you’d be wrong… we were seated in a partial view, however that wasn’t the worst part. I keep referring to the show as traditional right? Well it really wasn’t it was a couple of staff wearing what looked like ‘tutus’, literally shaking their arses! That was it… What a complete waste of time and money, especially on this one-off night. Why was it all going wrong?
As awful as it was, the island was relentless in its inspiration as Megan and I returned to our villa after a romantic beach walk. We laughed and joked all the way back, reflecting on our appalling evening. Whilst sitting on our dock, paddling our feet in the warm waters of the lagoon, looking at the stars, it all clicked. It was us, it was a better memory because everything went wrong, let’s do this!
Even since, there is very few places in the world that have inspired and stunned me as this island had. Whilst reflecting my wife and I still think of Bora Bora, even to this day, it’s in our dreams, its part of our inspiration and hope one day we will be able to revisit.
More information on this paradise island can be found here and just a note to say not all shows on the island are like the one we witnessed, I think we just had a bad day!