Don’t hate me. I got to spend my birthday in Bora Bora.
James Mitchener said that Bora Bora was “the most beautiful island in the world.” I was skeptical. You see, I’m a travel writer, and I’ve had the opportunity to visit many, many stunning tropical destinations. So, what better way to see if Mitchener was telling the truth than to schedule my own Bora Bora birthday bash? A few weeks of research, contacting tourism boards and hotels, and I was off to the beach.
Plopped smack in the middle of the South Seas, Bora Bora conjures up fantasy-like images of exotic palm-fringed, sugar-sand beaches and bungalows that hover over a crystal aqua lagoon. I was not disappointed.
As I disembarked from my small plane, I was welcomed by a representative from the Bora Bora Pearl Resort with a fresh flower lei and escorted to a private boat to take me to the resort. And what a resort! The Pearl is the most authentically Polynesian resort on Bora Bora.
My private overwater bungalow was spectacular. I had a view across the lagoon to the looming volcanic Mt. Otemanu; steps from the bungalow led into the four-foot deep, crystal clear lagoon where I could snorkel among the coral and myriad tropical fish any time of day; there was even a glass floor under the coffee table where I could observe sea life passing by!
On the morning of my birthday, I set off for a full-day snorkeling excursion arranged by the Tahiti Tourism Board. First stop, snorkeling with stingrays. It was a thrill to be able to get so close and even touch these velvety, graceful creatures.
After spending some time snorkeling at the colorful Coral Garden reef, we arrived at my most anticipated event of the day – feeding the sharks. That phrase alone is enough to invoke waves of terror for some. The shallow water near the reef will bring the intrepid traveler face-to-face with a bevy of blacktip reef sharks. While it sounds scary, the blacktip is docile and it is not unusual for them to swim fairly close to snorkelers. The actual feeding is done by an experienced guide and it was quite a sight to see the sharks all vying for the offered goodies.
After a picnic on one of the deserted motu – tiny islets ringing the main island – it was back to my bungalow to regroup and refresh before my evening event – an enormous buffet dinner and traditional Polynesian dance show complete with fierce warriors and grass-skirted locals. As “luck” would have it, I was chosen at the end to do the tamure – the exotic, athletic Tahitian hip-shaking hula. Shhhhh! I’ll share my secret… simply get yourself seated in the front and make eye contact when they begin “scouting” for participants.
Okay, I’ll admit it. Bora Bora IS the most beautiful island in the world – so far. But I’m far from finished scouting.
This was one of my most memorable birthdays. And did I mention that all of the above were either free or heavily discounted? By obtaining three letters of assignment, I was able to convince the tourism board and resort that they would get a good return on their investment. Now that I’m home, I have to make good on my promise. One of my Bora Bora articles is set for publishing next week and the other two are in the works.
And there will be more. In addition to Bora Bora, I also visited the French Polynesian islands of Tahiti and Moorea.
Wouldn’t it be great to spend every birthday in an exotic destination? Well, as a travel writer, I can. And I will!