For years my dream had been to go to Bora Bora in French Polynesia. I had photos of that iconic mountain in the turquoise lagoon stuck on a noticeboard on my "someday" office wall. And over those years I ventured to many remote islands in the South Pacific, often working as a volunteer, some only a short plane ride away. Yet, I continued to put Bora Bora off. Why? I was waiting until things were perfect. It is the Capital of Honeymoon: a paradise for lovers young and old. Travelling solo can be exhilarating but lonely at times. Nothing used to accentuate my loneliness more than hanging out on a beach surrounded by couples holding hands. So I had kept putting it off, waiting for some fantasy lover to accompany me on a fantasy trip on some fantasy date in the future. I was also waiting for a pot of gold to show up because as you can probably guess the overwater bungalows swallow cash, cheques, credit cards, and generally have a voracious appetite for any type of wallet or purse.
But in 2015, I came to my senses, and decided to throw out my preconceived notions of how I thought my trip there should be. Wasn’t I attracted to the incredible topography, the alluring waters, and stunning scenery? Surely I could forgo the sex and just enjoy the romance of it all?
The plane, carrying the expensive matching suitcases of others and my well worn backpack touched down on Motu Mute, one of the many islets that ring the lagoon. I walked across the tarmac to the tiny open-air lounge. Ground staff directed us to the awaiting boats. To most, these were simply the shuttles to get them to their chosen resorts, where their vacations would finally commence. To me, this trip was like enjoying a free excursion halfway around the lagoon. The main town, Vaitape, lay on the far side of the island. To get there, our ferry circled the mountainous volcano whose twin peaks of Mount Otemanu and Mount Pahia form the iconic backdrop that is Bora Bora. I couldn’t stop smiling. The only thing I missed was enough words to describe the intoxicating colours of the azure water.
Madame Gloria, who greeted me, spoke such eloquent French I could understand almost every word. She ran Pension Noni, a guest house in Vaitape where each ensuite room included a mini-kitchen. Mine was clean and cool, and although it wasn’t fancy, neither was the rate. Gloria was going to show me how to do Bora Bora on a budget. I circled the island by bicycle, ate from local vendors on the street, got a day pass to enjoy one of the resorts, and swam in the lagoon with manta rays. I managed to stay a week for less than the price of one night in an overwater bungalow. And the best part? I hadn't needed to worry about the stigma of being solo... I'd forgotten the obvious. All the honeymooners were back in their bungalows honeymooning! I had the place to myself. Ha!
Never put off a dream.