Bora Bora is call­ing

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - JES­SICA PALMER

I feel the ten­sion drain from my shoul­ders be­fore the plane even touches down. Bora Bora is a 45-minute flight from Papeete, and 30 min­utes in I am blessed with breath­tak­ing views of its ex­tinct vol­canic peaks, shel­tered la­goon and smat­ter­ing of white-fringed co­ral islets.

The plane lands on one of the small islets that forms a ring around the la­goon. A boat trans­fer is re­quired to reach the main­land or any of the glam­orous re­sorts.

The road is vir­tu­ally flat, so hir­ing a push­bike is on the agenda. The water is aqua­ma­rine, the sky a bril­liant blue and the is­land is blan­keted in lush green­ery. I pedal past wav­ing lo­cals, marvel at their beach­side shacks, and am hum­bled by the in­no­cence of young chil­dren as I ob­serve their good-na­tured ban­ter.

I pass some boys, not quite young men, walk­ing home bare­foot. One is car­ry­ing a chicken and the other lad is lug­ging a sim­ple fish­ing rod and bucket. I as­sume they have suc­cess­fully taken care of din­ner for tonight.

Sud­denly, I long to live in a place where chil­dren are free and safe to roam with such in­no­cence; a place where young boys and girls are per­fectly ca­pa­ble of catch­ing din­ner, and sur­viv­ing a whole day with­out some kind of elec­tronic de­vice.

Visi­tors come to this beau­ti­ful is­land and mostly see just lux­ury re­sorts, but be­hind the scenes is a won­der­fully self-suf­fi­cient com­mu­nity. Do they see it this way? Do they know this is heaven on earth?

Words can’t de­scribe how beau­ti­ful Bora Bora re­ally is. What I can as­sure you is that the post­cards are not a lie. I know be­fore I have to leave that I have been “cursed” by Bora Bora. A curse be­cause no other des­ti­na­tion will com­pare, in­clud­ing my own home.

I’m not talk­ing about lux­ury, as that can be bought any­where. I’m talk­ing about the breath­tak­ing way the la­goon flit­ters be­tween shades of aqua­ma­rine and deep blue, colours I didn’t know could be so bright and rich, and the way the pre­his­toric vol­cano rises dra­mat­i­cally out of the sea and is sur­rounded by jun­gle.

I’m talk­ing about breath­ing in fresh air un­tainted by pol­lu­tion, and the white surf that is thrown up on the hori­zon where the force of the ocean meets the calm la­goon.

Yes, Bora Bora is a beau­ti­ful curse, for­ever call­ing my name.

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