Bora, Bora. A place so nice they named it twice.
(Sorry, I couldn’t resist).
Bora Bora consists of several islands in the South Pacific, but they might as well be out of this world. If you have the money, you might as well go. There are definitely places cheaper, but this is an island with a stunning lagoon in the middle, out of which are the rocky, broken outcrops of an extinct volcano. It now rises as Mount Booytus and Mount Otemanu in spectacular twin peaks. It may just be the most picturesque island destination on this planet (or any other planets, for that matter).
More importantly there are tons, tons, TONS of fish. Maybe I should have led with that?
But as you may have heard me say in other tropical destinations (like the incredible Staniel Cay in the Bahamas), this is a place full of memories for me that go far beyond fishing. It’s one of the most surreal places to stop and fully appreciate how beautiful our world really is, and how small and fortunate we are to be a part of it. It’s the kind of place you pinch yourself and, at the same time, try not to blink.
I was blessed to visit Bora Bora many years ago with my family. We stayed in these incredible overwater bungalows like you see in movies. As a fisherman, it drove me wild and crazy to be constantly looking at these vibrant fish just swimming through waters so clear I thought I could reach out and grab them. With Jack Johnson’s “In Between Dreams” playing over the speakers, I sat outside the bungalow for hours having some beers with my brothers, catching fish, and feeling the gentle wind on my face.
I caught a bunch of fish by that bungalow, sometimes with my brothers but usually alone. The resort beach is very liberating and, populated by so many European visitors, my brothers were often drawn there to stammer their ways through failed attempts at starting a conversation. Needless to say, I finally got them to come fishing with me…eventually.
We took a boat out in search of wahoo, but we didn’t catch anything. We trolled for a long time, circling the island. It’s worth noting that even without the luck of fishing, the panoramic view circling Bora Bora was well worth the boat rental, in and of itself. It was disappointing to only get one strike and not even bring it to hand, though, and to this day I’ve not caught a single wahoo no matter how many times I’ve fished for them. They are elusive for me.
On our way back, the captain recommended a spot we could jump into the water and swim with sharks. We dropped anchor just off the island, and I stood at the edge of the boat before jumping in. In one direction, endless ocean. Another direction, endless ocean. Behind me, this perfect, fairytale island rising up out of the tropical blue waters, green and rocky, dormant volcano poking defiantly towards the puffs of white clouds scuttling across otherwise empty sky. I took it all in, every bit of it.
And then I jumped into shark-infested waters.
We swam with some black-tipped sharks, lemon sharks, and who knows what other types. It was beyond incredible. I remember feeling a little out of my element but also trusting in the balance of the ecosystem. As dangerous as it was, it felt somehow right. My body rose and fell with the ocean swell; I tasted salt on my lips. And I felt no fear.
We even got my mom to jump in, which I never would’ve predicted. But unfortunately she jumped in right where the deckhand was chumming! Luckily, by the grace of god, no mishaps, and we all got back safe.
Jumping into those waters kind of sums up Bora Bora. There was just a slight edge of wilderness to an otherwise docile, peaceful, and stunning island paradise. There were so many fish all around us, so many that I could practically reach out and touch, but at the same time it was not a fishing trip. It was a trip to swim with sharks and manta rays, a trip to have lobster lunches sitting at a semi-submerged table in 3 feet of water while brilliant blue and purple and red fish zipped through the shallows.
Like most of my tropical resort posts, it was really more about relaxing and appreciating the unreal beauty in our world. It was about family and making memories. I found myself in prayer and constant amazement. And while I don’t know if or when I’ll ever make it back, I would love to take my wife at some point, and the kids too. Like I just said — It’s about family and making memories.