By Alesandra Dubin · August 2022
When my then-new husband and I honeymooned in Bora Bora, devouring every sparkle of crystalline lagoon water like it was our last meal on earth, we only saw other honeymooners in our midst.
The world was only made up of loved-up young people unblemished (physically or mentally) by children, wasn’t it? At least, that was how it seemed through our myopic newlywed filter. We fell so in love with this ethereal French Polynesian paradise that we vowed to return for our 10th wedding anniversary, which seemed another lifetime away.
Flash forward 12 years and two kids, and we finally made it back. By this point, my seven-year-old twins, Jordan and Maya, were plenty accustomed to world travel. As the lucky offspring of travel-loving parents, they’ve visited corners of the globe from Mexico to Morocco, Costa Rica to Croatia. They’ve become pros at traveling, with a global, cultural and geographical awareness that seems far beyond their years.
But what they’re not is serene. Or static. They’re constantly in motion, with a knack for shattering the calm in any environment they enter. So how would my rough-and-tumble kiddos – strangers to the concept of an inside voice – fare in this honeymooners’ paradise? And how would Bora Bora and its peace-seeking holidaymakers greet them?
Swimmingly, as it turns out. In fact, we learned the South Pacific island is actually an ideal location for a dream trip for the whole family.
Now water-safe, Jordan and Maya were the perfect age to indulge in the island’s signature lodging: the overwater bungalow. We jumped off our deck over and over again into the lagoon, teeming with fish and rays. (Fearless Maya showboated for a few days before finally convincing her brother to take the plunge, too — then cheered him on vociferously.) We splashed, we floated, we chased each other in circles around the stilts, and we waved to each other through the windows in the floor.
As a family, we kayaked, paddle boarded, snorkeled, and swam in the infinity pool and the sea, wading out multiple times to the sandbar that doubled as a Robinson Crusoe-like dreamscape for pretend play. We washed down croissants and crepes with ice-cold coconut milk and tropical smoothies.
When it was time for my husband and me to enjoy beverages more adult in nature, my kids hauled off to the resort kids’ club. I hadn’t noticed in my newlywed haze just how accommodating this magical island can be for kids. But here, kids aren’t verboten; they’re graciously accommodated. As a group, they scoured the beach for hermit crabs and then raced them against each other. The staff organized fishing trips, pareo-dying projects, nature treasure hunts, and seashell necklace crafts.
Maya’s tooth had been loose for weeks and she worried that, if she lost it on vacation, the tooth fairy might not be able to find her. Indeed, that tooth finally gave up its tenuous hold just as she donned her snorkel mask. But lest the tooth fairy miss her on this remote speck of sand, the kids club team lovingly collected it in tissue paper so the tooth fairy could make a special delivery (in Pacific francs) to our bungalow that night.
All along, Jordan and Maya bonded with new friends from around the world – a five-year-old boy named Conrad of Greek and British parents just learning to swim and an eight-year-old girl from Canada named Chloe who developed a new love for snorkeling. In the evenings, the kids all played together on the beach as the parents, now new friends too, dined al fresco as the sun set.
It turns out the lagoon-encircled ancient volcanic island is a dream at any stage of life — even when the company you keep is louder, messier, and more demanding of snacks.
After a week in Bora Bora, I know my kids felt the same thing my husband and I did on our honeymoon those 12 years before: that Bora Bora is the most spectacularly beautiful, relaxing, and just plain fun corner of the planet. No matter how many places on earth we visit, we’ll always dream of going back.
Image Credit: Alesandra Dubin