If there is one place on earth that is truly paradise, it's Bora Bora.
And on the hottest, most beautiful day of my trip, I wasted more than 90 minutes inside a crowded gift shop, choosing souvenirs. Which tacky set of matching shot glasses would best capture the essence of my trip? I didn't even like shot glasses, but I had to choose something, right? Nope. Take only memories, leave only footprints.
Follow my top 5 tips for eco travel - so you don't have to make the same mistakes I did!
Five Eco Travel Tips
1) Off-Set Your Carbon Footprint
When you book flights online with most airlines, including Air New Zealand, it gives you the option to offset your carbon footprint for just a few dollars. The airline measures carbon emissions produced by the aircraft and calculates the cost of offsetting it through sustainability initiatives like planting trees. It's an easy, inexpensive way to make sure that I'm at least not personally responsible for the degradation of our habitat!
2) Choose Organic Sunscreen
If you're going somewhere hot, especially if you're going to swim in the ocean, organic sunscreen is the way to go. It's great because a) that's fewer nasty chemicals on your body, and b) fewer nasty chemicals seeping into the ocean, harming the marine environment and aquatic life. For example, "gender-bending" chemicals present in some sunscreens actually mimic the effect of oestrogen, and can cause some fish to unnaturally turn into hermaphrodites. Other chemicals released by some sunscreens can increase viral infections in coral reefs, contributing to coral bleaching. It's definitely best to stick to organic, natural sunscreen. You can find out more about the effects of sunscreen on marine life through the Marine Conservation Society via Green People.
3) Minimise Pre-Holiday Purchases
Even though I'm a self-proclaimed minimalist, when I first started planning my Bora Bora trip, I got drawn back into the materialism trap. Of course I'll need to buy a new camera, a waterproof attachment and come to think of it, won't I also need a 4K drone? Plus five new dresses, new flip flops, a different bikini for everyday of the trip... right? Luckily, someone brought to my attention that none of that was going to enhance my trip. I was really going to Tahiti to experience the culture, environment and activities. So I borrowed a video camera, made a DIY Go-Pro floatation device and found some brand new bikini, tags and all, from a thrift store. No one had worn them and they would have otherwise been thrown away. The only new thing I purchased was a snorkel. So coral of the story (yes, pun intended): with a bit of creative thinking, I managed to get everything I needed without buying (almost) anything brand new.
4) Go easy on the bottled water
Some travel destinations like Bora Bora don't have natural water springs, so incredible quantities of bottled water are flown in from other countries. If you're staying for a week like I did, and buy several water bottles per day, that could add up to more than 20 or even 30 bottles over the trip, which is an excessive waste of plastic. Instead, you can bring reusable water bottles like I did, and boil the water each night to prepare for the next day. Alternatively, I know some people like using chlorine tabs to clean the tap water before drinking.
5) Take home memories, not souvenirs
I wasted more than an hour in a gift shop on one of the most stunning days of the trip. Which would be the best souvenir to represent my trip, an oversized foam hibiscus hair clip or an assorted range of island-print table mats? It stressed me out more than I'd like to admit, so I flagged the whole thing. I had wonderful pictures, videos and memories. I'd supported the local economy in plenty of other, non-consumerist ways like food and activities. I didn't need to buy a matching set of shot glasses imported from China and support a consumerist lifestyle. Remember why you've travelled all this way, and go enjoy the beach!
About My Trip
Everything is more beautiful in Tahiti. The water is clearer, the fish are more vibrant, the sunsets are mesmerising. Ever since I learned of of French Polynesia, I've had my sights set on Bora Bora. The other Polynesian Islands looked amazing in travel brochures too, but nothing could deter me from Bora Bora. And I'll tell you what, it was worth it.
Day 1: Jet Skiing, Snorkling, and Romantic Dinner.
Day 2: Kayaking, hiring a buggy to drive the entire way around the Island, and traditional dancing show.
Day 3: Snorkling, ATV excursion and Star-Gazing Tour.
Day 4: Traditional Massages, and Fire Dancing Show (and I got to join in!). We stayed for a whole week, and there was never a moment of boredom. There is so much to do, and yet it's always chilled out. We were running late to a Jet Ski excursion one day so after running onto the location sweating and panting, the local tour guide said "Woah - relax, this is Bora Bora baby!" It sure contrasts living in a hectic city at home! There was also plenty of time to lay on the beach, read books, swim, eat, explore local culture and relax. If Bora Bora is not on your current travel wish-list, you better jot it down and bump it straight to the top!
My Travel Video
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