From time to time we all need to REALLY get away from it all. To spend time on our own or with loved ones, relaxed and rested, far away from the distractions of home and work life. The kind of break where you truly don’t have a care in the world. For this issue I’ve looked at some of the most chill-inducing holiday spots, to provide a little inspiration for your next well deserved trip.
Bora Bora French Polynesia
Nestled in the South Pacific, almost as far as you can get from Jersey before you start coming back (before the Geographers start writing in, Dunedin, New Zealand is actually the furthest point, but what’s 5000km between friends?) Bora Bora is the jewel in the crown of French Polynesia.
Around a quarter of the size of our own Island and accessed via an incredibly scenic 45 minute flight from Tahiti, this little piece of paradise is widely considered one of the most romantic and relaxing places on the surface of the earth; at least once us Europeans have recovered from the 30+ hour we journey to get there.
The Island itself is formed from an extinct volcano, surrounded by a sparkling sapphire and indigo blue lagoon, which is in turn encircled by smaller islets, or motus. With two rain forest covered balsatic peaks rising towards fluffy white clouds, this is an Island reminiscent of fairy tales and adventure stories, and it would hardly be surprising to see a pirate ship at full sail rounding the bay, or hear the tick tock of a cartoon crocodile.
The shallow lagoon and scattered motus lend themselves to the most decadent of accommodation, with many resorts offering over-water villas. These most private and luxurious of hotel rooms were first imagined in French Polynesia before being adopted in other idyllic atolls across the world. What could be more dreamy than descending into the crystal clear water directly from your own private sundeck, having room service delivered by outrigger canoe, or watching the marine life going about their business undisturbed, as you observe through a glass floor.
Whilst Bora Bora must surely be high on many a travel bucket list, it seems that not many of us ever make it there, with the remote location and petite size rendering the whole French Polynesian archipelago one of the most secluded in the world. I’m (reasonably) reliably informed that more visitors arrive in Hawaii every 10 days than French Polynesia welcomes in an entire year. Those that do make the journey are well rewarded with picture postcard white sandy beaches, friendly locals, and the finest local seafood.
Activities here are, unsurprisingly, largely water based, with scuba diving, snorkelling and paddle boarding all being popular options. Those whose idea of utter relaxation still includes a little adrenaline can tour the lagoon by jet ski, or hike the main Island, but many opt to do nothing more strenuous than swing in a hammock and let their worries be carried away on the breeze.
It’s hardly going to come as a shock that many visitors to Bora Bora are on Honeymoon, however those who aren’t already in a bubble of love can take advantage of a quaint local custom by wearing a Tahitian Gardenia flower behind their right ear, which marks them out as single and open to flirtation, should the idea of meeting a native and settling down in paradise appeal (and frankly why wouldn’t it? I’m already packing my bags).
Around the other side of this spinning lump of rock we call Earth is the archipelago of 99 Malaysian islands and islets that make up the heavenly Langkawi. Perhaps better known than Bora Bora, and certainly easier to access with regular flights from London via Kuala Lumpur, but no less ideal for a relaxing getaway.
Surrounded by tropical azure seas, the largest Island of Palau Langkawi is around 4 times the size of Jersey, and made up of a lush fertile interior of forest and paddy fields, ringed by palm lined blonde sand beaches.
From beachside bungalows or resort hotels, to more of those picturesque over water villas, the accommodation options in Langkawi are varied, but whether economical or exorbitant, they all share a common theme of peace and tranquility. Who hasn’t dreamt of spending a week or so reclined on a lounger, being soothed into absolute calm by the swishing of palm leaves and chirping of the rich bird life?
If, like me, being close to nature and wildlife contributes to your sense of repose, there is plenty of it around here. Monkeys and flying lemurs occupy the lower forest canopy, whilst the greater mousedeer and malay civet nose through the undergrowth, and over 500 species of butterfly flutter through the air. Overhead, Eagles soar above the jungle-draped valleys, and bats swoop through twilight skies. It’s not just those with wings who can experience a bird’s eye view of Palau Langkawi and its surrounding islands, courageous human visitors can take one of the world’s steepest cable cars (not for the faint hearted) to 700m above sea level, in order to walk the impressive 125m long sky-bridge and admire breathtaking panoramic views of the verdant rainforest, tumbling waterfalls and beautiful coast beyond.
Back at ground level, secluded soft sand beaches are abundant, providing a place for everyone, where hours or days can easily be whiled away, to a soundtrack of gently lapping waves. If a change of scene is required, island hopping boat trips criss-cross the archipelago, transporting happy holidaymakers from one scenic islet to the next, like crossing stepping stones to paradise.
Whilst shopping during a relaxing vacation is some people’s (my) idea of a nightmare, it takes all sorts to make the world go around, and keen consumers can snap up endless duty free bargains in the town of Kuah. Just bear in mind your baggage allowance; there’s nothing that will undo the benefits of a stress-free week like crossing swords with Easyjet on the way back home.