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Published: November 6th 2018
My second stop was an island called Maupiti - they call it Bora Bora's little sister, as it's a neighbor island with a similar (smaller) size/shape. It's also described as Bora Bora from 50 years ago - before the resorts/tourists arrived. The residents of the island watched how Bora Bora changed over time, and decided it wouldn't happen to their island, so have collectively decided not to allow tourist development. As a visitor, you can stay in one of a handful of homestays or a few places with a couple of beach huts. There are a few restaurants and a couple of small shops, most homestays include at least breakfast/dinner with your stay. In my trip planning, this sounded perfect to me, and I spent longer here than any other island.
It was absolutely beautiful. You can swim with manta rays, walk across sand bars to tiny islands (motus), snorkel endlessly...and the people are incredibly welcoming. The first night after dinner, the mother of the house I was staying in clapped her hands and said (in French) "now we go to the dance!". I was confused and assumed I was translating inaccurately...but we piled into their pickup truck and went
to a community center were people from different villages were playing music and doing dance performances for one another - it was lovely. A few things did make reality a bit more challenging than the paradise I'd conjured up in my head - these things can be summed up as weather, a delayed supply ship (only comes once/month and was late due to weather...so stores/restaurants were closed most of the time), coconut rats (yes, these are a thing), and the previously unknown fact that marijuana is grown around the island...which isn't obvious or directly a problem, but there were some odd moments where people were clearly watching me and I didn't realize until later that they were probably trying to protect their crops. It was definitely an unforgettable and unique place/experience.
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