Travel Obsession: Still Thinking About Paradise and the South Pacific


So a few months ago I wrote about my obsession with the South Pacific and while I’ve never visited, it remains a place I think of often. Well lately it seems as if the universe is conspiring against me and wants to only add fuel to this obsession of mine.

I love The Amazing Race, the game show that follows contestants around the world as they tackle new challenges. Well the first location they visited this season was Tahiti, Bora Bora to be exact, where they did everything I’ve always wanted to do. Stay in a hut hovering over the turquoise blue water, relaxing on the sandy beaches and even skydive over the atoll. Since then it’s only gone downhill.

Bali Hai keeps coming up on my iPod shuffle, friends have all seemed to visit and post an obnoxious number of photos of their trips on Facebook, I even consider seeing a coconut as a sign that the universe is giving me the proverbial middle finger saying “I know how much you want to go there, but I’m not going to let you, not quite yet.”

A few months ago I won a $2,000 hotel gift certificate and I thought I had finally found a way to visit my idea of paradise in Tahiti or Fiji. Then I looked at the hotel prices. Then the flight costs. Then my bank account. Not even that generous gift certificate could fulfill my dreams. And here’s the kicker, I don’t know why I’m even lusting after these places in the first place.

As best as I can figure it all stems from reading Michener’s Hawaii and Tales from the South Pacific when I was ten. Ever since then I’ve been obsessed with this seemingly idyllic part of the world. Then I read Tony Horwitz’s book Blue Latitudes, which details what it’s like to travel around French Polynesia today. The realities of the islands are a little stark but not even that dissuaded me. But I didn’t think about it every day either, it was just a nagging desire. Until lately.

I don’t know what it is, but I feel an almost primal need to visit the South Pacific. It’s not for want of a beach; I’ve been to some pretty nice ones lately. It’s not for warm water, palm trees or even a fancy hotel room – done, done and done. No, the obsession isn’t entirely rational, but it is there nonetheless. The last straw was last night when I actually dreamt of traveling to the island, the latest barrage in my internal war. So I decided to gush here and to seek your thoughts, what is it about certain places that they just grip onto our imaginations and absolutely refuse to let go? What place has done this to you?

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

11 thoughts on “Travel Obsession: Still Thinking About Paradise and the South Pacific”

  1. The place that does that to me is London, England. When I was 5 I saw a picture of London and told my mom I wanted to go there. I grew up focused on going to London, being that the main reason why I speak English today. Ten years ago I was landing in London for an 8 month period of studying English and living in the city. I knew nobody and my English was poor, but it just felt like home and I didn’t want to leave. It took my 7 years to go back and this year (after 3 years from the last time) I am going back again and the place continues to amaze me and make me more and more obsessed with it.

    In Brazil we tend to say such obsessions happen because in other lives (if you believe in that kind of thing) you had a connection with that place. What I would say is: plan to make it happen, it is worth it and it feels like you lifted a huge weight off your back!

  2. For me, it’s always looking at photos. I see a fantastic image (like the your first one!) and end up completely fixated with that place. It happened for me with Angkor Wat and I expected to be disappointed when I visited but thankfully it fulfilled all my expectations!

  3. Great way of explaining the unreasonable lust for needing to see a dreamy location. The same thing happened to me when flying over the Bahamas on my way back from my first trip to the Caribbean. I enjoy watercolor painting, especially ocean scenes, and the water literally looked like an artist had swirled the paint around in various shades of sky blue, indigo, & aquamarine. I had to ask the airline personnel what we were flying over, her answer was the beginning of my obsession – the Bahamas. Someday…

  4. Shhhhh….. Rarotonga in the Cook Islands….. Direct flights from LAX or New Zealand…. Quiet, simple, stunning…. Shhhhh….. Best kept secret in the South Pacific

  5. Mat, I hear you buddy!
    It’s funny how places creep up on you and begin flooding your mind.
    The desire just burns deeper and deeper until you finally snap and start planning.
    Did you get the strange sensation that the South Pacific was everywhere you looked? Like the world is trying to tell you something by sending out signs here there & everywhere? It MUST mean it’s fate, right? Haha :) Having open eyes & earns to anything destination related made it feel like these places were almost calling for me. Happened with Iceland and until I finally got there I swear each and every media output was flooded with all things Reykjavik.

    More recently my ‘signs’ are pointing to South America & I can feel Antarctica starting to bubble.
    I hope you eventually make it out there! There’s some pretty fantastic places to see.
    Happy travels! -Ash

  6. I want to badly, desperately go to Italy… Plays like a loop in my head like the Savage Garden song – truly, madly, deeply.
    I live in Sri Lanka though, all this way on the other side of the world, but Italy as the heart of renaissance has always captured my mind, ever since uni days. Hopefully some day soon…

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