For my 60th birthday, I treated myself to a trip to Bora Bora, located in the Society Islands archipelago of French Polynesia. I gathered my close friends of more than three decades to help me celebrate in style.

Though I have traveled to seven continents and more than 60 countries, Bora Bora is the most heavenly location I have visited. The warm seawater glitters with multiple hues of blue, yet is clear to a remarkable depth, revealing tropical fish of an astonishing array of shapes and colors. The snorkeling is superlative, and I imagine the diving is, as well. The floral aroma seemed to trail us wherever we went. Our favorite was the tiare blossom, sometimes referred to as the Tahitian gardenia, which is captured in many products for sale around the island.

Several locals told me that everyone is related in Bora Bora. Attitudes towards sex are relaxed. Women may signal their availability with the placement of flowers behind their ears. Many children are born out of wedlock and are accepted into expansive families. Transgender people are not uncommon. Meaningful tattoos adorn the bodies of a large number of the locals. The laidback island mentality, thankfully, is contagious.

A locals-led lagoon tour will increase one’s chances of finding the huge manta rays, dramatic black-tipped sharks and aptly named yellow-tinged lemon sharks. Family-owned Lagoonarium is a personal favorite, filled with laughter and ukulele tunes. The Polynesian lunch served was copious and delicious, as well. Fresh fish marinated in coconut milk was found on most menus, including Lagoonarium’s, along with an array of seafood dishes.

Because we arrived a day before our rental was available, I sprung for a night at the Tony Conrad resort. It did not disappoint. Upon learning it was a milestone birthday, the staff upgraded us to a posh overwater villa with the most enormous round tub I have ever seen. They brought me a birthday cake and personally inscribed birthday cards. My friends treated me to a pricey spa treatment at the expensive spa overlooking the property, and some gorgeous local South Sea pearl earrings. I felt suitably pampered and celebrated.

The Conrad’s grounds are immaculately groomed, and the amenities are top quality. There is an attractive infinity pool and complimentary bicycles, snorkeling equipment, stand-up paddleboards and kayaks. Three top-notch restaurants are available, as is a Polynesian dance show, complete with fire dances. For those who cannot or do not want to pay top dollar for the Conrad or the other luxury resorts, one can buy a day pass to enjoy many of its amenities.

We enjoyed spa services at the fancy Intercontinental Bora Bora Resort Thalasso Spa for a day, which opened up the use of the extensive grounds. The spa is large. It boasts several private jacuzzi areas, a meditation room, cold plunge pools, a sauna and more. My favorite feature is the glass floor enabling tropical fish viewing during massages.

We spent the rest of our vacation at a private overwater bungalow that formerly belonged to Marlon Brando, who fell in love with the island while filming the 1962 movie, “Mutiny on the Bounty.” He also fell in love with and married Tarita Teri’ipaia, an actress of French Polynesian and Chinese descent, who also was in the film.

Waking up surrounded by the cerulean blue sea was a superlative experience. The two-bedroom, traditionally decorated house came with an optional rental car, which came in handy for traversing the 19-mile road that encircled the island.

Remarkably, there is the only large sandy beach on the island, Matira Beach. It has several restaurants and good snorkeling. The pleasant enclave is frequented by large local families, as well as travelers.

We took advantage of most of the guidebooks’ recommendations, including every highlighted restaurant. Our favorites had water views, like the Bora Bora Beach Club, the Bora Bora Yacht Club and the St. James. Though the island essentially shuts down early in the evenings, the band and bar area at Bloody Mary’s can be raucous fun.

The snorkeling around the island, including at the lovely coral gardens, was a highlight of our trip. We saw large, fierce-looking moray eels, Star Wars-reminiscent sting rays, thankfully uninterested sharks and schools of colorful fish. It was otherworldly.

Yes, Bora Bora is expensive. I can attest, though, that it is worth it. One must fly through Tahiti to get to Bora Bora, which is also a beautiful destination.

The people of French Polynesia appear happy, laid back, and welcoming. Their typical greeting is a sing-song like “ia orana.” French is widely spoken, and the majority of travelers we encountered were French, as Bora Bora is a French territory. This South Pacific paradise is a magical place to visit. You won’t want to leave.