Into the Blue


Editor’s note: For an added experience, play Claire’s Into The Blue while reading the story.

Traveling to exotic places can be both exciting and challenging, and having Type 1 diabetes should not stop you from experiencing amazing adventures while traveling.

I recently visited Bora Bora in the islands of French Polynesia, where almost all of the activities are water-based . This can sometimes pose a problem, but it doesn’t have to.

One of my favorite activities in Bora Bora is riding a wave runner around the island. It is an hour long trip. Before starting out, I make sure to check my blood and remove my pump, and there is a convenient compartment to store your pump in a freezer bag. I always bring plenty of glucose tabs and I usually pack a soda, just in case. If I am already on the lower side, I might eat half of a protein bar to keep my blood sugars level while speeding through the clear blue water.

Swimming with sharks, sting rays and Morey eels are just some of the undersea creatures that you can observe while in Bora Bora. The water is so clear that you almost don’t need a mask to see all of the sea life. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world, truly paradise.

The food is great too and all menus have fresh fish and sushi. There were many options that are positive choices for people with type 1 diabetes. I lean toward sashimi and fresh vegetables. Occasionally, as a treat, I would have coconut bread or a homemade chocolate chip cookie (if my blood sugar was below 150). For breakfast, I would have poached eggs and fruit, which really helped keep my blood sugars level throughout the day. Everyday by the pool, they pass out tiny tasters of their fresh smoothies, which was the perfect portion size for me without giving me a spike in blood sugar level.

As an extra treat, we visited Kona, Hawaii on our way back home. While looking for dolphins, we stumbled upon the very rare whale shark. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to get in the water with this massive yet gentle creature. I once again checked my blood sugar level and removed my pump and dove in the water with the rest of our group. Having type 1 diabetes would never stop me from having this special experience.

As with any time you are traveling, always bring extra shots if you are on a pump in case you get the dreaded “button error”. It seems that the pump always malfunctions when you are in the most inconvenient place, especially a deserted island in paradise.

Read more from Claire: a retrospective on Cochella or on moving into college, Diabetic in the Dorm.

WRITTEN BY Claire Nordstrom, POSTED 08/07/15, UPDATED 09/19/22

Claire was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in May of 2011. She currently attends the University of Southern California and loves the ocean, playing beach volleyball, skiing, hanging out with her family and traveling. Since being diagnosed, Claire has been very open about her condition and has tried to support others with type 1. She stays healthy by eating right and being active. Claire is a classically trained vocalist and songwriter who also plays ukulele. When she was 13, she got to sing the National Anthem at a Seattle Seahawks game! Her music can be found on iTunes and