Bora Bora
Bora Bora

Bora Bora is situated approximately 140 miles (225km) northwest of Tahiti, in the western Leeward group of the Society islands of French Polynesia. It is a rugged, volcanic, mountainous island featuring a large lagoon surrounded by beautiful coral reefs and islets. In the Tahitian language, the pronunciation is closer to Pora Pora, and is commonly translated to mean “first born”.

History of Bora Bora

Bora Bora was first occupied by Polynesian traders and colonists in the fourth century. In 1722, Dutch explorer Jakob Roggeveen made the first European sighting, but a European would not land on the island until James Cook in 1770. Bora Bora remained an independent kingdom until annexed by the French in 1888.

South Pacific Island Map
South Pacific Island Map – Bora Bora is tot eh centre right in French Polynesia

During World War Two, the island served as a military supply base for the United States. During “Operation Bobcat”, military construction on the island included an airstrip, oil depot, and naval fortifications. After the war, the small airfield would remain the only international airport in all of French Polynesia until 1960.

In 2004, all of the French Polynesia islands were granted limited autonomy and citizenship, but would remain under French administration and legal jurisdiction.
The permanent population of Bora Bora is quite small, with less than 9000 residents as of 2008. The majority of residents live in Vaitape, found on the western edge of the main island. Tupai, the largest atoll, has a number of coconut plantation workers, but no permanent population. While French is the official language, Tahitian is commonly spoken.

Topography

The island of Bora Bora with its spectacular lagoon and beautiful coral reefs is just 11.8 square miles (29 sq. km) in size. Volcanic in origin, the island is mountainous and jagged, with bare black rock on the higher points. Centered in the island are the remains of an extinct volcano, split into two distinct black stone peaks, Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu. Pahia is the shorter of the pair, at 2,165 feet (660m), while Otemanu tops out at 2,379 feet (725m).

Bora Bora Map
Bora Bora Map

Flora and Fauna

Despite its volcanic origins, there is an abundance of tropical trees, plants and flowers. Common varieties include coconut palms, orange trees, and vanilla plants. The popular noni, a tropical evergreen known for its edible fruit, is abundant.

There are no native mammals on Bora Bora due to its volcanic past. However, due to human activity, there are several non-native species on the island. Cows, horses, and sheep are common, as are dogs and cats.

In contrast, there are numerous species of birds found on the island. Black-winged Petrels, Pacific Swallow, and the White Tern are regularly seen. Many other species that are frequently encountered throughout French Polynesia will also be recognized on Bora Bora.
Marine life abounds around in the waters of Bora Bora. Numerous fish species are encountered, including red snapper, jackfish, and lemon sharks. Sea turtles, dolphins, and migrating humpback whales are frequently spotted. Due to the ample marine plankton around Bora Bora, the island is world-famous for the abundant population of ray species, including leopard, eagle and the huge Manta Ray.

When to visit Bora Bora

The Polynesian summer months, November to April, are often hot and humid. The average temperature during the summer reaches 85 degrees, and the average rainfall is over 10 inches a month. Winter in Bora Bora is slightly cooler, but much drier, with less than 4 inches of monthly precipitation.

How to get to Bora Bora

Getting to Bora Bora is relatively easy due to its popularity as a tourist destination. You must firstly fly into Tahiti’s Faa’a International Airport; the only international airport in French Polynesia.

Bora Bora is about 140 miles (225km) northwest of Tahiti. You can fly into Bora Bora airport from Papeete. The airport is situated on Motu Mete; a northern islet of the main island of Bora Bora. From the airport, it is necessary to travel by boat in order to get to the main island or resorts on smaller surrounding islands.

aerial-view-of-bora-bora

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bora-bora-beach

bora-bora-french-polynesia

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37 COMMENTS

  1. I am doing a bit of research on places to take my soon to be wife after we are married. Her sister recommended Bora Bora. I was looking at other places on the site as well. I am glad to have all this information in one spot! Going to share your site on Facebook actually. Great shots of the area too! This place looks great! I may have found the winner 🙂

  2. i wish I could visit bora bora but clearly my parents said no, I would have been there 5 months if I had the chance but unfortunately I couldn’t go. but this website is key to delivering information to those who need it!

  3. Hi im a 8th grader doing a big project on Bora Bora and this website is really helpful so thanks

  4. I am on Bora Bora now. Bucket List 50th Birthday. Words can not describe how incredible it is! Advice? Just do it! I am solo here and having a great experience.

  5. Hello, I am a sixth grader doing a Pre AP English project about a beautiful place and using ‘Advertising Techniques’. I decided to do Bora Bora as my beautiful place.I have to say, this source really helped me finish quicker, but i wish it would give more ‘Intresting Facts’ rather than ‘History’.

  6. This site helped me a lot, because it informed me about all the different things about Bora Bora and include this information on my project.

    • “Once upon a time there was a girl, traveling almost a day and a half to celebrate her 30th birthday in Bora Bora. ” – start there 7th grader!

  7. Hey guys im a freshman doing research on Bora Bora for my photography and photoshop class. I mean thanks for the info but all i needed was the pictures lmao! I feel so stupid writing this right now. If you guys need me to photoshop something for you guys I’m here feel free to ask!

  8. Roughly how much would it cost to stay in bora bora for about a week? I know it’s a lot but realistically, how much. Any help would be appreciated

  9. I just got back from Bora Bora and thought I would add some info.
    Eddy – Bora Bora is expensive but worth it. If you stay in an overwater bungalow, it was about $1000 (US) per night. Food is crazy expensive as well. A cheeseburger at our resort was $33 and dinner for my wife and I averaged about $100+.
    The Bora Bora locals are proud to have grown up there and very friendly. One of our guides said that since the mid 80’s, no one is born on Bora Bora anymore due to a change in laws requiring mothers to give birth on islands with hospitals that have surgical facilities, which Bora Bora does not have.
    As someone who has been here, it is amazing. My wife was just looking at pictures and she said that our pictures look “fake” as they just too beautiful.
    Bora Bora is a bucket list place to visit but it is best appreciated when most people are older. Activities are limited, most places close early on the main island, and even the resorts are pretty quiet. I wouldn’t have appreciated this place if I visited in my 20’s. Bora Bora is the place you go to when you want to just chill on a beach or your deck and stare at the mountain or the water. It is a place of peace and one of the best locations in the world to truly relax, forget about work, read a book next to the person you love and think about just how lucky you are.

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