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Lagoon of Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora Overview

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Located in the heart of the South Pacific is the small coral island of Bora Bora. The island is 11.3 square miles and lies about 140 miles northwest of Tahiti. Bora Bora hosts an extinct volcano with two peaks with the tallest one reaching 2,385. There are lush green peaks that slope down into the crystal clear lagoon and majestic barrier reef that surrounds the majority of the island. This reef provides the perfect conditions for viewing aquatic wildlife.

Bora Bora is quite small and visitors can travel around the island via car in about an hour. The lagoon surrounding the island is about three times the landmass of the island itself. The majority of the island’s inhabitants live in Vaitape on the western side of the island.

Bora Bora Weather

Bora Bora has a tropical climate that can be divided into wet and dry seasons. The wet season is from November to April with heavy humidity and a lot of cloud cover. While the wet season is generally considered the off season for tourism, many tourists prefer it because the island is far less crowded than other times of the year. The dry season, which runs May through October is the optimal weather for vacationing in Bora Bora. The dry season is the best time to go scuba diving because that is when the water has the most visibility.

There are trade winds year round in Tahiti Polynesia. The winds are for most part a light breeze that picks up later in the day and is mostly welcomed by tourists. The trade winds during the wet season can be stronger and a windbreaker is suggested.

Wildlife-rich Bora Bora

During your Bora Bora travel you will encounter a burgeoning wildlife population that is unlike any other. Bora Bora is a dormant volcano, which means that it rose out of the middle of the ocean millenniums ago and all of its wildlife has migrated to the island over the past few centuries. The few mammals that inhabit the island were brought over on ships by early inhabitants, including Bora Bora's healthy dog population. Most of the dogs do not have owners but roam the streets and coexist peacefully with the people and tourists on the island. There is a large number of exotic bird species, which the government of Polynesia has put protection on to ensure their healthy future.

Bora Bora has an incredible variety of marine life. Crabs roam the shores of the island while sea turtles, dolphins, and humpback whales tour the seas. It is claimed that there are nearly 500 different species of fish swimming around the Tahitian islands.

Bora Bora is exceptional in that it hosts the perfect conditions for a variety of manta rays to flourish. Snorkelers and scuba divers can easily spot the Gray ray and can even pet the species during the "ray feeding." Your Bora Bora cruise will also provide you with the opportunity to watch professional divers feed reef sharks that grow up to five feet long.

Deep-sea fishing is a popular attraction on Bora Bora. With a wide variety and an abundance of fish that life off the island, anglers are rarely disappointed. Fishing trips usually yield Marlin, Yellow fin tuna, sailfish, wahoo and mahi mahi in great size and numbers.

Bora Bora Culture

Bora Bora culture was suppressed for a century, almost to the point of extinction, and has come back more vibrant and exotic than could have been imagined.

The English Missionaries made a concerted effort to wipe out all Polynesian culture when they destroyed the temples and carvings and banned dancing and religion. Fortunately many of the Polynesian customs have prevailed and can be seen today. Recently efforts have been made to revive the original Polynesian culture through traditional music and arts. The traditional instruments include pahu and toere drums and the nose flute known as vivo. Guitars and ukuleles migrated to Bora Bora and a style of music was developed that has hints of country western mixed with the classic South Pacific island style. The tamure is the classic dance of Bora Bora is still alive and plays a big part in island festivities.

Tahitians place a lot of importance on familial relationships. Decades ago it was very common for several generations to live under the same roof. Now that the islands have seen more contact with the Western word families have become more nuclear. In the past the families arranged marriages for their children, but today couples follow a more western tradition of courtship and have greater freedom in choosing their partners.

Bora Bora is mainly dependent on tourism. In the past few years several resorts have been built on the small islands surrounding the lagoon. Your South Pacific Tour will include a view of the famous over-the-water bungalows that were first built over 30 years ago and have since become a staple of the island. These bungalows are mainly exclusive to the Tahitian island because their low and even tides and protective lagoons create the perfect conditions for these unique shelters.

Bora Bora has a very relaxed atmosphere with a fairly tame nightlife scene. While other tropical islands are known for their nightlife Bora Bora is a bit behind the times, though it is not impossible to find. About 4,000 people inhabit the island of Bora Bora. French and Tahitian are the main languages spoken on the island, though most inhabitants have a command of the English language. The majority of visitors to Bora Bora are American, Japanese or European.

Cuisine of Bora Bora

Bora Bora has developed a unique culinary tradition as different cultures have infused the island with different traditions. The cuisine of Bora Bora is a mixture of traditional South Pacific cooking mixed with French, Italian and Japanese influences. This style is seen in all types of restaurants ranging from the high-end resorts to the roadside stands. While the style of food may have adapted over the years, the tradition of eating Tahitian food with your hands is something that has remained.

Most of the food is cooked in the traditional pit ovens. The ovens are made by digging a hole into the ground and stones placed into the hole are heated by fire. The food is wrapped in banana leaves and thrown onto the hot stones and then covered by dirt, and then bakes for several hours. This type of oven is called an ahimaa and the traditional feast is the tamaaraa.

Fish is the main staple of the Tahitian diet. Fish is often marinated in coconut milk before it is baked or grilled. Poisson cru is a very popular dish that consists of raw fish marinated in limejuice that is often served in a salad. Many dishes also include chicken, pork, sweet potatoes, breadfruit, rice, local fruit and vegetables such as papaya, mangoes, pineapples, bananas and fafa, which is a type of spinach.

Banana or papaya purees known as po'e are the most popular dessert served on the island. The purees are usually baked, covered with sugar and coconut milk.

History of Bora Bora

Ancient History

Polynesians first inhabited the island during the 4th century. The island's original Polynesian name was Pora Pora, which means first born.
Jacob Roggeveen was the first European to encounter the island in 1722. Roggeveen was a Dutch explorer who also discovered Easter Island of Chile. In 1820 a London Missionary Society founded a Protestant church, which began the settlement of European influence. Admiral Abel Aubert Dupetit Thouars made Bora Bora an autonomous territory of France in 1842.

Many temples or Marae that were constructed by the early Polynesians were later destroyed by the English missionaries. Unfortunately very little of their remains can be found. You can visit the Marae Marotetini located on the point west of Farepiti wharf. There is a great stone there, about 50 meters long and three feet high that was restored in 1968.

Modern History

The United States set up a military base on Bora Bora after Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japan in 1941. On your expedition cruise you will be able to see the remains of several cannons and protective structures placed around the island. Bora Bora did not see combat during World War II and after its close several soldiers were enjoying their stay so much that they refused to leave. The airport built during World War II is still a main attraction of the island because of its historical significance and the great view it provides of the Lagoon.

Since the friendly occupation of the United States several countries have discovered that Bora Bora can be host to an amazing get away. The influx of Japanese and Western European tourists drowned out the culture of Bora Bora for a few decades. There has been a recent revival of Bora Bora's customs and rituals with hints of European and Japanese culture that makes for an atmosphere that is truly unique.

Politics of Bora Bora

The municipality of Bora Bora is in the administrative subdivision of the Leeward Islands. The group of islands belongs to French Polynesia and are a collectivity of France. The group of islands makes up an administrative division of French Polynesia. The capital of this subdivision is Uturoa, which is located on Raiatea, an island South East of Bora Bora.

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Cabanas silhouette  on a Bora Bora cruise

Bora Bora


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