Travel Destination: Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Most Romantic Place on Earth?

With so many places in the world to visit, it is basically impossible to visit all of them during a lifetime unless you put a lot of effort and money into it. 

Well, personally, we find it impossible, but we don’t like to set limits for others if they, in this case, believe it is a reachable goal in certain terms, but this isn’t the actual matter we want to focus on. 

The point is that with so many options, do you know where do you want to go next? Or maybe you have a list of the main places you definitely have to visit before anywhere else? 

In our case, we have quite the long list that, fortunately, we’ve been able to reduce over the last decade, and it included countries and places like Iceland, The Maldives, Japan, Macchu Picchu, and many others. 

One of our favorites has been the one for today’s destination you should definitely consider: Bora Bora. 

This beautiful island has been one of the people’s favorite destinations for vacations and holidays for quite a while. We can understand why based on our experience, but also the reviews and information on the internet which we have to admit is a bit more accurate than usual. 

Now, we know most people think about Bora Bora and don’t really think too deep about its location or what it offers but the beach and ocean or similar activities. 

However, this island can offer you more than a regular relaxing experience that you will remember all your life. Don’t believe us? You will after we go over the details. 

A Bit of History: About Bora Bora 

It is only right to learn a bit about the place you’re thinking about visiting, or that could be added as your next destination and list. 

Personally, we love history, especially if it is about a country or place we are eager to visit because it allows us to have a different perspective and even enjoy our time more. 

Thus, we hope the history behind Bora Bora can give you a push about deciding to visit or maybe be able to have a better time when you decide to go. 

Bora Bora is a volcanic island group located in the Leeward Islands in French Polynesia. To be more specific, it lies in the central South Pacific Ocean, and it is very close to Tahiti by being about 265 km away from it. 

One of the beauties of the island is that coral reefs surround Bora Bora. On the west side, you can find a large lagoon known as the Bora Bora’s lagoon, where you can appreciate the small islands of Toopua and Toopua Iti. 

Focusing on its history, the island’s background dates more years back than you might think. 

Taking us to the starting point of South East Asia, a group of Polynesians or more like their ancestors, are recorded in history for having sailed the Pacific Ocean for centuries. 

They discovered many new territories and were able to stand most of their trips around the ocean thanks to the design of the sailing canoes known as pahi, which they used. 

During one of those sailing expeditions, the Polynesians discovered Bora Bora after crossing the Pacific Ocean from Tonga & Samoa back in the 3rd century AD and inhabited it during this period. 

However, the first European sight of the land was in 1521 by Magellan, who sighted Pikapuka but missed the other odd islands and atolls around it.

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Next, in 1595, Mendana was able to visit Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas but didn’t get quite close to Bora Bora to the point of walk upon the land. 

In 1722, we had Dutchman Jakob Roggeveen, who was the first European to refer to Bora Bora during its expedition. However, he thought it was part of Samoa, which led him to miss the opportunity to stop by and know the amazing land. 

It was finally in 1777 when Captain James Cook became the first European explorer to sail in Bora Bora after two previous expeditions. 

He stopped on the island to negotiate part of an anchor lost by Bougainville and secure it in exchange for mirrors, axes, clothing, and other items. 

Unfortunately, the group of explorers brought tragedy to the island as a group of whalers followed them. 

They were aggressive, filled with alcohol and firearms, and brought a disease that would lead to almost eradicating the local population. 

By the time and according to historians, Bora Bora lost about 42% of its population because of the disease and left others quite affected for future symptoms and sequels. 

On the other hand, different islands like the Marquesas were also affected by the disease, and its population dropped exponentially from 81.000 to 2.000 during this century.

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History After the Disease: Bora Bora’s Future & WWII

After tragedy came with the arrival of the whalers, Protestant Missionaries that corresponded to the English population arrived in Tahiti in 1797. Meanwhile, the Catholics who represented the French arrived shortly after. 

Their religions wanted to bring a new era to the population by trying to evangelize the outer islands. 

It didn’t take too long since, in 1822, the English established the first temple in Vaitape. However, this isn’t quite well-received in general culture as they did their best to eradicate Polynesian culture by destroying their temples known as Marae and any other symbols that could continue their beliefs. 

What historians save from this event is the fact that some Marae customs were quite violent. Captain Cook claimed to have witnessed human sacrifices during the records, including one at a marae where the sacrifice was held in place on a platform, and a priest smashed his head with a mace. 

Thankfully, only safe and traditional customs remain, including dancing, music, and specific arts, while the Tahitian language became the dominant one by all locals outside of this main island. 

From here, Bora Bora’s history went over a lot of push through power between the French and local population. 

However, it ended up being secured by France in 1895, and it is officially part of the French Polynesian as a result.

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Moving on with a crucial aspect of the island, Bora Bora played a crucial role during World War II.

The United States chose Bora Bora as a South Pacific military supply base and constructed an oil depot, an airstrip, a seaplane base, and defensive fortifications. 

The base on the island was quite armed and prepared for any confront. 

However, the island saw no combat, and the American presence on Bora Bora went uncontested for the entire course of the war. 

The base was officially closed on June 2, 1946. The World War II airstrip was never enlarged to accommodate large aircraft, but it worked as the only international airport in the French Polynesian until 1960. 

Although the war ended and it was, fortunately, calm for inhabitants on the island, many Americans decided to stay in it and have their own families as they liked their time and the area. 

After all this history, Bora Bora is part of the popular triangle that forms Polynesia and includes other places like Hawaii, New Zealand, and Easter Island. 

In the latter, the place is inhabited by people with very similar customs and culture as those from Bora Bora and even share the same language.

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Traveling to Bora Bora: Is It That Good?

That was quite a wild ride through the island’s history, and we’re sure you are probably curious if some traces of all the history were left behind. 

Well, we are happy to tell you that more than the remains of WWII and the most recent history, many traces of the island’s early history can be found during your visit, which is part of the reasons many people choose it as their destination. 

These islands and places, including Tahiti and Easter Island, among the other groups, come with many details that can still be missing for some historians and explorers. 

When you get to the place, you will notice that clearly, a lot had gone on for centuries and that this island over a dormant volcano has a lot to offer. 

If we have to go over the reasons that led us to choose it as part of our main destinations, we have to admit we are quite simple since we based our preferences and decision on what others had to say about it. 

After all, besides all the details we have shared so far, Bora Bora is full of facts that caught our attention just like everyone else that decided to visit. 

Covering only 29.3km2, this island is full of luxurious resorts that, believe it or not, range between many people’s budgets and not only for rich individuals. 

But we have to admit that one thing that motivated us the most was the fact Bora Bora is pest-free. Yes, this means no snakes, insects, or anything you could be scared of, which makes the stay much more enjoyable. 

The small islets around the island are also great additions to visit, and spending time in them is a great plus for a change. 

Very similar to the Maldives yet not the same, the bungalows floating above the beautiful waters are a great element that leads many people to choose the destination. 

It is definitely a paradise, and despite the small place and what seems to be filled with only common activities, you will have much more to do than you think, which is an enjoyable surprise for travelers (spoiler, you can expect your own private deck).

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What to Do in Bora Bora – Must Add to Your List!

We can’t just leave that introduction of the beauty of the island in the French Polynesian. Thus, what about going over a few activities and ideas for your trip? 

You don’t need to fake it; we already know you are eager to visit, and you will be even more after what you can enjoy. 

Boat tours and the usual time you can spend in the blue waters are only natural to consider during your visit since it is an island. 

However, not everything is about spending your time inside the water as you can enjoy more outside of it as well. 

Crater expeditions are available for anyone who want to visit the dormant volcano on the island, and it will be an enjoyable trip in a 4X4 to enjoy the sunset. 

An island tour is also available, and it lasts about 4 hours where you will know more about the history, legends, visit WWII historic places, and some ancient temples. 

You can also have access to caves and some unique spaces opened for guides only during this tour. 

Of course, despite what we mentioned about spending some time outside of the water, it is logical you are going there for them mostly. 

Activities for this also involve aqua safaris to have a look at the species underwater while using just a helmet to see the tropical fish and coral gardens. 

You can also opt for a specific option like a shark and snorkel safari under the turquoise blue waters and enjoy marine life a bit differently.

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Other safaris and excursions involve visiting other historically significant sites on the island while having meals and special reservations included. 

Snorkeling to see the barrier reef or barbecue + cruise can be added as a full-day adventure, including the traditional Polynesian lunch. 

Expeditions to other beautiful islands and kitesurfing lessons are only a few of the other activities we can mention, and we assure you will lack time to experience all of them. 

Still doubtful? Consider these other options: 

  • Enjoy the lagoon life by getting close to the Bora Bora’s lagoon. 
  • Have a sunset cruise (or very similar to it). 
  • Enjoy the overwater villa if the bungalow isn’t enough. 
  • Visit Matira beach for an amazing experience. 
  • Have a look at what your resort offers and get some fun (ours had manta rays’ expeditions!). 
    Jet ski. 
  • Amazing places to have a tropical cocktail and great food. 
  • Vacation packages could include a private deck to enjoy the open sea.

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Beautiful Place? Perfect for a Film!

Or maybe more than one. 

Bora Bora is quite an exotic and tropical place, so it is only natural that some people choose it as a filming location, either as the main place or a secondary one. 

In the case of the island, it has been quite both since some films were dedicated and even have the name of the beautiful destination as part of the title. 

“Bora Bora” is an R-rated film from 1968 that follows a man on the island who has to go through a lot after discovering his wife has a lover. 

Another one with the same name but from 2011 is a short film that isn’t quite known, but it is well-rated in places like IMDb. 

“Couples Retreat” is probably one of the most popular films where Bora Bora was chosen as the main location. 

This romantic comedy was released in 2009 and had a well-known cast including Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Fazion Love, Kristin Davis, Malin Akerman, Kristen Bell, and Jean Reno. 

Others like “Mutiny on the Bounty” (1962), “Tabu: A Story of the South Seas” (1931), “Hurricane” (1979), and “XXX” (another famous film from 2002) are included on the list. 

 Bora Bora continues to be one of the favorite exotic locations for short films but also long ones. Many directors also choose it as the main place of the story (or the only one), including the director from 2018’s “Love In Bora Bora.”

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6 Exotic Facts About Bora Bora, French Polynesian

  • A volcanic eruption formed the island over 4 million years ago. 
  • Pora Pora is the island’s original name, as in the Tahitian language, the ‘B’ doesn’t exist. 
  • The island is known as the most romantic destination reaching the point of being called “the romantic island.”
  • For people on the island, a woman with a flower on her ear means she is either taken or has someone she loves in her life. 
  • However, when the flower is placed on the right ear, it means she is single. 
  • Most inhabitants of the island are youngins, and many of them are under 20.

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