The sheer beauty of Bora Bora Island is something you’ll never forget. This paradise on earth deserves its reputation as “the most beautiful island in the world”.
It possesses a unique natural beauty and is one of the world’s most stunning lagoons. Its wonderful motus are fringed by white sands and mystically powerful mountain scenery.
Bora Bora island is a world-renowned tourist destination blessed with a kind & giving population with a rich history and cultural heritage.
Bora Bora Population
Bora Bora has a permanent population of just over 10,000 people. Vaitape is the island’s commercial and administrative center and is where most people reside.
Bora Bora Language
French and Tahitian are the main and official languages. However, English is widely spoken as many tourists come from English speaking countries. The island is almost totally tourism based with produce from the island being essentially seafood and copra.
Transportation In Bora Bora
Public transport on the island is non-existent with rental cars, scooters, and bicycles available to move around. If you’re visiting the island, we’d recommend getting a rental car or scooter if you want to explore it. While it’s not too big, it’s one of the easiest ways to get around.
Bora Bora Weather
With this tropical paradise, you can basically expect warm weather above 25°C (77°F) year-round. One of the best parts about the warm climate is that it never get’s too humid. So the weather is typically always warm and pleasant.
The rainy season in Bora Bora occurs between the months of November through early April. However, they don’t get a large amount of rainfall and this is typically around the short amount of time it rains.
It’s still worth visiting the island around this time since that’s when there are fewer tourists here and you can find the best deals around this time. The dry season in Bora Bora lasts from May through October and this is typically when it’s the busiest.
Where Is Bora Bora
Bora Bora is located in the South Pacific roughly halfway between Australia and Chile. It’s the jewel in the crown of French Polynesia. Bathed in the warm waters of the South Pacific and world renowned for the beauty of its mountain scenery & being enveloped in the world’s most beautiful lagoon.
It’s a much-envied tourist destination, regarded by many as one of the few real remaining paradises on earth. French Polynesia is scattered over a vast ocean the size of Western Europe.
The 118 islands and atolls that make up French Polynesia are divided into 5 main archipelagos:
- Austral Islands
- Gambier Islands
- Marquesas Islands
- Society Islands
- Tuamotu Archipelago
The Society Archipelago is perhaps the best known as it includes the world-renowned islands of Bora Bora, Moorea, and Tahiti.
Lush, dark green islands of volcanic origin, with ragged peaks thrusting upward into the skies. Approximately 60% of the population of French Polynesia lives on Tahiti, the major entry point into the region.
How Bora Bora Was Formed
Bora Bora was formed from erupting volcanoes some 7 million years ago, the first of the Society Islands so formed. Some 4-5 million years before, say, Tahiti or Raiatea. Bora Bora was originally known as Vavau meaning ‘first born’ & then Pora Pora.
The change in spelling to Bora Bora flows from an error made much later by the naturalist Lesson while voyaging aboard La Coquille with Dumont d’Urville. In the Tahitian story of the creation of the world, Bora Bora was the first land and as such the land of the gods.
While Pora Pora makes reference to the double pirogue that carried god to the island. Both facts point to the importance of the island. The spirit (manu) of god is said to have descended on Bora Bora atop Otemanu on a rainbow.
Highest Peaks In Bora Bora
The center of Bora Bora is marked by two peaks:
- Otemanu, the highest point at 727 meters (2385 feet)
- Pahia, 661 meters (2168 feet)
These are held to have a mysterious quality that reminds visitors of Bora Bora’s ancient mythical past. The island’s topography with only 29 km2 of landmass, most of it mountainous, created a determined population.
Renowned warriors intent on defending their own. Family relationships were important and they remain so today.
You can read about the entire history of Bora Bora in our other guide.
Bora Bora’s intoxicating reputation as paradise on earth stems from a myriad of navigators, writers & artists.
Bougainville, after staying in French Polynesia, wrote his famous “Voyage Autour du Monde” in which he created the legend of “La Nouvelle Cythere”, the island of pleasures in the southern seas (Cythere being where Aphrodite, the goddess of love was born).
Herman Melville wrote two stories about Polynesian life in 1846 and 1847. In the 1890’s Paul Gauguin composed the illustrated book “Noa Noa”, which spoke of ancient Polynesian culture telling the story of the Areori who resided on Bora Bora and of the god’s first miracle creation Noa or “fragrance.”
Broadway and Hollywood too have found inspiration in Bora Bora. “Tabu” was filmed there in 1928. The island’s wartime history inspired the romantic Broadway musical and movie “South Pacific.” De Laurentis shot “Hurricane” & “The Shark Boy of Bora Bora” there.
Bora Bora Island Today
Bora Bora’s main island is surrounded by many stunningly beautiful motus on which some of the best hotels and resorts in the world have been constructed.
The main island is actually sinking at a rate of 1cm per century and will sink completely in around 25 million years leaving just a coral atoll.
The urge to party is innate for a Polynesian and today you’ll still find Tahitians partying whenever possible playing their traditional pahu and toere drums and accompanied by guitars and ukuleles which migrated to Bora Bora but now combine to produce a unique Tahitian style.
The Heiva, an emphatic statement of the deep history & rich culture of Polynesia & the life of Polynesians, has been conducted annually for over 130 years.
The Bora Bora i Heiva is the most authentic large-scale production of this sensational, awe-inspiring event in French Polynesia as can be seen in the guide of the Heiva i Bora Bora.
Bora Bora Lagoon
The Bora Bora Lagoon is three times the island’s landmass and offers many of the island’s most popular activities & attractions. There are tours by jet ski or boat, tours to suit every taste & budget, dives for all levels, and excitement and adventure for all.
Bora Bora has a comprehensive range of marine life including fish, crabs, dolphins in the pass, turtles, manta and sting rays, sharks, whales in their migrating season, marlin, tuna, sailfish and mahi-mahi to name a few roam the seas.
Shark & ray-feeding dives & swimming with huge manta rays is very popular as is a tour of the island on a jet-ski, deep-sea-fishing and even surfing.
There are also some very special places to be visited in the foothills and the spectacular mountains of Bora Bora including the awe-inspiring climb to the Cave on Mt Otemanu and the ascent up Mt Pahia recently closed by massive fires that swept the mountain top.
Overwater bungalows originated in French Polynesia in the protected waters of the lagoon. Moorea’s Bali Hai was the pioneer in adapting stilt homes over the coral, but it was in 1971 when the Hotel Bora Bora built their first luxurious overwater bungalows, that this unique style of accommodation captivated the world’s jet set.
People who live on Bora Bora will tell you that the island is filled with compelling energy. There’s no other place like it on earth!
If you plan on traveling to this beautiful island, read our Bora Bora travel guide to find out everything you need to know.