Bora Bora history is as mesmerizing as its sun-kissed soft sand and turquoise lagoon.

The island is famous for its beauty and luxurious service. Even though traveling to Bora Bora is a long journey, the surge of tourists does not seem to be waning. While you can expect breathtaking scenery, it’s Bora Bora history that has helped position the island as one of the best in the world.

As a delightful place, this tropical paradise is flush with luxurious private holidays and also unique experiences. A brief look at the history and its impact on other aspects will make you enlist Bora Bora as your vacation destination before the year-end.

Bora Bora history, history of Bora Bora, Where is Bora Bora, Bora Bora Island, what does Bora Bora mean , Bora Bora island France, Bora Bora background, Bora Bora population, Bora Bora fish.



 A Bit About Bora Bora History

The history of Bora Bora dates back to seven million years. Yet, as the island has evolved to be more inclusive and open to change, it has still retained its essence and natural form in many ways. Let’s dig a little deeper.

Where is Bora Bora?

Bora Bora history, history of Bora Bora, Where is Bora Bora, Bora Bora Island, what does Bora Bora mean , Bora Bora island France, Bora Bora background, Bora Bora population, Bora Bora fish.


Bora Bora is a French Polynesian island in the South Pacific Ocean. This hot tropical spot is located around 2600 miles south of Hawaii, and approximately 160 miles northwest of Tahiti. While its existence dates back to seven million years, it was "discovered" in the year 1722. 

Around 170 years ago, it became a French colony, and thus the French influence is quite noticeable on the island. French Polynesia is a vast overseas territory spread widely across a 118-island atoll.

A Historical Overview of Bora Bora

Bora Bora history, history of Bora Bora, Where is Bora Bora, Bora Bora Island, what does Bora Bora mean , Bora Bora island France, Bora Bora background, Bora Bora population, Bora Bora fish.


If you are wondering what Bora Bora means it is ‘first-born.’ This possibly points to the existence of the volcanic island as the most important island. After French Polynesia took over, the US used Bora Bora in World War II as a base during the Pearl Harbour bombing. This majorly affected the coral and marine life there. 

Bora Bora contains a population of approximately 8800 people. Most of the locals reside in Vaitape on the western side of the island. Due to the French influence, many speak French in addition to Tahitian which is the Polynesian language.

Historical Timeline

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Credit: Wikipedia

As Bora Bora officially came into existence in 1722, it saw rapid popularity due to its natural habitat and resources. In 1888, the French took over, and in 1890 the first church was built. Even as World War II ended in 1946, Bora Bora bore considerable damage to its natural habitat.

Many hotels opened to accommodate tourists, with the first popularly known one being Hotel Bora Bora in 1961. Growing popularity over the years ushered in enough development to welcome tourists, especially those with interests in water activities. However, what still lacks in Bora Bora is the presence of public transport to move around.

Early Settlers

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The early settlers heavily influenced the lifestyle of the locals. And, starting with Europeans in 1722, it has evolved to include migrants from the Polynesian Triangle that is the north (Hawaii), southeast (Eastern island), and New Zealand to the southwest.

Because of the warm and welcoming natural habitat, many tourists choose to reside in Bora Bora, thereby becoming a part of Bora Bora history. But, over the years, Japanese and Western Europeans have also shifted to Bora Bora to be a part of the cultural diversity. Due to its stunning beaches and proximity to Hawaii and New Zealand, the influx of visitors has continued to occur.

Cultural Influences in Bora Bora History

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To maintain continuity and keep tourism booming English is also a popular language besides the local Tahitian and French. Even as many cultures have come together to infuse a multi-cultural blend, the local Bora Bora background culture has revived its old customs and traditions to make it unique yet inclusive.

As you make your way through Bora Bora, you won’t be surprised to find many cuisines during your stay. French, Italian and Japanese food is available. Also, for those looking for local cuisines, there is plenty to explore during your luxurious stay.

Historical Facts About Bora Bora

Bora Bora history, history of Bora Bora, Where is Bora Bora, Bora Bora Island, what does Bora Bora mean , Bora Bora island France, Bora Bora background, Bora Bora population, Bora Bora fish.

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  • Bora Bora has many islets around it like Motu Tafari, Motu Ahuna, and Toopuaiti.
  • A unique gift to take away from Bora Bora would be its dark pearls.
  • The island is pest free.
  • The Tahitian language has only 1000 words and 16 letters. In the Tahitian language, Bora Bora is known as Pora Pora; there is no ‘B.’
  • The Bora Bora island is a marine lovers paradise with a variety of aquatic species. There are many sharks and it's often advisable to check with the staff or locals before diving.
  • Bora Bora is a favorite for Hollywood with many movies, and series shot there.
  • Bora Bora is in existence due to the remains of an erupted volcano. ​
  • The tattoo is common and sacred too in Bora Bora.
  • The Matira beach famous for its beauty is in Bora Bora.
  • For coconut lovers, this is a paradise with coconut as the most abundant produce in Bora Bora. You also get to learn how to break coconuts with your bare hands.
  • There are only three villages Vaitape, Faanui and Anau in Bora Bora.
  • People indicate their relationship status by placing a flower on their ears. The national symbol of Tahiti is the Tahiti flower.
  • There are no public cemeteries in Bora Bora. The dead are buried in the backyard.
  • The resorts are built uniquely. Besides, it is made on the motus which is a sandy islet that is around the main island. The advantage of such a placement is that the guests enjoy a never before view of the sparkling blue lagoon and a fantastic view of Mount Otemanu at 727 meters. 

How Has Bora Bora History Evolved?

Bora Bora’s history has become more inclusive in the last couple of years. Earlier it was restricted to the Polynesian dwellers. Now, it embraces people from the world over due to the influx of many nationalities and cultures. The acceptance of English as a widely spoken language besides French and Tahitian is encouraging.

Even as the cuisines have different cultural influences, the native Bora Bora culture has survived. Bora Bora fish is an essential part of the staple diet and is available in plenty.

Bora Bora history, history of Bora Bora, Where is Bora Bora, Bora Bora Island, what does Bora Bora mean , Bora Bora island France, Bora Bora background, Bora Bora population, Bora Bora fish.

Credit: Wikipedia

As a guest, you will find yourself never wanting to leave the spa, marine activities, and fine dining. With luxury at your doorstep, it is a pleasure to experience the modern day amenities within the confines of your private luxury hotel surrounded by a blue lagoon and picturesque mountains.

What has, however, remained a bit stagnant is the public transportation which is still the same as decades ago. Yet, there are few means of transport, and you will have to find a private vehicle to drive around.

How has Bora Bora history influenced other aspects of culture?

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Credit: Pxhere

Bora Bora history has had an impact on the way relationships work, families live, and also the way customs and traditions are practiced. Previously, marriage was a close knit affair that would happen with the consent of the family. Another prominent feature was the staying together of families under one roof. With time, these have been westernized. Of course, marriage is now modernized with courtship before marriage. Most families are now nuclear families.

The family income mostly came from the local production of fish, coconuts, meat, rice that was in plenty. With time, however, tourism has replaced the source of income for most locals. With spas being hugely popular, they are a thriving business for locals. 

The traditional musical instruments of pahu and toere drums and the nose flute are popular musical instruments and continue to be part of everyday events. However, western influence has also seen guitar and ukuleles accepted in the local culture. Even for dance, the tamure traditional dance form has been a favorite among the locals. Therefore, it also attracts tourists during festivals and events.


Historical Sites You Must Visit When in Bora Bora

 Bora Bora history, history of Bora Bora, Where is Bora Bora, Bora Bora Island, what does Bora Bora mean , Bora Bora island France, Bora Bora background, Bora Bora population, Bora Bora fish.

Credit: Flickr, MC Sensei

If you enjoy history, then you'll love your Bora Bora visit. The Circle Island Road falls along the perimeter of Bora Bora and is 20km long. Along this road, you will reach the Matira Point with the coconut grooves and tiny villages on the way. 4WD tours are designed to take you on mountain journeys, rough track or move around the volcanic islands.

The Coral Gardens can be enjoyed through snorkeling, swimming with sharks, and a motu lunch. Motu Picnics are immensely popular among the tourists with a seven-hour journey. You'll get to visit the black pearl farm, the coral gardens, pick up some of the most local and exotic menus, and also enjoy traditional music. 

Rising 2400 feet above the lagoon, Mount Otemanu is a sight to behold. Yet, you can look at it either from your private room or as you tour the beautiful volcanic island. Once there, you are spoilt for choice. Hike, take a 4X4 tour, a helicopter ride, or even a boat ride to enjoy the view from the top.

Alain Despert Museum is the museum of the renowned artist by the same name, Alain Despert. The French artist’s work was discovered in 1990 and continues to draw tourists to his favorite art studio. World War II guns reside on the private property, adding a unique historical aspect to the tour. It is on the hillside between Farepiti Wharf and Vaitape. Be advised that it's a steep way, so take time to see it and obtain prior permission before making any plans.


Bora Bora history has evolved and yet still remains true to its roots and traditions. 

We hope you enjoyed this tour of Bora Bora history. With a rich historical background and stunning natural beauty, you'll be pleased with this luxury travel destination. If Bora Bora is on your vacation list, it's worth checking the historical facts that will keep you engaged on your journey.

Do you know any facts about Bora Bora history? Let us know in the comments below. Additionally, if you loved our list, we hope you will share it with other travel lovers!

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