Bora Bora is an island in the Leeward group of the Society Islands of French Polynesia, an “Overseas Country” financially assisted by France in the Pacific Ocean. The Bora Bora island, located about 230 kilometers (140 mi) northwest of Papeete, is surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef.
In the center of the island are the remnants of an extinct volcano rising to two peaks, Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu, the highest point at 727 meters (2,385 ft). The original name of the island in the Tahitian language might be better rendered as Pora Pora, meaning “First Born”; an early transcription found in 18th- and 19th-century accounts is Bolabolla or Bollabolla.
Bora Bora is a major international tourist destination, famous for its aqua-centric luxury resorts. The major settlement, Vaitape, is on the western side of the main island, opposite the main channel into the lagoon. Produce of the island is mostly limited to what can be obtained from the sea and the plentiful coconut trees, which were historical of economic importance for copra.
History of Bora Bora Island
The history of Bora Bora shows that the island’s first settlers back in the 4th century were Tongan people. The first European explorers who visited the island were led by James Cook. However, prior to this island of Bora Bora was already sighted by other explorers.
The history of Bora Bora also indicates that in 1842 the island became a colony of France under the leadership of Admiral Abel Aubert Dupetit Thouars. Agricultural students have recently discovered that 3 fossils were found under one of the houses.
In World War II the United States chose Bora Bora island as a South Pacific military supply base, and an oil depot, airstrip, seaplane base, and defensive fortifications were constructed. Known as “Operation Bobcat”, it maintained a supply force of nine ships, 20,000 tons of equipment and nearly 7,000 men. Seven artillery guns were set up at strategic points around the island to protect it against potential military attack.
However, the island saw no combat as the American presence on Bora Bora went uncontested over the course of the war. The base was officially closed on June 2, 1946. The World War II airstrip was never able to accommodate large aircraft, but it nonetheless was French Polynesia’s only international airport until Faa’a International Airport opened next to Papeete, Tahiti, in 1960.
Today the Island of Bora Bora relies largely on tourism and because of this seven luxurious resorts were built over the past few years. Hotel Bora Bora was the first to build bungalows that stand over the water using stilts which are now a given of every resort on the island as these bungalows provide spectacular sights of lagoons and mountains.