PanARMENIAN.Net – The island was inhabited by Polynesian settlers around the 4th century AD. The first European sighting was made by Jakob Roggeveen in 1722. Legendary captain James Cook sighted the island in 1770 and landed that same year. The London Missionary Society arrived in 1820 and founded a Protestant church in 1890. Bora Bora was an independent kingdom until 1888 when its last queen Teriimaevarua III was forced to abdicate by the French who annexed the island as a colony.
Pora Pora – the ancient name, meaning “first born,” came from legends describing this as the first island to rise when Taaroa, the supreme god, fished it out of the waters after the mythical creation of Havai’i, now known as Raiatea. Although the first letter “B” does not exist in the Tahitian language, when Captain Cook first heard the name he mistook the softened sound of the Tahitian “P” for “B” and called the island Bola Bola.
During World War II the United States chose Bora Bora 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, which was never able to accommodate large aircraft, was French Polynesia’s only international airport until Faa’a International Airport was opened in Papeete, Tahiti, in 1960.
The commune of Bora-Bora, with the center in the settlement of Vaitape, is made up of the island of Bora Bora proper with its surrounding islets emerging from the coral reef.
The main languages in Bora Bora are French and Tahitian, but there are many people who speak English, especially resort employees. Bora Borans move at a relaxed pace. They have a life philosophy called “`Aita pea pea,” which means “not to worry.” Try to go with the flow and enjoy life at a slower clip.
Protestant missionaries, who came to the island in the 19th century, have heavily influenced the religion in Bora Bora: Christianity continues to play a major role in the island’s culture. The island’s Maohi Protestant Church has roots dating back to the late 1700s.
The best way to get around Bora Bora is considered to be by bike. Rental cars are also an option, but they cost significantly more than a rental bicycle. The local bus system, Le Truck, is described as ‘notoriously unpredictable’ and taxis are quite expensive.
Tourists visiting Bora Bora are strongly recommended to try poisson cru (raw fish) — usually tuna or mahi-mahi bathed in lime juice and coconut milk, as well as buy a bottle of all-purpose monoi, a type of oil made from coconut and tiare blossoms, which serves as a leave-in hair conditioner, a moisturizer and even a salve for insect bites.
Snorkeling and scuba diving in and around the lagoon of Bora Bora are popular activities. There are also a few dive operators on the island offering manta ray dives and also shark-feeding dives. Shops offer local and international original art, Tahitian pearls, perfumes and precious wood handcrafts.
To visit the magical island, you need a visa and, of course, the money!