Bora Bora may feel worlds away, but this South Seas splendor is well within reach. Where is Bora Bora, exactly? The island lies just northwest of Tahiti, less than an hour away by plane from Papeete. The airport is located on a small, separate part of the island known as Motu Mete. Upon arrival, you will be greeted with a warm smile and fragrant flower lei and transferred by boat to your Bora Bora resort, meaning you hardly have to wait for your first encounter with the island's famously translucent lagoon.
In the 1790s, whalers began landing at Tahiti during their fishing expeditions in the southern hemisphere. The arrival of these whalers, who were subsequently joined by merchants coming from the penal colonies in Australia, marked the first major overturning of traditional Tahitian society. The crews introduced alcohol, arms and infectious diseases to the island, and encouraged prostitution, which brought with it venereal disease. These commercial interactions with westerners had catastrophic consequences for the Tahitian population, which shrank rapidly, ravaged by diseases and other cultural factors.[27] During the first decade of the 19th century, the Tahitian population dropped from 16,000 to 8,000-9,000; the French census in 1854 counted a population just under 6,000.[28]
Tahiti lies in the South Pacific. It is the largest of the 118 islands and atolls that comprise French Polynesia. Tahiti is in the Society Islands, an archipelago which includes the islands of Bora Bora, Raiatea, Taha'a, Huahine and Moorea, and has a population of 127,000 people, about 83% of whom are of Polynesian ancestry. The legendary name 'Tahiti' not only identifies this island but also the group of islands that make up French Polynesia. 

Papeete City HallVenus PointTeahupooTahiti reefArahurahu MaraeTahitian hospitalityDining at the waterfront roulottesPolynesian Show at Le Meriden TahitiLe Marche, Papeete's oldest marketThe Museum of Tahiti and Her IslandsHiking in Tahiti's Vaipahi GardensWorldclass Tahitian surfSweet Tahitian PineappleThe Robert Wan Pearl Museum, Papeetetraditional Tahitian sporting eventsFriendly Tahitian `Mamas`Tahitian Presidency at ChristmasTahiti MarinaPapeete WaterfrontPapeete City HallVenus Point

Bora Bora may feel worlds away, but this South Seas splendor is well within reach. Where is Bora Bora, exactly? The island lies just northwest of Tahiti, less than an hour away by plane from Papeete. The airport is located on a small, separate part of the island known as Motu Mete. Upon arrival, you will be greeted with a warm smile and fragrant flower lei and transferred by boat to your Bora Bora resort, meaning you hardly have to wait for your first encounter with the island's famously translucent lagoon.


In the 1880s, France claimed the Tuamotu Archipelago, which formerly belonged to the Pōmare Dynasty, without formally annexing it. Having declared a protectorate over Tahuata in 1842, the French regarded the entire Marquesas Islands as French. In 1885, France appointed a governor and established a general council, thus giving it the proper administration for a colony. The islands of Rimatara and Rūrutu unsuccessfully lobbied for British protection in 1888, so in 1889 they were annexed by France. Postage stamps were first issued in the colony in 1892. The first official name for the colony was Établissements de l'Océanie (Establishments in Oceania); in 1903 the general council was changed to an advisory council and the colony's name was changed to Établissements Français de l'Océanie (French Establishments in Oceania).[14]
Around 1750, war broke out between Atehuru and Papara, forcing Te'e'eva, the daughter of the Papara chief, to flee to Raiatea. She then married Tamatoa I's eldest son, Ari'ima'o, from which their son Mau'a was born. When Borabora warriors, led by Puni, invaded Raiatea in 1763, both Mau'a and the Taputapuatea priest Tupaia, were forced to flee to Tahiti, where the new Papara chief Amo and his wife Purea gave them refuge. This led to the building of the Mahaiatea marae at Papara. However, the marriage of Amo and Purea, and their status as black leg ariori, ended with the birth of their son Teri'irere. Tupaia then became Purea's lover. Tupaia would eventually sail with Captain Cook on the Endeavor, while Mau'a would sail with Lt. Gayangos on Aguila.[11]:35–38,60–61,85,134,208,277
Cook and Banks circumnavigated the island from 26 June to 1 July. On the exploration, they met Ahio, chief of Ha'apaiano'o or Papenoo, Rita, chief of Hitia'a, Pahairro, chief of Pueu, Vehiatua, chief of Tautra, Matahiapo, chief of Teahupo'o, Tutea, chief of Vaira'o, and Moe, chief of Afa'Ahiti. In Papara, guided by Tupaia, they investigated the ruins of Mahaiatea marae, an impressive structure containing a stone pyramid or ahu, measuring 44 feet (13 m) high, 267 feet (81 m) long and 87 feet (27 m) wide. Cook and Endeavour departed Tahiti on 13 July 1769, taking Raiatean navigator Tupaia along for his geographic knowledge of the islands.[11]:149,186–202,205
In the 1820s, the entire population of Tahiti converted to Protestantism. Duperrey, who berthed in Tahiti in May 1823, attests to the change in Tahitian society in a letter dated 15 May 1823: "The missionaries of the Royal Society of London have totally changed the morals and customs of the inhabitants. Idolatry no longer exists among them, and they generally profess the Christian religion. The women no longer come aboard the vessel, and even when we meet them on land they are extremely reserved. (...) The bloody wars that these people used to carry out and human sacrifices have no longer taken place since 1816."[30]
When, on 7 December 1821, Pōmare II died, his son Pōmare III was only eighteen months old. His uncle and the religious people therefore supported the regency, until 2 May 1824, the date on which the missionaries conducted his coronation, a ceremony unprecedented in Tahiti. Taking advantage of the weakness of the Pōmare, local chiefs won back some of their power and took the hereditary title of Tavana (from the English word 'governor'). The missionaries also took advantage of the situation to change the way in which powers were arranged, and to make the Tahitian monarchy closer to the English model of a constitutional monarchy. They therefore created the Tahitian Legislative Assembly, which first sat on 23 February 1824.

²An immigrant is by French definition a person born in a foreign country and who didn't have French citizenship at birth. Note that an immigrant may have acquired French citizenship since moving to France, but is still listed as an immigrant in French statistics. On the other hand, persons born in France with foreign citizenship (the children of immigrants) are not listed as immigrants. 

Bottles of water are readily available. Being a French territory, wine is common and easy to find. As this is a tropical island, a multitude of fruit juices from pineapple juice to coconut milk are to be found everywhere. It is sometimes better to crack open your own coconut yourself and drain it for lunch. If you're a fan of beer, the Hinano Beer will definitely be one you will like to taste and bring a few cans home.
The first European to have visited Tahiti according to existing records was lieutenant Samuel Wallis, who was circumnavigating the globe in HMS Dolphin,[16] sighting the island on 18 June 1767,[17] and eventually harbouring in Matavai Bay. This bay was situated on the territory of the chiefdom of Pare-Arue, governed by Tu (Tu-nui-e-a'a-i-te-Atua) and his regent Tutaha, and the chiefdom of Ha'apape, governed by Amo and his wife "Oberea" (Purea). Wallis named the island King George's Island. The first contacts were difficult, since on the 24 and 26 June 1767,[18] Tahitian warriors in canoes showed aggression towards the British, hurling stones from their slings. In retaliation, the British sailors opened fire on the warriors in the canoes and on the hills. In reaction to this powerful counter-attack, the Tahitians laid down peace offerings for the British.[18] Following this episode, Samuel Wallis was able to establish cordial relations with the female chieftain "Oberea " (Purea) and remained on the island until 27 July 1767.[11]:45–84,104,135
Most of the tourist destinations are aqua-centric; however it is possible to visit attractions on land such as WWII cannons. Air Tahiti has five or six flights daily to the Bora Bora Airport on Motu Mute from Tahiti (as well as from other islands). Public transport on the island is nonexistent so rental cars and bicycles are the recommended methods of transport. There are also small, two-seater buggies for hire in Vaitape. It is possible to rent a motorboat to explore the lagoon.
Papeete is the capital city and the administrative centre. Once a sleepy town, today its harbor is busy with cargo freighters, copra ships, luxury liners and ocean-going yachts. There are sidewalk cafes, shops overflowing with French fashions, shell jewellery and handicrafts and a wide variety of restaurants serving Tahitian, French, and Asian cuisine.
Pautu and Tetuanui returned to Tahiti with Bonechea aboard Aguila on 14 November 1774, Tipitipia and Heiao having passed away in the interim. Bonechea died on 26 January 1775 in Tahiti, and was buried near the Spanish mission at Tautira Bay. Lt. Tomas Gayangos took over command. Gayangos set sail for Peru on 27 Jan, leaving the two friars, Father Geronimo Clota and Father Narciso Gonzalez, and Maximo Rodriguez and Francisco Perez, in charge of the Spanish mission. However, the Spanish mission on Tahiti was abandoned on 12 November 1775, after Aguila's third voyage to Tahiti, when the Fathers begged its commander, Don Cayetano de Langara, to take them back to Lima.[25] Some maps still bear the name Isla de Amat for Tahiti, named after Viceroy Amat who ordered the expedition.[26] A most notable result of these voyages was the journal by a marine in the Spanish Navy named Maximo Rodriguez, which contains valuable information about the Tahitians of the 18th century, augmented with the accounts by the Chilean Don Jose de Andia y Varela.[11]:321,323,340,351–357,361,381–383
Political life in French Polynesia has been marked by great instability since the mid-2000s. On 14 September 2007, the pro-independence leader Oscar Temaru, was elected president of French Polynesia for the third time in three years (with 27 of 44 votes cast in the territorial assembly).[20] He replaced former president Gaston Tong Sang, opposed to independence, who lost a no-confidence vote in the Assembly of French Polynesia on 31 August after the longtime former president of French Polynesia, Gaston Flosse, hitherto opposed to independence, sided with his long enemy Oscar Temaru to topple the government of Gaston Tong Sang. Oscar Temaru, however, had no stable majority in the Assembly of French Polynesia, and new territorial elections were held in February 2008 to solve the political crisis.
The heart and soul of the South Pacific, Tahiti is the largest in a chain of islands that make up French Polynesia. The name can either refer to the main island or the entire destination. Commonly referred to as The Islands of Tahiti, French Polynesia is a collection of 118 islands and atolls scattered across an impressive nautical surface area the size of Western Europe. Still, these tiny islands—many of which remain uninhabited—make up a total landmass of only 1,600 square miles (4,100 sq. km).
French Polynesia (/ˈfrɛntʃ pɒlɪˈniːʒə/ (listen); French: Polynésie française [pɔlinezi fʁɑ̃sɛːz]; Tahitian: Pōrīnetia Farāni) is an overseas collectivity of the French Republic and the only overseas country of France. It is composed of 118 geographically dispersed islands and atolls stretching over an expanse of more than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) in the South Pacific Ocean. Its total land area is 4,167 square kilometres (1,609 sq mi).
Papeete City HallVenus PointTeahupooTahiti reefArahurahu MaraeTahitian hospitalityDining at the waterfront roulottesPolynesian Show at Le Meriden TahitiLe Marche, Papeete's oldest marketThe Museum of Tahiti and Her IslandsHiking in Tahiti's Vaipahi GardensWorldclass Tahitian surfSweet Tahitian PineappleThe Robert Wan Pearl Museum, Papeetetraditional Tahitian sporting eventsFriendly Tahitian `Mamas`Tahitian Presidency at ChristmasTahiti MarinaPapeete WaterfrontPapeete City HallVenus Point
The expansive and immaculate St. Regis Bora Bora Resort is the ultimate South Pacific splurge. Located on the secluded northeastern side of the lagoon, this luxurious island lair is home to some of the largest overwater bungalows in the region. While these perched abodes are the most enticing, the resort features a diversity of accommodations including garden villas with private plunge pools and the lavish Royal Estate, which has welcomed a number of the world's most elite.
Bottles of water are readily available. Being a French territory, wine is common and easy to find. As this is a tropical island, a multitude of fruit juices from pineapple juice to coconut milk are to be found everywhere. It is sometimes better to crack open your own coconut yourself and drain it for lunch. If you're a fan of beer, the Hinano Beer will definitely be one you will like to taste and bring a few cans home. 

Holders of a passport from the EU, and most countries of North or South America don't need to apply for a visa for a stay of up to one month. EU/EFTA nationals only require a National Identity Card. However, the Delphine passport is necessary in case of transit via the USA. Except for nationals of the European Union and aliens holding a 10 year residence card for metropolitan France, all foreigners entering French Polynesia must have a return ticket.
You may be wondering, where is Tahiti? The islands are situated halfway between Los Angeles, California and Sydney, Australia. They are in the same time zone as Hawaii and located just as far south of the equator as Hawaii is north. Since the word often conjures up visions of a distant, unspoiled paradise, many assume them to be far away; but in all reality, Tahiti is only eight hours from Los Angeles.
After pickup from your hotel, set out to explore the island of Tahiti, traveling by air-conditioned coach with an experienced local guide. Your first stop will be on the west coast where you will visit the famous Marae Arahurahu, a relgious site dedicated to the ancient gods where important ceremonies used to take place. For manicured landscapes, visit the Vaipahi Garden, where you can wander around a tree-shaded wonderland of waterfalls, ponds and colorful tropical flowers. Your guide can help you identify the plant life as you take in this botanical gem. Visit Venus Point, located on Matavai Bay. The stop got its name from Captain James Cook, who observed the 1769 transit of Venus from this point as part of his work for the Royal Society. As you walk around the black-sand beach, note the monument that commemorates Cook's work here.Next, cruise along scenic roads to arrive at the Arahoho blowhole where, when there's a big swell, water shoots skyward, resulting in what might be a free shower courtesy of the sea! Enjoy the beauty of the black-sand beaches and turquoise sea, a popular surfing spot. Afterwards, visit Taharaa View Point for breathtaking panoramic views over the island before being returned to your hotel in Papeete where your tour ends.

In 1827, the young Pōmare III suddenly died, and it was his half-sister, 'Aimata, aged thirteen, who took the title of Pōmare IV. The Birmingham born missionary George Pritchard, who was the acting British consul, became her main adviser and tried to interest her in the affairs of the kingdom. But the authority of the Queen, who was certainly less charismatic than her father, was challenged by the chiefs, who had won back an important part of their prerogatives since the death of Pōmare II. The power of the Pōmare had become more symbolic than real, time and time again Queen Pōmare, Protestant and anglophile, sought in vain the protection of England.[9]
The island's economy is driven almost solely by tourism. Several resorts have been built on motu (small islands, from Tahitian) surrounding the lagoon. Hotel Bora Bora opened in 1961, and nine years later built the first over-the-water bungalows on stilts over the lagoon.[10] Today, over-water bungalows are a standard feature of most Bora Bora resorts. The quality of those bungalows ranges from comparably cheap, basic accommodations to very luxurious and expensive.
The ʻōteʻa is one of the few dances which existed in pre-European times as a male dance. On the other hand, the hura (Tahitian vernacular for hula), a dance for women, has disappeared, and the couple's dance 'upa'upa is likewise gone but may have re-emerged as the tamure. Nowadays, the ʻōteʻa can be danced by men (ʻōteʻa tāne), by women (ʻōteʻa vahine), or by both genders (ʻōteʻa ʻāmui = united ʻō.). The dance is with music only, drums, but no singing. The drum can be one of the types of the tōʻere, a laying log of wood with a longitudinal slit, which is struck by one or two sticks. Or it can be the pahu, the ancient Tahitian standing drum covered with a shark skin and struck by the hands or with sticks. The rhythm from the tōʻere is fast, from the pahu it is slower. A smaller drum, the faʻatete, can be used.
Summer is from November through April, with a warmer and more humid climate and winter is from May to October, when the climate is slightly cooler and drier. When you step out of the airplane, you'll immediately notice that the air is warm and humid. Consequently, besides your camera and your extra memory cards, do not forget to pack lightweight cotton clothes, sunscreen lotion and a baseball cap or a wide brimmed hat. Synthetic fabrics can get hot and sticky in the tropics.
During his final visit, Cook returned Ma'i to Tahiti on 12 August 1777, after Ma'i's long visit in England. Cook also brought two Maori from Queen Charlotte Sound, Te Weherua and Koa. Cook first harboured in Vaitepiha Bay, where he visited Vehiatua II's funeral bier and the prefabricated Spanish mission house. Cook also met Vehiatua III, and inscribed on the back of the Spanish cross, Georgius tertius Rex Annis 1767, 69, 73, 74 & 77, as a counterpoint to Christus Vincit Carolus III imperat 1774 on the front. On 23 August, Cook sailed for Matavai Bay, where he met Tu, his father Teu, his mother Tetupaia, his brothers Ari'ipaea and Vaetua, and his sisters Ari'ipaea-vahine, Tetua-te-ahama'i, and Auo. Cook also observed a human sacrifice, ta'ata tapu, at the 'Utu-'ai-mahurau marae, and 49 skulls from previous victims.[11]:405,419–435
French Polynesians vote in the French presidential elections and at the 2007 French presidential election, in which the pro-independence leader Oscar Temaru openly called to vote for the Socialist candidate Ségolène Royal while the parties opposed to independence generally supported the center-right candidate Nicolas Sarkozy, the turnout in French Polynesia was 69.12% in the first round of the election and 74.67% in the second round in favour of Nicolas Sarkozy ahead in both rounds of the election expressing their will to remain in the French Republic. (versus in Metropolitan France in the 2nd round: Nicolas Sarkozy 51.9%; Ségolène Royal 48.1%).[23]
Snorkeling in Bora BoraBora Bora reefAcross the lagoon from Mount Otemanu, Bora BoraMeeting the localsBora Bora below the surfaceArrival in Bora BoraShopping in VaitapeFour Seasons Resort Bora BoraTurtle Sanctuary at Le Meridien Bora Bora Bora Bora, jetskiingBora Bora Dinner at Villa MahanaHammock timeBora Bora, sunset diningBora Bora 4x4 adventureBora BoraBora Bora Pearl Beach Resort & Spa, Aerial ViewSofitel Bora Bora Private IslandAlone time at Motu Tapu, Hilton Bora Bora Nui's private motuFire Dancers at the InterContinental Bora Bora Le Moana Snorkeling in Bora BoraBora Bora reef
So I need your input in this since you’ve been there. We love biking but won’t bring our bikes. It seems like biking would be the best way to get around and explore the island. If we decide to rent scooters, how are the rules there? In Asia, you can fit a family of 7 and nobody cares haha you know what I mean, are they super strict with safety regulations? We live in Canada, in Vancouver to be specific and everything is so strict.

Accommodation in Tahiti can run from the most luxurious 5-star hotels like The Brando Resort or Tahiti Intercontinental [10] with overwater bungalows, security, a bar, a pool, to small family pensions. If you're staying in one of the pensions, do try to bring insect repellent. Many of the accommodations in Tahiti are of the older style from the early 70's to today.


I haven’t had the best of luck with bicycles when I travel, so it was a surprise that I grew to embrace them in French Polynesia. Like the island time I mentioned above, cycling slows you down, chills you out and ensures you don’t miss anything. I was always moving slow enough that the locals could call out to me as I passed, I was able to stop every few metres to snap a photo of a colourful flower or deserted beach, and the roads were well-paved, so it wasn’t painful to ride.
Beyond the city atmosphere, Tahiti is also a scenic island with lush landscapes and large abounding waterfalls. Leave the more developed areas behind and you will find shady hiking trails, pleasant beaches and calm waters. This unique juxtaposition makes Tahiti one of the most diverse islands in French Polynesia. We recommend exploring these interior peaks and valleys on a guided hike or Jeep Safari tour.
The Mo'orea Ferry operates from Papeete and takes about 45 minutes to travel to Moorea. Other ferries are the Aremiti 5 and the Aremiti 7 and these two ferries sail to Moorea in about half an hour. There are also several ferries that transport people and goods throughout the islands. The Bora Bora cruiseline sails to Bora Bora about once a week. The main hub for these ferries is the Papeete Wharf.
In about 1790, the ambitious chief Tū took the title of king and gave himself the name Pōmare. Captain Bligh explains that this name was a homage to his eldest daughter Teriinavahoroa, who had died of tuberculosis, "an illness that made her cough (mare) a lot, especially at night (pō)". Thus he became Pōmare I, founding the Pōmare Dynasty and his lineage would be the first to unify Tahiti from 1788 to 1791. He and his descendants founded and expanded Tahitian influence to all of the lands that now constitute modern French Polynesia.
×