PEOPLE ARE VERY NICE BUT THE ISLAND ITSELF IS NOT WHAT I EXPECTED. IF YOU GO I WOULD SUGGEST NOT LEAVING YOUR RESORT. IT WAS SOMEWHAT DISSAPOINTING. I'VE BEEN TO 5 OTHER SURROUNDING ISLANDS AND THIS IS BY FAR MY LEAST FAVORITE BESIDES TAHITII WHICH WE HAD GO TO TO GET THERE! SHOPPING FOR BLACK PEARLS, BUT YOU CAN FIND THEM ON ANY OF THE ISLANDS.
The History of Bora Bora
Before the arrival of the Europeans Bora Bora was known as Vavau and also as Mai Te Pora which means: “risen from darkness”, also: “created by gods”. And in a third source I read it means: “first born”.
Legend says it was the first land to rise from the water. (Which BTW we know is not true…) From Mai Te Pora the name changed into Pora and Popora, finally Pora Pora, then Bora Bora.
The first inhabitants arrived around the 9th century. Internal wars about the island raged for centuries. Three major tribes were involved in those battles, the Nunue, Faanui, and Anau – names you will now recognise as the names of settlements. Puni, the King of Faanui, rose as the winner of the fights and brought peace to the island just before the Europeans arrived.
Bora Bora had its own sovereign until it was annexed by France in 1888. The last queen was Terii-Maevarua II. She was the granddaughter of Queen Pomare IV of Tahiti (the second-last sovereign of the Pomare dynasty), and died in Tahiti in 1932.
Tapoa I and Tapoa II reigned the island during the first half of the 19th century. (The latter BTW married Aimata in 1822. She later became Queen Pomare IV, mother of the last king of Polynesia, Pomare V, who had her remains removed from her tomb when he felt his – alcohol-related – end was near, as he wanted to rest at the tomb in Tahiti…) Tapoa II’s adopted daughter Terii Maevarua was Queen from 1860 to 1873, then her niece – the already mentioned Queen Terii Maevarua II, came into power. This lady’s life also had a modern feature. She divorced her husband, Prince Hinoi, in 1887 after only three years of marriage. A year later she gave Bora Bora to France.
The island was first sighted by Europeans in 1769. The first European to set foot on it was Captain James Cook in 1777.
During World War II more than 4500 US troops – exactly 4450 troops and 178 officers - were stationed on Bora Bora. This started after Japan had raided Pearl Harbour on the Hawaiian island of Oahu on 7 December 1941, which initiated the War of the Pacific. While the USA calculated which perimeter it could defend until a counter-offence could be mounted against Japan, Bora Bora became the first of a chain of refuelling bases across the South Pacific, on the direct route from Panama to Australia. The code name was Bobcat.
An armada of 2 cruisers, 2 destroyers, 2 cargo boats, 2 troop carriers, and one tanker with 20,000 tons of materials, weapons and military personnel arrived on 17 February 1942 from Charleston in South Carolina. There were no vehicles, and no roads on the island, except coral paths for bicycles, and coconut log bridges across streams.
Soon paradise was filled with all those troops, defense artillery, a seaplane squadron, etc. Peace and quiet were destroyed but young locals obviously enjoyed the mechanical monsters they had never seen before.
All footpaths and bridges were destroyed by heavy vehicles, heavyduty roads were built, and eight seven-inch guns hauled up the hills. (Three of four batteries can still be seen today.)
The guns were never fired in hostility, as the USA defeated the Japanese navy in the Battle of Midway (4 to 7 June 1942) six months after Pearl Harbour. And lucky Americans and Bora Borans: The range of the guns hardly went beyound the outer reef, meaning they were totally useless.
In 1943 an airstrip was built on Motu Mute. It has remained Bora Bora’s airport until today.
The island was handed back to france in June 1946.
How to tie your pareo ?
Well, there are apparently many ways to tie it elegantly...
As you can see on the picture, the nice woman from whom I bought my pareo tried to show me the various ways to tie it... around the neck, around the waist... it all seemed easy when she kindly showed me ;-) Back to the hotel, it was more difficult then I had thought :-)
This art remains a mystery to me !
But I'm glad I bought this one, I really couldn't resist the bright colours !
Meet other Couples!
One of my favorite things about Bora Bora is its diverse group of people who all seem to be here on a honeymoon or renewal of their vows! On our safari trip, we met 2 other groups of honeymooners, one from New Zealand and the other from Japan. Although we did not have alot of conversation, the universal language of hand gesture and picture taking was in full form. Just by a simple set of hand instructions, I was able to get this cute Japanese couple to smile for a pic underwater together!
The underwater life: such colors! You could not get me out of the water! I snorkeled first thing in the morning and as the sun went down at night. Then I went inside my bungalow and watched the activity below through the glass in the floor. Listening to island music as I ate my mahi-mahi sandwich at lunch!