Bora Bora, Tahiti

Bora Bora Basics–Where in the World Is It?

So you’re ready to plan your trip after seeing all these awesome photos and the first thing you probably wonder is—where the heck in the world is Bora Bora even located?! Trust me, I didn’t know either until we did this trip, and my geography is pretty horrible.  And that’s why I travel…to get better at geography! (Kidding. Partially…) I’ll give you a little background on the basics of Bora Bora because I like to think one needs to learn a little bit of history and culture in a new country!

Bora Bora is located in the South Pacific Ocean, just a little south of the equator, smack dab in the ocean between Peru and Australia. If that didn’t make any sense to you as it probably wouldn’t to me off the top of my head, just think of it as being a few hours south of Hawaii, which is in the North Pacific Ocean! They are in the same time zone. (And yes, I had to use Google Maps to outline these awesome coordinates. No shame, ok? I have a very good sense of direction even if my geography is terrible!)

At first everyone thought there was a weird misspelling, but Pora Pora is the OG name! Well…sort of. By the way, this is the only deli/cafe in the Bora Bora airport. No, nothing is cheap.


The island name has evolved from Vava’u to Pora Pora and finally to Bora Bora because apparently Captain Cook, as one of the first visitors to the islands, couldn’t distinguish the soft “p” sounds and heard a “b” instead. And so even though there really isn’t a “b” sound in Tahitian, there it is. Maybe someone should have told that man to get his ears checked. It means “first born”, as legends describe this island to be the first one fished out of the water by the supreme god Taaroa after the creation of Havai’i, now known as Raiatea. I’m not really sure how the island is “first born” if there was another island already there first to fish it out of, but…hey, I only report what I was told. And we don’t mess with legends.

Bora Bora is one of the 118 islands of Tahiti, or French Polynesia to be a little more accurate. That’s a lot of beautiful, magical islands! Wonder how much it would cost to buy a private island…heh. I was really confused at first when saying Tahiti because Tahiti itself is an island, too. However, Tahiti can also be used to refer to the overall French Polynesian islands, maybe because it is the most populous island with almost 70% of the population in the country. Kind of like how Hawaii is used to describe all of the islands in its archipelago AND an individual island. Whew. Why they gotta make it so confusing?

Flying to Bora Bora from Tahiti. This is actually Taha’a Island just before we arrived at Bora Bora! Aren’t those blues in the water just absolutely stunning and unreal?! It looks like one of those rock geoprisms.


To get even more specific, there are 5 archipelagos (little collections of islands) in French Polynesia. Bora Bora, along with Tahiti, Moorea, Raiatea, Huahine, Maupiti, and Taha’a, are part of the most famous archipelago called the Society Islands.

What makes Bora Bora so magical is the fact that it is only a tiny island (18 miles long) surrounded by the most beautiful lagoon protected by another string of islets or motus that encircle the lagoon like a necklace. These motus have gorgeous resorts on them from where the overwater bungalows extend and the strip of land is so small, you could probably see from one side to the other if there weren’t any palm trees or vegetation in the way. But I think the vegetation is part of what makes Bora Bora stand out too and different from the Maldives.

A little glimpse of where the main hotels/resorts are and Bora Bora’s geographical view. There is only one major channel that boats can get in from! Image Credit:

Now that you have an idea of where Bora Bora is and what its geography looks like, how do you get there? Check out the next blog post! 🙂

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