Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Apr 14, 2018 - National Geographic Orion

We started the first day of our expedition at sunrise with the view of our first stop: Bora Bora.

We were greeted by the view of the island rising from the sea, with the height of Mount Pahia almost touching the clouds.

Many of our guests went ashore during the morning to explore the island, going on hikes up the hills of this island and visiting many of the historical sites.

In ancient times the island was called "Pora pora mai te pora," meaning "created by the underworld." They believed this was the second oldest land to rise from the ocean. Pora Pora became Bora Bora, and when the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen first landed on the island, he and his crew adopted the name Bora Bora which has stood ever since.

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.

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.

During the day we had the pleasure of enjoying our own private island of Motu Tapu. We went snorkeling, kayaking, and enjoyed the stand-up paddleboards in the paradise turquoise waters of the lagoon.

We said goodbye to our first stop in French Polynesia, the island of Bora Bora, with cocktails by the beach during the sunset. We were ready to continue exploring this area of the Pacific. Our next destination: Huahine.

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About the Author

Alex Searle


Born in Chile and raised in Argentina, Alex spent his childhood living in different parts of these countries and getting to know the local cultures.

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