Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Living on Bora Bora

Iyna Bort Caruso

According to legend, the ancient Tahitians’ name for Bora Bora translated into “Created by the Gods.” Few who have experienced the French Polynesian island would argue the fact it is indeed a destination of mystical, maybe even divine beauty.

Bora Bora is a mountainous island, located less than an hour’s flight from Tahiti. It is part of the Society Islands, one of five main archipelagos that make up French Polynesia. With Tahiti and Moorea among the islands in the Society chain, the archipelago is the most visited. 

Bora Bora was a kingdom until annexed by France as a colony in 1888. French and Tahitian are the main languages, although English is widely spoken among its roughly 10,000 residents.

Tourism drives the economy. Visitors are enchanted by the geography in which the land is surrounded by a lagoon and barrier reef, and edged with islets known as motus. Rising from the interior of the island are the soaring spires of two extinct volcanoes, Mount Otemanu and Mount Pahia. Together they give Bora Bora its dramatic profile.

Vaitape is the main village, administrative center and the closest version there is here to city life on the island. Roughly half of Bora Bora’s population lives in Vaitape.

About four miles south is the popular mile-long Matira Beach, known for its crystal clear waters, cafes and breathtaking sunsets. Additional beach options are the small scattered and palm-studded islands surrounding the lagoon. Action on and below the warm South Pacific waters is a big part of island life, from yachting to snorkeling the natural aquarium called the Bora Bora Lagoonarium.

Overwater bungalows, resort-style homes and hilltop villas are among the residential real estate offerings. Much of the architecture combines traditional Polynesian design with modern Western amenities.

Discover your next luxury escape in Bora Bora

Local contact

French Polynesia Sotheby's International Realty

5 Avenue Francois Cardella
PO Box 40134, Papeete, 98713 French Polynesia