IN THE KNOW
Bora Bora – exotic landscapes, sparkling seas, bright blue skies. Beyond its natural beauty, our cluster of islands is home to the warm, open-hearted people of Polynesia and a rich tapestry of culture and traditions. Our modern Pacific nation boasts a cosmopolitan blend of ancient Polynesian heritage and French élan. Most Tahitians are multilingual, speaking English as their third or even fourth language, with Tahitian or an island dialect such as Tuamotu first, and French second. While a strong French cultural influence remains, you’ll still find plenty of indigenous heritage in Tahiti. You’ll also find some East Asian culture, introduced by Chinese immigrants in the 19th century. The Lunar New Year is celebrated every year, and Asian flavours permeate our cuisine.
It's customary to shake hands when you meet people you know. If you are meeting a group, you should shake hands with everybody, even if you don't know them. When asking a question to a native Tahitian, a movement of the eyebrow can mean 'yes'. Common expressions includes ia orana (pronounced: yo-RAH-nah), which means ‘hello’, and mauru'uru (pronounced: mah-ROO-roo), which means ‘thank you’.
Many exciting festivals take place in Bora Bora, giving you the opportunity for a fun cultural exchange. Celebrating Polynesian culture with song, dance and traditional sports, the Heiva in July is one festival not to be missed. There’s also Hawaiki Nui, a three-day outrigger canoe race that happens every November.
Bora Bora means 'first born' in the Tahitian language. According to local mythology, Bora Bora was the first land mass to emerge from the sea after the sacred island of Raiatea was created. The island is known as the ‘Pearl of the Pacific' and its lagoon is considered one of the most beautiful in the world.
Monoï and tamanu oils are used widely in local beauty remedies. Tamanu is applied to sunburn and mosquito bites, while monoï is an excellent skin moisturiser.
Tattoos are part of ancient Polynesian tradition and their various styles and symbols have different meanings. They were originally created using the point of a shark’s tooth, but these days sterilised needles are used. Marama, a talented tattoo artist, offers his services on Bora Bora.