4 Things I Wished I Knew Before Visiting Bora Bora's Traditional Villages

Visiting Bora Bora’s traditional villages is a journey into the heart of Polynesian culture, a hidden treasure beyond the luxurious resorts and picturesque beaches that this pearl of the South Pacific is known for. Stepping away from the opulence of the resorts and immersing yourself in the local way of life offers a unique and enriching experience. In this article, we’ll uncover the secrets and insights that await those who venture off the beaten path. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first-time explorer, these villages offer an authentic glimpse into Polynesian heritage, leaving you with lasting memories and a newfound appreciation for the island’s traditional way of life.

Tahiti souvenir market-Visiting Bora Bora's Traditional VillagesThe Importance of Cultural Respect

Before you set foot in one of Bora Bora’s traditional villages, it’s crucial to understand the significance of cultural respect. The island’s native population, the Tahitians, have a rich and vibrant culture that they hold dear. When you visit their villages, you are entering their world, and it’s essential to do so with the utmost respect for their traditions and way of life.


The Tahitians have a strong sense of community and a deep connection to their land. Their villages are not tourist attractions but real, living communities. It’s essential to be mindful of this fact and approach your visit with humility and respect. Remember that you are a guest in their home, and it’s crucial to adhere to local customs and etiquette.


One way to show respect is by seeking permission before entering someone’s property or home. If you want to take photographs, always ask for consent. Additionally, dress modestly and avoid wearing revealing clothing when visiting traditional villages. Keep in mind that some areas may be off-limits to tourists, so be sure to follow any guidelines provided by your tour guide or the locals.


When you interact with the locals, do so with a genuine interest in their culture and traditions. Ask questions, listen attentively, and express appreciation for what you learn. Learning about their way of life can be a rewarding experience and can lead to meaningful connections with the people of Bora Bora.

Language Barrier

One of the challenges I encountered while visiting Bora Bora’s traditional villages was the language barrier. While French is the official language of French Polynesia, Tahitian is widely spoken on the islands, including Bora Bora. Most locals can speak some English, especially in tourist areas, but when you venture into the villages, you may find that communication can be a bit tricky.


To make your visit more enjoyable and meaningful, consider learning a few basic Tahitian phrases or bringing along a pocket-sized Tahitian phrasebook. Even a simple “Ia ora na” (hello) or “Mauruuru” (thank you) can go a long way in breaking the ice and showing respect for the local culture. Locals appreciate it when visitors make an effort to connect on a linguistic level, and it can lead to more authentic and memorable interactions.


While language may be a barrier at times, remember that non-verbal communication can also be powerful. A friendly smile, a nod of appreciation, or a gesture of gratitude can transcend language barriers and convey your respect and interest in the local culture.

village-Tahiti souvenir market-Visiting Bora Bora's Traditional VillagesTraditional Village Life

Visiting Bora Bora’s traditional villages is a unique opportunity to gain insights into the daily lives of the Tahitian people. You’ll discover that life in these villages is a far cry from the luxury resorts and overwater bungalows that dot the island. Traditional village life is characterized by simplicity and a deep connection to nature.


Houses in these villages are often made of natural materials like bamboo, thatch, and palm leaves. You’ll notice that many homes are raised on stilts to protect them from occasional floods. The Tahitians have a deep respect for the environment, and their way of life is closely intertwined with nature.


During your visit, take the time to observe the villagers as they go about their daily routines. You may see them fishing, weaving, or tending to their taro and breadfruit plantations. Engage in conversations with the locals if you can, as this is an excellent way to learn about their traditions, beliefs, and the challenges they face in preserving their way of life.


Participating in traditional activities, such as trying your hand at weaving or learning about the art of fishing, can be an incredibly enriching experience. It not only allows you to appreciate the skills and knowledge of the local people but also fosters a sense of connection with their way of life.

Limited Amenities

While the traditional villages of Bora Bora offer a glimpse into a way of life that is far removed from modernity, it’s essential to be prepared for limited amenities. Unlike the well-appointed resorts on the island, the villages may lack some of the conveniences you’re accustomed to.


For example, restroom facilities in these villages may be quite basic, so it’s a good idea to use the facilities at your hotel or resort before embarking on your village visit. Additionally, you may not find shops or restaurants in the traditional villages, so bring along any snacks or refreshments you might need.


It’s also worth noting that there may not be ATMs or easy access to cash in the villages, so ensure you have enough local currency on hand for any purchases or donations you wish to make. Most importantly, be patient and flexible; the pace of life in these villages is slow and relaxed, so embrace the opportunity to disconnect from the modern world.


Visiting Bora Bora’s traditional villages can be a truly enriching experience, offering a glimpse into a way of life that is worlds apart from the luxury resorts that dominate the island. To make the most of your visit, remember to approach it with cultural respect, be prepared for the language barrier, embrace the simplicity of traditional village life, and be ready for limited amenities.


Far and Away Adventures can help you plan a memorable trip to Bora Bora, including a visit to its traditional villages. Our experienced guides can provide you with valuable insights and ensure that your journey is both respectful and enjoyable. Don’t miss the opportunity to connect with the authentic culture of Bora Bora. Contact us today to start planning your adventure.

Our Top FAQ's

You can expect an authentic cultural experience, learning about the local way of life and traditions.

Dress modestly, covering shoulders and knees as a sign of respect for the local culture.

While some locals speak English, learning a few Tahitian phrases can enhance your experience.

Always ask for permission before taking photos, respecting the privacy of the villagers.

Yes, guided tours are available, providing valuable insights into the culture and customs.

The villages can be visited year-round, but consider the dry season (May to October) for ideal weather.

Show respect by removing your shoes before entering homes and seek permission for certain activities.

Handcrafted items such as woven baskets, traditional jewelry, and artwork make excellent souvenirs and support the local economy.

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