With its glittering lagoons, vibrant coral gardens, and beaches lined with coconut trees, Bora Bora is one of French Polynesia’s most popular destinations, but the tropical paradise also harbors a fascinating military past. Here’s what you need to know about Bora Bora’s World War II history.
World War II History in Bora Bora
After the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States chose the main island of Bora Bora to serve as a military supply base in the South Pacific, under the covert name “Operation Bobcat.” The tiny island was stocked with ships, equipment, an airstrip, and more than 7,000 soldiers, although it never saw combat. The army base was closed in 1946, but its influence is still felt on the island and not only in the 19-mile (31 kilometer) road it built around the island or the now defunct international airstrip. Many of the G.I.s decided to stay on the island paradise after the war and marry Polynesians, and you can still meet many American expats and their descendants.
World War II Sites in Bora Bora
An island sightseeing tour or 4WD tour of Bora Bora is the best way to discover the island’s WWII sites, which include a number of military bunkers hidden away in the jungle. By far the most impressive remnants of Bora Bora's WWII past are the eight enormous artillery cannons at several spots on the island, including Faanui Canon lookout. The rusty canons were never fired, but sit at one of the island’s most magnificent lookout points and provide a popular photo opportunity for travelers.