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Bora Bora is a major international tourist destination, famous for its aqua-centric luxury resorts. The major settlement, Vaitape, is on the western side of the main island, opposite the main channel into the lagoon. Produce of the island is mostly limited to what can be obtained from the sea and the plentiful coconut trees, which were historically of economic importance for copra. According to a census performed in 2008, the permanent population of Bora Bora is 8,880.

Today the island's economy is driven almost solely by tourism. Over the last few years several resorts have been built on motu surrounding the lagoon. Thirty years ago, Hotel Bora Bora built the first over-the-water bungalows on stilts over the lagoon and today, over-water bungalows are a standard feature of most Bora Bora resorts. The quality of those bungalows ranges from comparably cheap, basic accommodations to very luxurious and expensive places to stay. The only camping on the island is Bora Bora Camping at the southern point of Motu Piti Aau.

Most of the tourist destinations are aqua-centric; however it is possible to visit attractions on land such as WWII cannons. Air Tahiti has five or six flights daily to the Bora Bora Airport on Motu Mute from Tahiti. The island is served by Bora Bora Airport on Motu Mute in the north, with Air Tahiti providing daily flights to and from Papeete on Tahiti.

Although French and Tahitian are the main languages spoken by the inhabitants, people in contact with tourists generally have some command of English. Most visitors to Bora Bora are American, Japanese, or European.

Public transport on the island is non-existent. Rental cars and bicycles are the recommended method of transport. There are also small fun-cars for hire in Vaitape. It is possible to rent ($150 per 4 hours) motor-driven boat to explore the lagoon.

Snorkeling and scuba diving in and around the lagoon of Bora Bora are popular activities. Many species of sharks and rays inhabit the surrounding body of water. There are a few dive operators on the island offering manta ray dives and also shark-feeding dives.

In addition to the existing islands of Bora Bora, the new man-made motu of Motu Marfo has been added in the north-eastern corner of the lagoon on the property of the St. Regis Resort.
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