Bora Bora or Maldives? The question I am asked at least 10 times a day and one that comes with more than a simple destination answer.
While both destinations outwardly look and feel similar, there are some key differences that could sway your decision one way or the other.
I have always been upfront about Bora Bora being my favorite place in the world, even after having been to the Maldives, but both are spectacular destinations. In fact, some people share the opposite opinion and prefer the Maldives.
All the major details between the two destinations I will outline below, which I believe will help you in making the decision.
Bora Bora vs. Maldives
Getting to Bora Bora and the Maldives
The topic of transportation seems to weigh heavy on everyone’s mind when making the decision between destinations. Where you live, will greatly impact your time of travel to either destination. For example, I live in Washington, D.C. for reference:
For me to get to Bora Bora:
- Dc to Los Angeles – 6 hours
- Los Angeles to Tahiti – 8 hours
- Tahiti to Bora Bora – 50 minutes
- Speedboat – 15-45 minutes
For me to get to Maldives:
- DC to Qatar – 13 hours
- Qatar to Maldives – 5 hours
- Maldives to the resorts – 15-90 minutes by seaplane, boat OR domestic flight and speedboat transfer
Where you live and how long the international part of the trip takes, matters. If you are working on limited time, you will want to cut your travel time down as much as you can.
For me, it is easier to get to Bora Bora. The time that it takes me to get to Bora Bora is nearly the one leg to get to the Maldives.
The second thing to consider is the actual planes. In Maldives, nearly every resort requires a seaplane transfer that can last for 15-60 minutes.
These planes seat about 15 people and it is a bit tight. The cabin is not pressurized and there are two small fans to keep it a bit cool. For Bora Bora, you take a plane that seats 70 and is air conditioned and pressurized.
I can tell you, I was terrified to get on a seaplane, but it ended up being fine. It was fun actually and one of the best activities in the Maldives. Sit at the window though for the best views below. If you are claustrophobic, this may not be the option for you.
In Bora Bora, Air Tahiti is the only airline that flies to Bora Bora, so you will be subject to their prices. The cost will most likely fall somewhere in the range of $250-550 round trip.
Once you land in Bora Bora, some of the resorts have already worked the speedboat cost into your stay, and others can range up to $300 per person. If you are staying on land in Vaitape, the boat shuttle is free to the mainland and you will get a taxi from there for about $25 each way.
In Maldives, a seaplane will cost anywhere from $400-$1000+ depending on the resort. For speedboats, some resorts include it in the room rate, but they average around $300 per person (give or take).
For the domestic flight, average costs are $110-225+ each, but can go upwards to $800 round trip. When you have to take the domestic flight, you will also have to take a speedboat to your resort after landing.
If you are flying into Bora Bora from Tahiti, sit on the left side of the plane in one of the first 5 rows for the best views of the island coming in. There are no seating assignments, so just be ready to jump up and get outside when the plane is ready.
When taking a seaplane in Maldives, you will want to sit in row one at the window. Not only do you get the best view BUT you are also in front of the fans.
You can find deals on flights. On my first trip to Bora Bora, I found a flight for $585.28! From DC to Tahiti. AND it was in high season, so the weather was perfect.
I would recommend setting up flight alerts to track prices for your anticipated travel dates.
Bora Bora is a French territory in the South Pacific Ocean and Maldives is its own country in the Indian Ocean.
When to visit Bora Bora or Maldives
The things about these two destinations is that they are on the opposite sides of the world, which means, when one is having its best weather, the other is not.
The best time to visit Bora Bora is about May-October (I say June-August is the best), give or take and November to March for the Maldives. One thing I always like to tell people is that weather is unpredictable. Even during the best weather, rain can come and during the wet season, you can see weeks of perfect weather.
One nice thing about rain or storms is that they often bring clouds and spectacular sunsets.
I went to Maldives during late September and early October. I got caught up in rain for a few days and had perfect weather the rest. I expected a lot of rain but was blessed with incredible days too.
One of the main benefits of visiting during the off season is that prices drop. You could luck out and get a luxury vacation at a fraction of the cost and get great weather. But of course, the weather is no guarantee anytime of the year.
Hotel options in Bora Bora and Maldives
Maldives has almost 200 resorts and Bora Bora has less than 10. Going to Bora Bora almost guarantees a high price tag because most of the resorts are 5 star luxury and in limited supply. In Maldives, you get a more varied range of resorts, even some locally owned ones. Which in turn gives you options.
There are hotel options, guest houses, and private rentals in Bora Bora that will cost less than staying in one of the luxury resorts with overwater villas if you are looking for a more budget friendly option. However, I would not skip staying in an overwater villa all together. The experience is completely different.
However, Maldives has overwater villas that can fetch up to $50K per night. Believe me when I say, there is no shortage of luxury resorts in the Maldives. I would argue there are more options for varied budgets.
One way that you can save money often is by staying in a beach villa versus an overwater bungalow in the Maldives. The same isn’t always true in Bora Bora. For example, the beach villas at Four Seasons Bora Bora cost more than the overwater villas and are exceedingly bigger and better (in my opinion). In fact, I would stay in the beach villa if I went back instead of an overwater bungalow.
One question that is asked frequently is about all-inclusive resorts. Maldives has quite a few and Bora Bora has none. When you go to Bora Bora, you may find a package that includes breakfast or breakfast and dinner, but never all-inclusive.
If you want a true all-inclusive resort where you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want and have alcohol as well, then the Maldives is going to be your pick. Almost everything is a la carte in Bora Bora.
Assuming you don’t find a deal, you can expect to pay anywhere from about $150-50,000 per night in Maldives. Don’t let the $50K price tag scare you, that is one suite and not common.
In Bora Bora, it is unlikely you would find a room for under $500 per night unless you found a deal, say on Costco Travel.
Tips for saving money:
- You can take up to 2 liters of alcohol per person to Bora Bora. This can be a massive savings for you if you like to drink. This cannot be done in Maldives.
- Check deals for the Maldives through VIP Traveler, Costco and TravelZoo as they often them. Sometimes, they are packaged so well that the only thing you need to get is your international flight. Costco and the Tahiti Tourism website often have deals for Bora Bora.
- Visit during off season. Yes, weather can be unpredictable and can go either way – BUT you can usually score incredible deals.
- If you are not doing an all-inclusive option, look for a resort that will include a breakfast with your rate. Most of the resorts offer a buffet breakfast. Treat it like brunch and fuel for the day and then just get dinner later. I promise this works and you will not go hungry.
How do I get around once I get to the resort?
One thing people tend to overlook is that almost all the resorts in both Bora Bora and the Maldives are on their own islands, which means, once you arrive, the only way out is by boat or seaplane.
That being said, a lot of the resorts offer bikes to use while you are there, golf cart transport and you can walk. The resorts aren’t so big that you will be lost. Everything tends to be concentrated in areas so it is easy to access.
What is the food like in Bora Bora and Maldives?
You are most likely eating all your meals at the resort(s) you are staying at because most resorts are on their own islands. In Bora Bora, the resorts have a speedboat transfer to the mainland, Vaitape, and you can get groceries and dine there. It is a very limited service and you will have to pay for it.
That being said – you can expect to find a range of food at various resorts and I highly suggest looking at the options before booking anything. You want to make sure you can find plenty of food you like for the duration of your stay.
If you have any allergies or requests, contact the resort at least two weeks before you arrive to discuss.
Both destinations tend to cater to a wide audience of travelers and offer American foods, European, Italian, etc. Since Bora Bora is a French territory, you will find more French options available as well. In the Maldives, you will also find Maldivian, Indian and Sri Lankan food.
I encourage you to try some of the local dishes. It was honestly some of the best food I had in both destinations. However, if you just want standard things like pizza, sandwiches, pasta,, burgers, etc – this is widely available.
Is Bora Bora and Maldives good for families or just couples?
Technically both destinations are great for families. However, a lot of the resorts in the Maldives are geared towards families and therefore offer more land villas and have robust activities for kids, so the adults can also vacation.
I highly recommend looking at the resorts you are considering and reading about what they offer and what best suits your travel needs.
What activities are there to do in Maldives or Bora Bora?
Both destinations have similar activities like: snorkeling, diving, seeing whales (seasonally), kayaking, sailing, fishing, dolphin cruises, spa, etc.
Some resorts will offer activites like: movies on the beach on a big screen, cooking classes, cultural classes, parasailing, boat rentals, jet skis, etc.
The big main difference is that Bora Bora’s inner island, Vaitape, is a mountain and you can get more activites there like hiking, off-roading, etc.
The main attraction is the water. Whether you spend it on the beach or in it – its quite spectacular. The water tends to be very blue and crystal clear. You can jump off your overwater bungalow in many places or walk out from your beach villa.
And of course – the pools are always nice if you need a break from the beach.
To be conservative, I would expect to pay at a minimum, at least $6-7K total for two people, all in – but strongly think $10,000 is more likely to be safe. This is assuming you find an incredible deal that is all-inclusive, covers your seaplane or boat transfer AND you find a deal on international airfare.
One way you can offset these costs is if you have any credit card points or miles that you are holding onto. I am not offering financial advice here, but I use the Chase Sapphire Reserve and have been a loyal user since 2016. It does carry a high annual fee, but that is off set by the perks, including a $300 annual travel credit. This card typically has a high sign on bonus 50-100K points. Depending on deals, that could cover 1-2 flights.
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