Bora Bora & Tips on How to Get There on Budget
Bora Bora has been the No. 1 destination on my bucket list, since forever. We have been talking and planning to go to this place for years, and finally, we made it happen in 2018. And the verdict? It was incredible! The place is exactly what we have imagined and more. The beaches have the softest and almost-white sand. The colors (different shades of blue, green and turquoise) of the oceans were just mind-blowingly beautiful. There are so many activities you can do (which I will go more in details later on), but you can be perfectly content by just sitting on the beach. Now, let's talk about from the start, how you can plan the trip. Many of you have asked me on Instagram if it is true that Bora Bora is as expensive as rumored. The short answer is "yes"! In comparison to other beach destinations we have visited, Bora Bora is definitely one of the priciest.
Here are some tips we used to save money on this trip.
- Go off-season: Generally speaking, May to October is the busiest and most crowded months to visit. This is period what I would try to avoid. November and April would be less crowded and are still in the 'good weather' (no rain) period. From December to March, it is the slow season and the prices of the hotels are the lowest. But there is a huge risk that you will encounter endless heavy rains as it is summer in Bora Bora. We went in February and were incredibly lucky that during our 7-day stay, we had only one and half days of rain. The rest of the week was just sunny, hot and beautiful. But we heard that before we arrive, it has been pouring for two weeks straight. So I would suggest you go around November and April for the best rate and weather.
- Book your flights early to get the best rate. Flights to Bora Bora were one of the biggest costs of the trip. Since it is in the middle of the Pacific, it took us even three flights from San Francisco to get there (SF--> LA, LA-->Papete, Papete-->Bora Bora). And for many others who live in Asia and Europe, there are even more flights to catch. Since we booked our flights almost a year before trip took place, so we found pretty good rates online.
- Research extensively for best deals and book your accommodation early. It is true, the hotels are very expensive at Bora Bora, for 3 to 5-star hotels, they are ranging from $700 to $3000 a night, and these are even the off-season rate. Can't tell you how many discount websites I have checked before booking our hotel at Bora Bora. If the hotels are out of your budgets, I would recommend checking on Airbnb. We met a lovely older couple during our snorkeling trip and they stayed at an Airbnb rental. They told me that they liked it a lot. Again, book early!
- Finding cheaper places to dine (cheaper, but not cheap!): Most of the hotels in Bora Bora do not offer all-inclusive. Some offer breakfast with the accommodation, but many don't. And the meals are expensive. Even just for regular lunch or dinner, they are pretty much in the same price range of mid-high restaurants in the US and Europe. around $15-$20 for the starter, $25-$50 for the main course, $10-$15 for the dessert. We ate in our hotel as well as outside on the main island. I must admit, the restaurant choices in Bora Bora are fairly limited. The island is exclusive and small, so this is not really surprising. Since most hotels are not on the main island, you have to arrange with the hotels to take their boat transportation to the main island and then restaurants will send a taxi to pick you up and bring you to the restaurant. After that, they will drop you off at the dock again and the boat will bring you back to your hotel. This seems to be a standard practice among all hotels in Bora Bora, so it ran pretty seamlessly. We have dined many nights during our stay and never had a problem getting to the restaurants and back. The restaurants we have visited are Bora Bora Yacht Club. They have a reasonably good menu with vegan options. We also went to MaiKai Marina Yacht Club, but the food is not very good. The ingredients were not fresh and we had to send the dishes back to the kitchen like three times.
- Choosing the right and unforgettable activities to do: we booked our activities during our stay either through the hotel or online by ourselves. Since there are not many tourists on the island, you won't run into the problem of activities being booked out. We always booked the tours the day before, so we know what the weather is going to look like the next day. This way you can try to avoid wasting money on the tours due to bad weather. During our stay, we joined a Ray and Shark Snorkelling Tour with the Shark Boy and it was amazing. If you have a boat license, it is also great to rent a boat with La Plage Boat Rental and explore the island at your own pace.
Just one last tip, while you are on the main Island and visit Matira Beach, make sure you go and visit the Coqui Coqui Perfume store. It is one of the most beautiful shops I have ever visited. And their Polynesian collection is just exquisite. I bought the Fleurs des Iles body oil since its scent just reminds of those beautiful iles flowers so much. now every time when I apply the oil to my skin, it reminds me of the amazing time we had in Bora Bora.
So that's it. Hope you find these tips helpful in planning your trip to Bora Bora. Feel free to comment below if you have more questions and I will try my best to answer.