Only four planes a day touch down at Bora Bora Airport, each carrying less than 70 people. And that’s just how the island likes it.
The jewel in Tahiti’s crown, Bora Bora is close to being the perfect paradise. Unspoilt by the usual crush of tourists, the island has a calm, almost mystical appeal. But part of Bora Bora’s appeal is that it’s so remote, which means that it usually costs quite a few dollars to get there!
So what you need is to find that perfect vacation balance: with ‘when to go?’ on one side of the scales and ‘how much will it cost?’ on the other. Well, we’ve gone through all the spreadsheets and statistics, and we’ve reached out to some people who know. The result is this guide – ‘How Much does a Trip to Bora Bora Cost?’ – which we hope will help you to get the balance just right.
Over the next few minutes, we’ll tell you the best time to go to Bora Bora: how to miss the rainy season, where’s best to hide from the crowds, and how to avoid some of the exorbitantly high prices.
- The average cost of a one-week trip to Bora Bora is $3,184 for a solo traveler, or $5,718 for a couple. (Note that this average price is for all holidays to Bora Bora, from anywhere in the world. So your costs will be different.)
- The average cost of a flight, based on all world flights to Bora Bora, is $2,432 per person.
- The average cost of a hotel, using data from all hotels across the whole year, is $157 per night.
- During a week-long vacation, the average amount spent on food and travel will be $1,092 per person.
Where Is Bora Bora?
Bora Bora is the name for a group of islands which are part of the Leeward Islands. These, in turn, are part of the Society Islands of French Polynesia, located in the South Pacific Ocean. The capital city of the Society Islands is Papeete, which is on Tahiti – largest of all the Society Islands.
Apart from Tahiti and the other French Polynesian islands, Bora Bora’s nearest land is Brisbane, about 3,580 miles to the west. Peru is just over 5,000 miles to the east, Alaska is 5,300 miles due north, and Antarctica lies 4,940 miles due south.
Bora Bora’s main island, 165 miles northwest of Tahiti, is surrounded by an amazingly picturesque lagoon and an active barrier reef. Right in the centre of the island are two peaks, which are all that remain of an old, extinct volcano. The peaks, Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu, rise almost 2,500 feet from the Fa’anui Bay and are the spiritual centre of the islands, as well as the backdrop to thousands of Instagrams!
The economy of Bora Bora is driven almost completely by tourism, and produce of the island is limited to what can be taken from the sea, and coconuts. Lots of coconuts! Bora Bora got its first hotel, the Hostel Bora Bora, in 1961. By 1970 the first of the famous over-the-water bungalows had been built, and by the late 70s Bora Bora had become a playground of the rich and famous, welcoming stars such as Eddie Murphy, Sharon Stone and Keanu Reeves.
Bora Bora is about 12 square miles in size and is home to just over 10,000 people, who mainly live in Vaitape on the western side of the island. The religion of Bora Bora is Christianity, which officially replaced the older Polynesian mythology, although the worship of Polynesian gods is still at the cultural heart of Bora Bora. The main languages spoken are French and Tahitian, although most people can speak English, especially in the beach resorts and tourist hot-spots.
When are the Best Times to Visit Bora Bora?
Before we get into the details, here’s a quick overview:
- May to October: This is the peak tourist season. The temperatures are high, but unfortunately so are the prices! Holidays in June to August are particularly sought-after, especially by European travelers.
- November: Thinned-out crowds make this a great time to visit, and there’s a chance of finding some discounted accommodation (although ‘discounted’ is a subjective term, especially in Bora Bora!) Temperatures of around 75-85° F.
- November/December: Start of the wet season. It’s also confusingly referred to as “summer”. The wet season goes through to March. (Fast Fun Fact: There are no official dates for the start of the seasons in Bora Bora. They just sort of…feel it.)
- December to January (Christmas): Although this lands squarely in the wet season, Christmas and New Year in the tropics is still a very popular option. December is the wettest month, but there are always a few days that are bright and clear. Predictably, prices go up during the holiday season.
- February to March: The tailing off of the wet season. Heavy rainstorms are still a strong probability, although there will be some sunny beach days – unfortunately, nobody can predict exactly when!
- April-May: Some people call this the ‘shoulder’ between the two seasons. There’s minimal rain, temperatures are just the right side of too hot and most hotels are still advertising off-season rates. On balance, April and May are the best months to visit Bora Bora.
When are the Cheapest Times to Visit Bora Bora?
Of course the two major expenses of a holiday are the flights and the accommodation, both of which can be ridiculously high during the peak tourist season. But we’ve crunched the numbers for you, and here’s what we’ve found.
Based on 10 years of data, here are the cheapest times to visit Bora Bora, when flight and accommodation prices are at their lowest.
- Jan 15 – April 16 (after the Xmas/New Year spike, and going into the tail-end of the wet season)
- Apr 21 – May 21 (the shoulder between the wet and dry seasons)
- Aug 13 – Oct 7 (the tail-end of the peak tourist season)
How Much are Flights to Bora Bora?
We hate to say it but – it depends on where you’re starting from! However, joking aside…
Your flight will either be in 2 or 3 stages. The last stage is getting from Faa’a International Airport in Papeete (Tahiti) to Bora Bora Airport, which is sometimes known as Motu Mute Airport. There’s not much leverage with the price of this flight (around $200 for 30-minutes) as the local operator Air Tahiti has a monopoly on air travel to all the Tahitian islands. However, if you’re on an island-hopping adventure, it’s worth looking at the multi-island passes which can save you up to 70% across all your flights.
But you can definitely make a saving on your return flights from home to Tahiti, and here are some ideas that will help:
Book Early! This is by far the best way to keep costs in check. There are always last-minute special offers, but unless you have the luxury of flexible holiday dates then it’s too much of a risk to wait for these to come up. And of course, booking early will also help out with the hotel rates – discounts of up to 25% are available if you can book 30-60 days in advance.
Choose your dates and stick to them! Once you know when you’re going, you can use the brilliant Skyscanner website to set up price alerts. They’ll send you emails whenever prices start moving (up or down) on your tracked flights. And it’s worth bearing in mind that the cheapest day to fly into Tahiti is typically Wednesday, and the cheapest day to fly out is usually Tuesday – with weekends being the most expensive (and often double the weekday price!)
Be Flexible – If You Can! If you can be flexible with dates to a certain extent, then we recommend making a bookmark on your browser for Secret Flying. They post some incredibly discounted flights, and even ‘error fares’, which are mistakes made by the airlines but still honoured on the booking form.
Of course, it really does make a difference where you’re flying from. The cheapest flights are from the east coast of Australia and New Zealand, with flights to Tahiti starting at $300.
From the US, the best plan is to take an internal flight to San Francisco or LA, then book a direct flight to Tahiti with French Bee, which will set you back about $370 each way.
If you’re starting from anywhere in Europe, the cheapest flights are usually from Paris (and sometimes from Turkey) so it might be worth splitting your Tahiti travel into 2 stages. For example, for a one-week return trip from Paris, French Bee charge £742 GBP ($970). For the same travel dates from London, you’d have to pay £1,059 GBP ($1,386) for a 26-hour flight via LA.
How Much Does It Cost to Stay in Bora Bora?
Although there are many jaw-droppingly beautiful hotels on land, for a true Bora Bora experience nothing beats the overwater villas. Built in 1970 as part of the Bora Bora Hotel, the first overwater villas were based on a traditional Tahitian design. The idea set a precedent, and the same design is echoed by the 900 overwater villas and bungalows that are spread across Tahiti’s 118 islands – and the 7000 copies around the rest of the world!
But, assuming you haven’t got a spare five grand to hand over to a hotel every day, there are some other options available.
If your heart’s set on staying in an overwater bungalow (and who could blame you?), then you’ll need to budget a minimum of $500 per night for a basic room, although there are some ‘half-on, half-off’ overwater rooms (such as at the Oa Oa Lodge) available for $250 to 300 a night.
If you’re looking for a luxury overwater suite with glass-bottomed floors and food brought to your room by a waiter in a tux, you’ll need to find at least $1,000 a night, which would pay for something like a private bungalow at the InterContinental resort. You’ll get the best rates if you book for a full week, and one or two days may be included for ‘free’ as part of an early-booking deal.
A lot of people choose to spend three or four nights of blissful opulence at one of the overwater villas, then book a cheaper accommodation as a base to go off and explore Bora Bora for another few days. (Alternatively, you could do it the other way round!)
If this sounds like a great idea, then at the low-ish end of the scale you can find some apartment-style accommodations for about $130 per night. These are pretty basic, more hostel than hotel, and will be quite far from the waterfront. Moving up a grade, to the $200 to 300 per night tariff, should get you a garden-facing room at a mid-range hotel like the Sofitel Marara.
Another option, very popular with budget-conscious travelers, is to book an apartment with airbnb. There are over 120 properties available, some for as little as $50 per night, such as the Ladyborabora bungalow.
Is It Expensive to Eat in Bora Bora?
Because of its remote location, any food that Bora Bora imports carries a hefty import fee. And, sadly, that extra cost usually gets passed directly on to you.
To give you a few examples: on the resorts, a burger and cocktail at a casual eatery will set you back about $35, whereas a main plate and appetiser in a mid to high-range restaurant will cost about $160 per person (or over $200 with a nice wine added).
One way to save money at the resorts is to ask if they have a pre-paid meal plan available. We know of one high-end resort hotel that charges individual breakfasts at $70, yet only a one-off fee of $150 for a week-long breakfast package. That’s a saving of $340 per week, which is actually quite incredible!
Another way to keep down the cost of your holiday is to buy food from a local grocery store. Local Polynesian food is always fresh, and you’ll welcome the savings. Or why not take a couple of meals in the local fashion by eating at the roulottes (rolling food trucks) found around Vaitape at dusk. You can get a decent burger and fries with a beer for around $15, and there are always a few chairs and tables put out if you don’t want to eat and run. It’s not exactly the height of Polynesian cuisine, but sometimes you just need a burger and fries!
At the other end of the scale, of course, are the high-end restaurants. And they don’t come more opulent than Lagoon at St. Regis, Bora Bora’s most upscale dining experience. With floor-to-ceiling windows offering unsurpassed views of mythic Mount Otemanu, Lagoon also has a glass floor through which you’ll see many black-tip sharks. The experience is only topped by the price: don’t expect much change out of $500. Expensive? Sure. But they say Bora Bora is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so why not? ( just this once…)
Or if you prefer something a bit more intimate, may we recommend the exquisitely charming La Villa Mahana? This quaint little restaurant is incredibly popular, but only has seven tables so you’ll need to book early. Realistically, that means 2 to 3 months in advance and no, we’re not joking! (Fast Fun Fact: A wealthy friend of ours, fortunate enough to holiday in Bora Bora once a year, once threatened to cancel his entire resort booking unless they got him a reservation at Mahana. They called him back two hours later with details of a ‘lucky’ last-minute cancellation. No great surprise, as his resort booking was worth $18,500!)
Wherever you choose to eat, rest assured that a free shuttle will almost always be available to and from your accommodation, so make sure you ask about that option before making any private transport arrangements.
Is it Expensive to Get Around in Bora Bora?
If you want to travel around the island, the best way – and the cheapest – is to hire a bike. There is a public bus, called Le Truck, but not even the locals would be able to tell you the timetable. And when you bear in mind that the island’s 18-mile cost road only takes about 2 hours to circumnavigate by bike, there’s never really much point in getting the bus. You can rent a bicycle for $10 to $15 per day – most rental outlets also offer scooters and cute two-seater buggies.
If you’re resort is on one of Bora Bora’s small motus, you’ll need to call a water taxi to get to the main island. These will cost you about $25 each way, but check with your hotel first as they have discounted (and sometimes free) rates with most of the water taxi operators.
As for the land taxis – forget about them! They’re invariably just unmetered cars driven by locals who make up the fares based on how rich you look. And even the few ‘proper’ taxi cabs will overcharge if they can. It’s far better to walk or go by bike than to hand over half your holiday money to a licensed bandit in a taxi. Don’t say we didn’t warn you! (Joking aside, Bora Bora is a very safe place to stay, so don’t worry!)
Our Final Thoughts
Any vacation to Bora Bora is going to be expensive, if only because of the cost of the flights. Add to that the desirably remote location, and you have a built-in exclusivity that allows hotels and resorts to charge accordingly high rates.
And that’s the whole point of a holiday in Bora Bora. You’re probably only going to go there once in your life, so it’s almost mandatory to ‘flash the cash’ and allow yourself a little indulgence.
But flashing the cash doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank. We hope we’ve shown you that it’s possible to make a few savings, especially if you plan ahead. If you can’t afford a full week in a luxury overwater villa, then just book it for your last two nights and spend the first few days in a cheap one-star hotel on the main island. If your budget doesn’t allow fine dining every night, then visit a local grocery, buy some bread and cheese, and have yourself a midnight picnic on a deserted stretch of the gorgeous Matira Beach.
At the beginning of this article, we asked “‘How Much Does a Trip to Bora Bora Cost?” Well, if you’re careful, and if you plan ahead, then the answer is “as much as you decide.”