Bora Bora on a Budget

You may have heard that: “Bora Bora is exclusive, it’s for the jet-set, it’s expensive!”  Well here’s how to enjoy what’s exclusive, see how the jet-set live & experience one of the most beautiful spots on earth – all on a budget!

Getting There

Most visitors to Tahiti (French Polynesia) will arrive by plane landing in Papeete on the island of Tahiti. From Tahiti there are 2 ways to reach the outer islands including the fabulous Bora Bora – by plane or by boat.

By Plane

Air Tahiti flies regular flights throughout French Polynesia including several daily flights to Bora Bora. There are a number of ways, unbeknown to most travellers, that they can save significant amounts on airfares. Follow the following instructions:

  1. Prior to your flying to Tahiti, check the Air Tahiti website to determine if you are eligible for a discount card – there are many categories where substantial discounts are available based on age, travelling by family & so on;
  2. If you are eligible, once you have arrived in Tahiti go straight to the offices of Air Tahiti in down-town Papeete with the documents they require – photocopies of passport, passport photos & so on;
  3. There is a counter set aside to issue ‘reduction cards’; surprise – everyone is eligible, not just locals!
  4. If eligible you will be issued with a card immediately which you can then take to the ticket sales counter, book your flights & avail yourself of considerable savings.

The view as you fly in over Bora Bora is simply jaw-dropping – one of the world’s very best!

By Boat

An enjoyable experience & a relatively cheap & relaxed way to travel is by boat, well, cargo vessel. To get a complete feel for what awaits you visit the comprehensive report on the trip between Tahiti & Bora Bora on this site at

There are currently 2 cargo vessels, the Taporo & the Hawaiiki’Nui, regularly serving the Leeward Islands – Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa, & Bora Bora. Both vessels operate overnight services for the longer hauls between Tahiti & the Leeward Islands.

The Taporo VI has room for a dozen or so passengers, all travel on a covered area on the foredeck, shelter in the case of inclement weather is in a 20 foot container. The Taporo is a great, cost effective choice for travel between the various islands that make up the Leeward Islands at varying fees – around 850xpf, for example, for the one-way voyage between Bora Bora & Raiatea:


The Hawaiiki’Nui is a larger vessel & carries more passengers. Fees for passengers & goods are the same irrespective of the island on which you disembark – currently 2000xpf per person, & for a motorbike, for example, 1000xpf. The preferred sleeping is atop wooden crates on the foredeck patio so bring a roll-up mat & cover (unless you take a cabin – 3800xpf extra – a good choice in inclement weather but it can be hellishly hot). Food is available provided you have made arrangements with the skipper:

To book a passage on either vessel you will need to go to their offices, both of which are situated on Motu Uta at Fare Ute. When booking ask every question of interest to you – ports to be visited, travel times, what’s required for sleeping on-board, food & drinks arrangements, whatever. My strong advice is that you bring a roll-up mat & something to cover your shoulders at night, as well as some food & drink for dinner & breakfast.

Who said expensive? Travelling by cargo vessel can see you arrive in Bora Bora from Tahiti for as little as 2000xpf & had a blast along the way!


Where to Stay

On an island where even in times of recession accommodation at the better known major resorts can cost up to $10,000 per night there are ways to save significantly on accommodation costs for the less well-heeled traveller & to still be able to enjoy the magic of Bora Bora’s lagoon, her mystic mountainside & her deep culture & history.

Consider staying at a “pension famille” (family run guesthouse) on the main island. Such an option offers significant accommodation cost savings & a number of distinct advantages including:

  • living close to the local population;
  • access to local restaurants & shops, doctors, the pharmacy & so on;
  • you’ll be able to easily attend any event happening on the main island – including the ‘big hits’ like the Heiva & Hawaiiki’Nui Vaa race – without needing to use shuttle boat services for which you will be required to pay & which may not fit your time schedule;
  • you will not need to pay transport fees to be ferried to & fro the main island from the motus for any reason including visiting Vaitape, undertaking tours of the main island or whatever.

The Matira Beach area is a good place to consider staying giving easy access to Vaitape & its facilities, to beautiful Matira Beach & to a number of good restaurants.

In the Matira area you could consider, for example, Pension Moon, Rohotu Fare Lodge, Chez Rosina, Hotel Matira, Chez Nono, Pension Robert & Tina, Temanuata Village details of which appear in the relevant section of this web-site. There are also a couple of more up-market options which by being situated on the main island offer the same advantages listed above – the Maitai Bora Bora, the Sofitel Bora Bora & the Intercontinental Moana Beach the later giving you the best of both worlds with its associated hotel, the Intercontinental Bora Bora & Thalasso, on the motu. Some random shots of some of the places mentioned above to give you a feel…


There are other highly recommendable options outside the Matira area – like Fishing Paradise Lodge at Faanui or Ecolodge & Spa at Anau – it all depends on your needs & interests.

Nothing can beat, however, being pampered by the big boys, having your every wish attended in one of the overwater bungalows run by the large hotels.


There are many things to see, many things to do, many activities to undertake on Bora Bora. This web-site is full of detailed & comprehensive trip reports outlining exceptional adventures you can undertake – in the lagoon, on the main island & on the motus – adventures you will never forget!

Staying on the main island gives you the chance to deal directly with local guides & other activity providers & avoid paying any commissions that might otherwise apply as you undertake your own due diligence.

Let the dream come true!

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