You might have heard that Bora Bora and other islands in the South Pacific can be exclusive and expensive and that they’re only for the jet set. Well, that’s not completely true. After all, thousands of locals live on these islands and don’t have that kind of money.
Here’s how to enjoy what’s exclusive, see how the jet-set live & experience one of the most beautiful spots on earth — all while on a budget in Bora Bora!
These tips and tricks can help you save money if you’re on a budget without giving up on anything that the island has to offer.
How To Get To Bora Bora Cheaply
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. You can get here by plane or by boat.
Air Tahiti flies regular flights throughout French Polynesia, including several daily flights to Bora Bora. There are a number of ways, unbeknown to most travelers that they can save significant amounts on airfares and get some easy flight deals. Follow these instructions to get some cheap flights:
- Prior to your flight 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, traveling by family, and so on.
- If you are eligible, once you have arrived in Tahiti, go straight to the offices of Air Tahiti in downtown Papeete with the documents they require. Bring photocopies of passports, passport photos & so on.
- There is a counter set aside to issue reduction cards, and surprisingly everyone is eligible, not just locals!
- If eligible, you will be issued with a card immediately, which you can then take to the ticket sales counter, book your flights & save yourself considerable savings.
The view as you fly in over Bora Bora is simply jaw-dropping and one of the world’s very best!
Getting to Bora Bora by boat is an enjoyable experience & a relatively cheap & relaxed way to travel. Although more of a cargo vessel than a boat. To get a complete feel for what awaits you visit the comprehensive report on the trip between Tahiti & Bora Bora.
There are currently 2 cargo vessels, the Taporo & the Hawaiiki’Nui. They regularly serve the Leeward Islands of 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 traveling on a covered area on the foredeck. There is a shelter in the case of inclement weather 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. For the cost of around 850xpf, you get a 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, it costs 2000xpf per person and for a motorbike, it’s 1000xpf.
The preferred sleeping is atop wooden crates on the foredeck patio, so bring a roll-up mat & cover. Unless you take a cabin for 3800xpf extra which is 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. Some good questions to ask include what ports are visited, travel times, what’s required for sleeping onboard, and food & drink arrangements.
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 your Bora Bora vacation had to be expensive? If you travel by cargo vessel, you can arrive in Bora Bora from Tahiti for as little as 2000xpf ($17) and have a blast along the way!
Cheap Places To Stay In Bora Bora
On an island where even in times of recession, accommodation at the better-known resorts can cost up to $10,000 per night, there are still ways to save money on accommodation costs.
Even as a budget traveler, you can still enjoy all the magic of Bora Bora’s lagoon, her mystic mountainside, and the deep culture & history of the island.
Consider staying at a pension famille (family-run guesthouse) on the main island. This cheap hotel option offers significant accommodation cost savings & a number of distinct advantages, including:
- Living close to the local population.
- Access to local restaurants, shops, doctors, and grocery stores.
- Easily attend any event happening on the main island. This includes the big hits like the Heiva & Hawaiiki’Nui Vaa race. You can do this without needing to use shuttle boat services for which you will be required to pay and which may not fit your time schedule.
- You can avoid paying transportation fees to be ferried to & from the main island.
The Matira Beach area is another good place to consider staying, given the easy access to Vaitape & its facilities. Matira Beach is the only public beach in Bora Bora and is close to a good number of restaurants.
In the Matira, your options include Hotel Matira, Moon, Rohotu Fare Lodge, Chez Rosina, Chez Nono, Pension Robert & Tina, and Temanuata Village. We have hotel and villa-specific reviews of some of these in the Accommodations section of our 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, with the latter giving you the best of both worlds with its associated hotel, the Intercontinental Bora Bora & Thalasso, on the motu.
Some more random shots of some of the places mentioned above to give you a feel.
There are other highly recommendable options outside the Matira area. You also have the Fishing Paradise Lodge at Faanui or Ecolodge & Spa at Anau. It all depends on your needs and interests.
Nothing can beat, however, being pampered by the big and luxury resorts with and having your every wish attended to in one of the overwater bungalows with their own private beach. Unsurprisingly, these are quite a bit expensive.
Free & Low-Cost Activities
There are many things to do, see, and undertake on Bora Bora. This website is full of detailed & comprehensive trip reports outlining exceptional adventures you can undertake.
You can go climb the famous Mount Otemanu, swim and feed sharks and stingrays, snorkel along the lively waters, enjoy a relaxing day at Matira Beach, and much more.
Staying on the main island gives you the chance to deal directly with local guides & other activity providers. This helps avoid paying any extra commissions added to the price you would otherwise pay.
While you might need to pay money for tours, their truly the best way to give back to the local community and learn in-depth about the island’s culture and history.
Let the dream come true and visit Bora Bora!