Bora Bora vs. the Maldives : Which is better for a honeymoon?
If there’s one question I get ALL the time it’s : so which is better – Bora Bora or the Maldives? And, honestly, it’s so hard to answer this one. They both feature overwater bungalows, crystal clear turquoise waters, and some of the most stunning beaches in the world. They are both SO amazing, and I love them both!!! But they do have very different feels and vibes, so I’m happy to help you guys decide which one is better if you’re deciding between Bora Bora and the Maldives for a honeymoon or your next vacation. If you’re deciding to travel to the Maldives or Bora Bora, and wondering what the difference between French Polynesia and the Maldives is, here are some things to consider that might make this difficult decision a little easier!
There are a few important things to consider when making the decision to honeymoon or travel to Bora Bora or the Maldives.
THE TIME OF YEAR:
What time of year is best for a trip to Bora Bora and what time of year is best for a trip to the Maldives?
When is the best time to visit Bora Bora or the Maldives? In the Maldives, the high season runs December through April, and the rainy monsoon season is May-November.
However, I’ve been to the Maldives in September and had nothing but sunshine and a FEW scattered showers. I’ve also been in December when it rained for a full day. It’s a tropical island! You’re likely going to get a mix of weather, but you are taking a big risk if you go during monsoon season. That being said, the room rates in the Maldives drop significantly during low season (like half the price). So that’s something to consider if you’re looking to save money on a trip to the Maldives!
In Bora Bora and French Polynesia, you’ll get the best weather May through October, in the driest months, and rainy season hits more during US winter, but with plenty of people choosing to visit during this time anyway. Like any tropical island, you’re bound to get a mixture of sunshine and rain no matter the season. But peak season in Bora Bora is June-August, so keep that in mind when thinking about room rates and crowds.
How much does a vacation to Bora Bora actually cost? How much does a vacation to the Maldives actually cost? Is the Maldives more expensive than Bora Bora?
Both places are an extremely luxurious, expensive choice for a honeymoon or vacation. The cost of a trip to Bora Bora or the cost of a trip to the Maldives depends greatly on where you’re flying from, as flying to Bora Bora from the states is a lot less travel time (especially from the west coast) but for Europeans, it’s much easier to get to the Maldives. It also greatly depends on where you are staying and how luxurious of a hotel you choose.
Check out my article on Choosing a Honeymoon by Budget if you want an in-depth breakdown of the costs of each, but room rates, flights, and meals in the Maldives will rack you up in the range of around $10,000-50,000 for a week for 2 people (with the lower costs at hotels like You & Me Maldives and Conrad, the upper range at hotels like St. Regis Maldives, and hotels like Six Senses falling somewhere in the middle), and a trip to Bora Bora will be in the $13,000-$40,000 range. Of course, all of these prices can be brought down significantly by using travel credit card points, airline miles and more. And, in my experience, food and drink is more expensive at some hotels than others (but tends to very expensive across the board compared to other destinations).
I also personally much prefer to be on a half-board or full-board basis on islands where the hotel is the only option for eating (if you’re staying at a private island resort, this is the case), I love to not think about my wallet on vacation – especially on a honeymoon!
What is the difference between Bora Bora and the Maldives? Which is better between French Polynesia and the Maldives for your vacation?
I usually describe the difference in destinations to people as Bora Bora feels resortey and comfortable whereas the Maldives feel like you’re cast away on a deserted private island paradise in the middle of nowhere. Bora Bora is chic & luxe, and the Maldives is ‘barefoot luxury’. (Literally when you arrive at most resorts they tell you to take off your shoes, and you don’t put them back on the whole trip!). Different types of travelers – and couples – will flock to each honeymoon destination. Couples that want to feel more civilization, and society, will prefer Bora Bora, whereas couples who enjoy feeling totally ‘off the map’ and like they have an island to themselves, will love the Maldives.
The main takeaway: Bora Bora resorts will feel more resort-ey and much bigger than the resorts in the Maldives. Resorts in the Maldives are each on their own private island, so they feel like you are in a whole other world.
WHERE YOU WANT TO STAY:
To me, a great honeymoon comes down to the hotel you want to choose! If you fall in love with the Four Seasons Bora Bora, go for it! But if Six Senses Laamu seems more up your alley – go for that one!
Six Senses Laamu Eco-luxe resort that is my favorite place I’ve EVER stayed. Best food ever.
Gili Lankanfushi Rustic chic overwater bungalow vibes and amazing food.
Four Seasons Bora Bora – the ultimate in luxury and panache. Also in my opinion the best beach of any of the resorts in French Polynesia.
St. Regis Bora Bora– a great option for redeeming Marriott reward points. Luxe, and service is out of this world. Great food too.
Hilton Moorea – amazing overwater bungalows and resort at a fraction of the cost at Bora Bora’s neighboring island Mo’orea.
THE MARINE LIFE
IN BORA BORA VS. THE MALDIVES
If you love to snorkel or scuba dive, either of these destinations are going to be HEAVEN for you. I can’t pick between the two – I had SO much fun exploring the underwater paradises of each.
WHERE YOU’RE FLYING FROM
Location is a main factor in why people decide the Maldives over Bora Bora, or vice versa. The Maldives will be most accessible to those flying from Europe, Asia, and Africa, whereas French Polynesia and Bora Bora will be much more accessible to those flying from the USA. If you’re not interested in a long travel day, or the jet lag of adjusting to a 16-hour time difference, go for the shorter distance. But, if you’re splurging on some business class flights and making the journey just as fun as the destination, I’m all for long flights around the world! For reference, it takes about 10 hours on a direct flight to get from London to the Maldives, and about 24 hours to fly to Bora Bora. From Los Angeles, it takes about 9 hours to get to Bora Bora and 24 hours + to get to the Maldives.
Another reason the Maldives feels so off the map (at least for North Americans) is the 16-hour time difference. While it makes for some pretty rough jet lag, it can feel really nice to be totally disconnected from the ‘real world’. (But, seriously, make sure you plan for some extra days to get over your jet lag before you have to turn right around home! It takes me 3 solid days to get used to the new time schedule and feel somewhat normal).
MALDIVES VS. BORA BORA :
THINGS TO DO IN EACH DESTINATION
Another point of decision between these two bucket list destinations is what your ideal honeymoon looks like to you (and your future spouse!). While both places offer a multitude of activities to choose from, they’re each a bit different!
A big difference to note is that Bora Bora has a gorgeous mountainous landscape, allowing for hiking, ATV’ing, and some land-based activities. The Maldives, on the other hand, is a country that’s 99% water (yep!!), and completely flat (seriously, the highest elevation in the Maldives is 6 feet).
In Bora Bora, adventurous couples will love scuba diving and snorkeling in world-renowned spots like Coral Gardens and the Bora Bora Lagoonarium, a natural aquarium where you’ll have the chance to interact with native blacktip reef sharks and stingrays in their natural habitats.
The Maldives islands are also popular for snorkeling and diving due to the warm water, high visibility and diverse marine life, including whale sharks, dolphins and manta rays. Watersports are really popular in the Maldives, and your resort is likely to offer you everything from paddleboarding to surfing to jetskiing and kayaking. If mixing in some land activities interest you and your fiance, Bora Bora is your best bet – with things like hiking, ATV’ing and horseback riding to keep you busy on land.
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