Dreaming of island paradise? Imagine azure blue waters, overwater bungalows, amazing reefs, a complete dream vacation. Two bucket-list worthy destination options are Bora Bora and the Maldives. Bora Bora is a small island near Tahiti in French Polynesia, and the Maldives is a tropical country in the Indian Ocean with hundreds of tiny scattered island resorts. If you are trying to choose between the two, here are some things to consider that might make this difficult decision a bit easier- or maybe just inspire you to flip a coin!
The Maldives vs Bora Bora: Accessibility
The first thing to keep in mind is where you are traveling from. The Maldives is more readily accessible from Europe and Africa than Bora Bora is, but if you are based in the United States then Bora Bora is the better option. If travel time is an important factor for you, accessibility should definitely be taken into consideration, so you can spend more time relaxing in paradise and less time flying.
As a general idea: 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 10 hours to get to Bora Bora and upwards of 27 hours to get to the Maldives.
Both Bora Bora and the Maldives involve further travel from the international airport. In the Maldives, you will need to take a seaplane or a speedboat to whichever resort you have chosen. To get to Bora Bora you will need to fly from Papeete Airport in Tahiti to Bora Bora on a short domestic flight on the local airline.
The Maldives vs Bora Bora: When to Visit
Although Bora Bora and Maldives experience different seasonality; both destinations can be visited year-round. Bora Bora has a tropical climate and warm sunny weather. Peak travel season is from about May-October, with August being an especially popular month for European travelers. In peak season Bora Bora is at its most dry and temperatures are typically around high-60s to mid-80s. If you are looking to save money, you might have better luck visiting between November and April where the weather is still lovely (temperatures mid-70s to mid-80s) and accommodation rates might be lower than during peak season.
The Maldives is also warm and sunny year-round but has a dry and wet season. The peak travel periods for the Maldives include the drier, less-humid season from December–April (particularly during Christmas–New Year and Easter), and August. Surf season runs from March–October. The rainy monsoon season is May–October, with the islands getting between 5-10 inches of precipitation monthly and strong winds. You will likely find better deals if traveling during this time.
The Maldives vs Bora Bora: Local Transportation
Are you the type of traveler that prefers to get out and explore instead of relaxing on the beach all day? Here are some tips on getting around in both vacation spots. The best way to get around Bora Bora is by bike, especially when you consider that the entire island only takes a few hours to cycle around. Another option is renting a car, but it will be quite a bit more expensive compared to renting bikes. The local bus system is notoriously unreliable, and taxis are also an expensive option.
When traveling in the Maldives, the best way to get around is to walk. Each island resort is very walkable. There is a ferry network between the islands, but it is not extensive. Leisurely island-hopping can be done by ferry, seaplane, or speedboat (Or by yacht if you are super extra!)
The Maldives vs Bora Bora: The Food
In Bora Bora, the influence is French and so you’ll find lovely cuisine and restaurants. The food in the Maldives is greatly influenced by Indian & Asian cuisines.
In Bora Bora, you can expect menus to feature seafood like Poisson cru (raw tuna marinated in lime juice and coconut milk), Mahi-mahi, grouper, and bonito. Pineapple, coconuts, and bananas are locally grown and absolutely delicious. Being a French colony, Bora Bora has wonderful bread and pastries as well.
Authentic Maldivian food is based a lot on curry, coconut, and seafood. Seafood grilled over coconut-infused charcoal is a must-try. With the growing number of hotels & resorts, one can expect more variety in food and more varied price ranges making it perfect for someone who wants to travel the Maldives on a budget. Resorts here usually have many restaurants on site (sometimes as many as 5 or 6) with a large range of international cuisine. Many visitors to both locations choose to purchase a meal plan through their resort which can save a lot of money.
The Maldives vs Bora Bora: Things to do
Whichever destination you choose, you can be sure that there will be innumerable ways to relax and have fun in a luxurious environment. Both places offer wonderful spa resorts and are famous for their idyllic overwater bungalows on wooden stilts. Honestly, how could you go wrong?
There is a reason why Bora Bora is one of the most popular honeymoon destinations. For adventurers, scuba diving and snorkeling are fantastic options. Snorkeling spots include 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.
Don’t feel comfortable feeding the stingrays and sharks? You can still enjoy snorkeling the reefs and seeing a wide variety of rainbow-colored fish. Other water activities include fishing, paddle boarding, and outrigger canoeing. If you need a change of scenery from the beach, consider taking a guided 4×4 expedition to explore the island and learn about its history and culture. Most of the tour guides are locals, so this is a great way to experience Bora Bora from an expert. Bora Bora also boasts a dormant volcano at its center named Mt. Otemanu which is a great place to visit, whether to photograph or to hike. You can also rent bikes and explore the island on two wheels if you please.
The Maldives Is known for its beaches, blue lagoons, and extensive reefs. It has a special desert island feel and is a perfect choice for travelers that value great privacy. If you choose the Maldives you will experience some of the best marine life viewings, both above and below the water.
The islands are popular for snorkeling and diving due to the warm water, high visibility and diverse marine life, including manta rays and spotted whale sharks. If you love water sports, this is a great place for you! Swimming, surfing, sea kayaking, jet-skiing, stand up paddleboarding… the list goes on. There’s even a good chance you’ll spot some active pods of dolphins!