Is Bora Bora Worth it? Thoughts After Spending 5 Weeks in the Tahitian Islands

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When I told people I was spending over a month island hopping in French Polynesia, some of them had no idea where that was. But, as soon as I said Bora Bora they knew. Their eyes lit up and they gushed with jealousy that I would be visiting this tropical paradise that has made a name for itself as one of the most beautiful and luxurious destinations in the world. But, is Bora Bora Worth it? Does it live up to the hype? Is it worth the price? Here are my honest thoughts.

A Little Bit on the History of Bora Bora

Canon in Bora Bora

Bora Bora owes its fame to the military of the USA. During WWII the Americans used Bora Bora as a military base in the South Pacific. Prior to their arrival, Bora Bora didn’t have running electricity and all the modern amenities that they do today; that was all brought in by the Americans who also built an airbase; the first international airport in these territories until 1960 when the airport of Tahiti opened up.

Now, of course, the modern amenities aren’t the main reason why Bora Bora is famous. It is a stunning island with a towering mountain and azure lagoon. However, it was the Americans who spread talk of this island paradise after using it as a base and so the island gained a reputation and has, over the years, become the luxury escape it is known to be today.

However, as our Bora Bora quad tour guide, Manu, pointed out: this could have easily happened to any of the Society Islands which all have stunning scenery. It just happens that Bora Bora was the one that the US military picked.

My Stay in Bora Bora

Hannah at Four Seasons Bora Bora overwater bungalow

During my time in French Polynesia, I visited several islands including, of course, Bora Bora. I spent 6 nights on this famous island; exploring what it had to offer by land and sea. I also stayed both on the island and at the resort to see it as an independent traveller AND as a vacationer. I had high expectations of Bora Bora from the photos I’ve seen online and the overall reputation of this tropical haven. However, I had two very different experiences based on my stay. One I would recommend, the other- not as much.

Bora Bora as an Independent Traveller

Hannah at a viewpoint in Bora Bora

Bora Bora as an independent traveller was, to be completely honest, somewhat disappointing. At least for me. I spent 4 nights staying on the island near the main town of Vaitape. Two nights in a hotel and two nights in a guesthouse. They were fine, but I found better quality (and prices) at similar accommodation options on the other Society Islands. The guesthouse we stayed at in Bora Bora had no air conditioning (fine) but also no fan. Not even a small one. Sure, $120 per night is pretty cheap in Bora Bora but for that price, I do expect a fan when nights are 25C+. 

The thing is with a reputation like Bora Bora, you know it’s going to come with a price tag. French Polynesia is expensive enough as is but when you go to Bora Bora you can expect to pay even more. If the value is there- that’s fine. But, for me, I don’t think the value was there.

I paid $90USD for what was meant to be a 3.5-hour snorkel tour that would take us to three snorkel spots in the lagoon. To start with, only two spots were actually for snorkeling (coral gardens and the shark and ray site). The last stop was shallow white sand in the middle of the lagoon. I literally just sat there wondering what was happening and when we could leave.

Compare that to the $100 I paid for a full day lagoon tour in Huahine which included 2 similar snorkel stops, and a full lunch with alcohol on a motu. Or a full-day tour to the Blue Lagoon with a shark nursery, snorkel stop, and huge lunch (with beer) in Rangiroa. Those were worth my money. But $90 for 2 hours and 2 snorkel stops? It felt like a waste of money.

I also didn’t find the main island of Bora Bora as pretty to be on as others when actually exploring the island. We did an ATV tour and drove around and sure there are a couple of nice viewpoints but it lacked the same lushness of Huahine and Moorea. Was it pretty? Of course. But did it blow my mind? Not so much.

As an independent traveller staying on the main island, I much preferred the other society islands I visited. I found there to be more to see and do and I got better value for my money.

Bora Bora as a Guest of the Four Seasons Bora Bora

Four Seasons Bora Bora Resort

As I said above, my stay in Bora Bora was split between the main island and a resort on a motu. The resort we stayed at was the Four Seasons Bora Bora which has a reputation of being one of, if not THE, best resorts in Bora Bora and French Polynesia in general.

Now, I typically do not consider myself to be a resort girl. I find they can be restrictive when I like to get out and do things. I also find they attract a certain type of clientele who, quite frankly, I don’t fit in with. I don’t think I’m fancy enough for most resorts and often end up feeling awkward and out of place. But, my friend Chantae who I was travelling with is also a travel writer and since we both had content plans for French Polynesia we were offered a very tempting media rate by the Four Seasons Bora Bora. Add in some encouragement from a friend who had also been and I signed on for two nights at this luxurious resort.

Well, I fell in love.

THIS was the Bora Bora experience that everyone dreams of. The overwater bungalows against the backdrop of the island mountain. Soft white sand beaches rimmed by crystal clear turquoise water that seemed brighter and more vivid in this part of the lagoon than any other. This was the Bora Bora that we see on the postcards.

Overwater Bungalow at Four Seasons Bora Bora

But it wasn’t just how it looked.

Our overwater bungalow was a dream. A huge bathtub overlooking the balcony and deck which I jumped off of dozens of times. The most comfortable bed in the world with six pillows each that I happily sunk into every night. Robes and toiletries and a fully stocked fridge and minibar with everything from local Hinano beer to cocktails in glass jars.

I could have spent the entire time in the overwater bungalow but the grounds of the Four Seasons Bora Bora were even more impressive. Chantae and I ran around, cameras in hand from the docks to the beach to the pool and into the resort’s lagoon which houses a coral conservation project and plenty of local marine life (we were thrilled to see an eagle ray). I felt like here had more to see and do and explore than the main island. There were SUPs to borrow, Jetskis to rent if you wished, free yoga classes to join, and plenty of other activities including scuba diving that you could sign up for. This wasn’t a resort where I had to sit by the pool (although it was a beautiful pool). I could relax. I could be active. I could swim and snorkel and do all the things that I loved with the most stunning backdrop imaginable.

The Four Seasons Bora Bora was my playground for two glorious days and I loved every minute of the experience.

So, How Much Does the Four Seasons Bora Bora Cost?

Pool at Four Seasons Bora Bora

Let’s be honest, you don’t get a reputation as a world-class resort without having a price tag. Unsurprisingly, the Four Seasons Bora Bora is not cheap. It’s one of the more expensive options in Bora Bora with price tags starting at around $3000 Canadian per night plus taxes for the lower end bungalows.

Oh, and that’s not including meals. Breakfast for two will easily cost $100 and most cocktails at the bar are about $30 each. Dinners range quite a bit as well. I saw starters at $30 and mains at $100+ per plate depending on the restaurant. Now, the food was delicious (and a welcome change from the poisson cru or grilled fish that I was so used to eating in the islands) but there are no ‘budget’ options available and since the resort is located on a motu away from the main island, you can’t really go out for dinner either.

That being said, remember that I also paid $125 per night for a room without a fan. It’s Bora Bora. Resort or not, this island isn’t cheap.

So, is Bora Bora Worth it?

Hannah on the Beach at Four Seasons Bora Bora

 If you are looking for a true luxury experience and willing to spend the money for a vacation at the Four Seasons Bora Bora- then yes.

I’ve always been of the mindset that I don’t need a fancy place to stay. Just somewhere clean and safe. But the Four Seasons Bora Bora isn’t just somewhere to stay. It’s an experience on its own- even if you choose not to leave your overwater Bungalow. Yes, it comes with a hefty price tag and yes it will be an expensive vacation but it will also be a once in a lifetime experience and unlike so much of Bora Bora that I experienced as an independent traveller, I truly feel that I got the most value from my Four Seasons Bora Bora stay.

If a resort really isn’t your style then, honestly, skip Bora Bora. Head to Moorea or even Huahine instead. However, if you dream of a luxury Bora Bora escape then save the money and take the time to enjoy a stay at the Four Seasons Bora Bora. Even if it’s just a couple of nights like I had, it will be worth it.

PS: My trip with my friend Chantae was a research trip for her to write the official Moon guide book to the islands. It is now available and you can grab a copy here to help plan your French Polynesia adventures.

Ready to Book Your Trip?

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Get connected

If you want to have data while travelling for online maps or any other needs, an esim is one of the easiest solutions. I’m a big fan of Airalo and have used their sim cards around the world from Brazil to Uzbekistan, Greece to the USA. It’s really easy- you download the app, pick what country you want an esim for, and after you purchase it follow the installation instructions. You can use promo code HANNAH3326 to save $3USD on your next esim purchase. 

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  1. Bruce Sparrow on November 9, 2021 at 9:24 am

    I want to go so bad.

  2. Thomas Steinruck on November 18, 2021 at 1:45 pm

    My wife and I flew to Tahiti and then took a ferry across to Maria. Maria would be hard to be. We were scheduled to fly on for our last stop in Bora Bora that the French government in Paris close down French Polynesia and we had to catch the last United Airlines flight back to the States. We did stay a couple of extra days in Moorea and I don’t feel shortchanged.
    The overwater bungalows there were pretty spectacular too. The advantage of Moorea is that you can leave the Hilton and explore the Island. The drinks are cheaper too, LOL!

    • Hannah Logan on November 20, 2021 at 1:43 am

      Moorea was stunning- one of my favourite islands for sure! I spent a couple of nights in a OW bungalow there as well but since I spent more time out and about exploring the island I didn’t spend as much time at the resort so I feel like it wasn’t as good value. Bora Bora, on the other hand, didn’t have as much to do on the main island. So I felt like I enjoyed the resort more there

  3. Gabriela Levy on November 19, 2021 at 11:48 am

    Dear Hannah – I will visit from mid february . How is the corona procedure ? Difficult?

    • Hannah Logan on November 20, 2021 at 1:45 am

      Its not difficult but you do need to be mindful of the rules. Things might change between now and then but I had to get a negative PCR test and fill out some paperwork and forms via etis. We were also given DIY testing kits on arrival that we had to do when we landed. The tourism website will have all the up to date details. Just make sure to pay attention to that and print all the necessary documents to show at the airport when you fly there.

  4. Kristen on November 20, 2021 at 7:38 am

    I totally agree with your experience! We only spent 1 night at the Intercontinental Thalasso but I was able to spend almost 2 full days enjoying the private motu and the time spent there was unbelievable and idyllic. Then we won’t budget and stayed at the Royal Bora Bora on the main island and our experience became very very different. I had no idea how different our experiences would be… but I must say that snorkeling with h20 Bora Bora was one of the absolute highlights of our trip to French Polynesia last month and I highly recommend. We swam with manta rays, eagle rays, octopus, eels and saw some of the most amazing coral gardens. The jet ski tour in Bora Bora is also amazing!!!!!! Better than any other island because of its amazing lagoon and the private island and St Regis stops.

  5. Pam Hagianis on November 24, 2021 at 7:50 am

    Just returned from Bora Bora overwater bungalow at MaiTai hotel. It was a dream come true for me. Not as expensive as the Four Seasons but better than what you experienced on the main island. You get what you pay for. You cannot compare a five star resort to a $ 100 per night hotel.
    My recommendation is to do your research and decide what is important to you. We wanted to have the bungalow experience at a lower price. So we gave up the entertainment, pool and the spa for a lower price tag and swam with the fishes off our deck. That’s why we went to Bora Bora. It was glorious and so worth it.

  6. Spencer on April 8, 2022 at 4:22 pm

    My wife and I just came back on April 3, 2022. We celebrated our 10th Anniversary together. We stayed at Sofitel in Moorea and Le Bora Bora by Pearl’s Resort. The trip was amazing and dream vacation that most people will never experience. We the accommodations were very nice at both places. We went on a half day tour visiting 3 different areas to snorkel with a water scooter. We swam with turtles, sting rays and other fish. We even had a visit by some spinning dolphins. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any sharks when we went out that morning. We also went on ATV excursion in Moorea to Magic Mountain, Belvedere point and the back roads of a pineapple farm. We ended up hanging out with our tour guide and his wife and getting blasted on beautiful vista overlooking the water.
    The cost of living including basic necessities are more costly on average than any mainland, but the beauty of the place is definitely worth it.

  7. Chris J on April 21, 2022 at 8:38 am

    I’ve not long been back from Bora Bora and I really need to stop looking at pictures and reading about the place as I’m seriously having withdrawal symptoms! lol
    For me it was truly magical and a one-off bucket list trip, but I so want to go back!

  8. Seth on September 25, 2023 at 6:02 pm

    One way to really see the island and the lagoon at your own pace, and very cheaply, is to rent a kayak. You don’t have to worry about much of a current and if you can’t go out too far due to the reef.

  9. Billie on November 19, 2023 at 10:27 am

    Hi Hannah,

    What a fantastic exploration of Bora Bora! Your detailed account of both the independent traveler experience and the luxurious stay at the Four Seasons Bora Bora is truly insightful. Your candid sharing about the varying aspects of your trip gives readers a well-rounded perspective.

    I can relate to the charm of Bora Bora as a local resident, having lived on the island myself. It’s fascinating to hear your thoughts on the different accommodations and the value they offer. Your experience at the Four Seasons Bora Bora sounds like a dream come true – the overwater bungalow, stunning scenery, and a variety of activities make it sound like a true paradise.

    Considering your preference for unique and valuable experiences, have you had the chance to explore other luxury resorts in French Polynesia? It would be interesting to hear your comparisons and recommendations beyond Bora Bora.

    Looking forward to more of your travel adventures and insights!

  10. Brent on December 19, 2023 at 8:49 am

    How was the Blue Lagoon Experience?! I may be going there in the summer…I saw some reviews about how long of a ride it is to get there and then it’s just wading around in shallow water lol (which still sounds fun to me!)…Just curious your thoughts over there..and if you did any of the drift snorkeling there (or if you have another article about that..)

    • Hannah Logan on December 21, 2023 at 9:10 am

      I assume the blue lagoon experience is snorkelling with the stingrays and reef sharks? It’s ok (you can do it at all the other islands too) but I scuba dive so preferred that. Bora Bora is also a great spot for manta rays, I believe you can snorel as well as scuba dive so I’d look into that!

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