Turquoise waters? Tick. Powder-soft beaches? Tick. Overwater bungalows? Tick. Robinson Crusoe vibes and total isolation? Tick. Bora Bora and the Maldives are two tropical paradises that charge the imagination of anyone looking for an exotic island escape. On the surface, it’s difficult to separate the two when trying to decide where to go for your next far-flung holiday. It’s a tough choice, we know, but we’ve compared the two on several aspects, from the location and the natural beauty to cost and activities, to help you decide whether Bora Bora or the Maldives is for you.
MALDIVES: From the UK, the Maldives is easier to reach as you can get a direct flight from London to Malé, which takes around 10 and a half hours, and then a plane or speedboat connection to your resort. Alternatively, you can fly via a number of other exciting destinations for a great twin-centre trip, including Dubai, Oman and Sri Lanka.
BORA BORA: Conversely, Bora Bora is a bit trickier to reach. There are no direct flights from the UK to the islands and instead you have to fly to Los Angeles (where you can spend a few days if you wish) before catching a connecting flight to Papeete in Tahiti and then a 45-minute flight to Bora Bora. On average, the international flight takes around 26 hours. It’s a long way but aren’t all the best places hard to reach?!
THE MALDIVES: The Maldives is the lowest-lying country in the world, so that gives you some kind of idea of what you can expect! Every one of its islands are gorgeous, like tiny emerald gems floating in the Indian Ocean, ringed by perfect powder-soft sands and encompassed by lagoons teeming with vivid marine life.
BORA BORA: This Tahitian pearl also delivers in the landscapes category, with turquoise lagoons, big blue skies and sand as soft and white as cotton. However, Bora Bora’s volcanic peak, Mount Otemanu, adds plenty of striking natural drama, while your resort will be nestled on one of the miniscule motus (islets) peppering the lagoon around it. Another great thing is Bora Bora is just one island in the Tahitian archipelago, so you can combine it with a few others for a real mix of landscapes.
MALDIVES: Two thirds of the world’s overwater bungalows can be found in the Maldives. They offer that ultimate paradise escape but if you’re on a budget or fancy something different, many islands also offer villas and rooms on the beach or tucked within leafy foliage.
BORA BORA: The Maldives may be where most people think of for an overwater bungalow experience, but The Islands of Tahiti are where it all began. ‘Tahiti TV’ (a glass panel in the floor of your bungalow) allows you to watch the marine life even while you’re inside. Like the Maldives, in Bora Bora you also have the option of staying on the beach, or enveloped by lush jungle.
MALDIVES: A mecca for snorkelling and diving, lots of resorts in the Maldives have wonderful house reefs and, if you go at the right time of year, the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to swim alongside manta rays. Non-motorised water sports are also abundant but the Maldives is also made for chilling, so make sure you make time for that. There’s also a raft of ways to channel your inner Robinson Crusoe, from sandbank picnics to simply going barefoot during your stay.
BORA BORA: There’s also superb snorkelling in Bora Bora, while exploring the lagoon by outrigger canoe is one of its must-do experiences. The canoes are just one facet of Bora Bora’s culture and you’ll also get to experience everything from pearls to traditional dancing and food during your stay. The white sands make it ideal for relaxing or having a motu picnic (we recommend trying some poisson cru while you’re there!) but if you’re a little more energetic, then Bora Bora’s mountainous interior is laced with a wealth of hiking trails to explore.
THE MALDIVES: The Maldives is more affordable than Bora Bora, with prices typically starting from around £1,600 per person for seven nights. The price can rise depending on your board basis and the resort you choose, and if you want to stay in an overwater bungalow, that will also bump the price up.
BORA BORA: More remote and exclusive, the cost to visit Bora Bora is higher. However, we think if you’ve got a bigger budget, it’s well worth it! As a starting price, you can expect to spend in the region of £4,500 per person for a 10-night island-hopping holiday. Again, the price can rise depending on the resort you choose and the accommodation, with overwater bungalows demanding a higher price tag.