Both Bora Bora and the Maldives are destinations high on everybody’s travel bucket list. They both have turquoise blue waters, white sand beaches, and overwater bungalows, which are all the pinnacle of any resort stay. But, how do you decide between the two destinations? The battle of Bora Bora vs. the Maldives can sometimes be difficult to decide. Having traveled to both destinations, I can tell you all the pros and cons of each destination to help you decide which is right for you!
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Where is Bora Bora?
Bora Bora is part in the island nation called French Polynesia in the South Pacific. Specifically, it’s one of the Society Islands, which also includes the popular islands of Tahiti and Mo’orea. This incredible island nation is located quite literally in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, over 2500 miles away from even Hawaii.
The only way to get to Bora Bora is to fly there, unless of course you plan on sailing in on a boat. In order to fly to Bora Bora, you have to make a stop on the larger island of Tahiti first. Fly into the Fa’a’ā International Airport in Tahiti (airport code: PPT).
If your flight into Tahiti arrives in the morning, you can fly right to the Bora Bora Airport (airport code: BOB) the same day. If your flight arrives later at night, you’ll have to spend the night in Tahiti before continuing onto Bora Bora.
Make sure to search flights to Bora Bora separately from your international flight to Tahiti. There’s only one airline that flies around the Tahitian Islands, so if you search for your international flight directly to Bora Bora, you’ll come up short.
Check pricing for flights to Tahiti and Bora Bora here.
Where is the Maldives?
Maldives is a hidden island gem in the Indian Ocean about 1200 miles south of India and about 600 miles south of Sri Lanka. This tiny island country is located in the Indian Ocean, so the beaches and water are some of the best in the world. Unlike Bora Bora, all of the resorts in the Maldives are on their own separate islands. The Maldives is comprised of over 1,200 small islands, so it’s really easy for resorts to just exist on their own private islands.
The only way to get to the Maldives is to fly there. You’ll be flying into the Velana International Airport (airport code: MLE). If you’re coming from the USA, it’s fairly easy to get to the Maldives with only 1-stop. The only time you’ll likely end up with 2-stops is if you’re coming from a smaller airport.
Once you arrive at the international airport in the Maldives, your journey isn’t quite done yet. From the capital Male, you’ll have to then take a speedboat, a local flight, or a seaplane to get to your island resort. Remember – all the resorts are on their own private islands, so you’ll be taking one of these transportation methods to get to your resort island.
Pay really close attention to this when you’re booking your stay. Most hotels will include details about the cost and the option(s) for how to get to their resort when booking, but some don’t show the information ahead of time. The prices can range quite a bit as speedboats tend to be cheaper than flying, so it can make a big difference when it comes to price and deciding which resort is right for you.
Check pricing for flights to the Maldives here.
Bora Bora vs. Maldives: Time of Year
The first and biggest thing to consider for Bora Bora vs. Maldives is the time of year you’re planning on traveling. Both island destinations have opposite peak seasons (otherwise known as the dry season), therefore each will have a different “best time to visit.” Traveling to either during their respective rainy season can often be a bad idea just because rain leaves you with nothing to do.
Bora Bora’s peak season is May to October. April and November can still be great times to visit Bora Bora as they’re the shoulder season. But traveling to Bora Bora between December-March can leave you with nonstop rain for days, so it’s best to avoid traveling to Bora Bora during this time frame.
Maldives’ peak season is November to April. Likewise, October and May can still be good times to visit as they offer lower prices and fewer other travelers. Just like Bora Bora, traveling to the Maldives during their wet season can be quite disappointing if you get unlucky with tons of rain. Therefore, I’d advise against traveling to the Maldives between June-September.
Considering all this information, choosing Bora Bora vs. Maldives based on the time of year you’re traveling is a really great way to pick your destination. If you’re traveling during the North American summer, I’d recommend traveling to Bora Bora. If you’re traveling during the North American winter, I’d recommend traveling to the Maldives.
WINNER: Depends on the time of year you’re traveling.
Bora Bora vs. Maldives: Resort Options
Now that we’ve established the best times of year to go to the Maldives and Bora Bora, let’s talk about the resort offerings. Both of these are places where the resort is often the destination, so the resort itself matters a lot. You don’t want to travel somewhere and hate where you’re staying for a week or more!
Both Bora Bora and the Maldives have incredible resorts to choose from. However, both destinations have clear differences in what they have to offer. Bora Bora has a smaller offering of really incredible high-end, luxury resorts. The Maldives has a wide array of offerings ranging from more budget options to the most luxurious options possible. So which is better when it comes to Bora Bora vs. Maldives?
The Maldives is the clear winner for me here. Not only do they have all the same or similar offerings that Bora Bora has, but they have even more. If you’re looking for an all-inclusive resort, it’s super easy to find in the Maldives. If you’re looking for a more moderately priced resort, you can find that in the Maldives. Want the most extravagant budget-breaking resort? The Maldives has that too. Simply for the range of options, the Maldives wins this category.
WINNER: The Maldives
Budgeting for the Maldives and Bora Bora
Another potentially big difference for the Maldives vs. Bora Bora is budget. This topic was touched on a bit in the previous section about resort options. Both can be quite expensive destinations. I wouldn’t consider either destination a “budget” destination by any means.
That all being said, Bora Bora tends to be more expensive than the Maldives. You can absolutely spend more money visiting the Maldives than visiting Bora Bora. However, when that’s done, it’s mostly a choice to stay at a luxurious hotel. What Bora Bora doesn’t offer, but the Maldives does is more budget-friendly resorts that still give you the same private island resort experience. Therefore, the Maldives is the clear winner here.
WINNER: The Maldives
Bora Bora vs. Maldives: Getting There
The topic of how to get to each destination was already addressed, but it’s important to also talk about getting to resorts once you’re in the destination. The question of “getting there” is also quite different for Bora Bora vs. Maldives because of the layout of each destination.
For Bora Bora, your only option is to fly into Tahiti, take a smaller flight from Tahiti to Bora Bora, and then take a speed boat to your resort upon arrival at the airport. It’s the exact same method regardless of which resort you’re staying at. However, the option of direct flights from the United States of Tahiti is an incredible convenience when you consider Bora Bora vs. Maldives.
For the Maldives, the way you get to your resort largely depends on where your resort is. Since you fly into the capital city of Male, some private island resorts aren’t too far away. Those resorts tend to have a more favorably priced speed boat option right to your resort from the international airport.
Some Maldives resorts are further away from Male, meaning you’ll either be taking a local flight or a seaplane flight from the international airport to your resort. In some cases, resorts will have more than one option for transportation from the airport to the resort, so you can choose what best meets your budget and desires. Taking a smaller plane from Tahiti to Bora Bora or from Male to one of the Maldives’ resorts may not seem like a big deal to some people, but to others it’s a deal breaker. Some people are deathly afraid of flying and the thought of getting on a small plane is torture.
In that case, it’s virtually impossible to visit Bora Bora because the only option is to fly there. For the Maldives, there are several incredible resorts you can get to by speed boat, effectively avoiding smaller planes altogether. Because of this, the Maldives is the winner here for the variety of options to get between the airport and the resorts.
WINNER: The Maldives
Bora Bora vs. Maldives: Activities & Other Things to Do
Some people are happy to lounge on the beach or by the pool all day with a book. Others are activity junkies and need lots of things to do to be entertained. Both Bora Bora and the Maldives are destinations that might seem like they have no activities. But don’t worry! Both destinations have plenty of activities to do.
In both the Maldives and Bora Bora, there are tons of water sports and other water based activities, such as snorkeling, scuba diving, sunset cruises, jet skiing, and more. You can even do excursions to see whale sharks and manta rays in the Maldives or humpback whales near Bora Bora! These activities usually come at an extra cost if done as separate trips. Both Bora Bora and the Maldives have tons of snorkeling you can do just right off the beach or your overwater bungalow as well. Sometimes, there’s even a bit of coral reef right below the overwater villas!
However, the big difference between Bora Bora and the Maldives is the ability to leave the resort islands. While it’s small, Bora Bora still does have a main island you can visit. In the Maldives, you’re basically confined to the resort. There’s the occasional option to visit a sandbar or a local island for a couple hours, but it’s not the same as the option to leave in Bora Bora. Because of the flexibility of activities in Bora Bora, it’s the clear winner here.
WINNER: Bora Bora
How Difficult is it to Get to the Maldives or Bora Bora?
Another important detail in deciding the Maldives vs. Bora Bora is how easy it is to get there. Both destinations are far, remote island getaways – that’s part of their appeal. But traveling far away can sometimes be a grueling aspect of travel and should be considered when deciding where to visit.
Some of you will be closer to Bora Bora and some of you will be closer to the Maldives. If you’re coming from the West Coast USA, Bora Bora is significantly closer. There are nonstop flights from cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco to Bora Bora that only take 8-9 hours. If you try to fly to the Maldives from the West Coast USA, it’ll take a 15-16 hour flight to the Middle East and then another 4 hour flight to the Maldives. That’s 20 hours of flying versus less than 10 hours of flying, which is a huge difference.
If you’re coming from the East Coast USA, it’s only a 12-13 hour flight to the Middle East and then a 4 hour flight to the Maldives. Leaving from the East Coast USA to Bora Bora is a 5-6 hour flight to the West Coast and then an 8-9 hour flight to Bora Bora. The distance to either location is about the same if you’re traveling from the East Coast USA. If you’re coming from Europe, it’s even closer to get to the Maldives and much further to get to Bora Bora.
WINNER: Depends on where you’re departing from.
Bora Bora vs. Maldives: Variety in Itinerary Options
This final topic might not make sense, but I think it’s important to consider. What I mean by variety in itinerary options are what other things you could do on a trip besides visit either Bora Bora or the Maldives. Both destinations are great in their own right, but some people like to add a little variety to their trip and visit more than one destination at once.
When visiting the Maldives, other destinations that are close by are places like Doha, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi. These places are fairly easy to visit in conjunction with the Maldives due to generous stopover privileges with airlines like Qatar Airways and Emirates.
However, considering Bora Bora is part of French Polynesia, it’s super easy to visit other islands of French Polynesia during a visit to Bora Bora, like Tahiti, Moorea, and Taha’a. It’s a really quick flight in between all the islands of French Polynesia and you have to fly into Tahiti to visit any of these islands. Because of the ease of visiting other destinations in conjunction with Bora Bora, I would say Bora Bora wins this category.
WINNER: Bora Bora
Who Wins the Battle of Bora Bora vs. Maldives?
In order to decide the winner of Bora Bora vs. Maldives, you’ll have to take time to decide which of these seven aspects I’ve presented to you are the most important to you and leads to the better option for you. Each person will come up with a different answer to the question of where to visit. The simple fact is that both destinations are absolutely worth visiting and I recommend putting them both onto your bucket list!