The Bora Bora dream versus the cost reality
Bora Bora is an island located in the western part of the Society Islands of French Polynesia (an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean). It is often listed in various articles on the internet and magazines as the top honeymoon destination or most beautiful island in the world. It is no wonder then that it seems impossible to have the words Bora Bora and budget in the same sentence right!?
I personally fell in love with Bora Bora after seeing it for the first time in the movie Couples Retreat. When I discovered it would cost around AU $8 000 – AU $15 000 to have the ultimate Bora Bora overwater bungalow experience, it immediately seemed I could never afford it!
That was until I needed to start planning my honeymoon… being a hopeless romantic that dreams mostly about traveling, I couldn’t help but have high standards for this very special occasion.
My loving partner gave me a budget of AUD $6000 (flights and accommodation included) to stick to. I searched long and hard for alternative destinations for our once in a lifetime celebration, but my heart kept yearning for Bora Bora and I knew then, I just had to make it happen.
I did a lot of research and well it wasn’t easy but I MADE IT! Yes, I finally enjoyed 6 glorious days in Bora Bora – four nights in a garden view room and two nights in an overwater bungalow for a total cost of AUD 5,891.68 with flights included!
How I made my Bora Bora dream an affordable reality
Here’s my secrets to how I made my ultimate dream honeymoon (including the over water bungalow experience) come true within a AUD $6000 budget.
- I postponed my honeymoon for a year. It’s true what they say, the best things are worth waiting for! Postponing it meant I still had time to save $500 a month whenever I could, to cover the expenses.
- I chose a date that fell just outside of high season. This was a bit of a risky move as it could rain for days in Bora Bora during the low season but it paid off. Low season is from November through to May, high season is from June to October. We arrived in Bora Bora on 6 November 2015 and departed on 12 November 2015. We only had 1 cloudy day, the rest of our time there was filled with the wonderful weather we had hoped for.
- I set out to find the most affordable overwater bungalows in Bora Bora and my research concluded that it was Hotel Maitai Polynesia in Vaitāpē. What seems to make a big difference in Bora Bora hotel pricing is whether or not the hotel has a view of the famous Bora Bora mountain Mount Otemanu. Hotel Maitai doesn’t, but I was okay with that because a view of the mountain was never far away once we were there. Plus this hotel is on the mainland and very close to a little grocery store where locals shop – shopping there for food saved us a lot of money too. Many of the other hotels are located off of the mainland and people who stay there have to pay to travel to the mainland for various reasons – one being to visit the restaurant Bloody Mary’s which is conveniently located close to Hotel Maitai. Hotel Maitai is also walking distance from Bora Bora’s most famous beach Matira beach – yet another reason why I will choose this hotel again and highly recommend it.
- I didn’t book to spend all of our nights in the overwater bungalow. Rather, we spent most of our nights in a garden/budget room and had only 2 nights in the overwater bungalow itself. That way we still got the experience of living in our own overwater bungalow without paying a fortune! I didn’t realise it before, but when you are in Bora Bora, you can swim and snorkel around and under any of the overwater bungalows anyway, just not jump from them. We had the best time using the free kayaks available to Hotel Maitai guests to explore our neighbor overwater bungalows.
- I signed up for every website I could find that sends out newsletters about specials on Bora Bora vacations. The one that I highly recommend is www.easytahiti.com. Theirs were the cheapest specials I’ve personally seen for Bora Bora and they are the vacation specialists I booked my trip through. Their service and pricing actually seemed too good to be true and I was worried it might be a scam website but I’m happy to report it’s the real deal!
- Every birthday and Christmas present leading up to our Bora Bora vacation was a voucher for an activity on the island. Instead of spending money on gifts we didn’t need, my husband and I treated each other with prepaid vouchers for activities for our upcoming trip. I’m really glad we did as we didn’t have much money to spend on activities otherwise.
More Bora Bora travel tips around Vaitāpē
- Affordable Bora Bora photographer. I wanted to have professional photos taken of my husband and I on our honeymoon in Bora Bora. I did a lot of research about photographers there to find the perfect combination of a good photographer at a good price. My research led me to Stephan Debelle Duplan which I can highly recommend as a wonderful and affordable photographer. I found Stephan to be extremely passionate about not only photography but meeting new people and we soon became very good friends.
- Make friends with locals in Bora Bora. My husband and I met up with Stephan the photographer on several occasions before and after our photo shoot as he offered to assist us with any advice on where to go and what to do on the island. Through Stephan we learnt that some Bora Bora hotels have bars where anyone is welcome. He also introduced us to the Happy Hours where you can get two drinks for the price of one! It was a great way to get to know a local and and experience the atmosphere of other hotels too.
- Bora Bora island activities that I can recommend. I made a point of choosing activities that offered the longest amount of fun-filled time for the lowest price. We thoroughly enjoyed the following activities:
> Combo Tour – Jet Ski and Quad (2 hours) from Matira jet Tours
> Blue Honeymoon dive: Includes shell leis for the couple, pineapple juice and DVD of your experience by Top Dive Bora
Bora. Parasailing was one activity that looked amazing to do but it was very costly and lasted less than 15 minutes.
- Choose an overwater bungalow that is deep into the ocean, not to close to the beach. If you too dream about jumping into the gorgeous turquoise water straight from your own overwater bungalow, make sure you choose a bungalow that is situated deep in the ocean to ensure you won’t be jumping into very shallow water and get hurt. I specifically asked for one of the deeper overwater bungalows when I booked and confirmed my query again at the hotel reception.That concludes my secrets to achieving a Bora Bora holiday for less money spent, may this blog help to make your Bora Bora dreams come true!