French Polynesia, Maldives

A Comparison of The Maldives and Bora Bora

Overwater bungalows that you can jump into the crystal-clear water from your room are icons of the Maldives and Bora Bora that are the ultimate postcard perfect and luxurious honeymoon destinations. Now that I have visited both, I can compare the two from my experiences; not that I am an expert or anything since I only visited once or twice. Everyone has their own preferences and definition of dream vacation so I am just pointing out the differences for you to consider. I stayed in the Intercontinental Bora Bora Thalasso back in Jan. 2014 and the Conrad Maldives in Jan. 2018 so my opinions are mostly based on those two resorts. Be warned though, rather you choose Bora Bora or the Maldives, once you visited any of those two, your definition of paradise will be forever changed and it’ll be hard to beat 😉

Maldives Bora Bora My choice
Airfare to the country in cash All international flights arrive Male, the capital city. Low $1000s roundtrip from Turkish Airlines, Emirates, or Qatar. All international flights arrive Papeete on the island of Tahiti. More than $1500 from Air France, Air Tahiti Nui, and Air New Zealand. The Maldives – from Boston there are more affordable choices to the Maldives.
Airfare to the country in miles 40,000 AA miles or 42,500 United miles one way. 40,000 AA miles or only 35,000 United miles one way. Bora Bora using United miles; also you can easily combine a trip to New Zealand which is only 5,000 miles more at 40,000 miles one way.
Transportation cost to the resort $560 seaplane per person round trip from Male to Conrad Maldives or other private island resorts that are not accessible by boat from Male. $541 (€440.20) for the Air Tahiti Bora Bora Pass plus $120+ roundtrip boat transfer from Bora Bora airport to the resort. Alternatively, you can take the free Air Tahiti shuttle boat to Bora Bora town – Vaitape and then catch a boat to your resort which will cost less than the $120 transfer. Bora Bora – the multi-island pass lets you visit Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, Bora Bora, Maupiti for one fixed price! I highly recommended Moorea where you can also redeem points to stay at the Hilton or IHG Moorea.
Hotel cost in points per night 95,000 Conrad Maldives
30,000 Park Hyatt Maldives
58,500 SPG points – St. Regis Maldives
58,500 SPG points – W Retreat and Spa
80,000 Conrad Bora Bora Nui
70,000 IHG Bora Bora Thalasso
70,000 IHG Bora Bora Le Moana
58,500 SPG points – St. Regis Bora Bora
39,000 SPG points – Le Meridien Bora Bora
Depends but award availability is generally much better in the Maldives. Good luck with finding an award room in IHG Bora Bora Thalasso nowadays; we were able to easily snapped 4 nights back in 2014.
Food quality and selection Conrad Maldives with 12 restaurants and bars to choose from and great food quality and variety except for the Atoll dinner buffet which was very bad. Food in the IHG Bora Bora Thalasso is okay but you can take a ferry shuttle to Bora Bora town for more restaurant choices such as the famous Bloody Mary’s. Hotel food-wise: the Conrad Maldives wins but in Bora Bora, but you can go out to town to restaurants which are very good.
Food cost Be prepared for the shocking bill with 23% additional for taxes and service charge on top of the already expensive price!  The “cheapest” will be to dine at Rangali Bar average entrée at least $40 excluding the 23% taxes and service, oh no matter where you go, you can’t escape the $14 VOSS water! Our cheapest lunch was at Ufaa with 20% off promotion – $72.93 including tax for two of us. Atoll buffet dinner $251.33 including tax for two of us. Hotel prices around $30 per entrée for lunch and around $50 for dinner. We spent $160 for a dinner show in the hotel including tips. Water was only $7. Our dinner in Bloody Mary’s was only $118 including tips. Note that the hotel charges $18 per person for taking the ferry shuttle out in the evening to discourage guests from dining outside. Bora Bora because you can go out to town for a range of restaurants that are more affordable than the resort. Bora Bora water in the resort $7 versus the Conrad Maldives’ VOSS water $14+23%!!! Although with Hilton Gold or Diamond status, you can get free breakfast, free afternoon tea and Happy Hour that you might be able to skip lunch, but I think on average, Bora Bora is still cheaper. There are cheaper alternatives in Bora Bora, whereas, in the Maldives, you are “stuck” in the resort.
Activities cost N/A We booked with Raanui Tours for snorkeling and swimming with the sharks full day including motu lunch at $120 per person. We didn’t do any paid activities in the Conrad Maldives so can’t compare the two.
Resort facility, landscaping, and photo-ops The Conrad Maldives consisted of two islands, the grounds and landscaping are pretty and offers plenty of Instagram worthy photo-ops. Our Superior Water Villa was not impressively beautiful but the jacuzzi on our deck was nice. The atmosphere in the quiet island was more relaxing and paradise-vacationing feel but once you get to the main island, I felt the pool and beach areas were very resort-“crowded” (but nothing near like the Caribbeans). The sand on the beach was not powdery-white that you would’ve expected, actually in some area, it was so rough that my feet were hurting even walking with my sandals. The water was clear and layers of blue but it was nothing like the eye-blinding turquoise color in Bora Bora’s lagoon. Although smaller and shared the same island as other resorts, the IHG Bora Bora Thalasso offered one of the best views of Bora Bora’s famous Mount Otemanu. The hotel grounds were beautiful with no shortage of photo spots to fill a whole day’s worth. I loved our 1,200 sq. feet overwater bungalow with a living room, bedroom, and bathroom. The deck was much bigger than Conrad Maldive’s but lack of a jacuzzi. However, the glass bottom area in our living room was a treat to view fishes at night without leaving our room. Also, IHG Thalasso has day rooms for guests with late afternoon flights to take a nice shower and change after a day at the beach! Bora Bora – the overwater villas/bungalows in Bora Bora have the Polynesian bungalow style whereas the ones in the Conrad Maldives were very wooden, a “block” feel. There are no shortages of powdery white sand in Bora Bora and the amazing views of Mount Otemanu. The colors of the water were unbelievable in Bora Bora the moment you stepped outside the airport!
The atmosphere and overall I was a little bit shocked at how many Chinese staffs that the Conrad Maldives employed which is understandable as the majority of tourists in the Maldives are from mainland China. But I did not enjoy our Atoll dinner surrounded by loud-talking Chinese but not the resort’s fault. Also, perhaps due to the Muslim culture, I felt like the Maldivian staffs weren’t as warm and “open” friendliness, by no means they weren’t nice. A lot of families were at the resort when we were there, luckily, we stayed in the quiet island which was quieter and not as “crowded”. Sometimes there was a language barrier with the local staff just like other French-speaking countries but they were very warm and welcoming with their Polynesian hospitality. I felt like I was in a true secluded paradise that I hardly bumped into other guests and had no problem to “have the place to ourselves” for photos. The opportunity to take the ferry boat out to town for dining, grocery (love the mango juice) and souvenir shopping (black pearls), and just walk around the town to experience the culture was excellent. Bora Bora because I get to experience the Polynesian culture which I feel the Conrad Maldives lacked of – the local culture. I still remember when we were departing IHG Thalasso on the boat, a staff blew the seashell as the farewell to us. With the Bora Bora Pass, you can easily visit more than one island in French Polynesia to explore the island and its culture. In the Maldives, it’ll cost you the additional $560 seaplane ride from one resort to another where you get to experience another resort.

 

Intercontinental Bora Bora Thalasso
Conrad Maldives

Alternatively, longer to get to but cheaper: Aitutaki, Cook Islands! Both Jason and I have the same rating on our favorite tropical paradise destinations: 1) Bora Bora, 2) Aitutaki, and 3) The Maldives.

Aitutaki, Cook Islands

17 thoughts on “A Comparison of The Maldives and Bora Bora

  1. Thank you for the excellent comparison. My family have been to Bora Bora x2 and Cook Island (Rorotonga and Aitutaki) and I was currious to see if the 30 plus hour trip to Maldives is worth it (we live in San Francisco area). We really loved Bora Bora and would say the view and water is just amazing. We also loved the serenity of Aitutaki. The lagoon was just increadible and the sand bar was amazing. What’s missing in Aitutaki is the high end over the water bungalow (Aitutaki Lagoon Resort only has beach bungalow and I would not consider it high end), although it certainly has it’s rustic charm and definately fell more “island like”.
    Maldives seems to remind me more of Aitutaki than Bora Bora (with high end resort). Like you, Maldives is in our bucket list and will try to still see it despite the long trip.
    Thanks for sharing your journey. I look forward to your next post.

    1. Hi Maria, I totally agree that the Maldives is more like the upscale of Aitutaki, mostly flat and no mountain peak. However, the Maldives lack of the gorgeous lagoon that Aitutaki and Bora Bora have! You better go to the Maldives soon before it’s underwater 🙂

  2. We will definately go in the next 5 years. We just have to save more money, the resorts are extremely expensive, not to mention the food and the 23% tax. In the mean time we will got to Europe this year then Fiji next year.
    I love your site! I love the details and pictures! Definately my favorite vacation blog!

    1. Thank you Maria! Ah, let me know how is Fiji, I was looking to that when I decided on Aitutaki instead. Hum…you can look into hotel credit cards to get free nights in the Maldives? Which country in Europe will you be visiting this year?

  3. We are going on a Baltic cruise as a family. It’s a 12 day cruise with stops at Skagen (Denmark), Tallin (Estonia), Helsinki (Finland), Stockhom (Sweden) and two days in St Petersburg (Russia). Before and after the cruise, we will spend several days in Amsterdam. By the way I read you travel blog on Amsterdam several times to give me some ideas what to do. Unlike you, we will be there during the summer so we will miss out on the tulips season 🙁

  4. My family with 2 older teens will be taking a Baltic cruise. We will see visit the following city: Skagen (Denmark), Tallin (Estonia), Helsinki (Finland), Stockholm (Sweden), Copenhagen (Denmark) and 2 days in St Peterburg (Russia). Before and after the cruise, we will stay at Amsterdam. By the way, I read your travel report on Amsterdam to give me ideas where to go. I wished I can see the field of tulips but we are visiting during the summer.

    I will sure let you know about Fiji. Just like you we prioritzed Cook Island since your travel blog convinced us visit. Here is a video link of our vacation in Cook Island.

    1. Oh wow nice video! I wish I have a drone that time so I am thinking to go back to the Cook Islands! The cruise sounds fun and you’ll probably get to see the midnight sun?

  5. I would love to see the midnight sun! Hopefully my husband can capture a picture of it. Yes, a drone video of Aitutaki is amazing. We took two private tours of the lagoon (full and half day) so my family can enjoy the lagoon at our own paced. This gave my husband many apportunities to use his drone and take pictures with no other tourist. Thanks to you and your site, I was able to convince my family to visit Cook Island. Keep your vacation report coming….I enjoy them greatly and they are a fantastic research base for a fabulous vacation.

    Here is a link to a drone video of Aitutaki (taken by my husband). The beauty of Aitutaki is almost unreal.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxpQuFQ_se4

    Maria

    1. OMG Maria, your drone video made me want to go back now!!! Ahhh I can’t wait, when will be my chance to visit again?

  6. I hope you can go back soon to use your drone 🙂 I would love to see your travel report to include drone videos on your future travel.

    I am living vicariously thru you! Happy travels.

  7. Looks like now is time for you to visit Seychelles Islands Mahe, La Digue > and Praslin if you have more time)
    I am sure you will like it…

    1. Definitely, it’s on my plan to visit next year to combine with a trip to Tanzania 😀 Any tips? I read that the ferry from Mahe to La Digue can be rough and only few times a day so need to really align the schedule to maximize my time there!

      1. Make sure you visit (from La Digue) >>> Grande Soeur Private Island
        You could you take a full day tour to few small islands around La Digue ($80 or so + $20 for Grande Soeur entrance…. you should have about 2h for this stunning beach, half day tour will give you less than 40 min there – too little time)
        Normally most of the tourists just snorkel where you see boat on video below – so you should have beach for yourself

        https://www.chateaudefeuilles.com/private_island_and_beach.html

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