Did you know you can travel to Bora Bora on a budget?
Believe it or not, the cost of traveling to Bora Bora, French Polynesia, does not have to be totally intangible for the average budget traveler. Once depicted as a luxury vacation destination exclusive only to the richest of the rich, Bora Bora is now becoming more accessible as experienced travelers share their money-saving tips.
And this is precisely what I intend to do for you today! Whether you’re looking for the perfect honeymoon destination or simply want to immerse in a week of total relaxation, here is exactly how to do Bora Bora on a budget.
Is It Possible To Travel Bora Bora On A Budget?
Yes! It is certainly possible to do Bora Bora on a budget.
Obviously, if you are reading this article, you already know that it must be possible based on the article’s title and introduction. But, how could it be possible?
There are four categories of travel on which I always capitalize saving money. First, accommodations; the accommodations category includes everywhere you will be staying on the trip (hotel, resort, overwater bungalow, AirBnB, hostel, etc.).
Second, food; you are about to be stunned with how much money you can save on food in Bora Bora.
Third, transportation; this category includes all transportation, from your flights to any ground transportation and, in Bora Bora, water shuttle transportation.
And, lastly, activities and excursions; it is surprisingly easy to save money on activities and excursions in Bora Bora, which I will explain in a moment.
How To Find Cheap Accommodations In Bora Bora
Accommodations will likely be the most expensive portion of your Bora Bora trip. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t experience the island’s iconic, dreamy and bucket-list-worthy overwater bungalows for cheap.
In fact, I have an entire blog post about how to find cheap overwater bungalows in Bora Bora for you to learn more. You can read it here. (Hint: Costco Travel vacation packages are a godsend.)
A couple of other ways to save money on accommodations in Bora Bora include:
- Staying at a hotel on the main island (you just won’t get the epic mountain view).
- Renting a short-term rental apartment on the main island (like AirBnb).
- Staying in a non-overwater-bungalow hotel room.
I personally recommend keeping these options as a last resort and looking for a cheap overwater bungalows first. It’s not that you won’t be able to truly experience Bora Bora on the main island (you should still definitely do it if that’s your only option), but know that you won’t necessarily find the Bora Bora you dream of in these accommodations.
And, trust me, finding luxury-on-a-budget accommodations in Bora Bora is definitely, possible. We stayed in an overwater bungalow for almost an entire week for less than it would have cost to stay at a honeymoon resort in Central America.
How To Save Money On Food In Bora Bora
The food situation in Bora Bora is a little bit tricky, but bear with me. Food will get extremely expensive if you aren’t careful.
To get an understanding of just how expensive the food can be, you need to be a little familiar with the geography of Bora Bora. Essentially, Bora Bora has a main island (the island with the mountain in all of the Bora Bora pictures you see online), a bunch of small islets surrounding the main island (on which most of the resorts are located) and a lagoon separating the main island from the islets (where you’ll find the beautiful, crystal-clear water).
Because each resort practically has its own little island, food supply is limited to the resort restaurants only. A single meal for one person at one of the resort restaurants costs $50 USD or more, which means you will be spending between $200-$300 every day for lunch and dinner for two people.
Getting Groceries Isn’t Really An Option In Bora Bora
Normally, when I am trying to spend as little as possible on food when traveling, I will pack snacks and buy groceries when I arrive at my final destination.
While groceries are a good thought for a budget Bora Bora vacation, they aren’t exactly feasible for a couple reasons.
- The only markets in Bora Bora are located on the main island. If you’re staying at a resort off of the main island, which you likely will be, you would have to take a water shuttle (boat) from the resort to the main island. These shuttles, if not complimentary, will cost several hundred U.S. dollars. Then, from the dock, you’ll have to find and pay for ground transportation to the actual market.
- Even if you’re resort is located on the main island, you will still have to pay for a taxi or other transportation to the market.
As you can see, the geography of Bora Bora makes vacation grocery shopping a little difficult, but don’t worry! There are still several ways to save money on food.
Indulge In The Hotel Breakfast Buffets
Many Bora Bora vacation packages come with free continental breakfast buffets. Take advantage of these buffets! I cannot stress this enough. The breakfast buffets are, from my experience, abundant. Think lots of French pastries, crepes, omelets, savory meats, local fruits and fresh mango nectar. You’ll never get sick of the breakfast options because you will never run out of options. And don’t be afraid to go back up and get a second, third or even fourth plate. You have to fuel up for the day ahead of you!
How To Do Bora Bora On A Budget For Lunch & Dinner
Your breakfast will keep you full through lunch and well into the afternoon. Even if you’re a snacker or someone who is usually starving by lunch time (like me), you can push back your hunger by going to breakfast closer to closing. Meaning, if breakfast ends at 10:00 a.m., go at 9:00 a.m. instead of 6:00 a.m.
As for dinner, pack as many snacks and non-perishables as possible. Our favorite Bora Bora snacks/meals were:
- Tuna packets (cheap and they pack well).
- Tortillas to make tuna wraps (won’t get smushed in your suitcase like bread would).
- Ritz crackers to eat with the tuna.
- Pre-packaged tuna salad and cracker boxes (we ate a lot of tuna, obviously).
- Fruit leather (you can’t bring fresh fruit or vegetables through Bora Bora’s biosecurity at the airport).
- Dried mango (perfect beach snack).
- Beef sticks (good source of protein other than tuna).
- Lots of granola bars.
- Protein bars.
- Trail mix.
(Of course, always check Tahiti’s updated biosecurity rules for what exactly you can and cannot bring through customs.)
Because of our big breakfasts and plentiful snack options, we did not feel hungry once on our entire trip. Plus, it was super liberating to be able to eat/snack whenever we wanted without even leaving our bungalow. I would 100% do this again the next time we go to Bora Bora (unless I win the lottery, maybe).
Avoid Buying Alcohol At The Resort
We were stunned at the prices of drinks at the resort bars. It costs anywhere from $20 USD and over for one single alcoholic drink.
Luckily, we personally don’t drink much alcohol, so we always ordered either grenadine Coca-Colas ($5 USD) or virgin strawberry pina coladas ($10 USD, half the price of alcoholic strawberry pina coladas) instead if we felt like sipping on something fun.
If you do prefer an alcoholic drink or glass of wine, though, buy all of your alcohol at the Duty Free store at your gate in the Tahiti airport (you have to go through Tahiti to get to Bora Bora). By buying Duty Free, you’ll save a ton of money and won’t have to worry about glass bottles breaking in your checked bag.
Take Advantage Of Happy Hour.
Similarly, regardless of whether or not you drink alcohol, be sure to ask the resort staff if there is a bar happy hour when you check in. Happy hours definitely pay off here.
At our resort in particular, the InterContinental Bora Bora Le Moana Resort, had a happy hour in the early evening. During happy hour, all drinks were buy one get one free (one deal per person, no splitting between two people).
This is when we would indulge in our virgin strawberry pina coladas. Each pina colada came to about $5 USD (four drinks for $20), which made the delicious splurge a lot more financially — and physically — swallowable.
There are two types of transportation necessary on every single travel: the transportation to the trip destination, as well as the transportation during the trip. Here are a couple of facts to note about transportation to and in Bora Bora:
- There are limited flights to Bora Bora each day from limited cities (we flew from LAX), which means the flights will be fuller and more expensive.
- You also may have to budget for airfare/transportation to the departure city. (For example, we had to fly from Milwaukee to LAX for our flight to Bora Bora.)
- You will have to stop at the big airport in Tahiti before flying to Bora Bora.
- When you’re in Bora Bora, you will have to take a water shuttle to your resort. (The airport is located on its own islet, separate from the main island and the resorts.)
So, although you will likely not have to spend any money on transportation once you’re settled into your resort, the trip to your resort in Bora Bora does solicit a lengthy and costly travel day.
To find cheap flights and water transportation to the resorts, I recommend finding a discounted Bora Bora vacation package. I personally recommend Costco Travel because the flights, shuttles, accommodations and more are typically all included. You can read all about my experience with Costco Travel’s Bora Bora packages here.
Activities & Excursions In Bora Bora On A Budget
Furthermore, when traveling to Bora Bora on a budget, you can save tons of cash on the activities and excursions you decide to do on your trip.
There is a plethora of incredible things to do in Bora Bora that involve an excursion outside of your resort, such as feeding stingray, swimming with sharks, jet skiing and more. However, these excursions often come at a high price.
For example, we went jet skiing in Tahiti, and it cost us $150 USD for just one hour. Although we had a blast and certainly thought it was worthwhile, $150 is quite a bit of money when you’re on a budget.
Instead of going on paid excursions, opt for the amazing complimentary activities that your resort has to offer. Most resorts offer the following activities for their guests completely free of charge:
- Traditional outrigger canoeing.
- Swimming pool access.
- Private beach access.
- Hammocking and laying on the beach chairs.
- And more.
Additionally, black tip reef sharks, stingray and thousands of colorful tropical fish can all be seen right from your resort property if you keep an eye out. The stingray and fish tend to come out most at dawn and again at dusk, so have your snorkels ready then.
On the other hand, do not get too close to the sharks without a guide. Even though shark attacks are extremely rare in Bora Bora, never attempt touching or feeding the sharks under any circumstance.
Have Fun & Don’t Be Too Stingy
Finally, my advice to you is to give yourself permission to truly enjoy your trip. If you need to save up an extra month so that you can buy a grenadine Coke or pina colada when you’re relaxing by the water, do it.
Bora Bora vacations are meant to be totally relaxing and luxurious. Don’t get so caught up in your spending that you can’t focus on anything else. That kind of defeats the whole purpose of learning how to do Bora Bora on a budget ahead of time.
You know what it takes now! Just allow yourself to relax, kick up your feet and enjoy.
Have any questions about traveling to Bora Bora on a budget? Reply with a comment below or shoot me a message on Instagram.