We all dream of a trip to this gem of French Polynesia. Those jungle-covered mountains, those idyllic lagoons, the turquoise seas filled with coral reefs, the overwater hotels with their luxury infinity pools and boardwalks. But why is Bora Bora so expensive?
Good question. The truth is that Bora Bora has emerged as one of the priciest tropical destinations out there. Some estimations put a trip here at around $6,000 per person for just a week, potentially increasing to a mortgage-quashing $23,000 per week for those who have a taste for the finer hotels, the best restaurants, and the most adventurous activities.
We’ve got a complete guide to what you should budget on Bora Bora already. In this guide, we’ll focus on why you need that amount; why you can expect to pay more for that once-in-a-lifetime jaunt to these idyllic islands in the depths of the Pacific. Let’s begin…
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Why is Bora Bora so expensive to get to?
Now here’s a question that can be answered with geography and geography alone. Get out the map. Unfold the South Pacific section and get a-looking. Bora Bora is there somewhere, we promise! It’s tucked just below the international date line about half a palm’s width from the edge of New Zealand. Basically, it’s really, really far from just about anywhere else!
That presents a unique challenge for airlines because it warrants a whole load more time in the air and a whole load more fuel to get to. So, it costs carriers a lot more cash to run a link this far over the ocean than it would to, say, Sydney or Auckland. And that means you’re sure to pay a premium for your air connections. In short: It costs the airlines more, so it costs you more.
On top of that, Bora Bora is now firmly established as a bit of a high-end, jet-setter destination. It magnetizes honeymooners and A listers. One of the upshots there is that fewer people travel over. Fewer people means that fewer flights are needed to sate demand. But it also means that airlines can charge some hefty airfare because they know the sort of traveler that come this way are willing pay it.
In fact, there’s something like four or five connections to Bora Bora each day. That’s nothing compared to the hundreds that go to New York, to Rome, to London. They all have to go via the Faa’a International Airport in Tahiti and only a few brands run the service, including United Airlines, Air New Zealand, and Hawaiian.
Limited seats, often-rich clientele, and a hard-to-read destination – the upshot? Skyrocketing (no pun intended) airfare that can be in excess of $2,800 per person return, and over $10,000 a pop if you want to travel first class. Wowza!
Why is Bora Bora so expensive for hotels?
The hotels in Bora Bora command some fantastically high rates but that’s really all down to the fact that they offer high levels of luxury to match. Yep, the stays here are often cited as some of the most opulent of anywhere on the globe. Move over Caribbean. Take a hike St Moritz. Seriously, we’re talking the peak of service, style, and quality.
Don’t take our word for it. Just check out the sheer class of some of the priciest stays on the island. Here’s a few to consider:
- Fare Ahuna ($$$) – You’ll basically live on a whole island of your own here, surrounded by white sands and getting the full castaway experience. Rates can be upwards of $655 for a single night in the spring, although that’s shared between four travelers.
- Le Bora Bora by Pearl Resorts ($$$) – The dream you have of overwater bungalows by a Polynesian lagoon can come true here. But stays are hardly bungalows since they are sprawling villa-type cabanas with decks and marble bathrooms. The cost? Over $1,100 per night.
- Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora ($$$) – Commanding costs of over $1,800 a night, the famous Four Seasons name manages something spectacular in Bora Bora, what with its exquisite spa and on-site fine dining.
The other thing that’s worth noting about the cost of hotels in Bora Bora is the fact that almost all of the space on these sought-after isles is taken by big-name brand hotels. Four Seasons, Conrad, Pearl – they’re all present. Whereas comparable destinations like the Maldives have recently opened the field to allow more locally owned B&Bs that can offer bargain rates, that’s just isn’t gonna’ happen in Bora Bora. There’s only so much room for hotels. Most of it is occupied by the luxury chains.
That said, you might find one or two bargain options. Check out:
- Sunset Hill Lodge ($) – A very basic stay with colorful, Caribbean-style interiors, costing around $90 a night.
- Matira House ($) – A double room in this homestay will set you back just over $100 a night.
- Tiki House ($) – A cute, compact, and cozy house with Polynesian décor that costs about $120 a night.
Why is Bora Bora so expensive for food?
One thing you’re sure to notice after jetting into Bora Bora is that food costs hike pretty high. Now, that’s something you’d probably expect in a place where luxury hotels and chichi hotel restaurants are the order of the day. However, there’s an added premium to the stuff in this corner of the South Pacific and it’s down to just how hard it is to source ingredients.
Yep, look around you when you’re on the beach – Bora Bora has plenty of coconuts and carambola fruit. Sadly, it’s a little thin on the ground when it comes to Spanish olive oil, Italian buffalo mozzarella, cheddar cheese, and all-American steaks. All those things – ALL of them! – need to be imported across the vast oceans. And we’re not talking a quick hop of a couple of hours. Sometimes it takes days, even weeks, to get a box of ingredients from origin to that Tahitian plate.
Of course, one great way to skip the hefty price tags that come with the international foods served at the hotel eateries is to go local. There are plenty of dishes that are made here using fish, veg, and fruits sourced from the islands themselves. They include mahi mahi fresh of the grill, breadfruit curries, prawn salads, and even a local version of sushi.
Why is Bora Bora so expensive in the summer?
The summer months of the Northern Hemisphere mark the coming of the peak season to Bora Bora. It’s actually the winter in the Southern Hemisphere but is known locally as the dry season. Accordingly, the rainfall across the islands drops to about a fifth of what it is in the midwinter, with an average of about two or three inches of rain from May onwards. Temperatures, although remaining largely steady throughout the year, also mellow a little by dipping into the high 60s and low 70s at night.
The result is a period from June to September that’s by far the best time of year to go to Bora Bora. You get the clear seas for snorkeling, the sun-filled days, and the more temperate months of the year when you won’t sizzle like a BBQ shrimp on the sun deck (okay, you will, but not quite as badly!).
The good news is that Bora Bora is hardly a chore to explore in the low season. When October turns to November, you might notice that prices drop considerably, for everything from hotels to flights over to Tahiti in the first place. However, the weather is rarely too bad then, with the mercury still reading a nice 70-80 F and a max of 12 inches of rain at the peak.
The truth is it’s a bit of a roll of the dice in Bora Bora during the wet season. Some years are fantastic, and you won’t have a single day of rain. Other times it can be stormy from morning until night. The main downside is probably the potential for clouds of mosquitoes. It just depends on what you’re willing to risk to save a stack of dollars on your travels!
Why is Bora Bora so expensive? Our conclusion
Bora Bora is expensive mainly because of where it is. A whopping 4,000 miles from the western shores of Mexico, over 5,000 miles from the edge of Peru, and 2,500 miles from the tip of New Zealand’s North Island, it’s hardly the most accessible place on the planet. That has a knock-on effect on the cost of just about everything here. Flights will be more because they need to travel astronomical distances to get you on the ground. Food will be more because ingredients need to be imported from afar.
On top of that, the problem is exacerbated by the fact that Bora Bora, and French Polynesia more generally, has garnered a reputation for being a bit of a jet-setter destination extraordinaire. It’s up there with Monte Carlo, Switzerland, and the Caribbean with its fancy hotels that can cost over $2,000 a night in some cases, drawing in a class of traveler that’s happy to pay a premium for paradise beaches and overwater bungalows.