Bora Bora vs. Maldives: 9 Factors to Consider

by | Last updated Mar 24, 2024 | Bora Bora, Maldives

Bora Bora vs. Maldives. Two amazing choices, so how do you decide especially if you are a first-timer?

Is one better than another?

We have been to both destinations, so let’s chat about the 9 things to consider when choosing your dream vacation.

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01- How to Get There

How to get to Bora Bora

How to get to Bora Bora

BORA BORA: One super important thing to know for both destinations is you do not fly directly to Bora Bora or the Maldives.

Both require one additional stop.

Bora Bora is located in the central South Pacific Ocean. The closest country with direct flights is New Zealand.

Fly to Tahiti first.

Then take a 50-minute domestic plane ride to Bora Bora.

From the airport in Bora Bora, take a short boat ride directly to your resort.

If you are flying from the east coast of the United States, it’s like flying to Hawaii + a movie (around 17 hours).

Posing at the Bora Bora Airport

Posing at the Bora Bora Airport

MALDIVES: The Maldives is located in the Indian Ocean near India and Sri Lanka. Get comfy and download all the movies you can. This is a long plane ride from the United States!

Fly into Male first.

Then take a 30-45 minute seaplane or boat directly to one of the 160+ island resorts. Seaplanes only fly during daylight hours, so time your international flight right so you don’t have to spend a night in Male first.

When you combine all the legs, expect travel time to be around 24 hours if you are coming from the east coast of the U.S.

How to get to the Maldives

How to get to the Maldives

VERDICT: If you are from the U.S., New Zealand, or Australia, Bora Bora will be easier to reach.

If you live in Europe, Africa, or Asia, the Maldives will be more accessible.

02- Best Time to Visit

InterContinental Le Moana Bora Bora

InterContinental Le Moana Bora Bora in December 

BORA BORA: Book your trip during the dry season from June – October for the best weather and lower humidity, but expect to pay for that perfect resort weather.

The wet season is November – March.

We went in December because we used Bora Bora as a stopover on our way to New Zealand. It’s best to visit New Zealand from December – March. My husband and I had a great time, but the weather was a little moody and rainy (see photo above).

Some of the restaurants on the island were closed for the holiday. Something to keep in mind if you go during Christmas.

However, we still had a great time!

Community Pool at Reethi Faru Resort in the Maldives

Pool at Reethi Faru Resort in the Maldives in December 

MALDIVES: Dry season in the Maldives runs from January – April. Expect little rain and low humidity.

May – November is the rainy season.

We love to take advantage of the days we already have off for Christmas, so we have been to the Maldives twice at the end of December/early January.

Great weather! Be aware though resorts will likely charge you for a compulsory Christmas or New Year’s Eve dinner if you go during this time.

VERDICT: The best time to go to Bora Bora and the Maldives are the opposite.

Go to Bora Bora from June – October.

Go to the Maldives from January- April.

03- Alcohol

Enjoying a glass of wine from the local market at InterContinental Le Moana Bora Bora

Enjoying a glass of wine purchased from the local market at our resort, InterContinental Le Moana Bora Bora

BORA BORA: You can purchase alcohol duty-free at the airport to enjoy in your room at the resort.

Or alternatively, you can stop in one of the markets on the main island to grab a few bottles of wine or beer as we did. We stayed at the InterContinental Le Moana Bora Bora and stopped in at the Tiare Market for some holiday wine.

Sipping a pina colada poolside at Reethi Faru Resort in the Maldives

Sipping a pina colada poolside at Reethi Faru Resort in the Maldives

MALDIVES: The Maldives is a Muslim country. Ironically, the resorts can serve you alcohol, but you cannot bring outside alcohol in or purchase it off the resort.

Expect to pay resort prices for those tropical beverages.

VERDICT: Since you can buy your own alcohol and make your drinks (and not rely on the watered-down drinks at the resort), Bora Bora wins this category.

04- Landscape

Bora Bora landscape

Bora Bora landscape

BORA BORA: Bora Bora is absolutely stunning and has a dramatic landscape. Picture towering mountain peaks, a turquoise lagoon (that you swear someone must be putting dye in the water to make it that color!), and motus.

Taking a seaplane to Outrigger Maafushivaru Maldives Resort

Flying over islands in the Maldives in a seaplane

MALDIVES: The Maldives consists of 1,190 islands spread out in the Indian Ocean. They look like little floating frisbees when viewed from the seaplane.

The topography is flat and low-lying with lots of palm trees.

VERDICT: There is no dispute in this category. Bora Bora wins for having the most stunning, dramatic landscape.

05- Beaches 

InterContinental Le Moana Bora Bora Beach at sunset

InterContinental Le Moana Bora Bora Beach at sunset

BORA BORA: Bora Bora has some beautiful beaches including the public beach, Matira Beach. The sand of the beaches overall tends to be coarser.

Beach at Le Méridien Maldives Resort & Spa

Beach at Le Méridien Maldives Resort & Spa

MALDIVES: The Maldives boasts some of the softest, whitest sand in the world.

VERDICT: Since there are over 160+ resorts in the Maldives, I cannot say if all resorts have the best beaches. However, the white sand beaches at the three resorts we have stayed in the Maldives are clearly superior to those in Bora Bora. The Maldives wins.

06- Snorkeling

Snorkeling with eagle rays in Bora Bora

Snorkeling with eagle rays in Bora Bora

BORA BORA: We saw a wide range of marine life. Expect lots of fish soup, eagle rays, manta rays, sting rays, and turtles. I highly recommend the small group Lagoon Tour with Reef Discovery.

Swimming with a Whale Shark on the Outrigger Maafushivaru Excursion in the Maldives

Snorkeling with a whale shark on the Outrigger Maafushivaru Excursion in the Maldives

MALDIVES: This is super important to know. Pick a Maldives resort with a great house reef if you love snorkeling! The Outrigger Maldives has one of our favorite house reefs. Lots of shark action! But not scary sharks, just blacktip reef sharks.

We saw many sting rays, eagle rays, blacktip reef sharks, a whale shark (very unique experience!), plenty of fish soup, octopuses (at the Le Meridien house reef), lobsters, and turtles. Here are the 42 fish species we have seen while snorkeling in the Maldives.

My husband and I have snorkeled all over the world, and I can say Bora Bora and the Maldives offer some of the best!

VERDICT: Both Bora Bora and the Maldives have EXCEPTIONAL snorkeling, but the Maldives may win by a slight edge over what it can offer (if you pick a resort with a great house reef).

07- Resorts + Cost

Overwater bungalow at InterContinental Le Moana Bora Bora

BORA BORA: Accommodations range from some beautiful vacation rentals to a handful of luxury hotels from $500-$2500/night.

Of course, every resort will be different, but overall the aesthetic of a lot of the Bora Bora properties is more “traditional Polynesian.”

We tend to gravitate toward more modern boutique properties, but we loved our traditional overwater bungalow at InterContinental Le Moana Bora Bora.

It even had a sliding glass coffee table that opened up to see the colorful fish and rays below!

Outrigger Maldives Maafushivaru Overwater Villa with Private Pool

Our modern Overwater Villa with Private Pool at Outrigger Maldives Maafushivaru

MALDIVES: There are over 160 resorts in the Maldives!

Each island = its own resort.

The cost to be in paradise ranges from $300 – $3000/night. Expect a lot of luxurious modern hotel choices. We LOVED our stay at the boutique modern Outrigger!

Prices will vary depending on the time of year you go (low vs. high season) and the type of room selected (beach villa vs. overwater villa vs. overwater villa + pool).

If you have never slept in an overwater bungalow, do not miss this romantic experience! It’s #1 on my 77 ideas for the ultimate couples bucket list!

VERDICT: You can find cheaper resorts in the Maldives; however, Bora Bora can be cheaper if you go the vacation rental route like this cozy highly-rated rental for $229/night.

08- Food

BORA BORA: Bora Bora is part of French Polynesia, so the cuisine showcases those French influences (like delicious French pastries!) in addition to the traditional Polynesian food.

Expect a lot of delicious fruit and fresh seafood like mahi mahi.

The national dish is poisson cru, which is made of raw fish (usually tuna) marinated in coconut milk and lime juice. It’s served up on a banana leaf. Kinda like ceviche. Yum!

Enjoy your meals at your resort, or you can pick from one of the many great restaurants on the island.

If you are really looking to save money, Bora Bora also has “snack bars” and “les roulottes” that offer delicious, affordable meals.

Sushi at Tabemasu Restaurant at Le Méridien Maldives Resort & Spa

Sushi at Tabemasu Restaurant at Le Méridien Maldives Resort & Spa

MALDIVES: Expect Indian and Asian culinary influences and lots of fresh fish and fruit.

When we stayed at the Outrigger, we had the chance to try Mas Huni. This traditional Maldivian breakfast consists of shredded smoked tuna, grated coconut, onions, and lemon and is consumed with bread called Roshi.

Most of the resorts will have several different restaurants offering a range of cuisines from Italian to Japanese (bring on the delicious sushi!).

Unlike Bora Bora, the only food option is on your resort, and you will pay resort prices.

VERDICT: Bora Bora hands down wins the foodie category.

09- Island Hopping

Trans-Maldivian Airways Seaplane

Island hopping by seaplane in the Maldives

BORA BORA: A fun way to check out French Polynesia is to hop between the islands, which includes Bora Bora. Air Tahiti offers multi-island passes for 434.90 € and up depending on when you go.

You can also island hop by boat if you stay in the same archipelago.

MALDIVES: You can island hop between islands in the Maldives, but it’s costly especially when you go by seaplane.

The key is to pick two resorts in the same atoll (there are 26 atolls!) because you may be able to fly directly between the two resorts.

Otherwise, you are flying back to Male (the main island) from your resort and then taking another seaplane to your second resort.

This is what we did when we recently stayed at both the Outrigger and the Le Meridien. This was a fun way to get two different resort experiences and see different marine life since we are avid snorkelers.

VERDICT: You can island hop at both Bora Bora and the Maldives. However, it will be much CHEAPER to do this in Bora Bora.

Final Thoughts on Bora Bora vs. Maldives

Bora Bora vs. Maldives? Confused more than ever on which to choose?

Go to the Maldives if you like being off the grid and love modern, ultra-luxurious, all-inclusive experiences with perfect white sand beaches and world-class snorkeling.

Go to Bora Bora if you need a little island culture, delicious and more affordable food and wine options, beautiful traditional overwater bungalows, and spectacular snorkeling.

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