5 Places like Bora Bora: Same Same But Different

by | Last updated Mar 8, 2024 | Maldives

Bora Bora is an incredibly romantic destination. The postcards do not lie. With white powdery beaches, turquoise waters, and Mount Otemanu towering in the background, you will never want to leave your overwater villa. Ok, maybe for the world-class snorkeling! If you are like me though, there is still a big beautiful world to explore, and you may want to know if there are other places like Bora Bora that live up to the hype. You know, same same but different as the Thai people say.

Here are my top 5 Bora Bora alternatives that will get you packing.

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How I Compared Bora Bora Alternatives 

InterContinental Le Moana Bora Bora Beach at sunset

Where we stayed: InterContinental Le Moana Bora Bora Beach at sunset

Before we dive in, let’s make sure we are on the same page.

What makes Bora Bora special?

✔️  Great beaches

✔️   Turquoise clear water

✔️   Overwater villas

✔️   Fantastic snorkeling

✔️   Dramatic landscape

All of my 5 recommended Bora Bora alternatives will be compared based on the above criteria.

By the way, I have been to all these destinations, so this is NOT just another generic regurgitated list with stock photos!

01- Maldives

Outrigger Maldives Maafushivaru Overwater Villa with Pool

Outrigger Maldives Maafushivaru: Our Overwater Villa with Pool


✔️   World-class beaches

✔️   Turquoise clear water

✔️   Overwater villas

✔️   Fantastic snorkeling

❌   Dramatic landscape

Alright, this is an easy one to suggest. The Maldives is my #1 recommendation of a place most like Bora Bora. It is stunning and in my opinion, even has better beaches than Bora Bora! Plus, you get to make a grand entrance in a seaplane, a quintessential Maldivian experience.

The color of the water looks almost unreal and is so clear you can see the colorful tropical fish from your overwater villa.

It has some of the best snorkeling in the world, and this is coming from someone who frequently plans “snorkations.”

One difference though is the Maldives is flat.

Each island = its own resort, and there are over 160+ resorts!

How do you pick? Well, if you love snorkeling, here are my top 6 Maldives resorts with the best house reefs (videos included)! All of my recommendations have overwater bungalows.

And if you want to know more about the differences between Bora Bora and the Maldives, here are the 9 factors to consider.

02- Maui 

Secret Beach at Makena Cove in Maui

Posing at Secret Beach in  Makena Cove in Maui


✔️   World-class beaches

✔️   Turquoise clear water

❌   Overwater villas

✔️   Fantastic snorkeling

✔️   Dramatic landscape

Not to be cheesy, but Hawaii holds a special place in my heart.

My hubby and I were married on a small beach at Makena Cove in Maui with just our immediate family and a lovely Hawaiian minister playing a ukulele. It does not get more romantic than that.

Each of the 6 Hawaiian islands have their own identity. We have been to 4 of the 6 Hawaiian islands (Hawaii Island, Kauai, Maui, and Oahu).

Maui is most similar to Bora Bora. It has towering mountains, gorgeous beaches (Makena Cove is my happy place. Shhh! Don’t tell everyone!), and amazing snorkeling in super clear water (love Black Rock and Honolua Bay).

No overwater villas, but there’s a great selection of fantastic beachfront properties with gorgeous views!

WHERE TO STAY: Hotel Wailea

03- St. Lucia

St Lucia and view of Pitons mountains

View of the towering Pitons mountains in St. Lucia


✔️   Great beaches

✔️   Turquoise clear water

✔️    Overwater villas (one option: Sandals Grande St. Lucian)

✔️   Great snorkeling

✔️   Dramatic landscape

St. Lucia has the same dramatic landscape as Bora Bora with the towering Pitons as its backdrop.

And yes, my husband and I hiked Gros Piton (pictured in the background), which was probably the hardest hike I have ever done in my life! I could not sit for days. But the views at the top were breathtaking.

St. Lucia also boasts beautiful beaches and turquoise clear water. There are a few nice areas to snorkel (Anse Chastanet), but it does not have the variety as seen in Bora Bora.

There is one overwater villa option, but I would strongly consider the super swanky Jade Mountain. You will be paying safari prices but that view will be etched in your memory until you die.

WHERE TO STAY: Jade Mountain

04- Aruba

Arashi Beach in Aruba

Arashi Beach in Aruba


✔️   World-class beaches

✔️   Turquoise clear water

✔️    Overwater villas (one option: Aruba Ocean Villas)

✔️   Great snorkeling

❌    Dramatic landscape

If you want to experience a place that is Bora Bora-like, consider Aruba.

Surprised? Let me explain.

Aruba has some of the BEST beaches in the WORLD. The water is super calm and clear, and there are several pockets of incredible snorkeling (like Boca Catalina and Mangel Halto).

It may not have the dramatic landscape like Bora Bora (Aruba is flat), but it checks all the other boxes including overwater villas!

We have always stayed at the charming Boardwalk Boutique Hotel but may consider switching it up just to try out these gorgeous overwater bungalows.

The best part? If you live in the U.S., the flight could be as short as 3 hours depending on your departure city!

WHERE TO STAY: Aruba Ocean Villas

05- Belize 

Blue Bayou Bar at Secret Beach Belize

Blue Bayou at Secret Beach in Ambergris Caye, Belize 


❌    World-class beaches

✔️   Turquoise clear water

✔️    Overwater villas 

✔️   Amazing snorkeling

❌    Dramatic landscape

Ambergris Caye is the largest island of Belize, and it’s pretty special.

It is the jumping-off point to the world’s second-largest coral reef system, which is spectacular! Snorkel with nurse sharks, eagle and sting rays, barracudas, and loads of tropical Caribbean fish.

Plus, you get to drive around and discover everything in a golf cart, which is #8 on my favorite things to do in Belize list!

The turquoise water is crystal clear. While it does have a few pockets of nice soft sand beaches  (my favorite is the not-so-secret Secret Beach), it is not known for sugary white world-class beaches.

But if you are looking for a laid-back tropical paradise that has a world-class underwater experience, Belize is it!

And yes, they also have overwater villas. Stay at Cayo Espanto, a beautiful boutique property located on a private island just three miles off the coast of Ambergris Caye.

WHERE TO STAY: Cayo Espanto

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this carefully crafted selection sparks ideas for your next tropical getaway. Bora Bora undoubtedly is truly special. However, if you are looking to explore unique Bora Bora alternatives, these 5 exotic destinations are sure to hit the mark. Happy travels!

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