BORA BORA VS TAHITI: WHERE WOULD YOU GO?
Given that Bora Bora and Tahiti both belong to the same archipelago of islands in French Polynesia, you’d be forgiven for thinking they were pretty similar.
And you’d be right – up to a point: Bora Bora and Tahiti are two South Pacific islands boasting picture-postcard beaches, tropical backdrops and an abundance of marine life.
Tahiti is the highest and largest island in French Polynesia and is all about black-sand beaches, lagoons and waterfalls. You’ll find Tahiti in the South Pacific Ocean, 4,400km south of Hawaii, 7,900km from Chile and 5,700km from Australia and it’s where the 1962 film Mutiny on the Bounty was filmed with Marlon Brando, firmly cementing its reputation as an idyllic, desert island.
Just a 50-minute plane ride away, northwest of Tahiti, Bora Bora is a small South Pacific island, in French Polynesia. It is surrounded by motus (islets) and a turquoise lagoon which is protected by a coral reef. It’s known for its scuba diving and is a popular luxury resort destination where guest bungalows are perched on stilts overlooking the water. At the island’s center is Mt. Otemanu, a 727 dormant volcano.
Also in the South Pacific, 3,438km to the west of Tahiti, lies the vacation island of Fiji. Boasting 333 islands and 540 islets to explore, there’s plenty to do in Fiji and it may be a good alternative to Bora Bora or Tahiti.
Read our guide to discover more about these South Pacific islands.
BORA BORA VS TAHITI: THINGS TO DO
If you’re wondering whether to visit Bora Bora or Tahiti you’ll need to ask yourself whether you want total privacy and seclusion, or whether you still want some of the buzz and excitement that a larger island provides.
As the largest island in French Polynesia and the main points that connects tourists with other Society Islands, there’s a huge variety of things to do in Tahiti.
Tahiti is famous for its black-sand beaches and also for inventing surfing. The most legendary wave, Teahupoo, is a reef break on the island’s southern tip, home to the Billabong Pro surf competition each year. The sand gets its dark hue from lava and the most spectacular time to see the sand is at sunset.
To see Tahiti’s white beaches, head to La Plage de Maui on Tahiti’s southern shore. This stretch of dazzling shoreline is also great for beginner swimmers and stand-up paddle boarding as there is a nearby shallow lagoon.
When it comes to cultural activities, you’ll find more things to do in Tahiti. Arrive in July and you’ll be able to visit the annual Heiva I Tahiti, a grand celebration of local dance and culture.
If you can drag yourself away from basking on its beaches or snorkeling in its gin-clear waters, Tahiti has lots to offer. There’s the unique flora and fauna at the Botanical Gardens, seeing local arts and crafts at Papeete Market and exploring Huahine Natural Aquarium.
Adventure-seekers will enjoy the variety of activities on offer in Tahiti, including hikes to Aorai Mountain – Tahiti’s second tallest peak – or visiting the Three Waterfalls on the north-eastern part of Tahiti Nui.
More rural than Tahiti, Bora Bora is all about getting away from it all. There’s only one main port here – Vaitape. It still has lots of shops and a few bars and restaurants, but in Bora Bora it’s all about privacy and seclusion with most activities taking place at the resorts.
Watched over by the tooth-like, jagged peak of Mt. Otemanu, Bora Bora is one of the most well-known islands of French Polynesia. It’s here you’ll see the luxury overwater bungalows perched tantalizingly above the lagoon.
When it comes to activities, think scuba diving, snorkeling in the lagoon directly from your bungalow and sunset cruises on the surrounding reefs. Once you’ve explored the reef, you can work up a sweat with a hike to Mt. Pahia.
BORA BORA VS TAHITI FOR COUPLES
Choosing between Bora Bora vs Tahiti for couples will depend entirely on what you’re looking for. Do you want a mix of shopping and nightlife or are you looking to get away from it all? When comparing a Bora Bora or Tahiti vacation, there are lots of things to consider.
BORA BORA HONEYMOON
Bora Bora might be considered to be more ‘high end’ and exclusive than Tahiti, but there’s still plenty of glamorous resorts in Tahiti and plenty of glitzy nightlife and beaches.
Couples will need to decide whether a vacation for them includes lots of activities, coupled with relaxation, or whether they prefer to take it easy and not do much more than a few kayak trips and some snorkeling excursions.
Away from the resorts, Bora Bora offers activities aplenty for honeymooners looking to explore. There are lagoon excursions in pirogues – handcrafted banana-style boats – with a lunch of barbecued fish and Tahitian music at one of the motu. There’s also kitesurfing, parasailing and hiking as well as cultural tours that visit American WWII and other archaeological sites.
In Tahiti dare to snorkel with sharks and manta rays or hike a number of lush hillsides to take in all the beauty of this pristine environment.
French is commonly spoken and the cuisine has a French influence and you can also find local flavours especially fresh fish served poisson cru style – cured in a mixture of coconut cream and lime juice. The scrumptious cuisine, endless activities and dreamy villas make for the idyllic romantic escape.
You might be surprised to learn that the main Bora Bora Island has only one public beach – Matira Beach. Surrounded by water, there are plenty of other beaches on Bora Bora but they are private and only accessible to guests of those hotels located on the motus.
BORA BORA VS TAHITI FOR FAMILIES
While Bora Bora and Tahiti might appear to be exclusively for couples, many resorts offer amazing kids activities.
Little ones can begin their snorkeling adventures in safe, warm lagoons right outside their door, while the education they receive from spotting sharks, stingrays and turtles will be second to none and they’ll remember their vacation for ever.
There will also be marine sanctuaries, bike and kayak hire and plenty of activities in resort pools to keep the kids entertained.
Typically a luxurious private island for couples only, Turtle Island Fiji likes to bend the rules at certain times of the year to welcome families – including parents, children and grandparents.
At specific times of the year, family week at Turtle Island is a chance to honor family and friends. Very child aged five and under is provided with a nanny while children aged six and above have their own ‘Bula Buddy’ as a companion or playmate.
COST OF BORA BORA VS TAHITI
Tahiti is the busiest island in French Polynesia, attracting the most visitors. Because of this you’ll find more choice of accommodation from three- to five-star hotels and resorts located close to the city centre and others deep in the island.
Bora Bora is more expensive than Tahiti because most of the resorts can be found on the ring of small reef islets, which means you’ll have to travel to your resort on a boat. You might even want to hire your own private island for a truly intimate vacation.
Bora Bora’s remoteness affords more privacy and luxury – ideal for couples and honeymoon vacations – however that can come at a higher price tag than Tahiti.
For a more affordable vacation, still in the South Pacific, Fiji is a good alternative with plenty of accommodation options and direct international flights.
For families or groups looking to splurge, Fiji has many private island resorts you can rent and have exclusive use to the island and resort facilities.
BORA BORA VS TAHITI: GETTING THERE
Given both islands’ remoteness – literally just specks in the vastness of the South Pacific Ocean – you’ll understand why it takes a few hours to get there.
To reach Tahiti from the US you’ll be able to take a direct flight from Los Angeles to Papeete, Tahiti’s main city. You’ll be able to also fly from Chicago, San Francisco, New York and Honolulu, but they all connect through Los Angeles.
To get to Bora Bora, you need to fly into Papeete first. Once you land on Tahiti Island, you’ll have to re-check in for the 50-minute flight to Bora Bora and you may need to wait a few more hours for your connection.
Both islands belong to the same group of the Society Islands, French Polynesia. The only way to get there is through Papeete, so if you have fewer days for your honeymoon, it would be reasonable to stay on Tahiti. If you can afford more travel time, go for Bora Bora.
BORA BORA VS TAHITI: BEST TIME TO VISIT
Given their close proximity – just a 50-minute flight from one another – there isn’t much difference in the weather between both islands.
The climate in French Polynesia is generally very favourable, so weather isn’t really a deciding factor when it comes to visiting Bora Bora or Tahiti. Peak season is between May and October, so expect to see more tourists and rising prices. December to March is low season, which is characterized by more humidity, which can bring lots of mosquitos, but not much movement when it comes to prices.
The best time to visit Bora Bora and Tahiti would be the less busy months of April and November.
And because it’s the smaller of the two, Bora Bora is generally quieter and more peaceful.
EXPLORE TURTLE ISLAND FIJI
For a truly memorable vacation experience, Turtle Island Fiji resort offers the perfect escape in the South Pacific. Here it’s all about privacy and total immersion into the warm welcoming Fijian way of life. If you want to immerse yourself in the private sanctuary of Turtle Island, then contact us today to book your Fiji vacation. Your idyllic Fiji island getaway is waiting.