In late August, Holly and I had the opportunity to go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Yes, we travel a lot, but this was the type of trip that even we couldn’t say “no” to. You know, bucket list stuff!
We totally went to Bora Bora, and we even got to stay at the Four Seasons.
Yes, the island was beautiful. Yes, the hotel was amazing. And yes, we even got to meet this guy for a few minutes:
Isn’t Bora Bora Super Expensive?
As incredible as this trip was, let’s go ahead and address the elephant in the room: Why is a frugal travel blog writing about saving money in Bora Bora of all places?
For starters, with the right plan and a few tricks, you can make any destination in the world more affordable. I’m not ashamed to admit that we did some pretty ridiculous stuff to save a buck or two on our Bora Bora trip, and you can easily do the same with the tips I’m about to offer.
Second, you can pay for most of your trip to Bora Bora with credit card rewards, which is totally in line with the theme of this website.
Third, I just think Bora Bora is worth talking about. I mean, the pictures of this place are so amazing that I just had to share.
Look, no matter how you slice it, traveling to Bora Bora is going to cost some money. There’s just no way around it. But if you’re planning a special trip for a honeymoon or an important anniversary, don’t rule this place out on price alone. By starting a vacation fund and following these tips, you might be able to save enough money that you can check Bora Bora off of your bucket list as well!
16 Ways to Save Money in Bora Bora
#1: Fly to Tahiti with airline miles. – No matter where you travel, airline tickets are going to be one of your biggest expenses. Bora Bora is out in the middle of the South Pacific, and you’ll first need to fly to Tahiti before hopping a local flight to the island. Luckily, Air Tahiti Nui and Air France have point options available. Delta Skymiles, American AAdvantage, and Flying Blue miles are also all good options.
#2: Stay in a hotel (and maybe even an over-water bungalow) on points. – Bora Bora has a number of different hotels where you can use loyalty points to book a free or reduced stay. If you have Hilton points, consider redeeming them at the Conrad Bora Bora Nui. IHG points can be used at the Intercontinental Le Moana or the Bora Bora Resort Thalasso Spa. You could also redeem Starwood Preferred Guest points at the St. Regis Bora Bora or the Le Meridian Bora Bora.
#3: Book a package with some meals included. – Food is super expensive on Bora Bora. When booking your hotel, consider adding a meal package onto your stay. Several of the hotels offer packages that include one or more meals per day. Even if you can just get one meal a day included, you could end up saving hundreds of dollars.
#4: Get a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. – While you’re there, be sure to use a credit card without any foreign transactions fees. These fees generally cost about 3% of the purchase price, which can really add up quickly – especially if you’re using a card to pay for all (or part) of your room. Most travel rewards cards come without foreign transaction fees, and many offer a huge signup bonus for getting started. Find our favorite travel rewards cards here.
#5: Pack your own snacks. – As I just mentioned, food on Bora Bora is crazy expensive. Unfortunately, you can’t just run across the street to grab snacks at the local grocery store either. Most of the resorts are not actually on the main island, so you have to take a ferry across the lagoon to find a store. That’s usually much more expensive than just eating at the resort. Rather than spending hundreds on snack food, pack a few snacks in your checked luggage and save some money.
#6: Pack your own alcohol. – Like food, alcohol at the resorts is not cheap. At our hotel, the local beer cost $10 a bottle – although you got a discount for buying 6 at a time. So, a 12-pack cost $100!!! Knowing this ahead of time, we brought a box of Franzia wine and a 12-pack of beer to enjoy on the balcony of our over-water bungalo… and we’re not even ashamed about it!
#7: Head into town to stock up on food, snacks, and mixers. – If you fail to pack your own snacks, you can always head into town to grab some of the things you need. Again, unless you’re staying on the main island, you’ll probably need to take a ferry to get there. Just try to grab everything you need in one trip so you’re not spending a fortune in ferry fees. Since food and drinks are so expensive at the resorts, this could definitely be worth it for you.
#8: Bring stuff to do, including your own float. – If you want to get away from it all, and I mean everything, Bora Bora is the place to do it. Because most of the resorts are connected to civilization only through water taxis, this place moves at a ridiculously slow (and relaxing) pace. Bring a few good books, a deck of cards, or some crossword puzzles with you because they’ll cost you a lot more once you hit the resort. I always like bringing my own snorkel mask and flippers as well. You should also consider bringing a water floatie and a rope that you can use to tie to your OWB if you have one!
#9: Book discount excursions ahead of time, or use your rewards to book. – Even if you reach total relaxation mode, you’ll probably want to leave the resort at least once. Consider using points to book any excursions before you leave home. Using the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal is a good option for finding some great excursions, including the swimming with sharks tour that we booked!
#10: Skip the souvenirs. – Unless you take the ferry to the main island, shopping is going to be limited to what’s available at your resort. As you might expect, resort prices are typically higher than you might expect. We just decided to skip the souvenirs, save the cash, and take a lot of pictures instead!
#11: Split meals. – Because most of the resorts are so secluded, the available restaurant options are somewhat limited. That also means most of your meals will be at the resort, which you already know are going to be more expensive. Unless you have a meal plan, consider splitting a main course or several appetizers. Doing this, even if it’s just a few times during your stay, can significantly decrease the cost of food on your trip.
#12: Don’t bother with tipping. – Tipping in Bora Bora is not expected or necessary. It’s simply not part of the culture. So, unless somebody really goes way over the top for you, skip the tip and save your cash.
#13: Check for a happy hour at your hotel. – Depending on where you are staying, your hotel bar may have a happy hour or daily drink special. Take advantage of these whenever possible, and save a few bucks along the way.
#14: Travel off peak. – As with any destination, traveling to Bora Bora during the “off season” could potentially save you thousands of dollars. Off peak in Bora Bora is generally considered December through March, with April and November constituting “shoulder” seasons. Although the weather is warm throughout the year, it’s typically a little wetter during these months. Because there are fewer tourists, prices tend to drop as well.
#15: Bring sunscreen and essentials with you. – Remember, once you make it to the resort, you’re pretty much a captive audience. That makes everything more expensive, including things like hats and sunscreen. Be sure to bring plenty of your own with you and you’ll save money.
#16: Make sure your phone plan works in French Polynesia, or use your hotel’s internet service. – So, this mistake almost cost us $15,000. Yes, you read that right – $15K. Don’t be like us. Before using your cell phone in Bora Bora, be sure that data, talk, and text are covered. Otherwise, consider getting an international SIM card or just using the wifi at your hotel. Trust me, you don’t want to make this mistake.
Bora Bora is one of the most beautiful places on the planet, and I can’t wait to go there again. It’s definitely a long haul, and the trip can get very expensive. However, for a special occassion, I think it’s worth it.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to pay full price. NO WAY! By using these tips to save money in Bora Bora, your dream vacation may be closer than you think.
Thanks so much for reading. Until next time, happy traveling!
Have you been to Bora Bora? How did you save money? Let us know in the comments below!