After getting engaged in Bora Bora, arguably one of the most beautiful islands on earth, my husband and I had set the bar pretty high for where we should travel to on our honeymoon. We knew that after a chaotic year of planning which culminated in a very grand and lavish wedding, remote relaxation was a priority for top honeymoon destination choices. We also had been longing to visit another overwater bungalow island, and given that we wanted to travel to other countries after we rested and recharged, we decided on the Maldives as the perfect first stop to our multi-destination honeymoon. (Especially because the Maldives are rumored to disappear.) Many travelers debate whether they should go to Bora Bora or the Maldives, and after visiting both these dream-worthy destinations, I’ve formed some very strong opinions on which place to visit.
Maldives, the set of islands in the Indian Ocean located off the coast of Sri Lanka, though beautiful and amazing in many ways, is very similar to the Pacific Ocean’s Bora Bora island in French Polynesia. Both offer the water bungalow experience on luxurious island resorts spanning the clearest crystal blue and turquoise lagoons. Here are some factors that may help you decide one destination over the other.
- Both have amazing coral reefs, but if you are a diver or avid snorkeler, the Maldives is home to the most amazing and colorful coral reefs in the world, that are home to a vast variety of flora and fauna.
- Maldives is far and hard to get to (at least from the US.) There are no direct flights to the Maldives. You either need to take a very long flight to either Hong Kong or Dubai, and then to Malé (the main island) before taking a seaplane to your resort island. Total travel time will take more than 24 hours to get to compared to the 6 hour flight to French Polynesia.
- With both destinations, an extra flight (or seaplane for Maldives) is required to get you to your resort. (Tahiti to Bora Bora, and Malé to whatever island/resort you are staying on.) The seaplane transfer is around $500 in Maldives, vs. the approximate $200 flight from Tahiti to Bora Bora.
- Both Bora Bora and Maldives do not offer much entertainment-wise beyond relaxation, and water sports and activities. (Which isn’t totally necessary when you can jump into the calm waters from your bungalow and swim amongst the many fish, turtles, and (friendly!) sharks every day.) In the Maldives, you cannot visit any other resort other than your own (unless you want to pay another $500 for a seaplane ride.) In Bora Bora, you can take boat rides (about $50 a person round trip) to visit the other resort hotels or the main part of the island. The activities (jet skies, parasailing etc.) are also slightly cheaper in Bora Bora.
- It is easier to visit other islands when visiting Bora Bora due to (some-what) affordable inter-island flights. When there, you can also spend a couple nights in Tahiti and/or Mo’orea, which offer cheaper overwater bungalow accommodations and provide a unique beauty of their own.
- Maldives in general is slightly more expensive. There is a 22% tax added to everything purchased there. (10% service and 12% government)
So which one should you visit? Bora Bora and Maldives are equally beautiful in my mind and offer a similar type of experience. My recommendation is to go to whichever is closer (for residents of the US, that would be Bora Bora.) Bora Bora is also slightly cheaper than Maldives when comparing 4 and 5-star resorts, but if you are planning to visit other parts of the Middle East or East Asia on the same trip, then it may be worth your while to go with the Maldives.
* The featured photo was taken at the W resort in the Maldives from their WOW suite. Let me know if you would like a more in-depth guide and itinerary about our Maldivian trip.*