Maldives vs. Bora Bora: Which destination should you visit?

Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora in French Polynesia

When it comes to bucket list destinations, some of the first things that come to mind are fancy bungalows perched above idyllic waters. Two very comparable options are Bora Bora (part of French Polynesia) in the South Pacific, and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or just want to take the trip of a lifetime, many people find themselves stuck choosing between these two beautiful destinations. How can you decide which one is the better choice?

Conrad Maldives
Conrad Maldives


Within the last two years, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit both, and I’m here to help you decide. Now bear in mind that these are the types of destinations in which the experience relies very heavily on the resort you choose. Except for the occasional excursions you might take, you’ll rarely leave the resort. For Bora Bora, I stayed at the Four Seasons and in the Maldives, I stayed at the Conrad on Rangali Island.

Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora
Thanksgiving Buffet, Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora
Conrad Maldives
Conrad Maldives

Maldives vs. Bora Bora: The Food

I would say the food at Conrad Maldives wins hands down. Every meal I had there was absolutely amazing and not only that, but there were so many restaurants with amazing settings. An underwater restaurant, a restaurant with panoramic views of the azure waters, a restaurant that offers spectacular sunset views…and so on. While the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora had great food as well, there wasn’t anything that stood out to me in particular, and the restaurant ambiance wasn’t nearly as impressive. But let’s talk pricing. While both were expensive, the Conrad Maldives was just crazy expensive. We skipped meals, barely drank alcohol, and still managed to spend about $2,500 in food in just five days.

Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora
Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora

Maldives vs. Bora Bora: The Activities

The Conrad Maldives seemed to offer a lot more variety in terms of off-island excursions, including unique activities like whale shark snorkeling. The Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, however, seemed to offer a lot more complimentary activities on-site, such as stand-up paddleboarding. Regarding the Conrad’s neat activities, buyer beware: Joe and I booked the whale shark snorkeling excursion for a whopping $200 per person with the false promise that we would definitely be seeing whale sharks. We did not. It wasn’t until after we returned (and wasted a lot of time and money) that we were told that the whale sharks haven’t even been spotted for a long time. Say what!? I wish someone told us this before we left and while we still had a chance to cancel. But they didn’t, which brings me to my next point…

Conrad Maldives
Conrad Maldives
Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora
Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora
Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora
Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora

EARLY BOOKING : AccorHotels!

 Maldives vs. Bora Bora: The Properties

The actual properties themselves are stunning. It took me a while to come to this conclusion, but I finally decided that the Conrad Maldives beats out the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora. However, the people running the Conrad Maldives kind of put a damper on the experience. The service, for the most part, is not good. Restaurant service was extremely slow at most places. I felt that all they cared about was getting you to spend money (as if you’re not spending a lot already), and we were constantly getting bombarded with phone calls (and even approached in person often) with requests to make extremely expensive dinner and activity reservations, and when we’d say no thanks, they’d keep pushing. It was really annoying — not to mention that the whale shark experience left us feeling bamboozled. The staff at the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, however, was very nice and hospitable, without being overbearing.

Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora
Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora
Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora
Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora
Conrad Maldives
Conrad Maldives

Maldives vs. Bora Bora: The Rooms

We stayed at the least expensive overwater bungalows at both the Four Seasons in Bora Bora and the Conrad in Maldives. Without a doubt, the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora wins by a landslide. In fact, the room at the Conrad Maldives wasn’t that nice in general, and the only thing going for it was that it was an overwater bungalow. And the base rooms at Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora are a lot cheaper, too. My advice if you’re going to stay the Conrad Maldives: Either spring for the fanciest overwater bungalows, or opt for the beach suites.

Maldives vs. Bora Bora: Freebies

Aside from non-motorized water sports, both resorts offered other free things that I thought were nice and worth mentioning. Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora provides free shuttle by boat to the main island, which is great if you want to explore the local area a bit more. And the Conrad Maldives has a free happy hour each day, which includes complimentary alcohol and canapés, with a lovely view of the beach.

Conrad Maldives
Conrad Maldives
Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora
Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora

Maldives vs. Bora Bora: Surroundings and Natural Beauty

This was another tough one, and it’s kind of a tie. The water color at both is spectacular, but, it is definitely better at the Maldives–the most gorgeous water I’ve seen so far in my travels. However, the Maldives is missing something that French Polynesia isn’t–those amazing mountains. Because of this, I’d say that Bora Bora is much prettier.

Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora
Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora
Conrad Maldives
Conrad Maldives

Maldives vs. Bora Bora: Getting There

Getting to Bora Bora and the Maldives from the United States is a pain in the ass, but I felt that the Maldives was slightly more stressful. We flew direct from New York to Qatar, switched planes and then flew to Sri Lanka (approximately $1100 per person r/t). We then flew to the Maldives from Sri Lanka (approximately $200 per person r/t) and then had to take a 30-minute seaplane to the Maldives (a shocking $500 per person), which I hated. The plane was tiny, cramped, and on the way there, the flight wasn’t even direct! Nobody mentioned that, and for the price you’re paying and the mere 30-minute flight time, you’d think everyone on this teeny plane would be going to the same resort. Nope.

When it was time to leave the Conrad Maldives, we were instructed to wait at the resort’s “lounge” by the dock (a small, cramped area with no restrooms), about an hour before our departure time! Um, what? This isn’t a real airport we’re talking about here. There was no security. Our bags were already waiting for us. To be blunt, it’s pretty stupid that they make you do this. When you leave Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, you can just arrive at the dock a few minutes prior to departure.

Getting to Bora Bora involved a direct flight from New York to Los Angeles, and then from Los Angeles to Tahiti (approximately $2500 per person r/t), a separate flight to Bora Bora (direct and not on a seaplane, $400 per person r/t) and then a very short boat ride to the resort (approximately ($150 per person r/t). You can fly direct from LAX through a couple different airlines, including Air Tahiti and Air France.

The journey to French Polynesia was about double the cost than to the Maldives when I went, but everything in Bora Bora seemed to be a lot cheaper than the Maldives. Overall, the Maldives seems to be more suited for someone who is Oprah-rich, whereas Bora Bora is much more affordable.

Air France

Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora
Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora
Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora
Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora

Maldives vs. Bora Bora: The Winner

It’s a toss up, but Joe and I both agreed that Bora Bora definitely wins. I would love to return to Maldives one of these days, but if I did, I’ll be checking out a different property.

Essential Travel Planning Information:

Flights: A few different airlines will fly to Tahiti. If you’re flying from (or connecting in) Paris or Los Angeles, you can fly directly to Tahiti through Air France. You can also compare routes from various airlines with one of my favorite booking tools, Cheapflights.com, which helps you to find the best and lowest airfare available for your travel dates.

Hotels: I personally to prefer to book my hotels directly through Expedia and you can book both the Conrad Maldives on Expedia and the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora on Expedia. I like to stick with one program so that I can rack up points for free and discounted travel. You can also compare prices from major booking engines (Expedia, Travelocity, etc.) by doing a search through HotelsCombined.com

If you’ve been to both Bora Bora and Maldives, which did you prefer and why? Where did you stay at both locations?

7 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for taking the time to write this! I am trying to decide between Maldives and FS Bora Bora for next August. Right now I have the hotel booked for Bora but no air. We have the miles to use to get us to Bora Bora business class or to maldives business class. My only concern is that we are traveling with our 8 year old! ugh!

    I wanted to ask you about the FS Bora Bora shuttle to the main island? I thought they charged for that? Or do they only charge at night? Thank you!!

  2. Hey,

    The problem with your review is… well you’re staying at top notch resorts that most people can never afford. Four Sevens is four digits/night… so not sure how to apply that to other resorts

    • Hi Nicky,

      I understand your point, but all resorts in Bora Bora (there are only a few) are basically around the same cost. Same with the Maldives. They are luxury destinations that people expect to splurge on…especially for special occasions, like honeymoons, weddings, etc. However, both destinations have other islands that are a bit more off the radar and still offer a great experience for much less. For example, in French Polynesia, you can skip Bora Bora altogether and head to Moorea. It’s beautiful there and the overwater bungalow resorts are much cheaper 🙂

  3. Thanks for the review! I’ve only been to Four Seasons Bora Bora, but not Maldives. That’s why I’m looking for comparison articles.

    One thing I think this comparison lacks is, fairness. Four Seasons Bora Bora is a top-notch resort. The Four Seasons brand itself speaks for itself. Conrad however, is a mid-tier, affordable resort. It’s like comparing Cartier and Pandora or something. I think a better comparison would be Four Seasons Bora Bora vs Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru, or Velaa Private Island. If you or anyone you know have any info on that, please post it! Thanks in advance!

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