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Holiday showdown: Bora Bora versus Tahiti

  • Published 18 February 2018

Tahiti and Bora Bora are fantastic for the perfect beach getaway, but where is best? We pit both islands against each other in a holiday showdown so you can decide for yourself

Escape to French Polynesia where you’ll be able to feel the sand between your toes, hear nothing but the tranquil sounds of the ocean and gaze upon a paradise that you didn’t believe existed in real life. Bora Bora and Tahiti are two of the most popular of the 118 islands that make up the archipelago, bringing holiday makers from far and wide to their idyllic shores. However, which beach getaway is for you? Is it tranquil Bora Bora known for its overwater villas and panoramic vistas of beach perfection or the black sands and signature dishes of beautiful Tahiti? We have made that decision a little easier for you with our extensive guide that showcases the best of both places. Once you’ve drawn your own conclusion, all you have to do is pick up the phone and call one of our personal travel managers to start planning your perfect holiday.

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Feel as if you’ve stepped right into a film set with the beaches that edge the beautiful isle of Bora Bora. Whether you decide to luxuriate on a public beach or a five-star hotel’s private sands, you’re somewhat spoilt for choice here. Matira Beach is one of the most popular, found on the southern tip of Bora Bora. It’s also great for snorkelling, as its nickname The Aquarium would suggest, thanks to the fact that there are two fantastic spots to explore the deep, both of which are near to the shore making them perfect for beginners.  Don your wetsuit and flippers and prepare to take the plunge as you make friends with the exotic marine life that can be found under the waves.
Miles and miles of picturesque beaches can also be found in Tahiti, with some having black sands as an extra USP. Lafayette Beach is one such example which has sands so soft that the ground simply melts away underfoot. The reason why the sands are such a dark charcoal hue is because of the surrounding volcanoes that makes Tahiti such a diverse island. What’s more, the beaches lend themselves wonderfully to watersports with Teahupo’o being a top choice for surfers. One for the pros, the waves here are challenging and often reach two to three metres in height. If you’re up for the test, Tahiti is waiting.


A serene setting such as Bora Bora deserves a sumptuous sanctuary in which travellers can relish the views, and thankfully on this paradise isle you’re spoilt for choice. There are plenty of four and five-star properties to choose from and each one promises to be as beautiful as the next. Most are only accessible via water taxi or a private boat transfer which makes it ideal for parties who are after a secluded affair. A romantic retreat is on the cards at Conrad Bora Bora Nui. Here the overwater accommodation is a true spectacle, with the main focal point of the suites being the mesmerising panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. Leisure facilities are equally as blinding with a hilltop spa offering couples’ treatments as well as an 18-hole mini golf course in case you want to perfect your swing against vistas of beaches and the ocean. Alternatively, families are in for a treat with Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora. A kids’ club and a range of diving and snorkelling excursions with a marine biologist are on offer so you’ll be well and truly immersed in the culture and beauty of this dreamy isle. Oh, and the thatched cabanas by the pool and the overwater bungalows are a true treat too!
Similar to its island cousin, Tahiti echoes Bora Bora’s secluded atmosphere, however the privacy dial is turned up a notch at The Brando. Located on its very own island and owned by American actor Marlon Brando, the hotel boasts 35 beachfront villas as well as two on-site restaurants including the acclaimed Les Mutinès By Guy Martin and the tranquil Beachcomber Café. You’re also able to venture through the wilderness of the island, with treks, hikes and watersports all being offered by the hotel. Finish things off with a little relaxation at the on-site spa, and you have everything you need for a picture-perfect stay. Prefer something more active? InterContinental Resort Tahiti offers guests whale watching and jet skiing excursions as well as helicopter tours and the chance to take advantage of the on-site volleyball and tennis courts.


Seafood with a French and Asian twist is top of the menu across the whole of French Polynesia and in Bora Bora the food is simply out of this world. From The Lagoon Restaurant by Jean-Georges at The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort to the traditional fare that Arii Moana serves at Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, authentic cuisine is on the top of the menu. If you’re looking to venture outside of the hotels’ offerings simply hop on a water taxi to the mainland where you’ll be greeted by high-end boutiques, fine dining restaurants and small-town cafés. Bloody Mary’s is one of the most legendary where you’ll be able to feel the sand between your toes under a thatched roof. Crab and shrimp are signature ingredients in a wealth of dishes, and what better way to wash down your freshly caught meal than with a Bloody Mary, of course?
Menus bursting with flavours of the deep are on offer in Tahiti, too. Delicacies such as poisson cru are a must-try, with foodies bound to be in their element. Raw tuna is marinated in lime juice before diced vegetables and coconut milk are added. For an extra kick it’s recommended that you place the coconut inside a towel or cloth and use this to squeeze the milk on top of the mixture before stirring through. Can we have seconds? Asian and French cuisine can be found at many of the restaurants, with international chefs merging techniques from around the world to various fruits, vegetables and seafood to really seal in the flavour. Plates are vibrant and mouth-watering however if you really want an authentic dining experience, the food trucks in the city of Papeete are guaranteed to please every member of the family. With crepes, steak sandwiches, fries, and pizza also readily available, you can still indulge with a little home-comfort cuisine too. Across from here you’ll be able to wander through the countless stalls of the market that sell fruit, fish, vanilla and local textiles for a true taste of French Polynesian life.


Budding waterbabies will relish the wide range of watersports on offer in Bora Bora. From water skiing and paddle boarding to snorkelling and scuba diving you’re certain to be getting wet and wild during your French Polynesian getaway. Our top choice is the aqua safari. Walk the depths of the ocean floor courtesy of an air-supplied helmet before snorkelling in the lagoon and embarking on a private outing of the island. Alternatively, of you’d rather stay dry, a glass bottom boat tour is a great idea. If you prefer your feet firmly on the ground, there are various hikes and explorations that you can do too such as a six-hour trek of the Sacred Cave of Anau or a guided climb up Mount Otemanu if you’re feeling brave.
Land adventures are also on offer in Tahiti. With such a varied landscape of beaches, volcanoes and lush greenery you’ll most likely be exploring for hours. 4x4 tours will have you seeing the island in all its glory, with the chance to camp overnight or canyon the mountain streams so you can really get in on the action. Diving enthusiasts haven’t been forgotten about either, as Tahiti has some phenomenal spots to jump in such as The Aquarium. Easily the most popular experience to explore the deep waters, this sandy lagoon basin features its very own coral reef that has an abundance of lionfish, angelfish and triggerfish. A plane wreck can also be explored with the site catering to all diving levels. If you really want to push the boat out, we recommend the Toahotu Pass which boasts white tip reef sharks, gorgeous scenery and plenty of opportunities to get out your waterproof camera.


Bora Bora is a honeymooner’s paradise. With utter seclusion in the form of standalone accommodation and plenty of leisurely excursions on offer, it’s a no brainer. Couples’ treatments are available to be booked in the hotel spas too and we all know that nothing beats spending some quality time with your other half over a massage or facial. If you’re on the other side of the spectrum and want to explore the beauty of the island some hotels offer a bike rental service that will see you cycle through the lush vegetation that has brought many holiday makers back even after their honeymoon.
On the other hand, Tahiti is a little busier mainly thanks to the bustling city of Papeete. Here you can wander through the Notre Dame Cathedral, as well as Muncipal Market. You’ll also be able to channel your inner Johnny Depp with a trip to the Black Pearl Museum otherwise known as the Robert Wan Pearl Museum. Gaze upon the largest Tahitian pearl amongst another fantastic exhibitions that showcase one of the island’s most well-known exports. The island itself is also a hiker’s dream thanks to being home to two of the highest peaks in the continent so expect to be seeing a few adventurers during your holiday. 


“A world of beaches, watersports and island adventures is just a mere phone call away”

I’m travelling with my other half and fancy a nice secluded hotel where we can spend some quality time together. Which do you recommend?

While both Bora Bora and Tahiti offer seclusion, Tahiti takes our top spot by a whisker, and specifically The Brando. Located on its very own private island in Tetiaroa, luxury knows no bounds here. The villas on offer are great for some R&R with your partner and the onsite spa is where your relaxation dreams are sure to become reality.
I would love to take my family to either Bora Bora or Tahiti, which is better suited?

Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora is fantastic for little ones. Complete with a top-notch kids’ club your little ones can fill their days snorkelling with a marine biologist, hunting for hermit crabs and having a go at volleyball and beach tennis... to name a few. Romance isn’t entirely left out of the picture either with overwater accommodation, a lavish spa and fine dining certain to please all parents who manage to sneak an hour or two to themselves.
When is the best time to visit the islands?
May through to October tends to be the best for both Tahiti and Bora Bora, with low humidity and plenty of sun. This is also during peak season, so expect to be seeing a few more tourists on your travels. However, low season is still brilliant, with moderate temperatures, fewer holiday-makers and more affordable hotel prices.
How long are the flights to Bora Bora and Tahiti?
To get to Tahiti you will have an 11-hour flight to LA with a connecting nine-hour flight to Fa’a’ā International Airport making it 20 hours in total. Bora Bora is an additional hour flight from here. This is dependent on airlines, as different airlines have alternative routes. 


Both Tahiti and Bora Bora have their merits, and it really comes down to what you want to get out of a luxury holiday. Idyllic beaches, panoramic views of the ocean and plenty of gourmet cuisine comes as standard on both isles so what is it that you’re truly looking for out of your French Polynesian getaway? Bora Bora is wonderful for couples wanting a romantic retreat boasting a plethora of private hotel beaches and wonderful spa treatments for two. On the other hand, if you want some adventure with the kids, Tahiti has plenty of excursions that will keep everybody entertained. In addition, surfing and diving makes the area great for adrenaline junkies wanting to explore the deep. Want the best of both worlds? Island hopping may be your best friend with domestic flights running through Air Tahiti, the country’s only domestic airline. Depending on your location, some islands offer ferry connections to each other or you can even charter a private boat for the ultimate island hopping experience.
To find out the perfect hotel to accompany your ideal holiday in either Bora Bora or Tahiti enquire here or call one of our personal travel managers on 0203 816 0985

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