Bora Bora (and French Polynesia in general) is one of the world’s most isolated island groups, which contributes to its pristine and unique status… But it’s also quite pricey, even for locals. Everything in Bora Bora will cost you money, including transportation, lodging, dining, and shopping.
But, regardless of your overall travel budget, here are 5 simple, practical tips that will help you save money in Bora Bora even before you arrive!
Save money on activities in Bora Bora
Don’t put off booking your excursions until you arrive in Bora Bora. Booking tours through your hotel will increase your costs by up to 30% because they charge a commission on top of the price.
On my website (and ebook) I carefully selected only the must-do experiences from the island’s best vendors. All tours chosen have excellent TripAdvisor reviews (4.5 stars and higher), provide free pick-up, and have a 24-hour cancellation policy. Booking through our links ensures that you get the best price for each excursion.
We also recommend that you book your tours ahead of time (especially if you plan to travel during peak season) to ensure that the best ones are not sold out.
Save money on drinks
In French Polynesia, alcohol is extremely expensive. A bottle of (bad) whiskey will set you back at least $100 at the local supermarket, and a cocktail in a resort will cost between $20 and $45.
Customs allows you to bring up to 2L of alcohol per person, so I would encourage you to take advantage of this. If you are a heavy drinker, you can also pick up some extra bottles at the Tahiti Airport Duty-Free shop before leaving the airport. A cooler, some ice, and local shop mixers will make your wallet super-happy.
You can also save big on water (around $8 a bottle in resorts) by bringing your own reusable bottle and refilling it at the breakfast buffet or the gym. It’s also ok to drink water from the tap in Bora Bora. It does have chlorine added. Under this warm climate, you’re likely to drink a lot so this will definitely save you some $$.
Save on shopping
There is no big or cheap supermarket in Bora Bora. Even essential, everyday items will cost you a lot more because of taxes & shipping fees. Use my “What to Pack list” to buy your travel essentials in advance and to make sure you don’t forget anything (unless you feel like paying $50+ for sunscreen once in Bora Bora).
Bonus : Save money on pearls
If you plan to buy Pearls just know that visitors are exempted from paying the 16% VAT that the French Polynesian government adds, and is already included in the displayed price of graded pearls which have been made into jewelry. Make sure that the vendor completes paperwork indicating that you are a visitor so that the tax part is not deducted from your payment. When leaving the country, hand the form to a customs officer. If you don’t do this, 16% of the purchase price will be charged to your credit card 6 months later. Also, if possible plan to purchase your pearls in Tahiti. Prices will be considerably lower than in Bora Bora. I have a complete guide on buying Pearls in French Polynesia available.
In most places on Bora Bora, you can pay with a Visa or Mastercard. But, before you leave, make sure you have a credit card that does not charge exorbitant fees for each overseas payment or withdrawal; otherwise, you may be in for a nasty surprise, as fees can quickly add up. Also, even if US currency is accepted in resorts, restaurants, and main stores, avoid using it. The merchant will always benefit from the conversion.
Save money on accommodation
This one rule will save you a lot of money no matter what your travel style is or where you plan to stay: Travel during the shoulder season. If you want to enjoy a combination of reasonably good weather and lower prices, travel in March, April, October, and November.
And… voilà! Hope these easy tips will help you save money in Bora Bora :)
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