So, You’ve been dreaming of visiting Bora Bora for years. The day has finally arrived, and your excitement is through the roof. You’re ready for the trip but suddenly, a few questions pop into your head:
What about the finances?
Should I bring local currency or is my credit card enough?
Can I use my American Express card at local shops and restaurants?
Are there ATMs available, or should I exchange currency beforehand?
Oh, and how does tipping work there?
It’s natural to feel a bit overwhelmed, but don’t worry! This guide is here to help you navigate the financial aspects of Bora Bora, so you can only focus on creating unforgettable memories!
Currencies in Bora Bora
Official Bora Bora Currency
The official currency of Bora Bora (and French Polynesia) is the French Pacific Franc (XPF). It’s also known as CFP franc and is also used in other French overseas territories, such as New Caledonia. You’ll find coins in 5, 10, 20, and 50 cent pieces, as well as 1, 2, and 5 XPF. For notes, there are 500, 1000, 5000, and 10,000 XPF denominations. Just a heads up, be careful with the 1000 and 10,000 bills as they can be easily confused at first.
Exchange Rate to USD
The currency exchange rate between US dollars and XPF typically hovers around 100 XPF to 1 USD, but keep in mind that this rate is subject to change and may fluctuate during your trip. You can easily check the current rate anytime using xe.com.
While the official currency in Bora Bora is XPF, US dollars are widely accepted at resorts, main restaurants, and the two main supermarkets, Toa Amok & Chin Lee. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the exchange rate will not be in your favor, and change might not always be available.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to be prepared. For smaller purchases, it is recommended to have some local currency on hand as payment by card may not be accepted in smaller shops, food trucks, and markets.
Exchange money or withdraw money: Which option is better?
I wouldn’t recommend exchanging dollars to XPF before you leave. The fees can be quite high. To get your hands on local currency, you have two great options:
When in Bora Bora, you’ll have the convenience of exchanging USD in your resorts. However the conversion rate there is usually quite high. To get the best value for your money, it’s recommended to exchange your currency upon arrival at Tahiti airport.
The exchange office at Tahiti-Faa’a International Airport is open 3 hours before each international arrival and departure. The fixed exchange fee is only 850XPF for up to $500!
There are a few ATMs located on the main island of Bora Bora (Vaitape only), but they can be unreliable and often run out of cash. I would advise you to withdraw cash upon arrival at the Tahiti Airport. In some smaller islands withdrawing cash can be a real challenge. Note that there is usually a fee associated with using an ATM abroad and your bank may also charge an additional international withdrawal fee. It’s a good idea to check with your bank before your trip to find out about any applicable fees.
What Payment Methods are accepted in Bora Bora?
When it comes to payment in Bora Bora, you’ll be glad to know that major credit cards like Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted. American Express is also accepted, although there have been some stories with minor issues, so it’s always a good idea to bring two cards, just in case.
It’s important to note that some companies may charge fees for credit or debit card transactions, so it’s wise to check with the company beforehand. Moreover, it’s a good idea to get in touch with your bank to inquire about any potential international transaction fees for credit or debit card purchases. This way, you can avoid any surprises and make the most of your trip!
In resorts : When you choose to stay in an all inclusive resort in Bora Bora, you won’t have to worry about carrying cash with you (except for tipping). All your expenses will be conveniently charged to your room, making it easier and more hassle-free. You can enjoy your stay to the fullest and settle the bill upon checkout.
Banking Facilities in Bora Bora
There are four banks in Bora Bora:
- Banque Socredo
- Banque de Polynesie
- Banque de Tahiti
All of them are located in Vaitape and have ATMs. It’s important to note that these banks close around 3PM and are closed on weekends. While the ATMs are available, they may not always be reliable.
While tipping is not mandatory in French Polynesia, it is always a thoughtful gesture. If you happen to receive exceptional service from a hotel staff member or from your guide during an activity in Bora Bora, showing appreciation with a small tip of 5-10% would be fitting. Remember, tipping is entirely discretionary and not expected, but if you do decide to tip, it is recommended to use cash (USD or XPF) rather than adding it to the bill. Your gratitude will go a long way in making someone’s day!
Accommodation Costs in Bora Bora
Accommodation costs can range from budget-friendly to luxury. A typical mid-range hotel room may cost around $300-$500 per night, while overwater bungalows can go up to $5000 per night.
Meals in Bora Bora can be quite expensive due to the cost of importing food to the island. A simple meal can cost around $20-$30 per person, while a dinner at a top restaurant may cost at least $100 per person. One way to save on food expenses is by booking accommodations with kitchen facilities and cooking your own meals.
You’ll find in this post my tips to save money in Bora Bora.
And there you have it… I trust this concise post will assist you in navigating the world of money in Bora Bora, enabling you to fully capitalize on your idyllic stay in paradise.