Bora-Bora For South Africans: Costs, Getting There, Cheap Alternatives

Bora-Bora is destination deeply entrenched in the mind of the romantic traveller thanks to an avalanche of popular travel media, particularly from Australia and the USA showing magical images of crystal-clear waters, tropical beaches and rain-forest covered mountains. The island has a number of hotels, many of them with stilted bungalows hovering over the azure waters – it sounds like heaven! No wonder that requests for flights and packages to Bora Bora are something we get regularly, but few realise the difficulty in getting to this remote island and the costs involved from South Africa.

Where is Bora Bora?

The island forms part of the French territory of French Polynesia, it’s an extinct volcano, surrounded by a coral reef and while close to it’s neighbouring islands is in a very remote part of the world.

  • It’s in the Southern Hemisphere
  • It’s in the Pacific Ocean
  • It’s 230 km from the capital of French Polynesia, Papeete
  • It’s 4000km from Auckland, New Zealand
  • It’s 6500km from Los Angeles, USA
  • and 15,000km from Johannesburg

In short, it’s a long way away from anything, so be prepared for a long trip taking about 55 hours there and 45 hours back.

Map showing Bora Bora in relation to New Zealand, Australia and South Africa

How do I get there and how much does it cost?

From South Africa, it’s quite a multi-leg journey using three separate return tickets usually involving flying via New Zealand or the USA. This is the route I recommend as it means fewer visas (prices are a rough minimum):

  • Ticket one – Johannesburg to Auckland (cheapest is often via Hong Kong or Sydney) for about R13,900
  • Overnight in Auckland (about R500 per person sharing)
  • Ticket two – Auckland to Papeete (direct flight) for about R8,500
  • Overnight in Papeete (about R1000 per person sharing)
  • Ticket three – Papeete to Bora-Bora (direct flight) for about R3,600 (you’d need to buy a ticket with the airline directly)
  • Visa for French Polynesia – About R700
  • Accommodation in Bora-Bora  – About R13,500 per person sharing for a 3 star hotel for 7 nights.

So that makes R26,000 for flights + R700 for the visa + R15,000 for accommodation = R41,700 per person for a one week trip.

Cheap Alternatives to Bora-Bora

Maldives Coco Palm Hotel

If this all sounds like a bit too much money for you, great alternatives to the whole tropical island experience at a fraction of the price including flights and a week’s accommodation include:

Prices from under R10,000

Prices between R10,000 and R20,000

So if white sand, blue seas and tropical heat are what you are after, get in touch with our consultants who are able to assist with flights, accommodation, packages and travel insurance. You can book and pay over the phone and email without having to leave home!

Bora-Bora image by Benoit Mahe

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Our Readers Comments

  1. It does take a bit of time to get to Bora Bora, and the luxury resorts do come at a price, but it really is paradise on earth. The turquoise lagoon with the dramatic Mt Otemanu backdrop is unlike anywhere else in the world. If you are a water lover, or enjoy natures beauty, it is well worth making the trip to Bora Bora.

  2. Jeezlaik, I suspected first time that Bora Bora must be very expensive. Especially because it’s in the Pacific Ocean. How did I come to know about this place? My 13 year old daughter called me to the TV set one day and asked me to tape it using my computer’s TV card. Sure enough, it was the most beautiful place I have ever laid eyes on. It also became my dream place when I saw it again and featured in the Vince Vaughn movie ” Couples Resort”.

    What’s more, not only is it expensive at 40-plus grand, it’s far too risky to fly three different planes – taking 55 hours to get there. BTW, that’s the time most people take to earn a living in a week.

    So now that I know it cost the same as renovating our home, I would rsther take my spouse to Mauritius. It’s a great place to be at for less than 10-grand. Also been there back in 1993.

    • I first heard of the place on Couples Retreat too. Fell instantly in love with it.
      I will be saving for it. I have to do this

  3. Glad I chanced upon this article. We are looking at honeymoon destinations and while bora bora looks like heaven on earth that kind of money and time spent travelling can be put to better use…like cocktails, diving, massages and 5 Star accommodation elsewhere. Thanks for doing the maths for us! 🙂

  4. Hi I would like to take a trip to bora bora..please give me details.

  5. I have been to Bora Bora from RSA. It costs much more but is a once in a lifetime place to visit. Nothing will beat this, particularly for the romantics. It’s worth it.

    • @stanley, please could you send me your itinerary it would be so appreciated. I just want to see places and times of flights (Johannesburg – Bora Bora – Johannesburg) and all the in between stops. Please

  6. Hi,
    I would like to go Bora Bora in 10 to 15 years time with my family. I think its epic holiday destination that I dream of going one day. I was just making rough costs calculations. Together with my wife & 2 kids, it will cost R500 000 for 2 weeks to go there. We will go there anyway……

  7. It looks like couples retreat has convinced a lot of people! These comments are very interesting. I’ve always wanted to go to Bora Bora and heard that it was pricey. Also knew that it was far but had no idea that it was that far! But it’s still on my list. I will have to save to get there!

  8. WhIch place is the 2nd picture ?

    • Hi Charmane,

      Great to hear from you.

      The 2nd picture is of a resort in the Maldives, called: Water Villa @ Coco Palm.

      Looks fabulous to me 🙂

  9. Wow im in love with the place too, but the price is waaay too much id rather go to Bora Bora in Mozambique very close by since im in South Africa and its my dream destination but what i read about the the trouble of travelling to get there and the money to spend’ id rather go shot left’

  10. My wife and I went on honeymoon to French Polynesia Islands, of which Bora Bora is one. We went for 14 nights, but with all the travel and connecting flights, we took 3 weeks leave in order to do so. We left 17 May 2015 and arrived back 5 June 2015. Flights can be daunting, but that should not put you off nor the costs to go. Truly this place is paradise on Earth and was for me a bucket list destination. Due to the cost and effort, in reflection, I would only go once – to get the T-shirt. 🙂
    Yes, you could go to Mauritius also with blue waters and white sand and mountains, but is much more over populated with tourists and when you look at the Mauritius hotels/resorts, many remind you of a block of holiday flats in Margate. Nothing special. It is the poor man’s Tahiti. There are some jewels in Mauritius, but that would also be pricey if you go AI. Ok, I’m digressing here…
    Flights to Papeete, the capital of Tahiti, French Polynesia, are irregular from Southern Hemisphere direction. From SA there is 3 ways to reach Tahiti – 1. via US (LAX), 2. France (since it is a territory of France), 3. New Zealand via Aus. We flew from SA to Sydney direct 12hour flight. Connected from Sydney with Air New Zealand to Auckland and stayed over in a nearby airport hotel. The following afternoon we flew from Auckland to Papeete – 7 hour flight. Stayed over one night in Papeete so that we could catch a connecting flight Moorea, the sister island of Tahiti – viewing distance from each other and a daily ferry was also available for travel, but we took a package deal on flights, hence taking a 10min hop-over flight. We split out honeymoon into two – 7 nights on Moorea and 7 nights on Bora Bora to get more of a diversified experience, since we are so far away from home in anycase.

  11. The cheapest way is via Sydney and New Zealand to reach Tahiti, because if you go via US, you would need a US visa and the flights are more expensive, since you fly Northwest, West to LA and then Southwest to reach the island. The France route is also more expensive, with relative equal flight time, since you have to fly to Paris and then to French Polynesia with Air France and again you need a EU visa, which could be expensive. IF you fly via Australia, you can go Sydney direct or via Perth to Sydney, BUT in Perth your connection flight to Sydney is in a different terminal and would you be required to go through Aus customs, making a visa compulsory for that leg of the journey. Taking the cost of that visa into consideration, it is equal in price to fly Sydney Direct from SA compared to Perth, which is much longer to reach Sydney, since you would stay in transit for New Zealand in Sydney airport and NOT need a visa for Aus.
    In addition, SA citizens do not need a visa for NZ either, resulting in quite a cost saving for visas. You would need a visa for French Polynesia and to obtain that, you need to apply at CAPAGO in Johannesburg, the agent for the French Embassy handling the visas. You cannot go directly to the French Embassy to apply. Furthermore, FP is not part of the EU, so don’t think you can use an EU visa to enter FP. It is a territory of France, different from EU. Visas must be applied for in person due to biometrics and that day can take VERY long. Be prepared. The submission and time to collect the visa was very fast – 7 days tops. Very efficient!

    Flights from NZ to Papeete only occur 3 times a week. The island of Moorea is a beautiful extinct volcanic island and not a lot of Tahitians live there – it is more of a holiday destination for locals and tourists alike. There are also no public bars on that Island and if you want a drink, you can get one at your resort or local restaurant. Moorea offers much more to do that Bora Bora island. You can rent a Vespa scooter for a day (cheapest option instead of car) and drive around the island. We went twice around the island on the same day, travelling no more than 60km/h. On Moorea they have a wonderful quad bike tour two-up through the jungle and plantations, which is a must. There you experience the lush plant growth, drive exciting off road paths and up to wonderful view points on top of mountains, overlooking the Pacific Ocean with its turquoise waters. One stop on the way is a agricultural school farm, where you get to buy freshly squeezed fruit juice and where you can buy island made jam from the tropical fruits they grow there. Very interesting combinations, i.e. banana and pineapple mixed jam, paw-paw and banana, etc. Absolute amazing. The sweetest, organic pineapple juice and banana juice I have ever tasted. Unreal!
    On Moorea, we stayed at the La Orana Sofitel Resort, which is a 3-4* property, in a beach bungalow right on the beach. Only breakfast included. Resort dinners were expensive, since everything needs to be imported and they put a premium on it. We opted to go out for dinner each night after Happy Hour cocktails at our resort to local restaurants, which were way cheaper and had wonderful delicious meals. Since these restaurants are 10-20 min. drives from the resort, you cannot walk there. These restaurants offer complimentary shuttle service from the lobby of your resort – all resorts – to attract tourist customers into their establishments.
    Of all of the resorts on Moorea, Sofitel had the best beach and beach bungalows, compared to the other resorts, which were situated on rocks. If you stay in a over water bungalow, then you can go to the other resorts, but if you want beach sand in front of you and to walk on, then you go to the Sofitel Resort.

  12. At Bora-Bora, we stayed in a over the water bungalow and if you ever do that, make sure it is in Bora Bora at the St. Regis, because nowhere else would you have such an experience more superior. Our room looked out directly onto Mount Otemanu, the giant pinnacle (which reminds you male genitalia when you look at it…) which is the most famous landmark of Bora Bora. Things to do at Bora Bora is to go on a stingray feeding trip and swim with lemon sharks and black tip reefs sharks, which is very docile and would not attack you. The stingrays are so used to people by now due to regular feeding, when they see the boat, they know they will get food. Another excursion which is a must is the jetski and quadbike combo tour. That was my highlight of my vacation! You go with jet skis right around the island and stop for coconut and banana fruit for lunch on one of the nearby deserted islands on your way.

  13. It’s my anniversary February and I was planning to go to Bora Bora it sounds like it’s too much stress since its short notice I guess I will have to settle for Mauritius since its just next door

  14. I first heard about the name where Vin Diesel in the movier XXX,i took my phone and gogooled the place and i fell in love with the place,stated saving for the place and at the time i had the money to go my wife fell ill and she later past on may her soul rest in peace,this was 2014,i am planing to take my son there to fullfill my promise to his mother,this will be happening december 2017

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