Bora Bora on a Cheap Budget!

November 15, 2010

beautiful bora bora on budget

Can you do travel to Bora Bora on a very tight budget, even with a family? Bora Bora brings up images of over the water bungalows, clear water of every delectable shade of blue, a perfect paradise ...and four figures a night hotel charges. Yes, Bora Bora can be outrageously expensive, but we travel the world on just 23 dollars a day per person, so recently learned the secrets to cheap travel in Bora Bora, Tahiti, Moorea and all of French Polynesia. 

Bora Bora gorgeous view

We thought we had a hotel to host us for our stay in French Polynesia, so we booked almost two weeks for it on our current round-the-world ticket, but at the last minute that fell through because the hotels were overbooked. Yikes, pretty scary thought for budget travelers to have so much time scheduled for such an expensive place and due to chaos going on during our stay in Santa Cruz (due to serious illness and hospitalization with a close family member), we had no time to plan or reroute. Flexibility and adaptability is the big key for family travel, especially long term family travel.

  Budget vacation in Bora Bora


We had been wanting to try couch surfing for a while and I was amazed at the opportunities in French Polynesia, so soon had two great places to stay in both Moorea and Bora Bora. BEST decision we ever made because not only did we get awesome lodging for free, but we met some absolutely amazing people and our experience was like a local and far superiour to a hotel stay there.We met friends for life who we will see again and stay in touch with. Our couch surfing friend in Bora Bora is a Vet, so she let Mozart also help feed baby kittens and play with new puppies which she loved. She also connected us with a couchsurfer in Tahiti when we left who picked us up at the airport, fed us a great meal with great conversation and took us to the airport in the morning! Wow, so much gratitude for the Couch Surfers we met so far!

Bora Bora on a tight budget

Yes, we had most of the benefits of the fancy hotels as we saw dolphins for free at the Intercontinental and paid 45 dollars for 2 Mai Tais and 1 vigin Mai Tai at the Sofitel as we watched a Polynesian dance show, and both couchsurfing places we stayed at were lovely with spectacular views with a bed big enough for the three of us, but we also experienced the islands like a native and had the best possible "insider" guides who took care of us like family.

Bora Bora lagoon swimming with sharks & manta rays

Couch surfing is not the only cheap option, there are lots of low cost, budget pensions , mid range places and rental houses are available. You will save a lot of money if you eat like a local and avoid the imported food. You will not believe how little we spent in Bora Bora for three of us for almost a week ( about $350.00 total, not including flight), yet we took our host out to dinner in a great place, did a lagoon tour that included swimming with sharks, manta rays, sting rays & tropical fish, learned a little bit of Polynesian dance, music and culture, watched sunset from the most expensive hotel on the island, swam regularly at the world's best beach and more.

Bora Bora & Polynesian culture

We're in Sydney now, just left New Zealand and headed towards Singapore this weekend, so no time for all the details now, but I've got many more stories to tell and the secrets to doing Bora Bora on a miniscule budget while having a luxuriously, relaxing time. Yes, Bora Bora can be VERY expensive, but it does not have to be.


Added to Photo Friday at DeliciousBaby!


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Camels & Chocolate

It looks like Bora Bora lived up to everything I've ever heard about it. Can't believe the water is that blue! I love that picture of all the palm trees--seems so deserted.

Josh Crocker

Unreal! This is so beautiful! I just found out about you guys from Tim Ferriss. He recommended you as the go-to site for family travel. Gorgeous!

- Josh


Lifecruiser Travel Blog

Simply gorgeous photos! As usual! If your photos don't get people tempted to travel I don't know what could!

(We're awaiting an important decision by others, otherwise we'd be on our way somewhere right now!)

Irene Jaan

Wow! Great job doing Bora Bora on a budget. It's pretty impressive to have the luxury of visiting such an exotic location and not spend a fortune. We're inspired, and It looks sooo amazing. We just did Galapagos on a budget, but because we couldn't connect to any couch surfers we spent 3X as much as you did. (and it wasn't as beautiful) Ciao! :)


Thanks for sharing these amazing pictures. I've finally convinced my husband to take our family on a year round the world trip, although we will probably do it in 7 or 8 years when the kids are 11 or 12. It fits in perfectly with our interest-led learning lives. Your pictures have definitly convinced me to add this to our list.

Do you think it is too early to be planning such a trip?


Thanks for sharing these amazing pictures. I've finally convinced my husband to take our family on a year round the world trip, although we will probably do it in 7 or 8 years when the kids are 11 or 12. It fits in perfectly with our interest-led learning lives. Your pictures have definitly convinced me to add this to our list.

Do you think it is too early to be planning such a trip?

Lisa Bergren

Looks awesome, J! Did you ever get a chance to check out some of the lower budget options that might work for a family too big to couch surf?

Michael Figueiredo

Spectacular photos! I had no idea that you could do Bora Bora on a shoestring budget (besides airfare, obviously.) I think I need to venture there someday soon!

Sarah V.

Beautiful photos! Bora Bora is on my wish list, although I'm not sure if the couchsurfing thing is for us. Maybe when my daughter is a little older (she's 3).


I'd love to go to the Bora Bora! So I am very jealous of you right now!

wandering educators

oh!! i so want to go. and that is really, really reasonable - so cheap! we've not tried couchsurfing bc we are three, but you've made me want to try it!


Wow! This is so inspiring. I think a round the world family trip is now officially on our list. I'll keep following your travels. Right on!


Wow sounds like you had an awesome time! There is nothing like living with the locals to have an authentic experience!

Congrats on your creativity on saving so much money for this trip!


Great pictures. The place is amazingly beautiful. Finally you have shown me a place to put on top of my list. I felt the need to visit Bora Bora. I can see that the waters are clean. And the leaves in the picture, i think it is the leaves of a palm tree. I'll follow your travels.

Wayfaring Wanderer

Bora Bora on a budget? Who knew! I would have never thought of couch surfing there, terrific idea!


Jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks all! Finally getting a chance to catch up on comments here.

Josh- Glad you found us! I'll have to thank Tim Ferris for sending you! ;)

Christina- sounds fab! The more you learn before hand,the easier it will be & I think researching a RTW trip is fun & keeps the dream alive.

Lisa- Yes, we did do some looking into cheap places there & will be writing more about it. Many are listed in Lonely Planet ( which we took with us just in case) or online. There are free, ( couchsurfing) cheap, mid level places available on Bora Bora, but most people only know about the super expensive places. We could have found places even if couchsurfing had not worked out. We quickly found backups on both Bora Bora & Moorea just in case. We also found a place in Papette easily, but canceled when we got a free place to stay through couchsurfing who picked us up at the airport, fed us, was great company & took us back to the airport next day. She was a friend of our CS host in Bora Bora so planned at the last moment.

I can't recommend Bora Bora or couchsurfing high enough!

Dan Thompson

GREAT info here! I had no idea you could go there so cheap... That's actually the reason I haven't been yet! ...Oh, and beautiful photos! =)



So glad to have come across your post! I'm planning a trip to Tahiti & Mo'orea very soon, and thought it'd be pretty expensive to travel around & lodge there. But I'm guessing not so much.

I'm hoping as well to use some time there to Couchsurf as well, though I do enjoy staying at hostels to meet other like-minded travel folks!

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