Bora Bora, the Pearl of the Pacific. 

Ah, Bora Bora. Where is your mind transported to when you first hear those words? If you thought of a tropical island getaway home to sparkling turquoise waters, postcard-worthy sandy beaches, emerald-green volcanic craters and secluded overwater bungalows, you’d be spot on. What you also probably thought of was the hefty price tag that usually accompanies this sort of luxury.

Why stay in Bora Bora on a mid range budget?

Guests who frequent the overwater bungalows are mainly celebrities who use them as picture-perfect backdrops for their Instagram photos or to feature on their reality TV shows. It’s also a dream destination for couples on their honeymoon.

I’m no celebrity, but I can assure you I discovered a little trick in this slice of paradise that allows you to enjoy an overwater bungalow for half the price you’d think, which means you can stay longer for your money. Yes, it’s possible!

Don’t believe me? This was the view from my bungalow:

How I Stayed in Bora Bora Like a Celebrity (Without the Price Tag) | The Invisible Tourist
View from my bungalow

There’s something so seductive about Bora Bora’s position – you feel miles away from your day-to-day life back home because, well, you actually are.

First, here’s a bit of background into this magnificent island getaway. Bora Bora is a semi-autonomous territory of France in the South Pacific Ocean with Pacific Francs (XPF) as its currency. Prior to colonisation by France it is thought natives inhabited the island around the 4th century. The island is so stunning because the lagoon was formed over millions of years by an extinct volcano at the centre with the crater’s highest point being 727 metres above sea level.

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How I Stayed in Bora Bora Like a Celebrity (Without the Price Tag) | The Invisible Tourist
Mt Otemanu, Bora Bora

In 2011, I was fortunate enough to enjoy Bora Bora for 7 nights on my honeymoon. It really is such a wonderfully unique experience that I’d recommend everyone do at least once in their lifetime. Being our honeymoon we expected to have to splash out a little more on accommodation, but when researching overwater bungalows I was delighted to find one was AUD 265 per night at the time. Great location, 4 star luxury…

Was this for real?? What was the catch?

The cost of staying in a Bora Bora overwater bungalow

Five years on, I’ve done a little research into how much overwater bungalows would cost in today’s money. Obviously, the prices have risen with time and you need to remember that Bora Bora is more expensive than its South-East Asian or Mediterranean counterparts due to its isolated location. But there’s something so seductive about Bora Bora’s position – you feel miles away from your day-to-day life back home because, well, you actually are.

Anyway, I digress! During our stay, I noticed most guests who booked the overwater bungalows only stayed for around 3 days. I felt bad for them because 3 days is only a small taste of this little piece of heaven! So, these are my findings for 7 nights in a king-bed overwater bungalow for travel in November (the same time of year when I travelled, which is not peak season):

Price Comparison for 7 Nights in Bora Bora - Stay November 2017
7 Nights in Bora Bora – Stay November 2017

And now for the silver bullet: Sofitel Marara Beach Resort:

Price for 7 Nights in Bora Bora - Sofitel Marara Beach Resort
7 Nights in Bora Bora – Sofitel Marara Beach Resort

Why are these overwater bungalows affordable? The secret!

Sofitel Marara Beach Resort is one of the very few resort chains in Bora Bora that boast a unique feature: A small handful of bungalows were built ¾ over the water with the rear of the bungalow partially on the land but the room itself and deck are over the water.

Are you ready to stay like a celebrity in Bora Bora, too? This is what I booked.

Watching sunsets from my bungalow

It feels like you’re completely over the water anyway as you hear the water softly lapping beneath the floor and you gaze outside at the incredible lagoon. You’re free to dive right off your deck and enjoy the same perks the neighbouring over-water guests enjoy, but you’re only paying about half the price of the similar Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort. Doing it this way also means you’ve saved around 75% of what guests pay for their overwater bungalows at the Four Seasons so you can stay for longer! Talk about getting the most bang-for-your-buck.

Bonus tip: In 2011, guests of the Sofitel Marara Beach Resort also had the privilege to use the facilities at the Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island – a short boat trip across the lagoon. Be sure to enquire.

After reading a few recent reviews on, some people did mention that the resort is starting to look a little tired. I don’t know about you but who needs more than 100sqm of space and is going to stare at the walls when they have water like that just outside their door? You won’t want to spend long inside the bungalow, that’s for sure!

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Catamaran off in the distance

Fun fact:

Did you know there’s no “B” in the Tahitian language? Before European settlers arrived the island was named Pora Pora by the native Polynesians, which translates to “first born”. The Europeans misheard this as Bora Bora, and the name actually stuck.

So, what’s the next step?

If you’d like to find out how much it costs to fly to Bora Bora, find out here! Just use BOB as the airport code.
Or, compare the prices of other resorts in Bora Bora here. Don’t take my word for it!

Do you dream of visiting this slice of paradise someday? Yes, the water really is that colour 😍 If you liked this tip, please let me know in the comments if you plan on using it! I have more tips and tricks for French Polynesia where that came from 😉 Don’t forget to share this tip on Facebook, save it to Pinterest 📌 or follow me on Instagram for more!

Until next time,

The Invisible Tourist






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How I Stayed in Bora Bora Like a Celebrity (Without the Price Tag) | The Invisible Tourist

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Alyse has spent 9 years travelling "The Invisible Tourist Way" and hopes to encourage fellow travellers to do so, too. A professional language hoarder, she can usually be found burying herself in travel books and Wikipedia articles. Her dreams? Always about the next destination and how to make the most of the experience.


    • The Invisible Tourist
      The Invisible Tourist Reply

      It is, Leigh! It’s surprising many people aren’t aware of this. Thanks for your comment!

  1. Thank you for publishing this post. I told my husband we won’t go to Bora Bora if we’re not staying in overwater bungalows and that’s something we really can’t afford. This trick makes it more possible now for us to have a vacation in this amazing destination. Thank you so much!!!

    • The Invisible Tourist
      The Invisible Tourist Reply

      I am SO happy to hear this helped you, Kristine! Bora Bora is such a stunning destination with (unfortunately) an expensive reputation. It took me ages to compare all the types of accommodation when I booked my trip, but all that research really paid off 🙂 I truly hope you have a wonderful trip!

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