French Polynesia is made up of over 100 different islands so it can be really hard to decide which island visit.
I had a hard time choosing between Taha’a and Bora Bora. In the end, I chose Bora Bora (don’t worry, I’ll tell you exactly why in this post)
This ultimate guide will highlight the key differences between two of French Polynesia’s best islands: Bora Bora and Taha’a.
It compares things like activities, cost, location and beaches to help you decide which to visit.
Table of Contents
Taha’a vs Bora Bora – Summary
Bora Bora is known for its luxury overwater bungalows, turquoise lagoon and epic extinct volcano, Mount Otemanu, which can be seen from all over the island.
People visit Bora Bora to relax and unwind, experience world-class snorkeling and for the breathtaking views.
Taha’a, on the other hand, is known for its vanilla plantations, pearl farms and its stunning beaches which are untouched and often completely empty.
Taha’a isn’t as commercial as Bora Bora and less tourist focused so you can see how the locals live.
In a hurry? Here’s a quick overview of the key differences between Taha’a and Bora Bora:
- Taha’a doesn’t have an airport, meaning you’ll have to take a flight to nearby Raiatea and then take a boat over to Taha’a. Bora Bora has an airport.
- Taha’a is slightly cheaper overall compared with Bora Bora.
- Taha’a is very quiet with very few tourists or locals. Bora Bora is fairly quiet but not as much.
- Taha’a only has a handful of hotels on the whole island and only one resort with overwater bungalows. You’ll have much more choice in Bora Bora for accommodation.
- Both locations have limited things to do but Bora Bora has more options. Neither islands have much nightlife.
- Taha’a feels less commercial and more untouched as there are less tourists and less resorts. It’s a better place to go if you want to experience local Tahitian culture and see how the locals actually live.
- Getting around Taha’a can be difficult as there’s no public transport system. You’ll have to take a tour to see the island.
- The beaches are more untouched and quieter in Taha’a.
- The views are slightly better in Bora Bora.
I ended up choosing Bora Bora as I wanted to have more options and I felt that the seclusion and exclusivity of Bora Bora was more than enough for me.
As Taha’a is one of French Polynesia’s most remote islands, it takes a bit longer to get there and there’s limited options of places to stay, eat and relax.
If you’re looking for the ultimate secluded getaway where you literally feel like you’re the only person on the island and if you want to connect with local Tahitian culture then choose Taha’a.
If you want to stay in some of the best overwater bungalows on the planet, be treated like a queen/king and you want a few more options when it comes to places to stay and eat then choose Bora Bora.
The rest of this post will go into more detail on each aspect to help you decide which island is right for you.
Location & Size
Taha’a is actaully around 3 times bigger than Bora Bora in terms of size but it’s less populated.
Bora Bora is better located and easier to access than Taha’a although it won’t take you a significant amount longer to reach Taha’a.
Let’s take a look in more detail…
Bora Bora is located 27.6km (17 miles) from Taha’a meaning the two islands are extremely close.
In fact from certain points on Bora Bora, you can actually see Taha’a in the distance. I got a great view of it when I climbed Mount Otemanu on Bora Bora.
Check out the location of the two islands in the map below:
Overall Bora Bora is better located than Taha’a as it has its own airport.
Unfortunately, there is no airport in Taha’a meaning you will have to fly into nearby Raiatea and take a boat from there to Taha’a.
Although the boat only takes just a few minutes (as Raiatea and Taha’a share the same lagoon), it’s still an extra thing to consider and makes the journey just a bit longer.
Luckily, the boat does depart straight from Raiatea airport which makes things a little easier.
💡Note: There are no direct international flights to Bora Bora or Raiatea. Either way, you’ll have to fly into Tahiti then take a second flight to your final destination.
Taha’a is bigger than Bora Bora in terms of size.
Taha’a covers 90.2km2 whereas Bora Bora covers just 30.5km2 making it almost 3 times larger.
Check out the size difference on the map below:
Despite being physically bigger, the population of Taha’a is actually about half the size of Bora Bora’s. Just 5,000 people call Taha’a home whereas Bora Bora has around 10,000 local residents.
When to Visit
As Taha’a and Bora Bora are located in the same area of the world, they experience the same weather patterns and seasons.
The best time to visit French Polynesia is between the months of June and September. During these months the weather is dry and hot.
Rainy season runs from November until April when the weather is still super hot but you may experience some tropical rain showers.
The rain showers tend to not last very long (no more than 30 minutes) and many people still choose to visit during this time to save some money as flights/accommodation tends to be a bit cheaper.
Take a look at the weather chart below for more information:
Which is Cheaper?
The cost of a vacation is often one of the most important things to consider when planning a trip.
It’s no lie that neither Bora Bora or Taha’a are cheap. In fact, you’ll likely have to spend a small fortune to visit either of them.
Here’s a quick breakdown of how much it will cost to visit Bora Bora or Taha’a:
- As a whole, Taha’a is slightly cheaper.
- Overwater bungalows cost a similar amount at the standard level in both locations however Bora Bora has some premium bungalows which cost much more.
Cost of a Vacation in Bora Bora
For more detailed information, check out my complete guide on how much it costs to visit Bora Bora (it includes a full cost breakdown).
The average cost for a week-long vacation in Bora Bora is around $7,900 for two people.
This price assumes you stay in a regular hotel and not an overwater bungalow.
If you want to stay in an overwater bungalow then the average cost for a week-long vacation in Bora Bora is around $11,000 for two people.
These estimates also assume that you’re traveling from the US (it will be much cheaper if you’re in Australia/New Zealand and a bit more expensive if you’re in Europe).
This cost could easily be thousands more if you choose to stay in a more premium overwater bungalow (like at the Four Seasons).
The average nightly price for an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora ranges between $750 and $2,500.
You can significantly reduce this cost if you stay in a more basic hotel and don’t stay in an overwater bungalow.
Most people spend around $300 per day on activities, food and transportation.
Of course, you can spend much less if you choose to do less activities and dine in budget restaurants.
Cost of a Vacation in Taha’a
Taha’a is much cheaper than Bora Bora as a whole with an average vacation costing $5,500 for 2 people for a week-long vacation.
This price includes flights from Los Angeles, a stay in a standard hotel and food, transport and activities.
As you can see, Taha’a is significantly cheaper than Bora Bora if you’re not staying in an overwater bungalow.
Prices are particularly high in Bora Bora due to its exclusive reputation.
Although Taha’a has a similar feel, you don’t pay quite as much of a premium to vacation here as it’s not as famous.
If you want to stay in an overwater bungalow in Taha’a then the average cost for 2 people jumps to $10,500 for a week-long trip. This cost is very similar to Bora Bora.
The nightly price for an overwater bungalow in Taha’a ranges from $916 to $1,400 depending on the time of year you visit.
Things to Do
There are lots of things to do in both locations however you may find that one suits you more than the other.
Here’s a quick comparison of the things to do in both Taha’a and Bora Bora:
- There’s a wider variety of activities available in Bora Bora compared with Taha’a.
- Taha’a is very quiet overall with few tourists and few locals living there.
- Both locations have little shopping opportunities and a very limited nightlife scene.
- Most activities in both locations are water-based with snorkeling being the most popular.
- Taha’a feels a lot more authentic and local. It’s much less commercialized compared to Bora Bora.
Ultimately I ended up choosing Bora Bora over Taha’a as I felt that Bora Bora had way more to do. Taha’a sounds incredible but I was a little worried about feeling bored there.
Things to Do in Bora Bora
Some people think that Bora Bora is boring and has little to do other than lounging around on the beach or in your overwater bungalow.
This isn’t entirely true and there are plenty of things to keep you occupied.
The majority of activities in Bora Bora are water-based and revolve around the turquoise lagoon with the towering green volcano, Mt Otemanu, sitting in the middle.
I found that there was very little nightlife in Bora Bora. I did write a guide on the best things to do in Bora Bora at night for some inspiration.
There’s also basically no shopping opportunities in Bora Bora. If anything you’ll be able to buy a few local craft items like a pearl necklace from a small shop in Vaitape (the main town) but you’ll certainly find no shopping malls or large stores here.
I spent most of my time swimming in the lagoon, snorkeling with fish, rays and sharks and exploring the vibrant coral reefs.
Bora Bora is one of the best places that I’ve ever snorkeled! There were just so many fish.
I did find that Bora Bora was largely tailored towards couples, especially those on a honeymoon. It’s super romantic and you’ll find that the peace and quiet is just what you need.
Try out a relaxing couples massage or take a romantic stroll on the beach.
Things to Do in Taha’a
You’ll likely find that Taha’a feels very quiet.
There are very few locals living on this island (just 5,000 people) and not many tourists bother to make the journey. Depending on what you’re looking for, this could be a positive or negative.
It does mean that there’s virtually no nightlife and little shopping opportunities but you will get to feel like you’ve got the whole island to yourself.
It also means you won’t have to battle the crowds at all. Can you imagine having one of those French Polynesian beaches all to yourself? You don’t need to imagine it in Taha’a.
Getting around Taha’a is also a little difficult as there is no public transportation at all. The only way to see the island is to take a tour.
Top Activities in Taha’a:
- Visit a vanilla plantation
- Go on a sightseeing island tour
- Visit a pearl farm
- Take an island tour
- Relax in an overwater bungalow or on the beach
Taha’a is also known as the ‘vanilla island’ because there are lots of vanilla plantations (and even a vanilla museum) all over the island.
In fact, over 80% of Tahiti’s vanilla supply is from Taha’a! Visiting a plantation gives you an interesting insight into how the locals live and make money in Taha’a.
One of the best vanilla plantations is ‘Maison de La Vanille’ in Poutoru. Here you’ll be able to see the entire harvesting process for free.
One of my favorite things about Taha’a is that, due to its location, you can see a lot of other French Polynesian islands from its shores.
From certain points across the island, you can enjoy breathtaking views of Bora Bora, Raiatea and Huahine.
Similar to Bora Bora, Taha’a is also a great place to go snorkeling. Due to the clear waters and few tourists, you’ll be able to get up close and personal views of tropical fish, sharks and rays.
There’s even one particular coral garden where you can snorkel with the fish and see Bora Bora in the background. Views don’t get much better than this.
Another key thing to consider when planning a trip is where you’re going to stay as this can really make or break your vacation.
Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect from hotels in Bora Bora and Taha’a:
- You’ll have more options when it comes to accommodation in Bora Bora.
- Taha’a only has a handful of hotels on the whole island whereas Bora Bora has more choices.
- Overwater bungalows cost a similar amount in both locations however Bora Bora has some more premium ones which cost more.
- Taha’a only has one resort with overwater bungalows.
For me, my only real requirement was that I really wanted to stay in an overwater bungalow and luckily both islands were able to provide this.
Bora Bora had way more options to choose from though and I loved that I was actually able to split my stay across 2 resorts.
Accommodation in Bora Bora
There is limited choice when it comes to hotels due to the small size of Bora Bora. Most of the hotels are luxury, 5 star hotels that come with a hefty price tag.
There are a few budget friendly places to stay and a few ways you can save money though like avoiding overwater bungalows or staying in a guest house like Villa Yrondi.
You’ll find that many of the hotels work hard to showcase traditional Polynesian culture in a variety of ways.
This ranges from traditional Polynesian decor and furnishings to tasty Tahitian food and even flower crown making classes.
Bora Bora is super famous for its overwater bungalows that sit within the lagoon. They usually have outdoor decks with a ladder that leads straight into the lagoon.
At the resort I stayed at, I was able to see lots of fish and other marine life right from the deck of my bungalow!
Whilst these overwater bungalows certainly are breathtaking and the stuff of dreams, they are also eye-wateringly expensive.
On average, one night in an overwater bungalow will cost $1,000+ (often more than $2,000 per night, especially during high season).
Also, the majority of the resorts in Bora Bora are located on private islands so you’ll have to factor in boat transfers to get to and from the island.
Accommodation in Taha’a
Accommodation options in Taha’a are super limited, even more so than Bora Bora.
In fact, there’s actually only a handful of hotels on the island so you’ll have very little choice when it comes to where to stay in Taha’a.
Due to the limited options, they book up extremely far in advance so you have to book really early to get a satisfactory room.
The absolute best place to stay in Taha’a is at the Le Taha’a by Pearl Resorts. It’s the only resort in Taha’a that has overwater bungalows.
This stunning 5-star resort is located on its own private island which is just a 7-minute boat ride from the main island.
It’s a little slice of paradise that few people know about or ever get the chance to visit. My favorite thing about this resort is the distinct Tahitian vibe.
Overwater bungalows at Le Taha’a are pricey. Depending on the time of year you visit, expect to pay between $916 to $1,400 per night to stay in one.
There are a few cheaper options if you don’t want to stay in an overwater bungalow. You can get a room in a standard guesthouse for under $200 per night if your budget is a bit tighter.
There’s also a handful of local pensions that you can stay in that are super affordable.
If you are picking between these two locations then I’m guessing you love beaches. Who doesn’t, right!?
Well, you’re in luck because both Bora Bora and Taha’a have some of the most beautiful beaches in the whole world.
I’m talking soft white sand, crystal clear waters, swaying palm trees and unbelievably blue water.
Here’s what you can expect from the beaches in Taha’a and Bora Bora:
- Taha’a beaches are harder to access than Bora Bora’s beaches as they’re all on motus. There are no easily accessible beaches on the main island.
- Bora Bora does have public beaches on the main island that are easy to access.
- You’ll find that the beaches in Taha’a are much more untouched and less developed compared with Bora Bora.
- The beaches in Taha’a are also much quieter than those in Bora Bora. You’ll often have the beach entirely to yourself in Taha’a.
I’m not gonna lie, I was really tempted to book Taha’a over Bora Bora based on their beaches alone!! I loved the idea of the remote, untouched beaches with nobody else there at all.
Bora Bora Beaches
Bora Bora does have some very beautiful beaches but they are limited and often fairly small.
Bora Bora pretty much revolves around the vibrant blue lagoon with Mount Otemanu standing tall in the center. There are some beaches that look out into the lagoon but not a huge amount.
Most of Bora Bora’s luxury resorts are set on private islands which come with their own secluded beach which I loved.
This means, even if the resort is fully booked, there will always be space on the beach and inviting sun loungers will be waiting for you.
Bora Bora also has a few public beaches with the most famous one being Matira Beach which is often rated as the most beautiful beach in the world.
I spent an entire day at Matira Beach just relaxing on the sand, reading my book and going for a swim in the ocean. It was super peaceful and felt very authentic.
Taha’a also has its fair share of pristine beaches and you’ll generally find that they’re more quiet (if not completely empty) compared to Bora Bora.
The beaches in Taha’a are also almost completely untouched. You won’t find beaches like this anywhere else in the world.
To see these picture-perfect beaches, you’ll need to head over to the small motus which surround Taha’a on the northern side of the island.
Soft white sand, crystal clear waters, not another human in sight…need I say more?
Remember to bring everything you might need with you if you decide to visit these beaches as you won’t find any restaurants, cafes or shops nearby. Things like water, food and sunscreen are a must.
One of the best places where you’ll find stunning beaches is on Motu Mahaea. This motu is completely uninhabited so you probably won’t see anyone at all. It will just be you and the island.
On the main island itself, there’s actually only one beach and it’s not super impressive (really small).
This beach is also very difficult to access as there’s no roads leading down to it so you’ll have to get a boat anyway to get to it.
Who doesn’t love food?
Here’s what you can expect from restaurants in both Taha’a and Bora Bora:
- Food options are limited in both locations but you’ll have much more choice in Bora Bora compared to Taha’a.
- Bora Bora has more restaurants overall compared to Taha’a.
- Vegan and vegetarian food is hard to come by in both locations.
The food itself is also largely the same as both locations mainly serve a mix of French cuisine and traditional French Polynesian cuisine.
I actually wrote an entire guide on what kind of food they eat in Bora Bora for more information (the same applies to Taha’a).
One of the most famous dishes that you just have to try when visiting French Polynesia is Poisson Cru.
This tasty dish is made up of raw tuna which has been marinated in lime juice and coconut milk.
Other than that they serve a lot of French pastries, rice, seafood, fish and fruits like mango and banana.
Bora Bora Food
Food options are extremely limited in Bora Bora. This is mainly due to the size of the island, it’s super small so there’s not a lot of room for tons of international restaurants.
Most food in Bora Bora is either French or Polynesian cuisine. You can also sometimes find some Asian cuisine and the odd burger but that’s about it.
There are also very few restaurants overall in Bora Bora. Tripadvisor shows just 49 restaurants in Bora Bora total.
This is because many of Bora Bora’s luxury resorts sit on their own private islet (also often referred to as motus).
This means you can eat at the resort restaurants easily but if you want to go anywhere else then you’ll need to take a boat ride to the main island.
This can be annoying, long and often expensive so you may prefer to get a hotel located on the main island if this could be an issue (InterContinental Le Moana is a great choice).
Most of the luxury resorts do have 3 to 4 on-site restaurants though.
Food is also extremely pricey in Bora Bora. I have an entire post on food & restaurant prices in Bora Bora but on average you’re looking at $100 to $150 per person for dinner.
Food in Taha’a
As you might expect if you’ve read the rest of this post, there’s limited food options in Taha’a.
This is mainly because very few tourists visit the island and there aren’t many locals either. There just isn’t a huge demand for it.
Having said that, there are still a few places to eat.
If you’re staying at a resort then the best place to eat is at the resort restaurant. Le Taha’a by Pearl Resorts actually has 3 on-site restaurants to keep you fed.
If you’re staying on the main island then you’ll find that there are 8 (yes 8 total) restaurants for you to choose from.
In addition, you might find some local ‘roulottes’ which are essentially just street food trucks that serve cheap local food like Poisson Cru.
And that’s it!
Thanks for reading this post which compares Taha’a vs Bora Bora to help you decide where to visit on your next vacation.
Both locations have so much to offer and you’re bound to have an amazing time no matter which you choose.
Still unsure of where to visit?