Are you struggling to choose between Bali vs. Bora Bora for your next island getaway?
We can help!
We’ve spent significant time on both of these famous islands, so we can help you understand the stark difference so you can figure out which is the right island for you.
While both islands are known for honeymoons, beaches, and great weather, they offer very different experiences.
Bali is known as an affordable digital nomad destination with dramatic cliffs, waterfalls, volcanoes, and some of the best surfing in the world.
On the other hand, Bora Bora is a luxury travel destination on a vibrant coral reef. People come here for snorkeling, white sand beaches, and to stay in an overwater bungalow.
In this post, we’ll look at the most important similarities and differences between Bora Bora and Fiji, including the costs, weather, food, culture, location, and things to do on the islands.
Bali Vs Bora Bora: Which Island Is Better?
It’s hard to say which island is better; Bali or Bora Bora. That’s because it depends on who you ask and their vision for a tropical getaway.
If you prefer staying at an upscale resort or hotel and want the highest quality food and amenities while dreaming of spending days lounging on the beach, then you will probably prefer a holiday in Bora Bora.
But those seeking adventure travel, like a lot of variety on their holiday, or working with a tight travel budget should definitely go for Bali.
Key Differences Between Bali Vs. Bora Bora
Let’s dive deeper into the main differences between Bali and Bora Bora, so you can get a clearer picture of what to expect from each island before deciding where to go! We’ll discuss the contrast in cost, weather, food, culture, and which is the safest place to visit.
Costs & Prices
When it comes to costs and prices, Bali and Bora Bora are on opposite ends of the spectrum.
Bali Cost & Prices
Bali is considered a budget-friendly destination, along with most places in Southeast Asia, like Thailand, Cambodia, and Malaysia.
You can often get a nice hotel room for just $30-40 per night or stay at a luxurious resort with a complementary floating breakfast for less than $100 per night, offering excellent value for money.
Food and excursions are also incredibly cheap. At local restaurants, you can get a starter, two entrees, and drinks for less than $10.
In addition to cheap food and hotels, you can rent a scooter for $7 a day, take a yoga class for $5, or book a world-class Balinese massage for less than $10.
Bora Bora Cost & Prices
Bora Bora is much more expensive than Bali in just about every part of your budget.
It’s not impossible to travel to Bora Bora for a reasonable price, as there are some affordable homestays, and you can cook your own food, but if you are coming to Bora Bora, you probably want to experience the best part of the island, which are overwater bungalow resorts and water sports.
Getting to your accommodation is also more expensive and time-consuming because you must take boat taxis to and from the airport and atolls.
But you can also expect everything to be a 5-star experience for this price. The food, scenery, and overwater bungalows create a romantic, picturesque atmosphere!
For either destination, visiting during the low season isn’t a deal breaker, and it can actually provide a similar experience with much lower rates on flights and hotels.
In Bali, the climate varies between the dry and the wet seasons.
The dry spell extends from May through September, which is usually the preferred time for tourists, offering sunny days perfect for exploring the beaches and engaging in outdoor activities.
Although the weather is most cooperative during this time, with less rainfall and humidity, you will experience the worst of the crowds. Bali is also a nice place to visit in the rainy season, from October to April.
Despite being the off-peak season, the island is nothing like the monsoon seasons that sweep across most of the Indian Ocean. Rainy days in Bali are often intermittent and short-lived, and the lush beauty of the jungle landscapes is enhanced by the rainfall, making it an excellent time for photographers.
Bora Bora Weather
Bora Bora is the opposite, with the summer months of April to October being the best time to visit (The absolute BEST time to visit Bora Bora is during September)
The trade winds provide a refreshing break from the heat and make for excellent sailing conditions, and since these months have significantly less rainfall, it’s not quite as humid.
The island enjoys a warm, tropical climate all year round, with average daytime temperatures hovering around 28-30 degrees Celsius (82-86°F).
The hotter, wetter season runs from November to April, so people traveling to Bora Bora in the French Polynesian summer will experience increased humidity and rain.
Since the islands are located in entirely different parts of the world, the food is very different. Bali has mostly Southeast Asian cuisine, while Bora Bora has a blend of Polynesian and European food.
Balinese food is delicious. It’s an eclectic mix of vibrant flavors centered around rice, noodles, fresh vegetables, and grilled meats. Food is also very affordable in Bali. You can go to a local Warung and get an entire meal for $2-3.
The most popular dishes in Bali include Mie goreng meat skewers, Babi Guling (roasted pig), and the national dish, Nasi Goreng (vegetable fried rice, fried egg, prawns, and local spices).
Balinese cuisine is known for its unique combination of spices, but it’s usually not too spicy since nearly all curries and other dishes use coconut milk as their base.
However, the food in Bali is more than traditional dishes. The island is also well-known for its chic cafes and vegan-friendly restaurants, especially in Canggu, Seminyak, and Ubud. These cafes offer a wide array of Western and fusion dishes, including smoothie bowls, breakfast burritos, and burgers.
French Polynesian Food
Most Bora Bora restaurants have distinctive dishes that merge Polynesian tradition with European cuisine. The island’s signature dish is Poisson Cru, a delicious fusion of marinated tuna, lime, and coconut that encapsulates the essence of the island cuisine.
You’ll find lots of seafood in Bora Bora, such as local Mahi-Mahi, but there are also a bunch of dishes that include meat like rotisserie pork and French-inspired food like sandwiches, pastries, and pasta.
For those on a tighter budget, the main island of Vaitape offers plenty of roadside eateries serving snacks, island fruits, and fish. ‘Les Roulottes’ is a collection of rolling food trucks that serve various meat and seafood dishes. But most people opt for more upscale dining experiences at their resort.
Each island destination has a rich cultural heritage and immersive experiences to learn more about the local culture.
Although part of Indonesia, Bali has a unique culture distinct from the rest of the country because it has a different major religion. o religion.
While the majority religion in Indonesia is Islam, Bali remains a predominantly Hindu Island.
This distinction is obvious to anyone visiting Bali. You’ll see palm leaf offering baskets left out on the streets every morning, pass seemingly endless temples, and smell incense burning throughout local shops and restaurants.
The Bali culture strongly focuses on maintaining balance and harmony, with social relationships and nature being the cornerstone of everyday life. People are expected to be polite and respectful of each other.
This is one of the reasons why you’ll notice local people in Bali are so hospitable.
Bora Bora Culture
Bora Bora’s culture reflects Tahiti, Moorea, and the other French Polynesian islands.
Although resort living doesn’t necessarily offer an in-depth look at the cultural nuances, venturing on excursions outside the resort area will provide a more authentic cultural experience.
Bora Bora culture is deeply rooted in family traditions and a leisurely pace of life that encapsulates the island’s tranquility.
Notable cultural highlights to look out for include; the Tahitian Ahima’a, a unique dining experience, the local delicacies that are a feast for your taste buds, and the captivating ‘Ori Tahiti dances.
Beaches & Landscape
While both islands are absolutely gorgeous, Bali is the best choice for diverse landscapes and nature opportunities. Bora Bora, on the other hand, is best for a calm beach vacation and has better reefs and lagoons for snorkeling!
Beaches & Landscape in Bali
Bali is known as the ‘Island of the Gods’ because of its natural beauty.
It’s much larger than you’d expect and has an incredibly diverse array of landscapes.
The island features some of the most popular beaches in Southeast Asia. Instead of swimming and snorkeling, they are much more popular for surfing and lounging in the sun.
Uluwatu (Bali’s southern peninsula) has the most beautiful beaches, with epic surf breaks and dramatic cliffs to add to the scenery! If you prefer calmer shores, you can head to the East Coast beach town of Sanur.
Northern Bali, on the other hand, is full of lush jungles, massive waterfalls, volcanoes, and scenic rice terraces.
Beaches & Landscape in Bora Bora
Bora Bora is MUCH smaller than Bali.
Instead of a diverse landscape, the island is full of crystal clear water, picturesque lagoons, and soft white sand beaches. They are much more pristine than what you’ll get in Bali.
The most famous of all Bora Bora beaches is Matira Beach on the main island’s south shore, but each resort has its own private beaches, too. For instance, Le Meridien is another well-known resort and beach perfect for sunbathing, snorkeling, or swimming with turtles.
In Bora Bora, you’ll also see tropical mountains covered in bright green trees and grasses popping out of the blue water. The tallest point on Bora Bora is Mount Otemanu, which stands at 727 meters (2,385 feet) and dominates the horizon from everywhere in Bora Bora.
Both Bali and Bora Bora are safe destinations to visit. However, you should take specific safety measures, including getting decent travel insurance before you go!
Is Bali Safe?
Yes, Bali is generally safe for tourists. Of course, you’ll see petty crimes like pickpocketing, and there are corrupt traffic police trying to get a bribe in exchange for letting you off with a warning, but serious crime is rare.
The most common risks in Bali are getting sick (traveler’s diarrhea or Bali Belly) and getting into a motorbike accident.
Both of these risks are easy to mitigate. Be sure to wash any fruit or vegetables you buy at the market, don’t drink the tap water in Bali, and ALWAYS wear a helmet if you rent a scooter in Bali.
Is Bora Bora Safe?
Bora Bora is actually one of the safest holiday destinations in the world.
With a population of about 11,000 people and only 12 square miles in size, crime rates are incredibly low. If there is anything to watch out for while visiting Bora Bora, it’s petty crime like pickpocketing or bag snatching.
That said, it’s still important to be aware of your surroundings and avoid going out alone at night, but there is no reason to stress too much about feeling unsafe in Bora Bora.
Bali Vs. Bora Bora Transportation
When it comes to getting to the island, Bali is much easier to reach because it has its own International Airport. Most people will have connections in Taipei or Kuala Lumpur, but there are also direct flights from Australia and New Zealand.
Bora Bora does not have its own international airport, so the only way to get here is by flying through Faa’a International Airport in Tahiti. But this isn’t the end of the journey. Bora Bora’s airport is on a separate atoll, so no matter where you stay in Bora Bora, you’ll need a boat taxi to ferry to get to your resort.
Getting Around Bali
Getting around Bali is straightforward, with a few different options available.
Travelers who are comfortable driving around the island usually rent a scooter in Bali since they are easier to park and navigate heavy traffic. It’s one of the cheapest ways to explore the island and an exciting way to travel, too.
For those who prefer not to drive, taxis, airport transfers, and private drivers on the island can help you get around. You can also stay in a walkable area like Ubud or Kuta and take day tours to popular destinations outside the city.
Getting Around Bora Bora
While it’s not challenging to get around Bora Bora, it is much different than Bali.
The island is small, made up of Vaitape (the main island) and a few surrounding atolls, but the island’s best resorts are on these atolls, so you have to take boat taxis to get from your resort to other places around Bora Bora.
Luckily, many of the resorts in Bora Bora are nearly all-inclusive and have everything you could need, including restaurants, water sports, private beaches, convenience stores, and more.
On Vaitape (the main town), it’s easy to find taxis, or you can hire a bicycle for the day.
Bali Vs. Bora Bora: Which is Better To Visit in 2023?
Bali and Bora Bora present unique and enticing landscapes, rich cultural experiences, and delicious food.
But when putting the islands side by side, they have a lot of differences, so depending on what you’re hoping to get out of your vacation, one is the better option for you.
Bali is better for surfing and waterfalls and has more affordable excursions. Bora Bora is better for luxury travelers or people looking for an intimate island experience with white sand beaches and tranquil lagoons.
Here are some more nuances about each island that might help decide which island is better to visit.
Which Has Better Nightlife Bali Or Bora Bora?
If you’re someone who is looking for quintessential island nightlife, then Bali is going to be more your speed.
Bali has a lively, world-renowned nightlife scene. Kuta and Seminyak are the most well-known, but some of the newer beach clubs in Canggu and Uluwatu are much less ‘touristy’ and have live DJs almost every night.
If you prefer quiet acoustic vibes, Canggu and Ubud have a few smaller bars that give a more relaxed atmosphere to hang out with friends after the sun goes down.
Bora Bora is much different. There is some action at Bora Bora Beach Club at Matira Beach, but for the most part, things slow down after sunset, and people retreat to their overwater bungalows for the evening.
However, this intimate atmosphere is still nice for a late-night drink or a romantic dinner under the stars. A few of the Bora Bora resorts also host traditional Polynesian dance shows that provide a cultural experience in the evening.
Is Bali or Bora Bora Better for Families?
Determining the best destination for a family vacation can be challenging, depending on your family’s preferences, interests, and budget. Both Bali and Bora Bora offer unique experiences, but they cater to different types of vacationers.
Bali also emerges as the best choice for family holidays because of its affordability and wide-ranging attractions.
The island has many outdoor ventures perfect for family trips, such as waterfall hikes, white water rafting, and surf camps. You’ll also find specific attractions for younger kids, including the exhilarating WaterBOM Waterpark, Educational Butterfly Parks, and a zoo.
On the other hand, Bora Bora is a more romantic getaway or honeymoon destination, so it’s better for honeymoons and upscale workcations. The higher prices for meals, excursions, and rooms can also be more difficult for families to afford. A few of the resorts are even adult-only.
Bali or Bora Bora for a Honeymoon?
Bora Bora is the clear winner for honeymooners seeking a perfect blend of romance, luxury, and seclusion.
Its reputation as a honeymoon paradise is well deserved with its exotic overwater bungalows that provide privacy and breathtaking views of the crystal clear turquoise lagoons.
The resorts often offer a range of romantic experiences like private beach dinners, couples massages, and private boat tours, making it an idyllic setting for newlyweds.
Bali is much better for couples on a budget or honeymooners looking for a mix of adventure, culture, and lively nightlife on their honeymoon.
It offers diverse experiences, from exploring ancient temples and traditional markets to rejuvenating Balinese spa treatments, world-class surfing, white water rafting, volcano treks, and more!
Bali also provides opportunities for romantic experiences like high-end resorts, candle-lit dinners, romantic sunset cruises, and floating breakfasts.
While it may not have the same level of exclusivity and intimacy as Bora Bora, it does offer a more diverse and vibrant experience, making it a worthy consideration for your honeymoon.
Is Bali or Bora Bora Cheaper?
When it comes to cost, Bali is significantly cheaper than Bora Bora. The cost of living in Bali is lower, which translates into more affordable accommodation, dining, and activities for tourists.
You can travel on a super small budget or splurge on a 5-star experience for the price of an average hotel room in Europe! In the same vein, dining in Bali can be as cheap as a few dollars for a local meal at a warung (small family-owned eatery), while dinner at a higher-end restaurant is still less than $20 per person.
Most of the island’s best places to see are virtually free, too. Waterfalls and Temples charge a nominal fee (typically $0.20-2.00) just to support the local economy and mitigate the impact of over-tourism.
Average Travel Budget for One Week in Bali = $300 – $1000
- Accommodation = $30-80/night
- Food = $15-25/day
- Transportation = $5-10/day
- Excursions = 0-$25/day
- Souvenirs/Other = $0-10/day
Bora Bora is known for its luxury resorts and high-end dining, making it one of the most expensive island destinations in the world.
But for the high price tag, you are guaranteed unparalleled luxury and 5-star experiences for the price. It’s one of the best places in the world to stay in an overwater bungalow, and many even have private infinity pools!
Dining in Bora Bora is also more expensive, as most food and supplies must be imported, but you’re guaranteed high-quality ingredients and can even dine on the beach. Excursions in Bora Bora tend to be pricier than the same activities in Bali.
Average Travel Budget for One Week in Bora Bora = $5,000 – $25,000
- Accommodation = $500-2000/night
- Food = $75-150/day
- Transportation = $50-100/day
- Excursions = $25-150/day
- Souvenirs/Other = $0-100/day
Which Is Better for Avoiding Tourists?
Bora Bora tends to be a better option for travelers seeking to avoid hordes of tourists than Bali. Due to its remote location and luxury travel status, Bora Bora gets just 200,000 visitors yearly (compared to Bali’s 2.1 million).
They prioritize keeping the remote island atmosphere and have even considered capping tourist numbers at 280,000/year. Even during peak season, the island never feels overcrowded. Most of the time, you’ll share the beach with only a few other tourists.
On the other hand, Bali’s popularity as a tourist hotspot means that it tends to attract large numbers of tourists, especially during peak seasons.
It’s very close to Australia, and flights can be as cheap as $100 roundtrip, so it’s a popular retreat for Aussies all year round.
The most affected area of Bali is undoubtedly Kuta, Seminyak, Canggu, and Ubud. However, it’s worth noting that Bali is a large and diverse island, and there are still plenty of off-the-beaten-path destinations within Bali that offer a more relaxed experience.
Uluwatu, Amed, and the Nuda Islands are still off many tourists’ radar, and if you want an even more intimate, secluded atmosphere, check out some of the best places to stay in Munduk (near Ubud), Perenan (near Canggu), or Ungasan (near Kuta).
Bali: Best Things To Do
Bali, the Island of the Gods, has so many different things to do it’s impossible to see everything in a single trip. It’s well known for its breathtaking rice terraces, scenic temples, majestic waterfalls, and seaside beach towns.
Whether you love shopping, history & culture, food, or thrilling adventure sports, there’s always something new to do in Bali, Indonesia!
With so many things to do, deciding how to spend your time can be pretty challenging. To help you make the most of your visit, here’s a list of the places and experiences you shouldn’t miss when in Bali.
✔️ Trek to The Top of Mount Batur for Sunrise – Get ready for an early start and hike up the volcano at sunrise to catch spell-binding views of Bali’s mountains and Lake Batur. If you don’t like crowds and are up for a real challenge, consider hiking to the top of Mount Agung instead.
✔️ Take a Day Trip to Nusa Penida – The largest of the Nusa Islands, Penida is home to stunning landscapes, cliffside temples, and some of the most otherworldly sites in Bali, like Kellingkind Beach, Broken Beach, and Thousand Islands Viewpoint. You can also dive at Manto Point or dip into a natural infinity pool at Angel’s Billabong.
✔️ Take a Surf Lesson – Head to Seminyak, Canggu, or Uluwatu for some of the best surfing spots in Bali. Most beaches and surf schools offer private and group lessons that you can book online or just go to the beach and find an informal surf rental with a 2-hour lesson.
✔️ Explore the Tegalalang Rice Terraces – Located just north of Ubud, the famous Tegalalang Rice Terraces are a must-see for all Bali travelers. Here you can take pictures of the stunning terraced fields with their lush green paddies and impressive walls built from rock and clay.
✔️ Go on a Waterfall Trek – Northern Bali has the most beautiful waterfalls on the island. Some of the best are Sekumpul Waterfall, Tukad Cepung, Aling Aling Waterfall, and Kanto Lampo. Hire a guide to take you on an adventure through the jungle to swim in the natural pools beneath each waterfall.
Bora Bora: Best Things To Do
You could spend the entire week at your resort in Bora Bora and have an incredible time, but there are tons of other ways to explore the azure lagoons and lush mountains!
Here are some of the best things to try while visiting Bora Bora!
✔️ Swim with Humpback Whales – Bora Bora is a haven for humpback whales, making it an ideal destination for whale watching. Some tours even provide an incredible opportunity to swim alongside these majestic creatures and listen to their mesmerizing songs through a ‘hydrophone.’
✔️ Go Snorkeling – You can’t go to French Polynesia without taking a snorkeling tour. You’ll see vibrant coral, many tropical fish, massive manta rays, and friendly black-tip reef sharks!
✔️ Hike Mt Otemanu – The majestic Mt Otemanu, considered the dwelling of the gods, provides a rewarding challenge for hikers. While reaching the very top might not be possible, the journey to its shoulder is equally exhilarating and rewarding.
✔️ Cruise Around on a Bicycle – Renting a bicycle to explore Bora Bora is an environmentally friendly way to see the island’s beauty at your own pace. Standard bikes are available for around $25 per day, while E-bikes come for roughly $40 per day.
✔️ Sail Away on a Catamaran Sunset Sail – Enjoy a romantic sunset cruise aboard a luxury catamaran. These tours offer a private captain, refreshments, champagne, and music, making it a memorable part of your evening in Bora Bora.
The Wrap-Up: Bali Vs Bora Bora
Making the correct choice between traveling to Bali Vs. Bora Bora ultimately hinges on what you’re looking for in your holiday!
If you’re a traveler who appreciates vibrant cultural experiences, bustling nightlife, diverse landscapes, and thrilling activities, Bali could be the ideal destination for you.
On the other hand, if you prefer serene, pristine beaches, luxury resorts, and a slower pace of life, you might find Bora Bora to be a better fit for you and your partner.
Want to keep looking for a tropical destination, check out these other island comparisons.