8 places like Bora Bora to dip your feet into

Try these destinations for the Bora Bora experience without the pricetag.

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With a luxe escape to Bora Bora potentially costing you over $10,000 for accommodation per night alone (have you seen the Four Seasons Resort?! It’s what postcards were MADE for!) Bora Bora may be a little beyond your budget. This doesn’t mean you can’t live like royalty on a pristine beach while on holiday. There are plenty of other island paradises out there that are just as postcard-worthy for a fraction of the price. Here are our top picks of enviable and affordable places similar to Bora Bora but cheaper. We have added deals too that could help you save.

8 dreamy places like Bora Bora

1. Seychelles

Found surrounded by the clear, turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean off the coast of West Africa, the Seychelles is home to 115 islands. The little bits of paradise host soft-sand beaches, lush tropical forests and, of course, luxurious resorts.

  • Top 5 beaches: Anse Sourse d'Argent, Beau Vallon, Anse La Farine, Anse Lazio, Anse Georgette
  • Must do/see: Visit Anse Sourse d'Argent (of of the Seychelles most photographed beaches), snorkel or dive the surrounding reefs, explore the national parks (almost 50% of the country is national park)
  • Stay: Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa. Every room at this seaside resort is a private villa, with the option to upgrade to ones with your very own pool. This 5-star resort also features a private beach.

2. Maldives

One of the first destinations that comes to mind when you think of words like 'paradise' and 'exotic', this chain of more than 1,000 coral atolls is renowned for it's perfect blue lagoons, colourful reefs and incredible overwater bungalows.

  • Top 5 beaches: Reethi, Fulhadhoo, Bikini, Maafushi, Bandos
  • Must do/see: Diving to see the unique sealife and shipwreks, unwind at an underwater spa, go island hopping.
  • Stay: Paradise Island Resort & Spa. The name says it all, Paradise Island Resort offers 5-star accommodation on an atoll surrounded by white sands and clear blue water. There are plenty of room options, too, from affordable beach bungalows to ritzy water villas.

3. Cook Islands

With its similar French Polynesian heritage, turquoise waters and white beaches, you’ll be hard-pressed to find the difference between the Cook Islands and Bora Bora. One however is the flight time, which is 6-hours direct from Sydney compared to 19-hours to Bora Bora due to flight changes in New Zealand. Getting to paradise soon? #winning.

  • Top 5 beaches: Muri, Nikao, Aroa, One Foot Island, Tikioki
  • Must do/see: Aitutaki Lagoon, Polynesian cuisine, whale watching
  • Stay: Aitutaki Lagoon Resort Spa is the Cook Islands’ answer to overwater bungalow bliss. This 5-star boutique offers views of the Aitutaki lagoon coupled with Polynesian room decor. A bungalow will set you back $1200p/n though you can bump that down to $600 by opting for a beachfront bungalow.

4. Indonesia

It’s no secret that Australians have a love affair with Indonesia. What’s not to love? From its enviable beaches and its relaxed vibe to its rich history and exotic appeal. It’s also only a hop and a skip away from our shores and flights there are almost always on sale - bonus!

  • Top 5 beaches: Nihiwatu, Canggu, Derawan, Peucang, Dreamland
  • Must do/see: Temples, mosques and national parks
  • Stay: At the Viceroy Bali Spa & Resort. While not an overwater like many on this list, its heavenly and easily accessed from Denpasar airport. Prices from $875.

5. Panama

While not the cheapest destination on this list, Panama is very much comparable to what you’ll expect from Bora Bora. That is, it sports islands for days, soft white sands and an exotic atmosphere.

  • Top 5 islands/beaches: Cartí, Isla Tigre, Isla Grande, Playa Barqueta, Playa Las Lajas
  • Must do/see: Casco Viejo old city, Panama Canal, Parque Nacional Soberania
  • Stay: At the Punta Caracol Acqua-Lodge where suites are joined to the dock by independent fingers (prices from $450pp).

6. Cambodia

Seeking an exotic island escape with pristine beaches that won’t blow the budget? Try Cambodia. You can get flights cheap as chips with budget carriers like Jetstar and unlike its neighbour Thailand, it isn’t too overrun with tourists.

  • Top 5 beaches: Main, Long Set, Lazy, Victory, Sokha
  • Must do/see: Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayan, Killing Fields
  • Stay: Sokha Beach Resort. Five-star luxury by the beach in Sihanoukville, this resort offers accommodation right on one off the area's best beaches.

7. Malaysia

When it comes to beach destinations, Malaysia is less likely to be the first name that flies off your tongue, but sitting so close to Indonesia it shares some of its idyllic landscape. Glam it up in Penang or save your pennies in Langkawi. For your next trip, naturally.

  • Top 5 beaches/islands: Batu Ferringhi, Tanjung Bungah, Pom Pom Island, Penang Island, Tioman Island
  • Must do/see: Temples, Petronas Towers, Batu caves, river life and elephant experiences
  • Stay: At the AVANI Sepang Goldcoast Resort you get the choice of a beachfront villa or overwater bungalow. Your call, really. Prices from $141 pr/pn.

8. Philippines

Hailed as having some of the best islands in the world (Boracay, Cebu and Palawan to name a few), the Philippines has more than 7,000 islands waiting for you to explore, each with its own highlights from crystal clear waters and powder-soft beaches to historical monuments and cultural encounters.

  • Top 5 islands: Borocay, Bohol, Panglao, Bantayan, Palawan
  • Must do/see: Rice terraces, Chocolate Hills, Puerto Princesa subterranean river, volcanos and churches.
  • Stay: Pangulasian Island Resort. The El Nido chain owns four resorts across four different islands, each offering that luxury beachside respite you’ve been searching for. Prices from $500 pr/pn. Our pick of the four?

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Feature image: Four Seasons Resort, Bora Bora (Expedia)

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