8 places like Bora Bora to dip your feet into
Want to escape somewhere like Bora Bora but not willing to pay the price? Try these destinations for (your wallet) size.
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!) you might think that Bora Bora is 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. Feature image: Four Seasons Resort, Bora Bora (Expedia)
1. 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.
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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 - 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 Bali. Prices from $875.
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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).
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Panama 4-star hotels from $62 per night
Find accommodation in Panama City or along the coast in destinations like Farallon and Bocas del Toro from just $62 per night.
Seeking an exotic island escape 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: 4 Rivers Floating Lodge where tented villas float on a pontoon on the Tatai River (from $214pr).
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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.
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Hailed as having one of the best islands in the world (Boracay), the Philippines has over 7000 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: 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? Pangulasian Island Resort.
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Forgo the Full Moon party and opt for a more deserted though no less inviting beach. Thailand has many waiting for you to lay on and sip cocktails to the sunset at.
- Top 5 beach destinations: Pattaya, Mueang, Koh Chang, Surin Islands, Koh Samui
- Must do/see: Thai cuisine, temples and forest walks
- Stay: Built on stilts above a private infinity pool are KC Grande Resort’s overwater villas where you can literally drop into the waters from your bedroom. The pricetag is notably quite steep ($662 pr/pn) but you can opt for cheaper options in the resort from $368 pr/pn.
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8. Bay Islands, Honduras
For a beachside adventure Honduras is well worth the journey. Hone in on the Bay Islands in particularly if you’re seeking something akin to Bora Bora as it’s a popular spot for scuba divers and snorkelers wishing to explore its unique reef environment.
- Top 5 beaches: Roatȧn, Tela, Amapala, Ǘtila, Omoa
- Must do/see: Watersports, Copán Mayan ruins and National Parks.
- Stay: If you're after luxury, you can't go past Las Vegandas Hotel & Villas in Roatan. The resort's oceanview villas boast two bedrooms (each with king size beds) and a private poolI.
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