Splurging on a 4+ Star Resort in Bora Bora, French Polynesia, is it Worth it?

overwater bungalow gingy

Our Recommendation:

We spent that majority of our nights in Bora Bora at the 3 star Hotel Maitai. While we were biking, star gazing, eating our way through the local restaurants, and exploring the island, we didn’t spend much time at the hotel. Our last couple of days we transferred to the 4 star Intercontinental Le Moana Resort and only left our overwater bungalow for food. This plan allowed us to visit Bora Bora at a more affordable price, explore without feeling guilty for neglecting our $1,000+ USD a night hotel room, and experience the luxury life. From our experience in Bora Bora, you get what you pay for.

****

4+ Star Life: Intercontinental Le Moana Resort

welcome drinks

While staying at the Intercontinental Le Moana Resort, we didn’t feel we were on the main island or only at a 4 star resort. A free boat shuttle runs between Le Moana Resort and Intercontinental Resort Thalasso Spa for guests to take advantage of the 5 star amenities such as the spa, gym, and dining options on the motu.

Overwater Bungalows

intercontinental overwater bungalow

us at intervontinental

intercontinental le moana

thalasso spa and le moana resort

The Intercontinental Le Moana has 62 overwater bungalows. Our bungalow had an electric kettle with instant coffee, mini fridge, robes and slippers, bottled water, a glass coffee table that opened to feed the fish below from our living room, a pillow menu with 5 varieties of firmness, and complimentary champagne for visiting on our honeymoon.

Snorkeling

underwater

While staying at Hotel Maitai the water was rough for snorkeling, but just half a mile away at the lagoon surrounding the Intercontinental Le Moana Resort the water was perfect. Bora Bora had much less coral than Mo’orea, but there were plenty of fish to see. We identified the fish below to the best of our abilities. Check out our snorkeling photos in Mo’orea.

bora bora fish
Convict Surgeonfish (pictured left)
parrot fish
Tahiti Butterflyfish (pictured left) and Parrotfish (pictured right)

bora bora long fish

bora bora
Clown fish (pictured center)
urchin
Long-Spined Sea Urchin (pictured left) and Picasso Triggerfish (pictured right)
us snorkeling in bora bora
Honeymooners (pictured left) and Threadfin Butterflyfish (pictured right)

Hotel & Amenities 

In addition to this beautiful infinity pool, a library, pool tables, and ping pong are available. Periodically handmade items from local artisans are for sale near the concierge desks. Kayaks, canoes, snorkeling equipment, beach towels, and paddleboards are also available.

flowers outside

intercontinental bora bora

As IHG Rewards members our breakfast was 50% off (a savings of $25 per person). Room service is available in addition to a romantic breakfast delivered by canoe to your overwater bungalow.

making headdress

hammock at bora bora

The resort offered morning and afternoon activities such as how to open a coconut, photos in traditional ceremonial Polynesian clothing, cooking classes, and making traditional headdresses. The headdresses are made by tightly wrapping leaves and flowers with a long string of ribbon into a crown. I have even more appreciation for the beautiful headdresses worn by Polynesians. A pile of leaves, a lot of patience, and 90 minutes later I created a bird nest.

Restaurants & Bars

bora bora bar

wine at intercontinental

Intercontinental Le Moana has 2 restaurants. Happy hour featuring buy one cocktail get the second free is daily from 5:30pm-6:30pm at the Vini Vini Bar & Restaurant. The special is valid at indoor and outdoor seating. There are a variety of rums available; wasabi, vanilla, pineapple, strawberry, banana, passion fruit, and mango. Our last night in Bora Bora we enjoyed dinner on the beachfront patio of Noa Noa Terrace Restaurant. We recommend the Chinese Soup and Parrot Fish. 

Airport Transfer

boat ride

Most 4+ star resorts offer direct shuttles from the airport to the resort. Hotels located on motus also require a boat shuttle to visit the main island. Another perk of being IHG Rewards members, we qualified for 50% off transportation to the airport (a savings of $35 per person). The General Manager of the Intercontinental Le Moana thanked us for our stay and waved goodbye as our boat sailed away. 

overwater bungalow sunrise

***

3 Star Life: Hotel Maitai

welcome drinks

Our beach bungalow was the perfect location for our first 4 nights in Bora Bora. We could easily walk to nearby restaurants, a small market, and bicycle rentals were just outside the hotel lobby. During our stay, we went on 2 excursions, biked around the island, spent an afternoon at the nearby Matira Beach, and walked to a new restaurant for dinner each night. We spent little time at the resort, and never had to feel guilty leaving a $1000+ USD hotel room behind.

Overwater Bungalows

bora bora bungalow

Hotel Maitai has 13 overwater bungalows at nearly half the price of a 4+ star resort. Being more affordable, the bungalows are closer to shore and the water is rougher surrounding the hotel. 

Hotel & Amenities

beach at maitai

room hinano view from dock

Our room had a mini fridge and an electric kettle to boil water for instant coffee. Having the bungalow across from the dock, we considered it an extension of our deck. There was a lot of foot traffic as guests left for excursions, but during the day we had the beach to ourselves. We enjoyed watching the sunrise each morning and afternoon drinks on the dock until the tour boats returned. Kayaks, snorkeling equipment, and beach towels were available free of charge. 

dock in bora bora

bora bora flowers

sunrise over the dock

Traveling Gingerbread Note: Hotel Maitai did not have 4+ star amenities such as hammocks, a pool, paddleboards or canoes, scheduled activities (like a demonstration on how to open a coconut), a spa, gym, or room service. It was also significantly windier at this area on the island.

Bars & Restaurants

mai tai drinks

bar decor

There are 2 restaurants at Hotel Maitai: a buffet style, Haere Mai Restaurant near the lobby and an ocean side a la carte, Tama’a Maitai. We recommend making reservations in advance. Buy one cocktail, get the second free happy hour is offered every evening at the Manuia Bar. Arrive early because seats fill up quickly. There is a small appetizer menu available at the bar.

Airport Transfer

vaitape bora bora

Hotel Maitai does not offer a direct boat shuttle from Bora Bora Airport to the hotel. Upon arriving at Bora Bora Airport we boarded the free boat shuttle to Vaitape. From there, we took a taxi to Hotel Maitai. We were advised by the resort a taxi is cheaper than scheduling pickup at the port through the hotel. 

watching the sunset

In our opinion, yes it’s worth the splurge on a 4+ star resort for a couple of nights!


September 2019

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Author: The Traveling Gingerbread

My husband, Mitch, and I have been traveling together over 6 years. Living and working full-time in Pittsburgh, PA, we travel as much as our vacation days and finances allow. We cram each adventure with activities, tours,  and experiences to maximize our time. We always try to visit to a local brewery and can't walk by an Irish pub without stopping in for a pint of Guinness. CREATION OF THE TRAVELING GINGERBREAD: In Tokyo, we smiled every time we saw someone talking on their large, animated phone case. We had to buy one. Having an obsolete IPhone 5, the selection was limited. We purchased a gingerbread off a neglected rack in Shinjuku, Tokyo and The Traveling Gingerbread was born. You can purchase your own gingerbread friend here! The Traveling Gingerbread is an entertaining account of our travels, fun facts, and tips we learned along the way.

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