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Can you compare to The Maldives..?

Surrey, United...
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Can you compare to The Maldives..?

We'll celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary next November. We love to snorkel and have visited The Maldives a few times. It would be great though to go somewhere both new and special to mark the decade!

Has anyone here travelled to both, who can compare both the hotels and the snorkelling? We're travelling from the UK so anywhere in the South Pacific is a bit of a trek but worth it I'm sure!

I've previously visited The Cook Islands and Fiji, both we're great - I admit to being tempted by Bora Bora & Moorea...

Thanks!

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1. Re: Can you compare to The Maldives..?

After many years’ Maldivian holiday I decided to travel to French Polynesia for a change. I just came back. Before my holiday I was wondering the same hence I would like to share my experience when my memories are still fresh.

First of all I guess the answer heavily depends on what are you looking for and what would you like to do? I saw snorkeling and it was something drove me kept going back to Maldives, did Bora Bora match? The answer is yes to me. I will entail it later on my answer and also hopefully a few reviews when I sorted out my photos.

I will start from the hotels : Maldives has a wider range of hotels within all sorts of price bracket to choose from, whereas I do not see any resorts in Bora Bora offers AI. Resorts in Bora Bora esp those on a muto offers brilliant Mt Otemanu view, however they normally do not have a plunge pool on thedeck, unless you op for possibly the very few highest room category, or alternatively a jacuzzi . With the recent opened/opening high end resorts in Maldives, for instance two Jumeirahs and the Cheval Blanc by LVMH, as well as quite a few existing ones such as W, Shangrila, Hufaven Fushi, Banyan Tree Madivaru, Four Seasons, Rania, Coco Prive, ect, their plunge pool and design made rooms in a high end resort in Bora Bora looked less luxury and just average for somebody familiar with luxury resorts in Maldives.

Snorkeling :

I do not dive hence can not comment on diving. A lot of divers on the forum prefer Maldives, however I enjoy my snorkeling at both places but the tour I joined in Bora Bora make the whole experience wins hands down. There are quite a few companies offer slightly different packages in Bora Bora and as myself and my friend got food poison at a picnic island in Maldives I decided to skip tours with lunch in Bora Bora and only chose those focus on snorkeling. That’s just me. Book carefully as the whole experience purely depends on the tour you on board, the places the guide bring you to, the critters the guide shows you and how knowledgeable/ informative the guide is. I doubt those who claimed that Bora Bora’s snorkeling is far less interesting than Maldives’s have booked with the most recommended snorkeling company. If someone said French Polynesia’s snorkeling was not as good as Maldives, I wonder if they have visited Rangiroa’s Tiputa pass at all. Just a side note that in French Polynesia a lot of travelers think the typical ‘ Shark and Ray Feeding’ tour is a must, there is nothing wrong with it but if you have snorkeled in Maldives with adult sharks in open water, and saw many sting rays/ sting ray feeding before, this kind of tour might not exciting you as much as those who has never seen sharks/ sting rays. I recommend to book a tour with a informative guide who can take you to the best colorful coral gardens for snorkeling, point out interesting critters to you and explain a bit of their habitats, together with the history of Bora Bora, which you will not get in Maldives. The corals are much more colorful and healthier, the clarity of sea was better, and the lagoon in Bora Bora where the captain took us for snorkeling was calmer, than Maldives.

The snorkeling experience also depends on which resort have you visited in Maldives previously? No resort in Bora Bora offers as stunning off shore snorkeling as Mirihi (in Maldives), a few has their own lagoon where they put interesting fish in ( one put turtles and the other napoleon fish.)

But, when you take a boat trip with a informative guide , he will bring you some extraordinary experience which Maldives doesn’t offer, I previously booked a private night Snorkeling tour in Maldives, the guide was actually a marine biologist, I saw very little and felt just so so. The boat tours I took in Maldives, all of them sending a group of passengers ( except once when I stayed at a very small island so only two passengers in the boat) to coral garden, arriving, told passengers ' this is the place, enjoy', without any proper guide. You found your own way to look for big critters in this case, and harder to spot the smaller ones. I said this because I saw many more interesting small/ big critters in Bora Bora than in Maldives, I also learnt a lot about the habitat of corals, fish, rays, I have to be very thankful to the guides I went with, who were much more informative than my previous guides in Maldives. Book carefully though, otherwise you might end up the same experience as some other people who decided Bora Bora’s snorkeling is less attractive than what Maldives offers.

It also depends on which month you plan to visit, although at Bora Bora/ French Polynesia Whale Sharks are not as common as in Maldives, it offers great opportunity to sight Humpback whales, sometimes you can even see a mother with her calf. (from July to November is the whale season.) Some people had the luck to swim with them. I saw whales (minke whales) in Iceland, but the sea was too cold to jump in, to swim with them was not an option at all, at least not at Raykjavik

My trip in South Ari Atoll in Maldives brought me some whale sharks but no luck with Mantas, although we looked for them for almost 2 hours. I was surprised that both times I went snorkeling in Bora Bora, after 2 or 3 minutes jumping into the water at the cleaning station, I saw mantas without any problem, and the journey to look for Mantas in Bora Bora was actually shorter and more scenery. I am looking forward to go back during the Humpback season to French Polynesia. Not only Bora Bora but also Moorea, Maupiti etc. offers Humpback sightings, but again, do some research on TA and you will find the best tour to book with.

Local: I am sure both are good but possibly in French Polynesia local staffs shows greater hospitality, funnier and do not hesitate to smile more, I still have the nice hat the beach boy made me from the resort I stayed and I promise you it doesn’t looked any ‘cheap’ even judged by London fashion. I am looking forward to have my purse made next time. ( They are made by fresh palm tree leaves, one of the resorts I stayed at have daily course to make purse and hats, very nice and enjoyable experience.)

I hope my experience helps and feel free to ask should there be more questions.

Edited: 12:29 am, December 29, 2012
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2. Re: Can you compare to The Maldives..?

Great info china rose!!! I hope to go to Maldives next year o the year after

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3. Re: Can you compare to The Maldives..?

Hi Larisa, thanks a lot for your insight for Carribeans vs Bora Bora, I always keen to find out how does it compare.

Just in case you want to swim with whale sharks in Maldives, May - Oct will be the season, any resort within South Ari Atoll will provide the half day trip to the channel for sighting. Having said that, I went there on Jan which was off season but I swam with a few. As long as its a sunny and calm day, esp after storms, the chance of seeing them will be greater.

Mirihi from South Ari Atoll has possibly the best food and locates only 10 minutes' boat ride to Conrad's ( on a neighbour island) under water restaurant, should you interest. Mirihi also provides the best fish life and coral for off shore snorkeling in Maldives, corals are not as healthy as those in Bora Bora but better than a lot of other resorts in Maldives. It has no plunge pool on the deck though. Enjoy!

Edited: 9:57 am, December 30, 2012
Denver, Colorado
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4. Re: Can you compare to The Maldives..?

Just wanted to comment that I read this thread and also stayed at Mirihi in the Maldives. It was only for four days in 2009 and the weather was more off than on, but it was the highlight of beach destinations for me, no doubt. I can't wait to compare Bora Bora. Snorkeling is one the main things I enjoy to do as I can't lay out in the sun all day and read. Too boring. In Mirihi, I snorkeled with wild reef sharks and tons of fish in amazing coral. I hope to see beautiful coral and fish in Bora Bora and will stay somewhere that offers it out of my bungalow.

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5. Re: Can you compare to The Maldives..?

What you see off your bungalow will depend greatly on which hotel you choose. Some have very good snorkeling, some have okay snorkeling, some have practically none. If snorkeling is a huge priority, you might also want consider spending some of your time out in the Tuamotus....the islands of Tikehau or Rangiroa are good choices.

6. Re: Can you compare to The Maldives..?

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7. Re: Can you compare to The Maldives..?

Thanks China rose

Dumb question but what exactly is a whale shark? Are they seen thro snorkeling

As well or just diving?

Underwater restaurant or over water? Lol

Denver, Colorado
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8. Re: Can you compare to The Maldives..?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whale_shark

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9. Re: Can you compare to The Maldives..?

Thanks!!

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10. Re: Can you compare to The Maldives..?

Larisa, you will be able to swim with them with fins,snorkel, and mask in Maldives.

Around the world policies are put in place to snorkel with whale sharks instead of diving as the sharks do not like bubbles, and can be scared by scuba diver's movements. Although I once saw a dive team with their dive master kept a respectful distance whilst following it.

It almost made me cry on my first time. Being the first one jumping into the water and swimming towards the direction the crew pointed me left me complete uncertainty when and where would I see it. All of a sudden a giant mouth with a huge body swam towards me. There it was. I can not believe how tiny myself was, whilst in front of it. Many years has passed and I would never forget the encoutner with my first whale shark that morning. We swam with a few later on. I am sure in French Polynesia people who swam with Hampbacks will have the same feeling too.

Overwater restaurants are very common in Maldives, almost every resort ( although not all) has one. Two resorts have underwater restaurants -- 'Ithaa' at Conrad Rangali and 'Sea' at Anantara Kihavah Villas. Niyama has a underwater club and Huvafen Fushi has a underwater spa. ( Those are four different resorts locate at separate atolls.) Enjoy!

Edited: 11:56 pm, January 01, 2013