The Boracay Island in the Philippines is one of the best tropical destinations in the world. The Philippines is world-famous for the white-sand beaches around the country, but the beach in Boracay Island is probably the best there is. No wonder that it’s hailed as one of the most amazing tropical vacation spots in the world.
Being a Filipina, I’ve heard stories about Boracay, but never had any idea how beautiful it is until I visited it myself. I’m from Davao City – located in the Southern part of the Philippines, we have an abundance of beautiful beaches but I was still captivated by Boracay’s beauty.
As someone who has already been there, I’d do my best to inform you about Boracay Island- right from how to get to there, the places to go and the activities to do.
Getting to BoracayBoracay is an island located in Aklan, a small province in the Visayas island (FYI: The Philippines is made up of 3 major islands and 7,700 small ones). Since I’m from the country, it was easy for me to fly to Aklan.
For people out of the country, you need to travel to the country’s capital, Manila and then board another flight for Aklan.
Aklan has two major airports – one at Kalibo and another at Caticlan. From Manila, you can book for a flight to either of the two. There used to be a terminal fee if you’re flying in and out of NAIA for domestic flights, but it’s now being included with the airplane ticket so you don’t have to worry about it.
Entering Through KaliboWhen you land at Kalibo, there will be vans waiting outside going to the jetty port at Caticlan. If you booked a travel agency going to Boracay, there should be a private van waiting for you outside the airport but I advise against it because it’s very expensive compared to looking for a van on your arrival.
You might have to wait for the van to get filled by ten people, but we were already a group of ten so we didn’t have to wait long. We paid around $7 per head, and that already includes the payment for the boat that will take us to Boracay Island. Travel time is around one hour.
Entering Through Caticlan
A more convenient way of getting to Boracay Island is through Caticlan because it’s closer. When you arrive at the Caticlan airport, all you have to do is find the tricycle terminal (you can ask around, Filipinos are very friendly) where you can take a tricycle for around $2 per person. This will take you to the Caticlan jetty port. The boat fare is included and travel time is around 5 minutes.
At the Jetty PortThe Caticlan jetty port is the main point of entry to Boracay Island. This is where everybody will take a boat if they wish to get to Boracay Island. Each person going through the port is required to pay a terminal fee ($1.50) and an environmental fee ($2). Children below five years old are excluded from these fees.
There are a lot of guides in the jetty port and they’ll be more than happy to point you to your boat if you need assistance (If you took a van from Kalibo, they would have given you a ticket for your boat before departing).
Arriving at Boracay Island
Once you arrive at Boracay Island, you’d have to ride a traditional tricycle (on the left) or the e-trike (on the right) that will take you to your hotel. There are no other means of transportation and tricycles are quite small so don’t bring any unnecessary stuff (Note for women: you don’t need a hair blower, sun-dried hair is all the rage in Boracay).
Charter rate per tricycle is around $4 for foreigners. Note that this is charter rate, so you don’t have to wait for other passengers to share the tricycle with you.
Where to Stay
Boracay has an abundance of hotels and guest houses. You’d never run out of a room so if you want to save, look for a place to stay when you get there. This is a lot cheaper than booking a hotel room online.
The first thing that you have to learn about Boracay Island is that it’s divided into three stations – Station 1, Station 2 and Station 3. Station 1 has the most expensive hotels and restaurants, Station 2 is for the “middle” class while Station 3 has the cheapest hotels and places to eat. I suggest staying at Station 1 if you can afford it. If you decide to stay at Station 2, that’s okay but I suggest spending the day at Station 1. I didn’t think there was much of a difference but the sand at Station 1 is simply to die for. It was like walking on powdered milk! The super fine sand is one of the reasons why I fell in love with Boracay in the first place.
Fridays Boracay is one of the island’s finest luxury resort. Located at the end of Station 1, expect a relaxing and calming environment while enjoying the beach and the fine, white sand. The resort’s Deluxe room is at $240 during the low season, $302 from October 16 to June 30 and $415 per night during the peak season (Dec. 17 to Jan. 11, Jan. 28 to Feb. 8 and Mar.22 to Apr.1)
Astoria Boracay is one of the newest hotels in Station 1. With it’s modern design, it’s perfect for young professionals who like having a good time. The deluxe room, which is good for two guests, is at $215 during the low season, $235 from Oct. 16 to June 15 and $423 per night during the peak season (Dec. 20 to Jan. 4, Jan. 26 to Feb.4)
Pearl of the Pacific
The Pearl of the Pacific is a five-building resort famous for it’s Maharlika rooms (which have beach view). What people love about this resort is the friendly staff and the seafood grills. The Pearl Beachfront room ( for 3 guests) is at $233 during the low season, $250 from Oct. 29 to June 15 and $400 during the peak season which is from Dec. 24 to Jan. 3 and Jan. 29 to Feb. 4.
Station 2,being the “middle class” has very affordable hotels that’s both comfortable, homey and clean. These are the most popular hotels in Station 2, Boracay.
Operated by Boracay Regency, expect all the amenities of a first-class hotel at Boracay Lagoon. This new 120-room luxury hotel is really worth the price. The Deluxe room, which is good for two guests is at $156 for low season, $174 from Nov.11 to June 8 and $230 during the peak season which is from Dec.25 to June 5 and Jan. 30 to Feb.4
The Red Coconut is located in the heart of Station 2 and right at the beachfront. This hotel is popular for its bar and lounge chairs on the beach. The resort’s Superior room, good for two guests, is at $118 during the low season, same rate for the high season which is from Oct. 16 to June 14 and $130 per night during peak season (Dec. 20 to Jan.5 and Jan. 29 to Feb.4).
La Carmela de Boracay
La Carmela de Boracay is a cute, little hotel located at the beachfront. Their Standard room has two beds and can accommodate up to 4 guests. Rate is at $57 during the low season, $85 during high season and $98 per night during the peak season.
Golden Phoenix Hotel
The Golden Phoenix Hotel is one of the finest hotels located in Station 3. This hotel is a blissful sanctuary with spacious rooms and elegant spaces. The Deluxe room, which can accommodate two adults and two kids, is at $159 during low season and high season (Oct. 1-May 31) and $180 during peak season (May 1-May 5, Oct. 1- Oct. 2, Dec. 20 – Jan. 5 and Jan. 29 to Feb. 3)
Angol Point Beach Resort
Instead of rooms, this beachfront resort is made up of bungalows to give you privacy. A bungalow cottage features a large room, an electric fan, a veranda, hot and cold shower and a double bed. It’s good for two guests but can accommodate up to four. Rate is at $77 whole year through.
Oro Beach Resort
Oro Beach Resort is a new resort with 31 rooms that can accommodate up to three guests. This hotel features a large bar serving both Filipino and Korean cuisine. The superior room features one queen bed, one twin bed, a refrigerator and AC. Rate is at $65 during low season, $93 from Dec. 1 – June 15 and $104 from Dec. 23 – Jan. 6 and Jan. 29 – Feb. 4
Boracay is such a busy island. There’s always something to do no matter what your interests are – 24/7.
Island hopping should definitely be on your to-do list. The itinerary usually includes going to Puka Beach, Crystal Cove and snorkeling.
The island employs the “lamesa” system in renting a boat. “Lamesa” literally means table. Right at where the island hopping boats are, there’s a table where you can register. I suggest going directly to this table and ask which boat is available. There are a lot of “agents” around the island offering “packaged activities” but they earn through commission so going through them will make the activities more expensive. Boat standard rates start at around $52 (good for 1-7 persons) for 3 hours but we haggled and brought it down to $30.
First stop was Puka Beach. I enjoyed going there but more because of this differently-abled man who makes amazing sand sculptures. These sculptures used to be created by locals at Station 2 but the new mayor prohibited them because it will shift the sand around or something (the man told us). There’s no payment for taking pictures with the sculptures, but cash donations are welcome. We initially told the man that we don’t have any money with us, and he was very kind to allow us to take pictures anyway so we gave him 50 pesos (less than $1) and he was very happy with it. This kind of hospitality adds gravity to why Boracay is hailed as one of the most amazing tropical vacation spots on Earth.
We went snorkeling next, but I actually wasn’t impressed. The coral reefs were not that great – they actually look kind of dead. We rented the equipment at around $2.50 each and paid a snorkeling fee of $1 per person. It was not worth it and I’d suggest skipping this activity instead.
Last stop was Crystal Cove, and it was amazing! Crystal Cove is a developed park in this small island where you can have a picnic or just admire the beautiful water around. The main attractions are the two caves found in the middle of the island. The smaller cave opens directly to the sea and has stairs that leads you below where you can see amazing crystal formations. The other cave is much larger and leads to a cave pool where you can swim for a while and enjoy the cold water. It also has a viewing deck where you can admire the beauty of the cave from above. There’s no entrance fee for the Puka Beach but Crystal Cove has an entrance fee of $7 per person.
This is probably my favorite activity to do in Boracay. A parasail is a special type of parachute with harnesses that flies you up in the air while it’s strapped to a speed boat. It was the best thing ever! It was scary at first, but feeling the breeze in my face and seeing the blue water below made the experience worth it. You can either take someone with you or have the guys at the boat take a picture of you while you’re above. Rate for parasailing starts at around $14.
Henna Tattoo and Braiding
Hair-braiding and having henna tattoos put on are very popular activities in Boracay. I didn’t expect the locals to be that good but they surprised me! Henna starts at $3 (minimum) and hair-braiding starts at $1, with the price going up for more complicated styles.
There are several tents lined up near the shore offering massages. The only problem I had was that there were no walls/ blankets to cover my body (everybody’s wearing their bikinis for the massage though). If this is a concern, you can bring a towel for cover. You can also bring your own lotion/ oil. Rate starts at $9 for a 30-minute massage and lower if you know how to haggle.
There’s banana boat riding and what they call the “Flying Fish”. A Banana boat ride is your only option if you have kids with you, and it costs around $4 per person. Supposedly, the boat pulling the banana boat will make a sudden turn to throw-off passengers into the water but again, we had the kids with us so it was a kinda boring ride (although the kids had loads of fun).
The Flying Fish is another story. The Flying Fish is a flat, inflatable “boat” with rubber wings on the side. It goes up in the air as the speedboat picks up speed, and you have to hold on for dear life if you wanna stay on it. Each person is required to have a life vest on but it was still scary as hell! Flying Fish costs around $12 per head, and a ride is good for up to 6 people.
Don’t ever leave Boracay without going helmet diving. It basically involves wearing a “helmet” on your head for oxygen and diving underwater. What makes it a really great experience is that you get to walk underwater and feed the fishes! The pressure will build up on your ears though but the guides will teach you how to expel it. Cost per head is around $28 but we haggled and brought it down to $17.
FoodA really important thing that you have to remember about Boracay Island is that it’s famous for it’s fresh seafoods and you’d be crazy not to try it. The cheapest place to get seafood is at D’Talipapa which is basically a market selling fresh seafoods and souvenirs. To go there, take a tricycle from anywhere within Boracay. Ride costs around $2.
I’m used to getting seafoods anytime at my city and I thought we have the cheapest seafoods but I was happily surprised when I saw the prices at D’Talipapa. It was crazily affordable! After buying the seafoods, you can have them cooked at the shops around the market. They charge per kilo, and I find it crazy that they charge almost the same price you paid for the seafoods but well, we didn’t have a choice (it wasn’t like we can cook at the hotel). They cook well though, and I’d have to admit that I sometimes wish D’Talipapa is right outside my house.
Is Boracay an Overrated Vacation Destination?Not at all. If you want to see white sand, swim in blue, cool water and get lazy under the sun then Boracay Island is the perfect destination. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen and I recommend it to everybody I know. Did I fall in love with Boracay? I did. In fact, me and my husband are scheduled to come back at the end of this year – without the kids, this time. Haha! If Boracay is not one of the most amazing tropical vacation spots in the world, then I don’t know what is.
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