“Boracay has received series of laurels in the past – Boracay beach number 1 in Asia, World’s best island,top 10 island destinations and so on”
As I stepped out onto the white fine beach sand, gazed at the shoreline, with bright sunlight pouring into the sea, the sight of triad of arctic blue, sky blue and azure blue as far as I could view, proved to me Boracay indeed has one of the most beautiful beaches. I recently traveled to Boracay and had many different experiences. Some of the things, I wished I knew before going. Learning from my encounters, I have compiled list of travelling trips in Boracay and things to do in Boracay.
Planning the dates
Boracay has majorly 2 seasons.
- Off-season lasts starting from July until October. You always carry risk of having rains and typhoons leading to not being able to enjoy what Boracay has to offer. That’s the one we chose 😀 and turns out we were lucky enough as it didn’t rain much.
- The peak season starts November and continues until end of April. The beaches are pleasant and well suitable for swimming.
The months of May and June as locals told become very hot.
Needless to say, even in so called Off-season, the small island was brimming with people 😀
Reaching Boracay is little tedious. As Boracay is a small island, you need to take a jetty from Caticlan Jetty Port to reach Boracay.
You want to look for flights either to
- Kalibo International Airport (KLO) : Few South-East Asian countries like Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Hong Kong have direct connectivity to this airport. Once you reach Kalibo, you have to take another taxi/bus ride to reach Caticlan Jetty Port. It will be approximately 2 hour ride to the Jetty Port. The shuttle bus to Caticlan Jetty Port can be taken from just outside the airport for 250 PHP per head. Else if you are travelling in a group, it is ideal to hire a taxi or a mini van. Price can be negotiated (best I came across was 650 PHP for the entire vehicle)
- Godofredo P. Ramos Airport also called Caticlan airport (MPH) : This airport is just 500 meters away from the Caticlan Jetty Port. You can walk or hire a rickshaw tricycle.
Our flight was from Singapore to Kalibo. We had booked few months in advance. So we got a pretty moderate deal with Tiger Airlines. The aerial view of Philippines welcomed us with majestic lush green meadows. Quite a pleasing sight. For such small weekend trips, we never do check-in luggage, both of us had 10 kg backpacks with all our beach stuff inside. For the Indians having Employment Pass for Singapore, there is no additional visa requirement or a visa fee. The immigration process was quite smooth. We also bought a Sim card for 300 PHP with unlimited data connectivity just outside the airport. It was a money waste as we couldn’t catch a good signal anywhere 🙁
From the Caticlan Jetty Port, there is a 15 minute boat ride to reach Boracay island. You have to pay 100 PHP terminal fee, 75 PHP environmental fee and 25 PHP jetty ride fee. The environmental fee is only one time while the other two have to be paid while coming back from Boracay too.
The jetty port you arrive on Boracay is the Cagban Jetty Port. From the Cagban Jetty port, take an auto-rickshaw to your Hotel. (you will see many Jai-Veeru styled rickshaw’s 😉 ) That is where we did our first mistake because we tied up with our Hotel to arrange pickup from Kalibo. And they charged us 750 PHP per head. We could have saved some money here 😉
Layout and Travelling within Boracay
Firstly I want to caution that the ride from Cagban Jetty to the hotel isn’t pleasing. Please don’t expect Boracay buildings and the roadside to be beautiful. It is only the beautiful beaches which make it exquisite. Especially, when we reached it had been raining for some time. So the roads were waterlogged, the traffic was chaotic. And it was dark so couldn’t view the beach side. But it was only the next morning, that my eyes got the pleasure they deserved.
The dog bone 8 KM long Boracay island layout is very easy to understand.
The most famous beach is White beach, a long stretch of white powdery sand on the west of Boracay island. This beach is divided into 3 parts as Boat station 1,2 and 3. It is easy to walk from one station to other both road side and beach side. And on this stretch you will find most number of Hotels or other accommodation options. Further up another famous beach is the Puka beach also called shell beach. The sand structure becomes granular here because of tiny broken pieces of Shells. The west coast of Boracay is island for witnessing romantic sunsets. The Eastern Edge of Boracay is more windy and making it ideal for kite surfing, para sailing etc. One of the beach famous for such activities is Bulabog beach. But this beach did’t seem to have pristine blue waters ideal for swimming.
While hiring an auto-rickshaw in Boracay, always remember that you can opt for a sharing one in order to save some money. All the rickshaw ones will urge you to pay in few hundreds. But prompt him that he can pick up passengers on the way and this way you need to pay only in tens 😀
Caglan Jetty Port to Beach Station 1,2,3 : Varies between 15 PHP to 25 PHP per head depending upon the distance.
Beach Station 1,2,3 to Puka Beach : Between 30 PHP to 40 PHP per head.
Beach Station 1,2,3 to Bulabog Beach : 15 to 20 PHP.
Things to do in Boracay
There are countless things to do, almost like you will find in any beach area you visit. But Boracay makes it special because of its beautiful pristine beaches, sunsets, and the friendly people.
Enjoy the White Beach
This is the beach where we spent most of our time. Our Hotel was right across the white beach on Station 1, which gave us easy access to the beach and provided us most beautiful views of turquoise white beach while having the sea side breakfast in the morning. The sand is so soft and supple and it almost feels like a cotton layering under the feet. The water is so clean and quite shallow for some distance that it is perfect to swim or learn to swim 😎 And the view is spectacular, you can see small hills on one side, infinity towards the beach side, and if its sunset time, add on the colourful unique sky on the other side.
Take part in beach activities offered by vendors
(Romantic Sunset, night life, beach activities, relaxing massage, shopping, island tours…..and so on)
Take a scroll along the white beach and you can easily walk few km to reach another boat station. Between boat station 1 and 2 is the area which is most vibrant and crowded all the time. You will never be able to walk past without being bothered by local vendors looking for customers for an island trip, snorkeling, sailing, massage, hair braids, tattoos and what not. And these are most of the things to do near the white beach. I opted for colourful hair braiding. People go for other sea activities also, depending upon your interest you can choose. Here you can also spot highest density of tourists. But this is also an area where you will see almost all kinds of restaurants, bars, souvenir shops. And this station is commercialized in the sense that you can find Starbucks, Subway, MacDonald, and even a shopping mall everything around. At night, this area is buzzing with all restaurants having their beach side dining setup, numerous fire shows in an attempt to attract customers, wide range of happy hour offers and numerous different techniques to make the best out of the night.
Boat station 3 also has few good bars and restaurants. And is not crowded. If you want a peaceful romantic time during the night, you can head to Boat station 3. We spent a lovely evening at a bar Coco Loco suggested to us by a local. They had very friendly staff, tasty food and good offers on drinks. We paired up a Shisha, with few local beers San Miguel, Red Horse.
Go Scuba Diving
Definitely Boracay gives stunning underwater views. You will come across countless Diving Shops. We chose “Free Willy Diving” located on Beach Station 1. Me and my husband were the only customers he had for the day, so we got undivided attention and a chance to be almost 1 hour beneath the see. We spotted colourful coral reefs, many different types of fishes, were not lucky enough to spot a Giant barracuda though. It was an amazing experience. If you go in a big group, perhaps you can find offers at 2000 PHP per head, otherwise individual you will have to settle between 2500 PHP to 3000 PHP per head. We decided to get our Level 1 certification next time whenever we get chance, so that we are able to explore more deep waters 😀
For ones who don’t want to go for Scuba Diving, you can opt for other activities like helmet diving, snorkeling etc.
Relax at Puka Shell Beach
On of the evening, we decided to enjoy the sunset from Puka Shell Beach. On reaching, we experienced again the tranquility which is lacking at White beach some times. There are numerous beach shacks, which is something I don’t see at White beach. And there are no vendors pestering you for seaside activities. So it was a perfect setting to grab a beer, find a suitable spot and enjoy the dawn.
This one is one attraction I don’t recommend. It is just a 15 minute private auto-rickshaw ride (costing 150 PHP) to a small viewpoint, where you pay an entrance fee (150 PHP per head) to climb some stairs and reach upstairs to a place from where you can see the view of Boracay island. I really did’t find anything spectacular about the view and price you pay is not worth what you get. Also I noticed this is a place, which every auto rickshaw guy will recommend you to go. And reason being as I figured out, because they get to earn money since its a non sharing path, and they get their cut from the Mount Luho admission fee for bringing in customers. And at the end it was a setback, because I did’t feel it was worth it.
Restaurants and bars we tried
There are numerous places to eat, hang out. From the food perspective, you will see most number of restaurants are either Italian, Mexican or Filipino. And for the bars, its better to finish the getting drunk quota during happy hours 😀 Here I will list the places we chose to go and what we liked.
- Tres Amigos : Location near the Boracay mall called D’Mall on the Beach Station 1 but inside the street. It is a Mexican restaurant. We went twice there because we really liked their food preparation, quantity, prices and the fruit shakes 😀 We tried their Chicken Chimichanga, Prawn Crispy Tacos along with couple of fruit shakes.
- Coco Loco : Its a very good bar on the peaceful edge of Boracay along the Station 3. We had Shisha, some food platter and drinks.
- Aria Cucina Italiana : Just another Italian place. We tried pizza and a warm apple strudel. Both delicious.
- Maya’s restaurant : They have a very unique breakfast menu as well has dinner menu. We had a sumptuous Filipino dinner.
- Apart from these we hopped to some different bars along Station 1 and 2 also and everytime we had a wonderful time.
I would recommend staying along the white beach stretch, as this area is close to the most happening part. And its easy to get auto-rickshaw to explore the other parts of the island. All sorts of accommodations are available in Boracay ranging from luxurious ones to budget accommodation. I generally book online in advance and I have experienced many times that online prices are cheaper than the price you get for walk-in. But if you are going to budget accommodation , you can try your luck in off-season bargaining to a lower price.
I would conclude mentioning that no matter Boracay is getting commercialized and crowded at times, the white beaches and pristine blue waters are marvelous and that is one thing which will not change. And that is what creates all the beautiful memories.
Looking to plan more weekend trips from Singapore. Have a look here.