Boracay is a famous spot for tourists in the Philippines, it is a small island with nice sandy beaches, great views, and big on nightlife. As some Filipino friend told me it is overrated, but I still wanted to give it a try; I was looking for someplace for a 3-nightstay and Boracay seemed perfect for that.
Getting to Boracay
Before Boracay, I was in Cebu, and I took a flight from there to Caticlan airport, which is the closest one. The funny thing when I was checking in at the counter. Usually, you are asked to put your bag on the scale, well not here, I was going to put my bag on it and they said no! you step on it with the bag! Planes going to Caticlan are small (50 seat twin engine propelled) they need to keep account of the total weight, well the airport is just right the sea. There is another airport in Kalibo which can take international flights (e.g. Singapore) but it is a couple of hours from the ferry to Boracay.
From The Airport
To get to Boracay there is a 20 min ferry to take, which is the only way to get there. The dock is really not that far from Caticlan airport, I even walked to it and it was just 10 minutes. Apparently I was the only one who thought that. The rest of the passengers were taking an auto rickshaw (expect to pay around 15 pesos, not much really), at the end it up to you, but if you are not carrying too many things, enjoy the walk. Once you get to the docks, you pay for your ticket plus an environmental tax, in total, it is ~200PHP.
Once on the island, another auto rickshaw has to be taken, the ferry arrival is in the south and it is not a walking distance of the main area. If you are sharing the ride, you shouldn’t pay more than 20PHP. One of the lessons I’ve learned traveling in Asia with shared public transport is: don’t ask and pay what the others pay, but somehow I forgot it here and I had to pay 100 PHP, I even saw the surprise faces of other passengers, rookie mistake.
Boracay is as touristy as you can get, there are fancy resorts, fancy hotels, high-end restaurants, and fancy stores. So prepare to enjoy life there, but don’t get too carried away of your budget. The prices charged on this places do not represent what an average Filipino can pay, I didn’t spot many locals as tourists.
Where to stay
Most of the hotels and accommodations are located in white beach, stations 1, 2 and 3. I recommend staying either in station 2 and 3, they are centrally located, there is easy access to the nightlife and to the main boulevard.
Prices vary according to the type of hotel and the season, during peak season is better to book in advance. I actually booked in advance a room in Airbnb, although when I got there, the neighborhood looked sketchy, the room not very safe, and besides that, HUGE COCKROACHES, and coming from Australia I have seen pretty big cockies, but nothing like this. So I had to stop whinging, go for a walk, and…… find a new accommodation, which ended up being the best move. Yes I paid for two rooms, yes it is against keeping the budget, but that improved my trip a 100%, otherwise I would have said that Boracay was the worst idea ever, and I did enjoy it a lot at the end!
Things to do in Boracay
Well apart from chilling, having San Miguel beer, have amazing food (Lechon is one of my favorites), and watch the sunset, I would recommend:
- Catamaran trip: Catamarans is probably the most characteristic feature of Boracay, making for tons of postcards. The catamarans here have white and blue fabric and they look great in the sea.
- Water-sports : All the sports that are usually offered in beach places; jet ski, banana boat, etc.
Island Hopping: Although it is offered as one of the must do, I kind of felt it was a tourist trap. Well it might be even nice for families as food and transport is included, but it is too sketched and touristy, like dealing with cattle, taking tourists from one place to the other rather quickly, check for a while and off we go. You can always do it if you have time.
- Massage: Al over the main walking path there will be masseuses offering their service. The will charge around 400 – 600 PHP. I took one and it was actually really good! Besides the girl doing the massage was funny and curious about why I am still not married. If you get a massage and if the service is good, tip the girl! it is hard for them to get clients in the day, and they earn depending on the amount of massages done.
This is one of the main reason for visitors to go there. Nightlife is quite vibrant and there are many things going on. The bar hopping tours are quite popular, there is lots of alcohol, cocktails, and loud music, mostly in Station 2 and 3, but noise wasn’t an issue for me although my hotel was in the middle of everything.
I am into photography, and every sunset the view of the catamarans in the ocean was just great, I couldn’t get enough of that. I sat on the sand, took tons of photos for a while, then I put the camera away and just enjoyed the view.
Yes, Boracay is the classic island catering for tourists (mostly Koreans) but there’s nothing wrong with touristy as long as you enjoy it. What a nice spot and what a rest I had over there!