Thinking of Boracay I immediately think, four square miles of crystal clear shorelines, countless water activity, sunsets of vivid pinks, purples and oranges, lively nightlife and days spent enjoying that laid back island life that really makes a vacation what it is. In 2012 international world travel magazine Travel and leisure named Boracay the worlds best island. It’s not a surprise to me after visiting the island in April 2018 just in time to see the island before it’s closing.
This period was a telling time for the local people who see this island as a their income source and livelihood. You see this island was to close for 6 months following the extreme environmental neglect resulting in sewage from hotels, restaurants and other establishments flushed directly into the surrounding beaches. The government at the time took a stand to address these issues and decided the island would be inaccessible to tourists, beginning 26th April 2018 and would reopen on October 26th the same year. As I walked the main streets they were littered with bags of cement and open sewage lines in preparation for the following weeks when the island would have some serious work to do restoring this area to its former glory. I felt a sadness when I talked to the locals who were without a Plan B for the next 6 months. With all this in mind they were still more worried about showing me a great time than dwelling on the future. Truly amazing people. I decided if these people could enjoy life with all that was about to face them I owed it to them and myself to explore this place as anyone would have before me and will after.
Below I will suggest ways to occupy your time and make the most of the serenity (and sometimes chaos) that centres around white beach. I will give practical advice on how to get here and recommend the highest rated hotels for all budgets.
Getting to Boracay
As with a lot of travel in the Philippines arriving to Boracay will be a journey. You will usually take a flight and then a ferry (with a bus or tricycle in between). There are two airports that get you within close proximity to Boracay, Caticlan airport (the closer and only 10 minutes tricycle ride from ferry departure point) or Kalibo International airport (90 minutes bus transfer from ferry departure point). Flights are generally cheaper to Kalibo so this may be the route of choice. Always compare dates, times and prices on skyscanner beforehand
From Caticlan Airport
1. Do it yourself transfer from Caticlan
This airport is the closer of the two airports for Boracay but with that said it is usually the more expensive airport to fly to. Weigh up your flight costs on Skyscanner to ensure you make the right decision. I flew from Cebu but I know a lot of travellers come in from Manila also.
When you arrive to Caticlan airport you will exit the main terminal and take a 10 minute tricycle ride to the Jetty port. (50 PHP)**
Once you arrive at the ferry terminal you will need to purchase 3 different tickets from 2 SEPERATE counters. One will be for the environmental fee (75 PHP), one for the terminal fee (100 PHP) and finally (at a seperate counter) one for the Banca (ferry) ride (25PHP).
Load up and take the ferry crossing to Cagban ferry terminal (Boracay). On arrival there will be numerous tricycles ready and available to transport you to your hotel (and try to take more than they should). Pay no more than 150 PHP to station 1. Stand your ground and walk to the next if they protest.**
Total cost caticlan airport to hotel 400PHP (8 USD)
**Tricycles seat up to 4 people so if you are travelling in a group the Do it yourself option may be more viable.
2. Shared transfer with Southwest tours from Caticlan
Second option and basically the same cost with a lot less effort would be to book a shared transfer in advance. You will be picked up from caticlan terminal entrance and transported directly to your hotel in Boracay. You will still take the same route but all the guess work will be taken out and you can sit back and enjoy the ride.
Click here to book a discounted shared transfer from Caticlan Airport (7.5 USD)
From Kalibo International Airport.
1. Do it yourself transfer from Kalibo Airport to Boracay
Once outside the airport terminals. Take a tricycle to the ceres Bus station. From here you can take the almost 2 hr public bus to Caticlan Jetty port. There are two buses and they have different rates. Air Con – PHP 107 Non Aircon PHP 87.
On arrival at the ferry port you will need to purchase your three tickets; Ferry fee 25 PHP, environmental fee PHP 75 and terminal fee 100 PHP
Total cost Kalibo to Boracay 457 PHP (8.5 USD)
2. Shared transfer with Southwest tours from Kalibo International Airport
The second way to arrive to your Boracay hotel from Kalibo International airport is to take a shared transfer from directly outside the airport terminal. To book a discounted transfer click here (9 USD)
**Tricycles seat up to 4 people so if you are travelling in a group the Do it yourself option may be more viable.
9 Best things to do on Boracay.
This is the obvious one. You didn’t come here for anything else’s but to take advantage of the beautiful beaches here. The beach that’s commannda the most attention is White beach. This beach is a 4km stretch of sand that’s is divided into three sections. Station 1, station 2 and station 3.
The quieter neighbour beach to the mayhem that is White beach you can expect less of a crowd here. A great place to see sunset if you are looking for a spot with less people blocking your view.
This beach is a little less for relaxation and swimming and a lot more about Kite surfing and people watching. Wind and current are strong here so if you do plan to enter the water watch out for the sea rips and the kiteboarders. There is a path that edges along the cliff connecting white beach and Bulabog beach
This beach has become a very popular location to visit and due to this there are a few small restaurants and a bar along the beach front. We were lucky enough to come before the crowds and had the beach pretty much to ourselves. I arrived by boat on the island hopping tour so didn’t need to organise transport but I am told it is around 150 – 200 PHP to arrive here from around the DMall area.
2.Cliff jumping at Ariel Point
One of the most popular tours is the cliff jumping at Ariel Point for the reasons below:
- There are 9 different diving/jumping platforms to plunge off at varying heights between 3-15 metres.
- Free kayaking, snorkeling, standup paddle boarding at your leisure.
- BBQ lunch (buffet style)
- Free flow drink (maybe after the jumps)
Click here to grab discount tickets in advance
3. Island tour
This tour is great for the ocean lovers. Spend a day on the ocean snorkelling, fish feeding, Visiting Puka Beach, Diniwid Beach, crocodile island, Tambisaan beach, Ilig-Iligan beach. Here’s the link to get your slice of the action.
The nightlife in Boracay, especially station 2, is a thriving Mecca where you are guaranteed to meet travellers from all over the globe. A few of the spots we got to were
- Epic bar– Spent most of my late nights here at exit bar. This place doubles as a sunset restaurant with views to die for before it becomes the come together point for the whole of white beach as bars nearby close and this becomes the place to party till the sunrise (5:00am). They do the best mango margaritas.
- Pats creek bar– Reggae bar in station one with a beachfront location. Accoustic live music nightly. Happy hour runs for 4 HOURS from 4-8pm.
- Exit Bar– This is the bar to predrink at before the late night debauchery begins at Epic which is about a 100mt stumble away.
- Boracay Bar Crawl– This bar crawl is not for the faint hearted. 5 bars, 10 shots, 50-100 fellow travellers. Need I say more. Click here for to secure spots this gets super busy.
- Club paraw– This is the place to be around 11pm. They have a dj with great dance music and two levels of fun to spend your time dancing over till you see the sunrise again.
5. Water sports
Looking for that perfect view of Boracay from the sky but can’t necessarily find the place in your budgetfor a helicopter flight, then this could be the option for you. Take a boat out into the ocean, put on your safety gear, get rigged up to the chute and awayyou go. Pulled up into the clouds from right off the boats platform. Views are AMAZING! Check out pricing and times here.
Banana Boat ride
Enjoy the adrenaline rush whilst Being towed through the water at speeds of up to 30 kph on a 15 minute banana boat ride Time it just right for sunset time and enjoy the views. Click here to book a time.
This experience is one where you are in control of how you want it to be. You can go on a fast paced thrill chasing ride or decide to take a calm ride waving at all the holiday makers on white beach. The choice is yours. There are 15, 30 and 60 minute slots to choose from. English instruction and life jackets are provided to ensure you know how to correctly operate the JetSki and are safe whilst doing so. Click here to choose your times and dates.
Wake boarding- the sport that mixes snowboarding, surfing and waterskiing. Test your co-ordination on a thrilling adventure. Be towed behind a speed boat at speeds of up to 40km an hour. Local instructors can provide as much or as little guidance as necessary during your 60 minute experience. Get in contact with an instructor and book here
Take a walk with the fish. For those of you that are not quite comfortable scuba diving this gives you a chance to explore the underwater world without a PADI certificate. Walk on the ocean floor as you would on land and explore Boracay amazing arrange of marine life. The PADI qualified divers even throw in a C.D with video and picture of your experience. Click here to explore times and dates of availability.
Take a 30/60 min paddle along the shores of white beach. Don’t worry if it’s your first time here you will be given all the instruction you need and be a por in no time. Click here for prices and times
6. Sunset cruise
Meet around 3:15 to be transported to the cruise ship where you will bask in the ocean as taking advantage of the free activities. Snorkel, S.U.P, or float in tubes as the sun sets in the back ground. What could be better? Drinks are available for around 100PHP so make sure you bring some cash. Click here for a discounted advance ticket.
Take a day trip out to the place voted as cleanest inland waterway in Phillipines. This trip is for those who are relatively fit as it involves a small trek to reach areas of the top spring. Beating those humid climates experienced in the Philippines, you will spend the day tubing in the pristine waters of the Bugang river surrounded by lush jungles landscapes. Click here to book.
8. Helicopter ride
See the island from the air with up to 3 people. Make the choice between a beaches tour (around white beach) or the island tour (tambisaan Reef, Bulabog beach, Pikua beach, Diniwid Beach, and white beach) 10-15 minutes in duration depending on your choice. Take a look here.
I hunt down a spa in every destination I visit whilst I’m on holidays. Is it really even a holiday until a massage has been had? Bella Isa Spa was fabulous and the reviews are there to prove it. Definitely treat yourself here to the full body Swedish massage. Divine! Click here for a discounted booking.
Where to stay in Boracay.
Station 1 – Why stay here?
Those that choose to stay in Station one can expect less numbers on the beach than in Station two. This location is filled with all the higher end beachfront resorts. It is also a plus that you can use the access through to Diwinid Beach if the crowds get to intense.
Island hostel Boracay- Dorm accomodation which is super clean, 2 minutes walk to White beach and about the same distance to DMall. Link to the booking page here
MR Holidays Hotel.
Just steps from white beach this hotel offers simple yet comfortable accomodation. Rooms are air conditioned, with safes for valuables, cable T.V and a refrigerator. Click here for your booking link
Various rooms are available for your needs ranging from a standard room to the Seaview suites. They also have a presidential suite which has its own private verandah and infinity pool overlooking the beach. There is a beach front restaurant attached to the property that serves an amazing 4 cheese pizza. Also there are sunlounges directly on the beach allocated for hotel guest.
Station 2- Why stay here?
If you are staying in Station 2 you expect to have a good time. Most of the bars, restaurants and nightlife are huddled close together in this area. This station is the best for swimming as the boast aren’t able to enter into this area. This also means that the tourist numbers are high here.
Hostel avenue- Beachfront dorm accomodation with a 200mt walk to DMall. Great place for solo travellers to meet others thanks to the social nights with free cocktails. Two thumbs up. Click here To book your bed.
Diwata Resort And Spa. Link here.
Henann palm beach resort.
Breakfast buffet with a huge selection, beachfront location, fitness centre, located sunloungers on the beachfront, swinning pool Henann Palm Beach features three swimming pools surrounding the resort grounds and a sky pool located on the upper floor with an overview of the beach and sea. POol bar and restaurant onsite Link to the booking page here
Station 3- Why stay here?
Station three is the quietest area along white beach and you would stay here if you are looking to relax and enjoy less crowded beach. You are still wishing 10 minutes to DMall and station 2 if the need arises. You will find a lot less development in this area and a lot of older style bungalows.
Everrich resort Boracay- This accomodation is located far enough away from Station 2 to experience the more quiet beach numbers but close enough (15 minutes) to walk if you wanted to have a night out or go shopping in DMall. Some of the rooms have self catering facilities also. This could be beneficial for those staying extended periods of time.
Click here for the booking page
Winner of the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2017, our guests are treated with the utmost quality and care through our world-class amenities. All the excitement is just a few steps away, along with everything else you need for a full island holiday. gym, wellness spa, fitness centre, restaurant bar and lounge.pops of colour, deluxe pool access safes, fridge, DVD players link to the booking page here