Boracay, One of the World’s Best Tropical Beaches

Guide to Planning Your Trip to Boracay
Considered as one of the best tropical beaches in the world, Boracay is among Philippines' best beaches at peer with the best beaches in the Caribbean islands, South Pacific and the neighboring Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. Thus, earning a consistent spot as the number one holiday destination resort in Asia.

With its powder-like white sand and crystal clear waters, Boracay remains a tourist favourite even if many other picturesque islands have captured the world’s attention. It may be more commercialized now than it was a few years ago, but its charm remains the same. Both local and foreign visitors still rave about its breath-taking sunset, and they would flock towards the shore when the sun starts to touch the horizon. When the sun finally waves goodbye, the vibrant nightlife that also made this island famous comes alive. With fire dancers and live bands from end to end, this island paradise is transformed into one big party.
Whether it is your first or nth time in Boracay, this travel guide will be a great companion in planning your trip. Here are some general information that you should be aware of before creating your itinerary.

Getting there
Your journey to Boracay begins with a boat ride from Caticlan Jetty Port in the mainland to Cagban Port in Boracay. The trip is around 15 minutes, followed by a tricycle ride to your chosen hotel upon arrival.

Getting to Caticlan Jetty Port can be done in various ways - by plane, bus, and RORO (roll on, roll off).

Flying to Kalibo or Caticlan is by far the most popular and convenient way. From Manila, it takes around 45 minutes to an hour to get to these two places. If you are arriving in Caticlan, hail a tricycle waiting outside the airport and it will bring you to the jetty port. If you are arriving in Kalibo, Aklan’s capital, you have to take a Caticlan-bound bus or van that travels for approximately two hours. If you are coming from outside the Philippines, the best option would be to get a flight to Manila, then fly to either Caticlan or Kalibo.

For those coming from other provinces in Western Visayas like Antique, Capiz or Iloilo, taking the bus is an ideal choice. You just have to endure a longer travel time, as it takes roughly six hours to get to Caticlan if you’re coming from Iloilo City.

Want to save some cash and willing to travel over land for around 24 hours? Then try the Manila-Caticlan route of the RORO vessel. Your trip starts with a two-hour bus ride from Manila to Batangas Port, then a two-hour RORO travel to Calapan, Mindoro, followed by a three-hour land travel to Roxas Port, Mindoro, and go on board another RORO vessel for a five-hour trip to Caticlan.

Going Around
Once you find arrive in Boracay, the tricycle will be your best friend when it comes to going around the island. It is Boracay’s main mode of transportation, with the exception of the hotel’s private vans. They are not found along the beach as they are prohibited there. Instead, you have to walk towards the highway, which is usually at the back of the hotels found at the beachfront. They are available 24 hours, so no need to worry if you partied until the wee hours and having a hard time returning to your hotel.

Top Attractions

There is more to Boracay Island in the Philippines than its famous 4-kilometer stretch of white sand. The island paradise is already an attraction itself, but beyond taking a dip on its clear turquoise waters are numerous ‘must-dos’ and other attractions that keep tourists busy during their stay in the island. Whether on vacation over the weekend or for a week, these activities will definitely make your visit worthwhile.

Island and Beach Hopping
Boracay has a few neighbouring islands and other beautiful beaches that visitors may check out. Although it usually attracts first timers who want to see everything that Boracay offers, some returning visitors still engage in this activity. The activity begins along White Beach, where most boatmen and tour representatives offer their island hopping services. Price depends on the duration of the tour, number of guests, and islands you want to visit. Make sure you book with legitimate agencies for your safety.

Water Activities
Every year, more and more water activities are being introduced in the waters of Boracay. Parasailing, banana boat riding, and stand up paddle boarding are just some of these activities that have become a hit among tourists. Licensed scuba divers may bring or rent their gear as Boracay is as majestic underwater as it is above. For non-divers, helmet diving is also available.

Sunset
Boracay’s sunset is as famous as its sand and water, so it is definitely something that should not be missed. It is probably one of the few attractions that you don’t have to pay for, so marvel at its beauty as long as you can. Sailboats are also for rent when the sun starts to set, as the orange canvas becomes the perfect backdrop for a romantic or relaxing time away from the crowd.

Henna Tattoo
There’s no explanation on why henna tattooing in a thriving business in Boracay, and why you can find a shop almost anywhere. Sometimes they are even right next or across each other. Price per tattoo depends on the size and complexity of the design, and it lasts for around three to five days. Aside from applying henna tattoo, hair braiding is also popular among tourists. Make sure you have enough patience to sit for a long time while they braid your hair in various styles.

Massage by the Beach
A massage by the beach is probably the best way to end an activity-filled day. Relax those tensed muscles by getting a full body massage on one of the makeshift cottages while listening to the sound of the waves hitting the shore. You will be refreshed and ready for the following day in no time.

Fire Dancers
When night falls in Boracay, expect the island to transform from serene to vibrant. Aside from the loud music produced by outdoor bars and played by live bands, what usually catches the eyes of visitors are the fire dancers. You will hear a lot of “ohs” and “ahs” from the audience once they do their routine, and don’t say no when they invite you to join them. It’s perfectly safe as they are professionals, and a unique experience as well.

Staying In

Just like any other developed island anywhere in the world, Boracay has all kinds of accommodation that will fit any traveler’s budget. Whether you are a solo backpacker looking for the most budget-friendly room, a family in search of something comfortable and luxurious, or a group of more than ten people who wants an entire place for themselves, Boracay can cater to your needs. After all, a great accommodation can make or break a vacation you have all been looking forward to. Check out the list below of some affordable hostels and luxury hotels for every budget.

YB Hostel
Located in Station 2, YB Hostel calls itself “a budget-friendly hostel and haven for backpackers.” It is a short five-minute walk to White Beach and two-minute walk ‘D Mall, so swimming and shopping is fairly easy to do. It offers four- and six-bedded dormitory-style rooms as well as private rooms for two to three persons. All rooms are air-conditioned and have their own private toilet. Lockers are also provide for the safekeeping of your personal belongings.

MNL Beach Hostel Boracay
MNL Beach Hostel Boracay may not be along the beachfront, but it is just a few steps away from Bulabog Beach, which is popular among kite surfers. It is a combination of comfort, hospitality, and fun, offering private rooms and dorms for up to 10 pax. The hostel also comes with many facilities such as a common area, roof deck, and front beach lounge.

Frendz Resort Boracay
Frendz Resort Boracay is found in Station 1, strategically located near the beach and business establishments like restaurants and banks. What makes this resort unique are its native style bungalows, that are either fan-cooled or air-conditioned. Weekly dinner events are also being held here, and it’s the perfect way to meet other travelers.

Sea Wind Resort
If you are looking for a more private getaway, then Sea Wind Resort just might be the place for you. It has secluded nipa-inspired villas and rooms that come with complete amenities and wide windows designed for a panoramic view of the sea. All deluxe and super deluxe rooms can accommodate up to four guests.



The District Boracay

A contemporary beachfront boutique resort, The District Boracay is the best choice for those who wouldn’t mind spending a bit more for their accommodation. You get what you pay for though, with its state-of-the-art facilities and first class restaurants. The beach is literally right in front of the hotel and is surrounded by various restaurants and shopping stalls.



Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort and Spa

As the first deluxe resort in the island, Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort and Spa is truly a private paradise for those in need of some rest and relaxation. Different kinds of rooms and suites are available, all designed using indigenous materials like the abaca and capiz shells. It also has a fitness center, sports facilities, and a well-equipped spa that every guest would love to make.

Dining

Any certified foodie will tell you that Boracay’s gastronomic scene is just as beautiful and to die for as its waters and sunsets. Whether you are looking for some local cuisine, a quick bite or a fancy dinner by the beach, Boracay has it all. You will never go hungry while on vacation, and just like its accommodations, there is something for all kinds of budget.

Star Lounge
The District Boracay is not only a top-of-the-line beachfront boutique hotel, it also houses the restaurant that serves the best brunch buffet in the island. You don’t have to be a hotel guest to taste their delectable dishes, as the brunch buffet is open to walk-in diners. When night falls, Star Lounge serves grill-to-order dinner with a variety of meat and seafood products to choose from. It is also the only establishment in the country that has the unique Meduse shisha.

Jonah’s Fruit Shake
Ask anyone who has been to Boracay on what they highly recommend, and chances are they will tell you to drop by Jonah’s for its fruit shake. There are currently three branches, serving loyal patrons with the best fruit shake in the island, regardless of the flavor. Each order comes in a sealed plastic bottle with a hole in the cap for the straw, making it easy to drink wherever you go. Jonah’s has also improved its menu, which now includes food items like burgers and pizza.

I Love Backyard BBQ
Located within the dining area of D’ Mall, I Love Backyard BBQ has one of the best barbecues in the island. From steaks to sausages to pasta dishes, this crowd favorite delivers every time. During peak hours, expect a long queue outside the restaurant so make sure to come early or dine between lunch and dinner.

D’ Talipapa
Who would go to Boracay and not eat fresh seafood? Head to D’ Talipapa in Station 3 and feast on the day’s catch. Buy your ingredients, which includes live seafood and raw meat, in the market and have it cooked any way you want in your preferred restaurant within the area. Souvenirs are also sold nearby, so you can do some shopping before or after eating.

Fast food
Of course, for the traveler on a steep budget, your favorite local and international fast food chains in the city or in your country also have branches in Boracay. Most of them are located in D’ Mall, and you will not have any problem in choosing where to eat as the budget-friendly ones are those that usually have the most customers. Share a seat, and you just might win a new friend.

Shopping

A great way to end a trip to Boracay is to go through various shops that offer a plethora of goods and souvenirs. Whether buying for yourself or friends and family back home, expect that there is something for everybody in this famous tourist destination. No need to panic if you forgot to pack or failed to pack something. Chances are you may find it in one of the shops and markets in Boracay.

D’ Mall
Strategically located in Station 2 of Boracay, D’ Mall is probably the most visited shopping area in the island. It houses a good number of boutiques, restaurants, and souvenir shops. Automated teller machines or ATMs of various banks and money changers are also found here, making shopping and currency exchange easier. Take your pick from swimwear, refreshments, last minute buys, and convenient store finds. You will all find it in D’ Mall.

Talipapa Market
Just like D’ Mall, the Talipapa Market is also a crowd favorite, thanks to shops that offer rock bottom prices and opportunities for haggling. Most goods being sold here are cheaper than those found in D’ Mall and other places, so expect Talipapa Market to be crowded during peak hours and high season for tourists. It is also here where you can buy fresh seafood and have them cooked in any way you want in a restaurant of your choice. Having a full stomach is just what you need before and after a shopping spree here.

Lonely Planet
If you’re into home decorations and furniture, then head to Lonely Planet for affordable yet attractive and high quality home furnishing products. It has many branches in the island, with one being in D’ Mall and another in Plazoleta. Lonely Planet is the home to many native merchandise such as carpets, lamp shades, and wall decors, as well as kitchen tables, chairs, and drawers. If transporting these products are not a problem with you, then buying them from Lonely Planet is a great idea. Apart from furniture, Lonely Planet also sells clothes that come in different styles, color and fabric. Expect an assortment of designs that you will also see in their other items. Most of the furniture are Philippine made, although some are being imported from neighboring countries like Indonesia and Thailand.

Beach vendors
Although the space they occupy is not as wide as that of Talipapa Market or D’ Mall, beach vendors are spread out all over the island and sell just about anything that anyone will need. Majority of what they sell are souvenir items such as keychains, bracelets, shirts, and other things that will make you remember of your trip to Boracay. You may also haggle the prices or get discounts if you buy in bulk. Take note that most, if not all, of these vendors sell relatively the same products so make sure to check as many as possible before making a decision.

Nightlife

From something so calm and peaceful in the morning, Boracay looks like a different place when the sun goes down. For such a small island, the number of bars and stalls that pop out at night can be a bit overwhelming for a first timer. One does not even have to go far as some resorts and hotels even have their own live entertainment for guests who prefer to stay within the area. But for those who want to make the most of the amazing nightlife that Boracay has to offer, here are some of the notable bars and lounges that you can check out.

Cocomangas Shooter Bar
Aside from being one of the longest running bars in the island, Cocomangas Shooter Bar made a name for itself thanks to its widely popular ‘15 Shots and Still Standing’ challenge. As the title suggests, customers will be served with 15 unique shots of mixed drinks, some of which might be the first time you will encounter. If you finish all 15 and can still literally stand, then you are awarded with a t-shirt and your name is placed in a gold plaque that is displayed in the bar’s Hall of Fame. A point will also be added to the count of winners from your home country.

Epic Bar
Epic Bar is not hard to spot when you are strolling along Station 2 as it is located by the beachfront entrance of D’Mall. Like other establishments in the island, Epic Bar is a restaurant by day and a lounge by night. There are indoor and outdoor areas for all kinds of guests, and resident DJs get the party starting by 10:00 p.m. It is the best place for those who just want to have some cocktails and hang out, as well as partygoers who are looking to have a good time.



Spider House
At the very tip of Station 1 along Diniwid Beach is Spider House. Those who frequent this place will say that the sunset is best viewed here, and having a beer in hand just might make the experience better. Because of its location, guests can have some peace and quiet as compared to when they are in White Beach. Spider House’s treehouse design also makes hanging out here very relaxed.

Club Paraw
Just opposite Cocomangas Shooter Bar is another Boracay institution, Club Paraw. It is known for its delicious seafood and wide variety of cuisine, and a popular hangout place for everyone. From beers to cocktails and all kinds of beverages, Club Paraw has it all. For those looking for some music, this bar plays different kinds of tunes and also has resident and guest DJs that provide live music.

With its powder-like white sand and crystal clear waters, Boracay remains a tourist favourite even if many other picturesque islands have captured the world’s attention.