Boracay

Boracay is a tropical island about an hour's flight from Manila in the Philippines. It has superb long white sand beaches, as good as any anywhere, and is one of the country's most developed tourist destinations.

Facilities are available to suit different levels of activity. For those wanting to just lounge around and take in some rays, beach-front hotels usually have lounge chairs set up just a few steps away from the hotel entrances. Facilities for the usual water sports activities such as sailing, wind surfing, snorkeling, diving and jet skiing are also widely available for those in search of more active pursuits. The fun in Boracay also doesn't end when the sun sets. Boracay nightlife is pulsating with many bars and restaurants serving food, drink and fun until the very late evening.

Boracay is an excellent choice for anyone who wants a full range of facilities in a prime tropical location and can pay for it. However, it is not a good bet for bargain hunters; prices are relatively high by Philippines standards, though moderate by Japanese or Western standards and lower than many places in the Mediterranean, Caribbean or South Pacific.

Understand

Map of Boracay

Areas

White Beach is divided into five areas:

In every station, there are two lifeguards patrolling on foot equipped with whistle, life buoy and hand-held radio. The boat station 2 is the lifeguard and rescue command center.

Climate

During the dry season (Nov-Apr), also known as Amihan, White Beach is calm and very suitable for swimming, etc. The other side of the island has large winds and waves making it suitable for wind surfing, wave running, etc. During the rainy season (Jun-Oct), also known as Habagat, this is reversed, with a risk of typhoons. White Beach often gets large winds and waves which sometimes makes it unsuitable for swimming. Current weather conditions can be found online.

Get in

Whether you go by plane or by boat, the port of entry for Boracay Island is the small town of Caticlan on the mainland. Outrigger boats or "bancas" leave every few minutes from Caticlan's jetty port. The short boat trip to Boracay's jetty port at Cagban costs 25 Pesos. Tourists have to pay a terminal fee of 100 Pesos and an environmental fee of 75 Pesos. Tricycles are available at Cagban to bring passengers to their hotels. Tricycle fare is from P20 per pax up to P150 per trip depending where your resort is.

From Cagban Port to Station 1, the most that you should pay is P25 per head. That is, if you don't mind sharing the tricycle with other tourists. If you don't want to rent the tricycle and allow the driver to pick up other passengers along the way, say you just want the "Individual" price and not "Special"

By plane

There are two airports located near Boracay.

By road and ferry (RoRo)

The "Nautical Highway" is a combination of overland highways and roll-on, roll-off (RoRo) vessels that allow you to bring your vehicle up to Panay Island and visit key cities like Kalibo. Taking your car all the way to Boracay, though, is not possible. Public transport also operates on the same route, and is the most cost-effective way of traveling between Manila and Boracay. Assuming good connections, the total journey time is around 12 hours.

The easiest way of arranging this is to book a van in Manila by contacting private operators such as Angel Star (02 783-0886 c/o Abner) and Gope (02 732-6891 c/o Cesar). This will enable you to book a straight trip from Manila to Caticlan at the cost of P1200, more or less. Their group operates several passenger vans which can load 10-14 or 15-18 persons. You book the trip exclusively or share with fellow travellers. The Van leaves at 9PM daily from Manila, travelling through Batangas-Calapan-Roxas (arrives Roxas at 5AM or 6AM) to catch the 8AM or 10AM ferry/boat to Caticlan, where you are expected to arrive between noon to 2PM. Before proceeding to Boracay Island though, be sure to get your return ticket (Roxas-Manila) at the Caticlan Ferry Terminal (inquire about the updated schedule from the staff of the van operators). Take an early dinner before boarding the van and bring water and something to eat while in transit. Riding a van gives you a more relaxed pace to Caticlan because you do not have to stop in many sub-destinations which lengthen your trip and therefore can be truly tiresome.

Departs Batangas port at 9PM. and gets to Caticlan port at 6AM. Departs Caticlan port at 8AM. and gets to Batangas port at 6PM. one way fares from php995.00

The more challenging do-it-yourself version goes as follows:

The easiest way would be to book a straight trip that allows you to purchase just one ticket from Cubao terminal to Caticlan Port. The cost is 1000-1200 pesos. But if you really want to save money, you can also commute from Cubao bus terminal station (near Alimall). There is really no difference except for the fact that you need to purchase tickets at every stop.

Cubao-Batangas Best leave between 7PM-8PM so you arrive in Batangas Port before 10PM.

Batangas-Calapan the trip takes 2 hours via cargo ship or an hour to one hour and a half via supercat. Do not purchase tickets for the Calapan to Roxas van as this can either be a scam or you end up squeezed in one van along with several other passengers with tickets.

Calapan-Roxas Takes about 4 hours. Make sure you leave early so you arrive before 4AM. In the morning, the ship to Caticlan usually leaves at 2AM and 4AM and the next trip won't be until 10AM. The 10AM trip usually leaves late.

This is the best time to leave travel via Cubao to Roxas. You arrive in Caticlan at 8AM and you are left to enjoy the rest of your day in Boracay.

You can also start your journey with Philtranco, Alps, Dimple, Ceres or Rodastco coaches which leave at regular intervals throughout the day from Cubao, serving the Manila-Caticlan route for P1,200.00. Rodastco also offers a door-to-door service with pick ups anywhere in Metro Manila. The contact numbers for trip booking are +63 2-7326891 or +63 917-3820426, or +63 919-3820426.

Get around

See

White Beach
Puka Beach

Do

Scuba diving

For those interested in scuba diving, there are literally dozens of dive centers along White Beach; it is a good place to learn or to improve your skills. Cost is typically 1600 pesos per dive which includes hire of all equipment. The dive centers have agreed on standard prices amongst themselves so prices will be the same at all centers. There are 25-30 dive sites within 10–15 minutes speed boat ride from the beach, suitable for beginners up to advanced level. Dives range from 'Angol Point' (10m), through 'Crocodile Island' (22-25m), a straightforward wall dive, up to 'Yapak'- a deep wall dive suitable for only the most experienced divers due to strong currents, although there is the possibility of seeing sharks and stingrays.

Boat tours

Boat trip on a sunset

The best way to see the beauty of Boracay and its various beaches is by Paraw (native outrigger sailboat). You will be constantly asked if you want to take a boat trip, as there are literally dozens of companies offering this service. It is better to go with a reputable and established group such as Allen Fun Tours (motorized banca boat tours) or Red Pirates (paraw sailing) to ensure your safety and avoid being overcharged.

Kiteboarding

Kites on Bulabog beach

Boracay's Bulabog beach claims to be the best kitesurfing destination in Asia. The season runs from November through to April with onshore winds varying between 12-30 knots. A small lagoon (2 km wide) is protected from waves by a coral reef. The water becomes almost flat at low tide, making it easy to start learning kitesurfing and continue with freestyle tricks. Because of its nice conditions, the spot becomes overcrowded with riders in high season. A serious disadvantage is sewage pollution of the lagoon, so smell from water and infections from even small injuries are common.

Skimboarding

Skimboarding in Boracay has been a new fun sport for kids and entertainment for older for people for several years. It is a welcome new attraction and a pleasure to watch. Skimboards are available for rent at several places along White Beach. But be sure to hire an expert to teach you the skills; a one-hour lesson from a local rider is usually around 300 pesos.

Massage/Spa

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Other

Buy

Along White Beach, especially around Station 2, there is a wide variety of gift shops and boutiques along the beach path. In addition to the crowded stalls that you expect in Asia, Boracay also has several high-end stores including clothing, art and household items. Some places will permit you to haggle, others have a fixed pricing system with price tags. Shop around as prices vary. Outside of White Beach, the shopping becomes sparse or non-existent. D*Mall at Station 2 and D'talipapa at station 3, between the main road and White Beach, have many shops. D*Mall is larger but D'talipapa features a number of shops, vegetable merchants and a large meat market also selling a large selection of live seafood. Prices at D'talipapa (including those for basic necessities such as milk, vegetables and meat) are about 25% below those of D'Mall.

While walking or laying on the sand, anywhere on Boracay, you'll be approached to buy a variety of items including jewelry made of shells, fresh fruit, ice cream, sunglasses or a nice massage.

ATMs

There are about 8 ATMs on the entire island for the 16,000 inhabitants plus tourists, and when they run out of cash, they are not refilled until the next business day. On weekends and holidays it is even worse, as the ATM's might go several days without being refilled. On paydays one will also see very long lines at the ATM's, and be aware that not every ATM accepts every card. One might only accept cards with the Visa logo, and not the MasterCard logo, so before standing in line for two hours, be sure it accepts your card. Also, be prepared for a very long wait in line, as many Boracay natives seem to do all their banking at the ATM, spending what seems like an unusual amount of time at it. Maximum withdrawal at any one time at any of the ATMs is 10,000.00 pesos and there is a p 200 fee =2%.

The best solution is to bring plenty of cash. Also, many establishments, including the tricycles, cannot break a bill over 500 pesos (around $10), so it pays to always have small bills.

Foreign money (US dollars, Euros, Korean Won, Japanese Yen, etc.) can be exchanged at several locations around the island. It's worth checking around for the best exchange rate, as all places don't offer the same rate. You're best off heading away from the beach for better rates.

Eat

Because of its wide draw of international travelers, Boracay has a wide variety of places to eat, including a surprising number of bakeries.

Don't miss the opportunity to enjoy one of the best mangoes in the world. Climate in Philippines is perfect for mangoes, so you always get them mellow and sweet.

Drink

If you like to party, there are plenty of places to choose from. The livelier bars are situated near boat stations 1 and 2. There are plenty of places to party all night! Boat station 3 has a more laid back and relaxed atmosphere, with small native bars and restaurants - popular with backpackers.

Expect to check your handgun with the security guard!

Sleep

Accommodation varies from top-of-the-line hotels and resorts to a simple bed rented from a resident. Whatever your budget, you can easily find a suitable place to stay. During peak periods such as Holy Week, Christmas and New Year, rooms are more difficult to find and more expensive, so book in advance.

Staying along White Beach gets you closer to the bars, lounging and food, while staying closer to Bulabog beach gives you better access to the popular wind and kite-boarding areas.

A word of warning: Boracay is notorious for travel agents (many in Manila) passing themselves off as the resorts, often through websites. When you call them to get a room rate or make a reservation, you will be quoted much more than if you called the resort itself. The travel agents simply take your request, call the hotel and make reservations and charge you extra for the service, up to double the original rate. Meanwhile, the traveler has no idea he wasn't talking to the resort. This can often lead to frustration, as the traveler will show up at his hotel or resort and see he was charged double the rate that the hotel is listing, even though the hotel had nothing to do with it! So the advice is, try your best to ignore the many travel agencies and make your reservation with the resort or hotel directly.

Better yet, don't make advance reservations in the low season. Just go to White Beach or the region you want to stay and negotiate deals with the places you want to stay at. Many street touts will offer to show you the rooms first and then you can negotiate.

White Beach

White beach on Boracay Island

If you prefer peace and quiet, avoid accommodation at the centre of White Beach, as this is the most crowded area. Head further north or south instead. The area south of boat station 3 has a more relaxed and peaceful vibe - no pounding disco till 4AM. Accommodation is more reasonably priced, and there are some friendly little bars and restaurants where you can meet people and chat. North of station 1 you'll find many of the more luxurious (and expensive) establishments. The beach is at its widest here, and the area is usually relatively peaceful.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Bulabog Beach

Bulabog Beach runs parallel with White Beach and is on the east side of the island. It is approximately 1.5 km long and has white sand similar to that on White Beach. It is protected from strong seas by a coral reef located 500 meters offshore, and from late Oct. to April the Amihan wind (NE wind) makes this beach very popular with windsurfers and kiteboarders. Bulabog Beach has the "old" Boracay atmosphere, being less developed than the White Beach area, quieter, more laid back, with onshore breezes most of the year, and a number of foreign residents have made it their home. In addition, resorts are starting to appear and the various types of water-sports (para-sailing, banana boats, jetskis, water-skiing, etc.) are using this area during the White Beach off-season (May-Oct, when the Habagat wind blows). Access to the D'Mall Shopping Center is only a 5 minute walk and a couple of minutes later you are on White Beach with all the crowds, restaurants, bars, discos, etc.

Water on Bulabog is much polluted with sewage water of the whole island. You can see few pipes and "rivers" are emptying to sea. Since the lagoon is semi-closed and shallow, and water circulation is limited, you can feel smell from water. Color of it will block all your thoughts about swimming there and lot of kiters will simply not allow you to. If you plan to spend your time lying on the beach, swimming and getting a tan, Bulabog is certanly not the best choice.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Near White Beach

Some hotels and resorts are located along roads and footpaths off of White Beach, generally within just a few minutes walk from the beach. Room rates in these may be a bit lower than prices for comparable rooms located in resorts which have beach-front entrances, and the rooms may be a bit quieter than rooms located right on the beach.

Budget

Mid-range

Casa Dayang Boracay Inn, tel.+63927-9474468, +63920-9094379, near D'Mall and across from the hospital. Swiss Deli, Italian coffee-shop, and soon to be opened Japanese restaurant. Luxurious rooms, AC,Cable TV, marble floors and toilet, hot and cold shower, veranda, old world charm. Your home away from home. Personalized service. Email: casadayangboracay@yahoo.com. We are on Facebook. Starts from $65 only

Splurge

Balabag and other areas

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Connect

Internet connections are pretty slow anywhere on the island. You can expect poor speed around 200 kbit/s. 3G is provided by Smart and Globe. You can find DSL connection from Pantelco with maximum speed at 700 kbit/s for ₱1700 a month.

Small Internet cafes are widespread around the island. Wi-Fi is common everywhere from splurge hotels to small guesthouses.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, March 28, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.