Travel guide to Boracay, Philippines.
Probably the most popular island destination in the Philippines, Boracay lives up to its name. It’s been consistently named by plenty of travel magazines as one of the best islands in the world. The long stretch of beach contains the finest and whitest sand and clearest crystal blue waters in the world.
Boracay is a small island, about 7 kilometers long. The narrowest parts of the island form the long stretch of beach – the more popular and dreamy White beach facing west, and the Bulabog Beach on the east side which is popular for wind and kite surfers.
How to get to Boracay
From Manila to Caticlan
The fastest way to get to Boracay is by plane from Manila to Caticlan, although it’s more expensive. From Caticlan Airport, it is only a 5-minute tricycle ride to the Caticlan Jetty Port. From there, buy your tickets to Boracay for 200 pesos, which include boat fare, and environmental fee. The boat ride usually takes 15 minutes.
From Manila to Kalibo then to Caticlan
A lot of people also choose to fly from Manila to Kalibo, Aklan because it is cheaper than flying straight to Caticlan. After arriving in Kalibo Airport, get a van to take you to Caticlan for 200 pesos. The ride usually takes 2 hours. From Caticlan, buy your tickets to get to Boracay island as mentioned above.
Boracay White Beach Stations
The White Beach on the west side of Boracay Island is 4 kilometers in length. It is divided into different stations – 1, 2, and 3. Although it is difficult to find the boundaries between the stations, it is important to know them as different stations offer different activities and vibes.
This is where many of the posh hotels are located. The vibe is mellower as compared to station 2. So if you want a relaxed atmosphere, with the still dreamy white sand and cool waters, you can make your way to this Station.
The main action on the island is found here. Bars and restaurants crowd station 2. Budget hotels and backpacker hostels are mostly found here. Most of the people go to this part of the beach since, I think, it’s got the finest white sand and crystal blue waters of all the three stations.
Station 3 is the quietest part of White beach; only a few accommodations and restaurants are there relative to Station 1 and 2.
Things to do in Boracay
We met a guy in our hostel that offered a good package deal after comparing prices from many tour agencies on the beach. We paid 14,000 pesos for 2 people for Helmet Diving, Parasailing, and the very expensive Helicopter ride that would’ve cost us 15,000 pesos on its own.
Walk 4 meters underwater on white sand along with colorful fishes, with a helmet on your head filled with oxygen so that you can breathe normally underwater. The scuba divers will take a bunch of photos of you underwater with the fish and corals.
Hold on to your parachute as a speedboat drags you 40-50 meters above the water. It is a cool way to see parts of the island from above. A lot of people also try this during sunset.
It’s a 15-minute helicopter ride going around the island and I got to sit in front, right beside the pilot. From above, you will clearly see the shape of the island and the white sand beaches that line the coast
There are many ways to enjoy the glorious sunset in Boracay. On our first sunset, we went to the very popular Spider House at the end of Station 1 up north. It is so popular it gets packed as early as 4 pm. They also serve good (but expensive) food to go along with sunset watching.
On station 2, just lounge on the beach and watch the magic happens, while others hop on to sailing boats and see the sunset from the sea.
There are still plenty of activities to do in Boracay like banana boating, paddling, diving, jet skiing, zip lining, massage, shopping in D’ Mall in Station 2, pubcrawls, and many more. On Bulabog beach, on the east side of Boracay, windsurfers and kitesurfers enjoy the constant strength of the wind.
Concerns about Boracay and Overall Experience
Boracay over the years has attracted more and more tourists. You’ll find the beach very crowded and loud especially in Station 2 where parties can go on very late at night. This also made Boracay as one of worst tourist traps in the country. The island is also facing big environmental issues that are brought about by unregulated building of establishments to cater the tourists.
Nevertheless, the breathtaking crystal clear water and the powdery white sand makes up for the chaos brought about by the boom of tourism. I very much hope that Boracay will maintain its beauty or revert back to when it was still pure and simple (it is quite impossible, I know). For now, Boracay will remain a good memory to me but it will not be the island I will want to go back to again anytime soon.
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Text by Jen Yap, photos by Martien Janssen