If you've ever thought about visiting the Philippines, chances are, you're already thinking about Boracay. This little party island has been on many "best of" lists, including best beaches, best white sand, best sunsets, and best parties.
Despite its size, there are a whole lot of things to do in Boracay once you've had your fill of sun, sand, and booze.
How to get there
Boracay is an island found in the province of Aklan in the Visayan region. Part of the island's allure is its accessibility.
From Manila, there are two airports you can get to.
The Kalibo International Airport in Kalibo, Aklan, has started accepting more direct flights from other countries in Asia.
Fares to this airport are much cheaper, but this also requires an additional 2-hour land travel to the jetty.
Upon arriving at Kalibo Airport, you'll need to take a bus or a van (approx. $5), all of which are lined up outside the airport, to the Caticlan Jetty Port. At the port, you'll need to take a boat trip (approx. $5 including terminal and environmental fees) to Boracay Island.
A more convenient airport would be at Caticlan Airport, which is a mere 15 minutes from the jetty. However, fares to this airport are way more expensive, especially during holidays and summer season.
Things to do in Boracay
Hands down the number one activity, laying on powder white sand working on your tan, reading a book, chilling with friends, or just enjoying solitude is Boracay gold.
Most resorts on White Beach, the main public area of Boracay Island, have lounge chairs lined in front of the resort. Just order some meals and drinks, and you can take advantage of these chairs and umbrellas. You can also simply set up your own towel on any empty part of sand and enjoy the day.
If you want to see a bit more, you can charter a boat and visit nearby islands with equally stunning beaches. Island Hopping is also a great way to get away from the crowds at White Beach and enjoy a relatively more toned down beach experience.
Puka Beach is a raw and undeveloped island with the same powder white sand strewn with puka shells. Nearby is Crocodile Island, which is more ideal for some snorkeling. Magic Island is where people can go cliff jumping up to a height of 10 meters.
Boracay is becoming a food destination as much as a beach destination. If you want to go local, pay a visit to D*Talipapa at Station 2 in White Beach. It's a wet and dry market where you can pick your own fresh seafood, meat, vegetables and ingredients. You bring your market items to the many restaurants surrounding the market and have them cooked any way you want.
Another Boracay staple are the Four Cheese Pizza and Oyster Sisig at Two Seasons Resort in Station 1. Another never-miss snack item is the Chori Burger, which is a chorizo patty in white bread bun. Almost every restaurant serves their own version of this Boracay icon, but the best ones are sold right at the beach by small stalls and beach grills. Also make sure to find Jonah's Shakes at Station 1, which serves some of the most creamy and tasty milk and fruit shakes served in plastic water bottles.
There are several tour operators either right at the beach or at your resort that offer water sports and activities. Banana Boat and Flying Fish are popular activities wherein guests ride inflatable equipment pulled by speedboats. It's a thrilling ride if you don't mind being thrown into the water at one point. Parasailing is also quite popular. You will be strapped to a small parachute and pulled by a speed boat as you soar through the air. This can be done alone, or with one or two more people. For a more relaxed water activity, Stand-up Paddle Boards are also for rent at the beach.
Paraw is a local sailboat and is an iconic sight in Boracay. It's characterized by its distinct triangular sail, using two outriggers and two sails. Paraw Sailing can be done to tour around the island, or simply dock out in the water as the sun sets.
Yes, it is possible to go on a dive trip when you visit Boracay. There are actually 15 dive sites around Boracay Island waiting to be explored by travelers.
As with everything in this high traffic tourist destination, diving in Boracay is a bit more expensive than anywhere else in the Philippines. The island also doesn't have the best reefs and corals in the country, but it's still worth the experience.
One of the most popular Boracay destinations is Ariel's Point, mostly known for cliff diving. Located 30-minutes from Boracay island by outrigger boat, Ariel's Point has been recognized by several travel magazines as one of the best cliff diving destinations in the world. For the not-so-adventurous, you can kayak and snorkel in practically unspoiled waters. A floating bamboo dock also serves as a rest area surrounded by blue waters.
There are no accommodations at Ariel's Point itself, but they have a resort at Station 1. Day trip packages can be bought from the resort or online.
At the other side of Boracay from all the activity of White Beach is a small lagoon called Bolabog Beach. On this side of the island, wind and water conditions are perfect for kitesurfing, and possibly even surfing the waves over the reefs. Isla Kitesurfing is one of the first kitesurfing schools in Boracay and offers different courses for beginners. They also rent equipment for advanced kitesurfers.
Because of the rougher waters and windier conditions, Bolabog Beach is significantly less crowded than White Beach. Even then, swimming and snorkeling are still possible on this side of Boracay.
Getting a massage right on the beach is the perfect way to wind down an exciting day in Boracay. There are several masseurs at the beach that go up to tourists to offer massages. The massages will be done on plastic lounge chairs lined up on the sand in public areas of White Beach, or simply on beach mats and towels.
Some resorts offer this as well at a markedly higher price, such as SeaWind Resorts. Another massage experience to try is at Discovery Shores Boracay, sometimes dubbed as one of the best massages in the country.
Party, party, party
Boracay is a place where you can party literally from dusk till dawn. Or dawn till dusk. Practically anytime, anywhere, there will be some kind of party in Boracay. If you happen to be in the island on Labor Day or Easter Week, prepare for some exceptionally crazy nights.
Boracay: More than a Party Island
Being one of the best islands in the world has its perks. The mere sight of Boracay is worth the trip to the Philippines. Powder white sand feels great on your feet, blue waters are inviting for a swim or some water adventure, and the thriving nightlife will surely give you crazy memories to bring back home.