Boracay is a fantastic tropical island about an hour's flight from Manila in the Philippines. Its long white sand beaches rivals any of the best beaches in the more popular beach destinations such as the Caribbean, the South Pacific as well as neighboring Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. 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 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.
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 cost 20 Pesos. Tourists have to pay a terminal fee of 20 Pesos and an enviromental fee of 50 pesos.
Flights to and from Kalibo are on jet planes. Flight time is 1 hour.
Airline fares vary, generally in the $50 to $100 range for each leg.
Keep a lookout for special rates posted at the respective travel office adjoining the domestic terminal in Manila. Luggage over 10kg will probably cost you extra.
Ships operated by MBRS leave Manila's port for Caticlan either once or twice a week depending on the season.
Negros Navigation operates seasonal trips and anchors a few miles off shore from Boracay's White Beach.
Philtranco coaches leave regularly throughout the day from Cubao, Manila for Mindanao, passing Caticlan on the Strong Republic Nautical Highway. The journey takes 12 hours.
Most visitors opt for motorized tricycles, which act as the island's taxis and make up most of its traffic. Rides are inexpensive, usually no more than P200 to any point on the island from White Beach and much less for shorter rides, and can be found almost anywhere along the main road.
Short rides, say from D'Mall to Station 3 or from Station 1 to Station 3, are a standard rate of 7 pesos but expect the tricycle driver to ask for 20 pesos or more if you look like a foreigner.
Scooters provide the best flexibility at a reasonable price. The downside is having to deal with island traffic which can be unnerving for visitors unused to the aggressive tricycle drivers.
Mountain bikes are also available for rent at several locations along White Beach, which is off limits to motorized vehicles.
To explore around the island, rent a native sailboat (paraw) or motorized outrigger (banca) and visit the many beaches of Boracay.
Willy's Rock, White Beach, Boracay
White Beach - This is what most people are here for. Not only is it a lovely stretch of powdery white sand against azure water, it's also the commercial center of the island. A stretched grove of shady palm trees separates the beach from the line of restaurants, cafes, bars, internet cafes, shops, bakeries, etc. There is lots of room to stretch out on the beach with your sarong or you can rent a reclining chair from one of the vendors where they will be happy to keep you filled with food and drinks. Most people opt for the shade and tend to hang out under the palm trees.
Puka Beach - A quiet stretch of white sand along the northern tip of the island, Puka Beach is an image of what most people expect on a tropical island: white sand, azure water, and relatively empty. This is where locals gather the small puka shells for some of the jewelry that is sold on the island so expect the sand to be more coarse than on White Beach. The water tends to be a little rougher on this side of the island but it is much quieter. Similarly, there are fewer services -- at last count there was one restaurant but you likely won't have a problem getting a cold drink or an ice cream as there are a few vendors that patrol the beach. The main road in Boracay terminates at Puka Beach therefore you'll be able to hire a tricycle to get there in less than 10-15 minutes from central White Beach. Make sure you arrange a pickup if it is a quiet day and no tricycles are hanging around the beach. Most people experience Puka as one of their sailboat or banca stops during a day trip. This is a good spot for a picnic, but be sure to bring your trash home with you.
Baling Hai Beach - This is a quiet little cove just north of Diniwid Beach, where you can enjoy swimming, snorkeling and dining in a relaxed, peaceful environment. There are some fantastic views from the clifftop restaurant. Baling Hai is often included as a stop-off on an island boat tour.
It is worth hiring motorbikes or scooters out to explore the island, as there are other beautiful beaches on the other side of the island that are even better for snorkeling that will be completely deserted. Hire them for a couple of days and you should get a discount. The roads are a bit dodgy, and some are still being constructed, but it's a good laugh and better than plunking yourself on a patch of white sand and seeing nothing. If you happen to be lying on the beach though definitely have a massage and manicure.
Take a boat around the island, with lunch included which is only a couple of hundred pesos for the afternoon.
Generally scuba diving sites are extremely poor, with the exception of 'Yapak'- a deep wall dive suitable for only the most experienced divers.
A sailing tour with The Red Pirates is a must in Boracay. You will find their red paraw (native sailboat) in Angol at the southern end of White Beach. The place is called The Red Pirates Pub. It is a beautiful spot with a very unique driftwood garden under high coconut trees. Enjoy your drink, meet other travelers from around the globe and watch one of the most spectacular sunsets in Asia. Cap. Joey will bring you to a secluded beach for a beach BBQ and he will show you the best spots around Boracay`s shores for snorkeling. Edit 02/07: After the strong taifun from december 06 there isn't too much left of the famous red paraw. But still there are sailing trips on a new boat.
Horse riding is a fun activity in Boracay - get off the beaten path and experience native villages and scenery most other visitors don't get to see. All levels of experience are catered to. Ask a tricycle to take you to the Boracay Horse Riding Stables.
Located on Bulabog Beach, the Boracay Butterfly Garden is a "Must See" for Boracay visitors. Walk among rare and beautiful butterflies in a tropical garden by the beach. It is fun and educational, with conducted tours of the life cycles, with eggs, caterpillars, pupae, and mature butterflies.
Try rock climbing at D'Wall Climbing Gym, an outdoor rock climbing gym located at D'Mall near Boat Station 2.
Along White Beach you will be approached frequently by women offering to give you a massage, which they will do on the spot or on a towel laid out on the beach - your choice.
A bit more organized, White Beach also has several "Massage Stations": collections of masseurs that have their mats set up. The stations are typically open as long as there are customers around but general start to shut down just after sunset.
For Swedish, Accupressure, Shiatsu etc, visit Abe (pronounced Abby) the blind massuer who operates outside Cocoloco restaurant in Angol (south of boat station 3). Only P300 per hour.
There are several smaller/mid-range spas in Boracay that offer a menu including massages, scrubs and facials but don't quite have the facilities to be considered a full spa. Most hotels in Boracay offer a limited spa menu and would fall into this category.
Ceasar's, found along the main road near boat station 3, specializes in Thai massage and uses two masseurs simultaneously to deliver the service. A 90 minute massage is priced at $50 USD.
Mandala Spa — is typically found near the top of the list of world spas. Everything from one hour massages to body scrubs, wraps, facials, baths and four hour packages that combine it all. Expect to pay $175 USD for the full four-hour prince/princess treatment.
Tirta SPA— found in Sitio Malabunot, Manoc-Manoc, area. Indian treatments in a stunning environment for an affordable price. Friendly and helpful staff.
D*Mall off of White Beach
Along White Beach, there is a wide variety of gift shops and boutiques along the beach path and in D*Mall. 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.
While walking or laying on the sand, anywhere on Boracay, you'll be appraoched to buy a variety of items including jewlery made of shells, fresh fruit, ice cream, sunglasses or a massage.
Boracay Books — Located in Boracay Shopping Center along the main road in Manggayad. Boracay Books sells books, magazines and maps of the Philippines. As no beach holiday is complete without a good book, you might be making several trips to this delightful little shop.
Shell jewelry — similar to what you can find elsewhere in the world, the jewelry made of shells is popular as for the most part it is made locally from shells found on Puka Beach.
Because of its wide draw of international travelers, Boracay has a wide variety of places to eat, enough to suit every palate.
White Beach has a surprising number of bakeries. Most operate from early in the morning to late at night and are an excellent place to find a snack as all offer single serving portions of cakes, breads and cookies.
The English Bakery, near boat station 3, has several outlets for fresh baked goods and European breakfasts including a variety of sausages and rye bread.
Real Coffee, near boat station 1, serves a variety of pancakes, sandwiches, omelettes and salads, as well as freshly brewed coffee.
Craving a real English breakfast? Crafts Rooftop Bar are rumored to serve the most authentic one on the island.
Near station 2, try the tasty food at Barracuda Snack Bar.
Arwana Coffee Shop (near station 3) is one of the nicest spots in the area for a tasty breakfast at a beachside table.
Lunch and Dinner
Dos Mestizos This newly opened restaurant is the brainchild of respected Boracay chef & restauranteur Binggoy Remedios, who serves a selection of excellent tapas dishes. Dos Mestizos is located between boat stations 2 and 3, behind the Tourist Center.
Aria in "D' Mall". Delicious Italian food. If they don't give you the spicy olive oil bottle on the side for your custom made pizza make sure you ask for it.
Cocoloco bar/restaurant near boat station 3 serves great Filipino and International cuisine in an attractive native-style setting.
Manana, near boat station 1, serves large portions of tasty Mexican food. Guacamole is only available when avocados are in-season despite what the menu says.
Kurt's restaurant and bar near station 3 has a wide selection of good German and Filipino dishes and a friendly atmosphere.
Hey Jude, in front of D'Mall, serves good pizza and bistro style food. The beef kebabs are a must-try.
Blue Mango, near station 3, comes highly recommended. There are some interesting mango-inspired creations on the menu too.
Lemon Cafe, in D' Mall. A new addition to the island, this place serves a variety of breakfasts, lunches and light meals. The service and presentation is excellent.
Cyma, in the new part of the mall. Excellent food and service at this Greek restaurant. Try the Mezedes Combination, the Spinach and Artichoke Fondue and the Chicken Souvlaki.
Rumbas, in D' Mall serves good steaks, pies and other English style dishes. You can even order curries, fish and chips and sausage sandwiches!
Crafty's Rooftop Bar and Coffee Shop is located on the top level of the new Crafts Superstore at D' Mall's main road entrance. The deli sandwiches and salads are delicious, and there is a wide selection of imported beers and ales. This is a great place to watch the sunset.
Zuzuni, near boat station 1, is the island's newest Greek restaurant, serving excellent cuisine in a romantic, beachfront setting. The service is friendly and extremely efficient.
Ole (located in the mall plaza) is the place to go for Spanish tapas and other specialities. Beware - the main courses are enormous!
Jonas Fruitshake in Station 1. Their fruitshakes are to die for!
Valhalla Steakhouse in the mall has just a few dishes on offer, but the steaks are hearty & delicious.
Heidiland Deli - Next to the main plaza at the D'Mall Phase IV is a fully air-conditioned European style Deli selling all kinds of Deli food as cheeses, cold cuts, salami, yoghurt, wines and much more. Famous are the reasonably priced sandwiches.
Aloja Delicatessen was for many years the only Deli on the island. A Loja Deli, working hand in hand with Heidiland Deli, caters today more to the wholesale market, but offers also a nice quiet place to eat sausages, sandwiches and drink wine in a quiet garden, away from the crowded front beach area. Wholesale prices also apply to visitors who buy in bulk.
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!
Sunset during Happy Hour on White Beach
Hey Jude bar usually has a live DJ, and the music makes a nice change from the ubiquitous Hip Hop and "R'n'B" played all over the island these days. Try their pizza too.
Cocomangas, near station 1, is famous for it's "Still standing after 15" challenge. Drink 15 ferocious shots and win a t-shirt and a plaque on the wall. This bar is popular with the student crowd.
Bom Bom Bar (near D 'Mall) is a native style beach bar which often has live music. It's a popular hang out for artists and musicians.
Nigi Nigi's beach bar, between boat stations 2 and 3, three minutes walk north of the tourist center, is a popular centrally-located spot to have a cool drink and enjoy a little people watching.
Cocoloco, near boat station 3, is an attractive beach bar/restaurant which also serves tasty food. You can enjoy your drink by the beach, under the coconut trees, and there's a pool table in the bar too.
Red Pirates Pub, is a native style beach bar (near boat station 3) with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. It's a good place to meet other travelers and chat, and sometimes there is a live tribal jam with bongo drums and native instruments.
Kurts Bar, near station 3, is run by friendly Bavarian Kurt and his wife Mags. It's a very popular spot to meet and chat, and one of the few places on the island serving draft beer.
Rumbas, in "D' Mall Plaza", is an English style bar that attracts a friendly crowd. The menu is pretty good too, especially the sirloin steaks.
Crafty's rooftop bar has probably the most extensive selection of imported beers and ales on the island. Head to the top floor of Crafts Superstore.
Accommodation standards vary, with top of the line hotels and resorts to a simple bed rented from a resident. As such, whatever your budget, you could easily find a suitable place to stay. During peak periods such as Holy Week, Christmas and New Year, rooms may be a bit more difficult to find and more expensive so it would be advisable to reserve in advance.
Staying along White Beach gets you closer to the bars, lounging and food, while staying closer to Balabag beach gives you better access to the popular wind and kite-boarding areas.
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 it's widest here, and the area is usually relatively peaceful. Among the many quality resorts in Boracay at which you may stay are (in alphabetical order):
Angol Point Resort. Lovely native style cottages in an attractive beachfront garden setting.
Blue Mango. In Angol, at the southern end of White Beach. A friendly, family run establishment. The location is peaceful - less crowded than at station 2.
Boracay Beach Chalets, Near Boat Station 2, Manggayad, Balabag, Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan Philippines, ☎ +63.36.288.3993 (fax: +63.36.288.6313), . Cozy, air-conditioned cottages decorate the landscape of the beach resort named the Boracay Beach Chalets. This Boracay resort is nestled in paradise surrounded by crystal waters and fine white sand. Go for a stroll or a swim or a sizzling night partying.Best rates on official website start at US$40.
Boracay Regency Hotel Resort and Convention Center, ☎ (63-2)5238707 (63-2)5238708 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: (63-2)5239790), . The Boracay Regency Hotel Resort and Convention Center is the first to receive a triple-A rating for hotels along the White Beach from the Department of Tourism of the Philippines. The hotel has 195 fully air-conditioned rooms, furnished with high quality fixtures and earthy bamboo and rattan pieces with lanais (except for standard rooms) overlooking the spectacular white sand beach. The hotel also features two swimming pools, gym, business center and a host of restaurants that serve international dishes (Korean, Japanese, European, American).
Boracay Sandcastles, White Beach, Boracay Island, Philippines 5608, ☎ +632-752-7575 (fax: +632-755-6849), . This back-to-basics Boracay beach resort on White Beach hearkens back to the days of an simpler time, when basking in Mother Nature's glory was joy in itself. Each exquisitely hand-crafted villa is lovingly crafted from natural materials, tastefully and simply decorated, and comfortably adorned in rich ethnic fabric, bamboo and rattan furnishings, village terracotta tiles, light shades, pottery, jars, and crockery.Best rates on official website start at US$35.
Friday's Boracay, ☎ ''+6336'' 288-6200 (fax: ''+6336'' 288-6222), . Friday's Boracay comes highly recommended. The only down side is the cost, and the fact that it's at one end of the beach and most of the bars and restaurants are in the center.
Hey Jude! Resort Boracay, D’ Mall D’ Boracay Balabag, Boracay Island Malay, Aklan, 5608 Philippines, ☎ +63 36 288 5401 (fax: +63 36 2885403), . Hey! Jude has always been known for its innovativeness and service and they have translated this from the bar to their resort. The party never has to end at this new Boracay hotel, giving you unbeatable comfort and luxury at a very pleasing price, with the bar just a stone's throw away!Best rates on official website start at US$46.
Jony's Beach Resort Boracay, Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan, Philippines, ☎ +(63) 36 288 6119 (fax: +(63) 36 288 3119), . Enjoy the crystal clear turquoise water and the white powdery beach, as well as the beauty of the natural Filipino warmth and charm at Jony's Beach Resort, one of the oldest family-run establishments on the island. This resort was recently accredited by the Department of Tourism as Class "AA".Best rates on official website start at US$75.
Le Soleil de Boracay, Jl. Imam Bonjol No. 1, Nagoya Pulau Batam 29432 Indonesia, ☎ ''+6336'' 288-6209 to 12 (fax: +''+6336'' 288-6118), . Right in the center of White Beach, near Boat Station 2. The resort as a whole has a nice ambiance, rooms are also brightly decorated. Lounging area available right on the beach front as you step out of the hotel. Breakfast is served a la carte and portions aren't that impressive so if your package doesn't come with breakfast, you might as well have it outside of the hotel.
Little Corner of Italy. In Angol, at the southern end of White Beach (Station 3 southern end - left and right from the famous red pirates bar). Better known as "Da Marios" as its run by an Italian. They offer budget common rooms (4 people/room) for 180PHP/night (during high season) with fan and common shower/toilet. Also bungalows (2-4 people) with prices starting from 1800PHP for 2 + 300PHP/person including own shower. If you don't sleep there, at least the lasagna is worth a try.
Microtel Inn and Suites Boracay, ☎ ''+6336'' 288-6931, . Microtel Inn and Suites Boracay is a 51-room beach-front hotel in Boracay Island, Aklan. It is the perfect place where you could experience the pristine white sand beach, calm turquoise waters and magnificent honey-colored sunsets that the island is famous for.Best rates on official website start at US$105.
Mulligan Golf Hotel Boracay, Newcoast, Balabag Boracay, Malay, Aklan Philippines, ☎ +63 36 288 5587 or 89 (fax: +63 36 288 5176), . Paradise is par for the course at the Mulligan Golf Hotel. This hotel spans the entire width of this world-famous island, creating two stretches of splendid white beaches for your enjoyment. Watch the day begin from the East beach of the hotel; Boracay’s magnificent sunset awaits you on the West beach. You can also access the best golf course on the island, just a stone’s throw away from this hotelBest rates on official website start at US$155.
Nigi Nigi Noo Noos, . Good "traditional" cottages that look great. Food is good there too.
The Panoly Resort Hotel, . The Panoly Resort Hotel is one of the island's most famous, popular hotels. Sprawled throughout this luxury resort are 100 rooms – 45 bungalows in 9 octagonal clusters, and 55 hotel-type rooms with verandas at the Garden Wing. The Panoly mixes native and contemporary-style accommodations to suit each guest’s preference
Paradise Garden Boracay Resort, Manggayad, Boracay Island Malay, Aklan, Philippines, ☎ +63.2.524.9638, . Boracay’s premier resort, Paradise Garden Resort Hotel is set on a 15,000 square meter landscaped garden with luxuriant tropical plants and trees. The hotel is equipped with the amenities of a first-class hotel including three swimming pools, two restaurants, and a bar restaurant.Best rates on official website start at US$100.
Patio Pacific, ☎ ''+632'' 8452222 (fax: ''+632'' 8452233), . Formerly known as Pink Patio Resort. Facilities include a gym, pool and climbing wall. Rooms are adequate if a bit bland in decor. From White Beach, you would need to pass through a small access road to get to the resort. Breakfast is served buffet style though choices may be limited at times.
Serendipity Resort Boracay, Main Road, Bgy. Balabag Boracay, Malay, Aklan, ☎ +(63)36 288 5411, . Serendipity has simple but tastefully-fitted rooms that are air-conditioned and equipped with hot shower and cable television. Fan-cooled cottages, inspired by huts in the Philippine highlands, are also available. Additional features include a commercial arcade, a guest’s lounge and landscaped gardens.Best rates on official website start at US$35.
Villa Camilla. Villa Camilla is a reasonably priced beach-front hotel in a nice quiet location.
Villa Sunset Resort Boracay, Manggayad, Balabag, Bocaray Island, Malay, Aklan, Philippines, 5608, ☎ +63(0)36 288-5666 (fax: +63(0) 36 288-5324), . Villa Sunset Boracay offers a tranquil and intimate atmosphere. Villa Sunset's eight apartments come fully furnished with their own terrace or balcony, cable TV, telephone, kitchenette, shower, air conditioning and a fully stocked fridge.Best rates on official website start at US$51.
Willy's Beach Club Hotel Boracay, Balabag, Boracay Island , Malay 5608 Aklan, Philippines, ☎ (6336) 288-3395 (fax: (6336) 288 3016), . Willy’s Beach Club Hotel Boracay is brimming with charm and character. As one of the premier serviced accommodations in Boracay, Willy’s Beach Club Hotel is the permanent home of some seventy individuals. This unique set up makes it a truly friendly and hospitable place to stay, offering the best of Boracay living without the hotel formalities. Each of the Mediterranean-style villa’s 40 air-conditioned rooms features fun designs and comfortable furnishings.Best rates on official website start at US$88.
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.
Dave's Straw Hat Inn, Tel +6336 2885465 Fax +6336 2885855, . Near boat station 3. Widely considered to be one of the best budget resorts on the island.
Orchids Resort, Tel +6336 2883313, Fax +6336 2883764, . One of Boracay's finest native-built resorts for the budget-minded vacationer. Less then a minute walk to White Beach.
Turtle Inn, Tel +63 (0) 36288 4206, .. This is one of the island's newer establishments. Located just a couple of minutes walk from the beach near boat station 3, this hotel has a high standard of accommodation at surprisingly reasonable rates.
Balabag and other areas
Paradise Bay is popular amongst German travelers. It offers a middle range accommodation rate with a small pool, a free van-ride to anywhere on the island and a billiard table.
Boracay Hills Resort, Tel +6336 2883315 Fax +6336 2883768, . One of the most exclusive places to stay on Boracay Island. Located in the lush and hilly hammock of Bantud just 10 minutes walk from the beach; free shuttle service available.
Lorenzo's Villa, Tel +632 928-0719, . One of two Lorenzo's properties, Lorenzo's Villa is located on the southern tip of Boracay. Despite being a fine full service resort facility, it remains less popular with travelers because of its distance from White Beach (10-15 minutes by tricycle or on complimentary hotel shuttle). All rooms are spacious and feature large ocean view balconies. There is a pool and spa services on site and beach access to a small stretch of sand is limited due to the resort being perched on a cliff. All rooms include breakfast and start at $55 USD/night or more for two bedroom suites with competitive rates found through online agents.
All visitors, save those that are shuttled directly to/from their hotel, depart from Boracay through Cagban. Cagban is located on the southern tip of the Boracay, the nearest point across the water to Cataclan. From your accommodation on Boracay, arrange land transportation to the Cagban pier. From there, it is a short and inexpensive ferry to Cataclan.
A tricycle to Cagban should not cost you more than 20 pesos per person but if you look like a foreigner expect quotes of 100 pesos or more. Because Cagban is so out of the way many tricycle drivers will turn you down unless you are with a group of people. If you are traveling alone a motorcycle will be happy to take you for 15 to 20 pesos.