It's More Fun in Boracay
The Philippines most popular tourist destination is Boracay Island. It has won numerous awards as a top island in the world and for having a top beach. White Beach, the 4 kilometer stretch of white sand with crystal clear water, made Trip Advisor’s 25 Best Beaches in the world in 2018. It’s a shoe in for the award every year but even with a 6 month closure for restoration, it still made the cut. With a dozen beaches, it is an annual favorite for both foreign tourists and Filipinos alike.
Boracay Island won Best Island in Condé Nast Traveler’s 2016 Awards and the Island’s powdery white sand was its most notable feature in bagging the victory. The amazing sand doesn’t burn your feet even on hot summer days.
Perfectly situated an hour and fifteen minutes by plane from either location, Boracay is right in the middle of the Philippines two busiest International airports, Manila and Cebu City. Boracay Island is only 1,083 hectors and is 7 kilometers long and a kilometer wide. It is in the Visayas just north of Panay Island.
What to do in Boracay
Island Hopping is generally the go-to activity in most Philippines resort cities, and Boracay is no different. For very inexpensively, you can hire a boat with a guide who will take you from beach to beach where you can see the various beautiful areas. Boracay Island is a scuba diver or Snorkelers dream. With caves, corals and over 15 dive sites, you will never get bored.
Parasailing, ATV riding, Jet skiing, paraw sailing, stand up paddling and kayaking are all available for reasonable rental fees. You can also horseback ride, go trekking, cliff dive and zip line.
Just want to relax? That’s no problem. The island has plenty of fine dining restaurants and luxurious hotels where you can relax. Massages and Salons are readily available for those who want to be pampered.
For those into the night life, clubs and bars go off pretty much all night on the island so you will have a great time. Many young people from around the Philippines (and world for that matter) visit Boracay to let loose.
Boracay Island Weather and Climate
As with much of the Philippines, the climate doesn’t fluctuate all that much. It’s typically hot or hotter all year round. Like Florida, it can rain at 1pm and then be bright and sunny at 2pm. Rainy season is usually June to November and it’s just as busy because tourists fill it up taking advantage of slightly cheaper rates.
Money Changing & Communicating
The Philippines uses pesos. If changing in dollars, it’s always cheaper when you change your money in Manila or Cebu. The Manila airport has been the most competitive while I have found malls in Cebu to be cheaper than the airport. Major cities have more affordable money changing.
You can expect all the big hotels to have good internet connections. Check at booking that they have free wifi. If you need a local number while visiting, the best practice is to buy a sim card at the airport for about a dollar. The two big carriers are Globe and Smart and both have plans that will give you a week of texting and internet for about two dollars.
Stores and Facilities
City Mall is the closest thing to an American or European mall. You can expect the big open space with grocery, pharmacy, clothing stores, air conditioning and a food court. It’s pretty new having just been completed in 2017.
D’mall has been the primary go to shopping and is more like an outdoor mall with a lot of little stores than a traditional large mall. You can get pretty much anything you need for your trip here as well such as souvenirs and clothing items. There are also some cool bars in the area.
The island has medical clinics, a provincial hospital, some seafood wet markets, laundry shops, schools, churches, fitness centers, banks, internet cafes, police and government agencies just like most Philippines city. It’s a bustling area and most businesses that are needs were established some time ago to facilitate the millions of tourists.
In 2018, the Philippines Government as ordered by the President, closed down Boracay Island for rehabilitation. Decades of wear and tear and illegitimate building projects have had a toll over the years. Although very unpopular with the locals who wanted a slow correction of issues, President Duterte demanded the immediate cleanup of the island.
The great news is that things are looking fresher and cleaner than they ever and visiting after November 2018, tourists can expect cleaner and clearer water and better and more stable infrastructure.
Getting To Boracay
When visiting, just about all tourists will fly into Kalibo and then take a 90 or so minute air conditioned bus ride to the Caticlan Jetty port. The price of the boat transfer over to one of Boracay’s Boat Stations is included in the price. Some smaller turbo plans fly into Caticlan airport directly and then it’s a short tricycle drive to the jetty port.
How to Get Around Boracay?
The Island doesn’t allow cars so you won’t find any car rentals or taxis. But don’t worry, there is a great system of motorized “trikes” (tricycles/pedicabs). You can get just about anywhere between stations 1 and 2 for under 50 pesos and you can negotiate for longer distances. At the airport, you will see postings now for what the correct prices should be. It’s always advisable to ask the price before you board your trike. If you feel the price is higher than you expect, double check with a local or even wait for another driver.
Scooter & Bike Rentals can rent both a motorcycle and a mountain bike at an hourly rate from a number of different shops. Price can fluctuate and you will see quite a few places especially along White Beach where you can rent. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the beachfront.