With its pristine blue waters and beautiful white sandy beaches, it’s no wonder that Boracay is one of the hottest beach destinations in the Philippines, if not the world. Part of the Malay municipality in Aklan Province, Boracay is situated just off the North-West coast of Panay Island.
Boracay’s popularity began to rise at the start of the 80s, attracting backpackers on a budget holiday. Now, this tiny island is considered to be one of the most popular vacation spots in the world, and has been awarded numerous accolades by leading travel publications.
Boracay’s tropical climate is pretty consistent throughout the year, with only two seasonal weather patterns to take note of. The first is Amihan (cool North-East wind); which is usually November to June with minimal rainfall, and the rainy season Habagat (South-West monsoon); which typically occurs from July to October.
Generally, the weather in Boracay is hot and humid with an average temperature of 30ºc. The hottest months are from April and May with temperatures reaching highs of 39ºc, while the coolest month is December.
- November – February – Perfect time to go. Sunny skies, cool breezes and tranquil waters. The tourist season peaks in December.
- March – June – Weather gets hotter during this period
- July – October – Start of Habagat. Expect plenty of rain and humidity.
Getting there and away
As Boracay has no airport, all incoming travellers will either stop at Caticlan Airport (also known as Godofredo P. Ramos Airport) or Kalibo International Airport.
Although smaller in size, Caticlan Airport is newer – and thus cleaner, more organised and a whole lot more efficient – than Kalibo International Airport. Carriers that stop by Caticlan Airport include Philippines Airways and Cebu Pacific, so passengers have to transfer to an onward flight from Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. International airlines that fly into Kalibo International Airport include SilkAir or Tigerair, in addition to the domestic carriers.
Tourists can travel by sea from Bantangas to Caticlan Jetty Port. The journey takes approximately nine hours and will cost around 1000php. Click here to check out ferry schedules and prices.
Traveling by land will take exceptionally long, but is nevertheless a great way to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of the Philippines and to gain an insight on local life. There are bus routes from Manila to Caticlan, or you could rent a car. However, there will be stints in roll-on/roll-off vehicles (ships that transport wheeled-cargo) for the self-drivers. Cars are also not allowed in Boracay so you won’t be able to take the car there.
Getting to and from the Airports
If you want to save time, Caticlan Airport might be the better option, as the only thing separating you from Boracay is a 20 minute boat ride from Caticlan Jetty Port. However, it’s generally more expensive than flying into Kalibo International Airport.
The journey from Kalibo International Airport to Caticlan Jetty Port will take around two hours, but the scenic route (in our opinion) more than makes up for the extra traveling time. It’s best to schedule transport beforehand, otherwise, the Southwest Tour Stand at the airport can help you make your bookings. Transport options range from a bus ride to a helicopter flight.
Once you reach Boracay, there’ll be no shortage of tricycles able to take you to your destination.
Getting Around Boracay
Getting around Boracay is both cheap and easy, with minimal fuss. The roads are well-paved and some vantage points offer jaw-dropping views of Boracay’s magnificent beaches. Here are some of forms of transport on the island:
The most common mode of transport in Boracay, tricycles can be found all across the island, from White Beach all the way to Puka Beach. There are no real regulations as to how many people can sit on a tricycle, but for safety reasons and comfort, our recommendation is four people per vehicle – two at the front and two at the back. Prices vary according to journey length, but will also be dependant on how good you are at haggling.
If, for whatever reason you can’t get on a tricycle, there are riders offering to take people around on motorbikes. Most of the time, these riders will be roving around the island looking for passengers or just waiting for fares by the side of the road. They’ll take up to two people on their bike at one go. A motorbike taxi is more expensive than a tricycle; once again, your bargaining skills will be put to the test.
Motorcycles and bicycles can be rented at various locations in Boracay. Just be sure not to get ripped off and to always ride safely, as Boracay’s traffic can be quite unnerving for foreigners. Motorcycles are pretty costly, as there’s no fixed rate for rentals, it’s always good to ask a local for help in haggling.
Bicycle rentals, on the other hand are relatively affordable, costing around 100php/hour and 1000php for the entire day. White Beach has a number of rental shops where you can get some good bicycles.
Tourists can go island hopping and explore the surrounding areas of Boracay by renting a sailboat (paraw) or outrigger (banca). However, do be aware of touters looking to scam you. There have been horror stories of people not showing up and just bailing with customer’s cash. Our advice? Go through a certified tour operator or make a booking through your hotel.
Where to stay in Boracay
From backpacker hostels to five-star hotels, there’s no shortage of accommodation in Boracay. Most of these establishments are clustered around White Beach – the most crowded tourist spot on the island, but also the area with the nicest beach. Bulabog Beach has some great hostels at affordable prices, while there are a range of resorts and apartments near Puka Beach. If all else fails, there are plenty of Airbnb rentals scattered across the island.
Budget Hotels (Less than US$25 per night)
A prime holiday destination in the Philippines, even budget accommodation in Boracay won’t be as cheap as other parts of the country. Having said that, there are no-frills budget options on the island. Just remember that these places are cheap for a reason.
- MNL Boracay Beach Hostel (Dorm rates start from $13 USD per night). Cool graffitied decor, comfy dormitory rooms and a rooftop area with a brilliant view of the surrounding beaches. Air conditioning, wifi, housekeeping and laundry services are all included. Good location at Road 1A Bulabog.
- Second Wind Bed, Bunk & Breakfast (Dorm rates start from $13 USD per night). Neat, clean and comfortable. Choose from either mixed dorms or private rooms. Air conditioning, wifi, housekeeping and free breakfast are included. Located at Bulabog Road.
- Surfers Home (Room rates start from $12 USD per night). Excellent place for water sports junkies, due to its prime location on Bulabog Beach, Boracay’s best place for kite-surfing. Wifi, free breakfast and laundry services are included.
- Frendz Resort Boracay (Dorm rates start from $13 USD per night). The traditional Filipino bamboo and nipa style at this resort gives the place a really quaint feel. Wifi, bicycle parking, housekeeping, and airport transfers are also available. Located at Boat Station 1.
- The Q Lodge (Room rates start from $18 USD per night). Simple and unassuming, this resort is a good and cheap option for retiring for the day. Just note that there’s no wifi available. Located at Sitio Bulabog Balabag.
Mid-range Hotels (US$25-100 per night)
- Hey! Jude Resort Hotel ($60-90 USD per night). Spacious rooms with attached balconies and room service. Spa services and water activities such as scuba diving and snorkelling are available. Highly recommended for guests in Boracay for business. Located at D’Mall Boracay and Beachfront Angol.
- Levantin ($46-80 USD per night). Decked out in traditional Filipino furnishings, there’s a total of 19 comfy rooms. The in-house restaurant and bar offers seafood dishes and Romanian food. Kite-surfing lessons available onsite. Good location at Bulabog Beach.
- Erus Suites Hotel ($46-90 USD per night). Beautiful rooms, on-call massages, free wifi, and a swimming pool ensures that you get the bang for your buck. Tour arrangements and airport transfers are also available for guests. Located at Mainroad-Station 3, Manggayad, Brgy.
- Isla Gecko Resort ($35-50 USD per night). This budget boutique establishment will offers clean and comfortable stays in Boracay. Expect amenities to be basic, like air conditioning, laundry, housekeeping, and wifi. Great location at Station 2, Balabag.
Luxury Hotels (US$100+ per night)
- Shangri La’s Boracay Resort & Spa ($520-1000 USD per night). The epitome of luxury, Shangri La’s Boracay branch is THE place to ‘live it up’ if you don’t mind splashing the cash. The facilities and service are top-notch at this 5-star resort, absolutely nothing to complain about. Exclusively located at Barangay Yapak.
- Monaco Suites de Boracay ($290-1150 USD per night). Gorgeous rooms with furniture that would look at home in a mansion, this resort is the very definition of opulence. Spectacular location at Tulubhan, Manoc-Manoc.
- The District Boracay ($200-390 USD per night). Exuding a sexy, modernistic charm, this swanky oasis is one of the best places to stay at in Boracay. Do check out their classy in-house Italian restaurant, Caruso Ristorante. Perfect location at Station 2, Barangay Balabag.
- Cohiba Villas Boracay ($200-$420 USD per night). Stunning villa or snazzy penthouse, the magical Cohiba Villas Boracay is home to some of the largest apartments on the island. Superb location at Bulabog Beach.
- Discovery Shores Boracay ($280-380 USD per night). Combine the spectacular views of Boracay’s stunning beaches with the luxuriant, well-appointment accommodation of this incredible resort, and you’ve got an absolute gem. Fantastic location at Station 1, Balabag.
Places to visit in Boracay
You won’t find much in the way of tourist attractions. There is, after all, no need for antiquated museums, modern architecture marvels or gigantic parks on this island paradise. You’ll most likely spend your days appreciating the wonders that Mother Nature has bequeathed us, and these are our must-visit spots:
Undoubtedly the crown jewel of Boracay, White Beach is a marvel of nature with its crystal clear waters, powdery white sand that glistens in the sun, and a vast blue sky that stretches beyond the horizon. It might be the most touristy spot on the island, reinforced by a stretch of expensive restaurants and rowdy bars, but at least the government has managed to maintain its natural beauty perfectly.
A trip to Boracay isn’t complete without visiting White Beach; just beware the many touters trying to sell you anything from tourist packages to selfie sticks.
Situated at Baranggay Yakap on the Northern edge of Boracay, Puka Beach is an escape from the manic crowds of White Beach. Named after the thousands of puka shells strewn about the beach, the shells are also a source of income for locals who transform these castaways of the ocean into gifts and souvenirs for tourists. While that means the sand at Puka Beach is also a lot coarser than that of other beaches in Boracay, it’s still worth a visit.
The highest vantage point on the island, Mount Luho is where tourists can admire Boracay’s beauty in its entirety, with a massive, all-encompassing 360º view that sweeps across Bulabog Beach and the Fairways & Bluewaters Golf Course. The entrance fee for Mount Luho is reasonably priced at 50PHP per person, and visitors can either make their way here by tricycle, or in a stopover that is part of an ATV tour.
Quite unlike the happy, sunny beaches that Boracay is associated with, the ‘Dead Forest’ is a cesspit of destruction, with only contorted stumps of mangrove plants to show for the abundance that was once part of the land. Besides being an ecological reminder that global warming is real, the ‘Dead Forest’ area is home to many ghost stories that involve spirits and other creatures of the night. No entrance fee required for this one!
Untarnished and immaculately beautiful, Carabao Island is the total opposite of its sister island Boracay. Most of the locals who work on Boracay live on this pristine island, and there’s hardly anything modern about the place. No ATMs, no nightclubs, no massage parlours, no tricycles, no touters, and just a single restaurant with a convenience store attached, Carabao is perfect for those who are looking for tranquility. Things to do include buffalo riding, cave touring, and snorkelling.
Do note that there isn’t any transportation available around this island. Visitors have to get someone to take them around on a motorbike.
Dark, cavernous and grimy, Boracay’s bat caves offer an adventure for thrill-seekers. Located on the Western part of the island, these bat caves are precariously difficult to get to, and bats might be hard to spot if you don’t have a flashlight. It’s highly recommended that you get a local guide to bring you around, and wear the right shoes as the rocks are very slippery. Also watch for the snakes that inhabit the caves.
Though relatively small in size compared to its brethren beaches, Bulabog Beach is THE place to head to if you’re into kite-surfing or any other water activities. Even if you’re not, there are plenty of chill-out bars and charming restaurants in the neighbourhood that guarantee you’ll have a good time.
Baling Hai Beach
One of the more secluded spots in Boracay, Baling Hai Beach is a great place for travellers to just chill out, swim and relax by the beach. Want an awesome view? Head over to Bailing Hai Resort’s cliff-top restaurant, where you can indulge in delicacies ranging from authentic Filipino bites to quality European dishes.
Don’t worry; there aren’t any flesh-eating crocs here. Crocodile Island is named as such because it is shaped like the powerful reptile, and is an extremely popular area for divers and snorkelers to explore Boracay’s dazzling marine life.
Water Activities in Boracay
Jet-skiing, kite-surfing, wind-surfing, paddle-boarding, kayaking, diving, snorkelling; you name it, the folks on Boracay have it. Packages can either be purchased from the hotel you are staying in, or from the numerous tour groups along White Beach. Do keep in mind that many of these touters earn a commission, so we recommend comparing prices before settling on the one with the best value.
We took up the package offered by Ariel’s Point. For 2500PHP per person, the day-trip package includes kayaking, snorkelling, cliff-diving, a lunch buffet, and free-flow alcohol. The dive point is just 45 minutes away by boat from White Beach, and participants can jump from heights ranging from three to fifteen metres.
Land Activities in Boracay
As you’d expect, water activities make up the most of what Boracay offers. However, land-lubbers can still get their adrenaline rush from activities like driving ATVs, riding Boracay’s crazy G-Max reverse bungy ride, and zorbing. There’s also a zip-line that is roughly 80 feet above sea level and 300 metres long. If you just prefer something more laid-back, walking around and chatting with the locals is pretty fun as well. There’s a reason why Filipinos are some of the friendliest people in the world!
Where to eat and drink
For such a tiny island, there is surprisingly an incredible amount of eating and drinking options.
Restaurants & Cafés
- Lemoni Café & Restaurant – One of the most popular eateries in Boracay. Look forward to a delicious mix of Western comfort food, salads, sandwiches, cakes and all-day breakfast. Located at D’mall Square.
- Crafty’s Rooftop Bar & Resto – Their version of Indian cuisine is remarkable, and patrons can help themselves to a decent selection of cocktails, wines, and beers at this establishment. Located at Aklan D’ Mall, Main Road.
- D’Talipapa – D’Talipapa is Boracay’s largest fresh food market, and customers can haggle over fresh produce like seafood, before handing them over to restaurants in the surrounding area for cooking. Definitely a fun dining concept. Located at Station 2.
- Jonah’s Fruit Shake & Snack Bar – Fuss-free Filipino food and an eclectic range of refreshing fruit shakes. What more could you want? Located at Aklan Brgy. Balabag.
- Cyma – An extremely popular multi-franchise chain of restaurants in the Philippines, Cyma is your best bet at getting authentic Greek food in Boracay. Located at D’Mall.
- Kasbah – Using only the freshest seasonal ingredients, Kasbah dishes out solid servings of Moroccan cuisine at their beachfront restaurant. Stiff cocktails too. Located at Station 1.
- Puka Grande Restaurant – Charming rustic decor, laid-back vibes and home to an appealing mix of fresh seafood and traditional Filipino delights like Pork Sinigang. Located at Boracay Hwy Central.
- Real Coffee & Tea Café – Without a doubt, this joint serves THE best Calamansi Muffins on the island. Ideal spot for a cuppa as well. Located at Station 1.
- Caruso Ristorante Italiano – Probably the classiest restaurant on this list, Caruso Ristorante is the in-house restaurant of luxury hotel The District, dishing out fine Italian cuisine. Located at The District, Station 2.
- Tilapia ‘N Chips – For some good ol’ fashioned Fish & Chips and other Western comfort food, there’s really no going wrong with Tilapia ‘N Chips. Located at Kamayan Bldg, Balabag.
- Bistro Valhalla Boracay – The drool-worthy steaks are reason enough to pay a visit to this establishment. Located at D’Mall.
- Dos Mestizos – For excellent and authentic Spanish tapas, there’s really no better place to head to than Dos Mestizos. Located at Remedios street, Sitio Manggayad.
- TITOS (Resto & Grill) – Like most restaurants or cafés in Boracay, TITOS serves a mix of local and Western food. The only difference being that this homely eatery does it better than most places. Located at Station 2.
- Andoks – Get your fix of fried chicken at Andoks, one of the Philippine’s most favourite fast food joints. Located at Balabag.
- Aplaya Beach Bar – Great Mediterranean food and laid-back atmosphere at this chic bar. Located at White Beach.
- EXIT Bar – Plays amazingly trippy music ranging from psychedelia to trip-hop. Drinks are excellent as well. Located at White Beach.
- Coco Bar – Slightly trashy with its blaring mainstream pop hits, but colourful and vibrant enough to be fun. Located at Station 2.
- Nigi Nigi Nu Noos Bar – Look forward to head-bobbing Rock & Roll hits at this groovy outfit. Located at Station 2.
- Pats Creek Bar – Live reggae and acoustic sets are the specialty of this super chilled out establishment. Located at White Beach.
- Kalinga Bar – Part of Victory Divers Resort, this suave establishment is one of the swankiest bars around in Boracay. Located at Station 2.
- Rumbas Sports Bar – The best bar to catch the latest sporting action. Located at D’Mall.
- Wave Bar and Lounge – A sexy establishment for high society players. Their dance floor comes to life late at night. Located at Station 2.
- Bom Bom Bar – Get your Bob Marley on at this skankin’ bar that doesn’t mess around. One of Boracay’s better drinking spots. Located at Station 2.
- Shantal’s Resto Bar – Has the cheapest happy hour prices on Boracay with a bottle of beer going for only 30PHP. Located at Station 3.
- Treehouse – Similar to Bom Bom Bar, but less bustling and more tranquil. Located at Station 3.
As seen above, there are plenty of beachfront bars to get the party started at. In terms of nightclubs, establishments like Epic, Summer Place and Club Paraw are popular places for both tourists and locals alike. However, the ultimate creature comfort comes in the form of Boracay Stars, the island’s latest club, and the only air-conditioned one too.
Old-timer Club Cocomangas is famous for their 15-shot challenge – your name and country will be engraved on the wall if you complete it. You can always go bar hopping on your own or with Boracay Pub Crawl – an islandwide drinking tour that’ll see you visiting a total of nine bars. For large-scale parties, do check out the schedules of Area 51 or Congas.
Besides the usual kitschy souvenirs, there isn’t much in the way of shopping at Boracay, so don’t bother.
The Filipinos are jovial and good-natured people, and that’s wholly represented in their many flamboyant festivals and fiestas throughout the year. Boracay is no exception, and here’s a list of events to perhaps coincide your trip with:
Ati-atihan Festival (January) – A commemoration of the feast of Santo Niño (Spanish for Child Jesus). Expect loads of music and a lively celebration as Filipinos take to the streets in cultural and tribal costumes.
Yapak Fiesta (February) – A festival of ancient folklore and tradition. Celebrated by parades and people walking barefoot.
Parochial Fiesta (May) – The annual celebration of the Holy Rosary Parish in Boracay.
Manoc-Manoc Fiesta (May) – Another traditional festival that is celebrated in the town of Manoc-Manoc.
Balabag Fiesta (December) – A vibrant jamboree with great music, dance, and plenty of cultural elements.
Food and Drink
As previously mentioned, there is no shortage of awesome restaurants and bars in Boracay. Food safety and cleanliness is generally not a problem here, even for cheap meals at roadside stalls. However, we do recommend drinking only bottled water and not from the tap. If food poisoning should occur, Boracay has a few clinics and pharmacies across the island that provides the appropriate medication for recovery.
In the past, the indigenous people of Boracay spoke a language called Inati. Subsequently, other languages and dialects were introduced to the natives, including Aklanon, Hiligaynon and Kinaray-a. The present generation of Boracay’s population is very fluent in English and the mainstream form of Tagalog.
Religion & Culture
Roman Catholicism is dominant in the Philippines as a whole, so naturally, Boracay has a large number of churches and Roman Catholics. There’s a smaller proportion of Muslims and other Christian blocs such as Evangelicals and Iglesia ni Cristo. People aren’t exactly conservative in Boracay, so you can be wild, free, and crazy. As with any foreign country, don’t disrespect the locals or break the law. Jail time in the Philippines can be severe.
Crime rate in Boracay is generally very low. That said, do watch out for the usual pickpockets and petty thieves. Always keep your belongings safely and do not leave them lying around. And unlike other islands in the Philippines, cases of kidnapped tourists are virtually non-existent in Boracay.
As for scams, make sure that your credit card is not subject to unauthorised charges by regularly checking your account. Also, touters cajole tourists into purchasing overpriced activity packages all the time, so be smart and bargain. Drugs are a big no-no in Boracay. Undercover cops constantly roam the beaches, and getting caught runs the risk of jail time and deportation.
Overall, there’s nothing much to worry about in Boracay. The beaches are beautiful, the locals are extremely friendly, and the infrastructure of the island is world-class.
Recommended length of stay in Boracay: 4 – 5 days.
We hope you’ll enjoy Boracay and the Philippines as much as we did. Best of luck!