Since Antonio Banderas dipped his toes in the water here in 2007 and Brad and Angelina visited with the kids in 2011, Boracay Island has become the place to be seen. More recently Rachel Weisz said that Boracay ‘is gorgeous’.
Boracay is 350kms south of Manila. After the Caticlan Airport was upgraded in 2008, Boracay has become the Philippines’ most popular tourist destination. The main beach is known as White Beach and houses the majority of upmarket hotels, restaurants, bars and shopping malls. Boracay Island is famous firstly for its incredible beaches and crystal clear waters, and the main activities centre around a variety of water sports including diving, kiteboarding, windsurfing, fishing and snorkeling. There’s a golf course and horseriding on offer also. If you’re not after an active holiday there’s plenty of spas to enjoy some pampering, local boats to do some island hopping, bars and restaurants galore and of course no shortage of shops for a bit of retail therapy.
It’s a great location to relax, party or indulge with friends or family, with an array of beach bars, grilled seafood stops, gorgeous accommodation and unbelievable white sandy beaches.
Best Time To Go
Best time of the year to visit is November to April. Water is calm on the White Beach side, while the other side of the island is great for surfing and kite-surfing.
Although White Beach is the hub of all things fun and happening, it can be a little tacky. The island is small and quick to get around, so we recommend staying out of the rabble and head to the White Beach area when you want to.
Puka Beach is a quiet beach about a 30 minute boat ride from White Beach. Or you can hire a motorbike and take the mountain route, if you’re the particularly adventurous type! The beach is made of tiny white puka shells, and the area is very quiet and non-commercialised. Perfect for a picnic.
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
There are many different levels of dive sites around Boracay for the first timers through to experienced divers. The water is crystal clear and the coral is beautiful. There is also a shipwreck to check out. If you aren’t into diving the snorkeling is superb with lots of marine life to observe.
This is a very popular activity in Boracay. The islands, beaches and waters surrounding Boracay are simply stunning. You can hire a boatman from along the beach. A small boat will hold around 1-8 people and will cost around $70 for 3 hours. Ask them to take you to Crocodile Island, Crystal Cover and Puka Shell Beach.
There are 2 caves in the northern part of the island. They are worth a day trip to explore the beautiful water and grottos.
Make sure you are at the beach to watch the sunset each night. It is one of the most amazing sunsets in the world. With the boats returning home with an orange blaze of sky behind them, it truly is magical.
It is a tradition in Boracay for locals to build magnificent sandcastle structures along White Beach. Some of them are architectural feats, being over 6ft high! Feel free to take photos, but offer the builder a small token of appreciation.
Boracay is famous for its scantily clad, talented fire dancers. They perform at many restaurants and bars and are not to be missed. Your concierge will be able to fill you in on where to see the best performers.
Tips & Tricks
A trip to Boracay Island wouldn’t be complete without one (at least one!) of their famous beach massages. Keep an eye out for the ladies in purple uniforms as they are Government sponsored and generally offer a minimum standard of massage. You can also request the service in your room or villa for an additional charge. The cost is around $10 per hour.
White Beach is divided into three sections – Station 1, 2 and 3. Stations 1 and 2 are buzzing, full of tourists, tacky bars and shops. If you’re looking for a bit more relaxation and quiet time, stay south of Station 3. The areas around Bulabog Beach are great for those wanting to participate in wind sport activities.
There are only 8 ATMs on the whole island. If they run out of cash they aren’t restocked until the following day. There may be long queues at times to use the ATMs. Our recommendation is to take cash and traveller’s cheques and only rely on ATMs as a back-up.
Give it a miss and stick with the bottled stuff. Some of the high-end resorts have their own filtration systems, but why risk it? A Boracay Belly is no fun for anyone.
One of the staples of the tourists’ diet in Boracay is the fruit shake! The best in town is Jonas Fruit Shakes & Snack Bar, located right on the beach (try the avocado and banana mix). Have a shake while you watch the sun go down.
If you’re keen to dance the night away, you won’t be short of variety. Station 1 caters mainly to the Filipino crowd, whereas Station 2 is where you’ll find most of the foreigners.