Even though Hali and I travel in various regions around the Philippines, we’d never really included Boracay in our plans. Recently, we went on a short vacation and stayed in Boracay for a day as a layover before heading to Carabao Island in Romblon and we were pleasantly surprised that we actually liked it.
Here’s our impression about Boracay.
What you need to know about Boracay
Boracay is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Philippines (alongside other provinces such as Palawan, Cebu, Bohol, etc.). It’s known for its fine white-sand shores, particularly White Beach — a 4-kilometer-long stretch of beautiful beach lined with resorts, restaurants, and other commercial spaces.
Boracay has been named as the World’s No. 1 island in 2012 by Travel + Leisure magazine. It’s also a consistent entry in subsequent polls.
That saying, Boracay also has a “negative” reputation.
It’s commonly cited as a prime example of overcommercialization. In the past, Boracay was a virginal island home to indigenous communities. Over the years, the Aetas were driven away from their homes to make way for property investments. Today, Boracay is filled with beach resorts, tour agencies, and restaurants catering to Western palate.
Moreover, every summer and holidays, Boracay is crowded with local and international tourists who come for its famed white sands and raucous night parties.
Our experience in Boracay
We saw an amazing beach with few tourists
We decided to stay for a day in Boracay in the month of August, before heading to Carabao Island the following day. We decided to look for a room in Station 3, since friends told me that it’s a good location with cheap accommodations and fewer tourists.
Once we arrived in Station 3, a woman immediately approached us and asked what we needed. I was wary because I didn’t want to be subjected to tourist prices. However, the woman didn’t do any of that. She accompanied us to a lodging and talked to the owner so we could have a discount. She then gave us her number in case we want to do any watersport activities or even a massage later on. I felt bad about misjudging her and thanked her for her help.
We dropped off our things and went outside to explore the beach.
Boracay features a long stretch of beach that spans Stations 1, 2, and 3. Throughout this stretch, the sand was fine and the water a deep blue-green. My friend Andrew keeps telling me that Boracay’s sand is the finest he’d seen. For me it isn’t the finest (I’m giving that title to Punta Sebaring in Balabac), but it’s nonetheless amazing.
Hali and I took a long stroll across the beach. I expected that like El Nido or other popular tourist spots in the Philippines, Boracay does not have an off-peak season. But surprisingly, the beach area was empty except for a few other people. I did not expect this. I was expecting crowd, loud noises, possibly pieces of garbage left on the grounds — there was none of that. In fact, we enjoyed a peaceful walk along the beach.
By the end of our stroll, Hali and I talked about staying here for a few days in the future. The sea looked beguiling and it was almost begging us to come back.
Witnessing Boracay’s sunset
We decided to have an early dinner in the Treehouse Bar and Restaurant. The restaurant is cozy, with a nice bamboo interior, low dining tables and handwoven mats placed carefully on the floor. Guests are advised to go inside barefoot.
We ordered pasta and tropical fruit drinks. Acoustic songs were playing as we were eating.
The ambiance was romantic. We watched the sunset and I finally understand why Boracay is said to be one of the most amazing sunset spots in Asia. The play of soft shades of orange against the silhoutte of boats was mesmerizing indeed.
We left our hearts in Boracay
We left the island early in the morning. As we were on the passenger boat to Carabao Island, we came across a good friend. We talked about Boracay’s reputation and our friend agreed that she too doesn’t understand it. She’d been to Boracay even in the middle of summer and she still had a nice stay.
Other people have a different opinion — different strokes for different folks. We were lucky to have a nice experience on our layover here.
We’re excited to come back to Boracay for a longer stay.
P.S. I wrote another article on Why You Should Visit Boracay.
Quick Guide to Boracay Island
How to get to Boracay
There are 2 airports to Boracay Island: Kalibo and Caticlan.
- Caticlan is the closest airport, but it also has fewer and more expensive flights. It’s also prone to cancellations.
- Kalibo is the most popular choice, especially by budget travelers. From Kalibo Airport, ride a bus or van to Caticlan. Travel time is 2 hours.
Once in Caticlan Jetty Port, ride a passenger boat to Boracay Island. Boats are available daily from 4AM to 10PM.
Where to stay in Boracay
You can choose to stay in Station 1, 2, or 3.
Station 2 is the main tourist hub in Boracay. It’s where most commercial establishments are. Stations 1 and 3 have fewer choices in terms of resorts and restaurants, and it’s best for people who want a quieter stay.
We stayed in Station 3 since it offers cheap accommodations.
During off-peak season, you can enjoy discounted rates. Fan rooms and dormitory beds are available as low as P600-700 for 2 people and airconditioned rooms at P800 or above for 2 people.
Check out the lowest prices of accommodations in Boracay.
- Meldrums on the Move recommends Feliness Resort. BudgetYourTrip also has a list of the best party hostels in Boracay.
What to do in Boracay
Aside from beach bumming, there are various activities in Boracay including island hopping that includes a stop at Ariel’s point for cliff diving, snorkeling, helmet diving, parasailing, windsurfing and many others. Oh, I’m sure you already know of these. 🙂
Boracay had been closed for rehabilitation for 6 months. It reopened in October 2018 with new guidelines for tourists.
Have you been to Boracay? How was your experience?
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Katherine Cortes is a 30-something freelance writer/editor. She likes beaches, snorkeling trips, and relaxing staycations (preferably with bath tubs!).