Surprise! We Actually Like Boracay

Boracay Island in the Philippines
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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 Beach, Philippines
Boats for island hopping. We saw other tourists parasailing in the distance. (Photo by Hali Navarro)

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.

Beach in Boracay
Clear water in the beach.
Boracay Island in the Philippines
(Photo by Hali Navarro)
Boracay beach
No wonder it caught the eye of every tourist. (Photo by Hali Navarro)
Boracay beach, Philippines
Hali and his fuzzy hair enjoying the strong sea breeze. (Photo by fuzzy-haired Hali Navarro)
Fine sand of Boracay
The famous powdery white sand of Boracay. (Photo by Hali Navarro)

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.

Treehouse bar and restaurant in Boracay
At the Treehouse Bar and Restaurant. (Photo by Hali Navarro)
Boracay sunset
Boracay sunset.

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.

Kat and Hali in Boracay
Yep, we’ll definitely be back in Boracay. (Photo by Hali Navarro)

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.

Other suggestions:

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. πŸ™‚

Updates

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?

What to read next:

This is part of our backpacking trip in Panay Island. Here are the places we’d been to:

Here are other related posts if you’re going on a beach vacation:

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21 Comments

  1. Glad to see a new post (new photos) of Boracay. It’s one of my top favorite destinations for a wedding in the Philippines. Nothing beats the fine white sand of this island.

  2. Boracay is the best for me..very nice sand, clear seawater, lots of souvenir stores, delicious foods, and friendly locals. This coming September 30 we will visit again and it will be our 3rd time there. We won’t surely get tired of visiting this wonderful place. πŸ™‚

  3. Yup yup yup! Boracay is still one of the best islands in the country! And I also prefer staying at Station 3 as there are fewer people and it is much quieter than the other stations. I will visit Boracay again on October 29 and see more of the island during my visit. Hope to see travel with you soon, ate! <3

    1. Hey, see you soon! πŸ™‚ We love meeting other travelers during out trips. Happens rarely though. I think people just shy away from us because we’re a couple. Haha.

  4. I havent been to Boracay for the same reasons you had. But hmm, maybe I’ll change my mind and travel in the off peak season. I’ll be sure to remember your tips! πŸ™‚

  5. Wow, your wonderful experience is certainly different than many others I’ve heard about Boracay! I’m going to put it back on my places to visit in the Philippines next year πŸ™‚

  6. We are planning a visit to the Philippines in February and Boracay has been removed and added back into the itinerary so many times for the same reasons you mention in your post. A part of me definitely wants to experience it first hand but I don’t like being in crowded beaches. Is it normally crowded in mid-January to early February?

    1. Hi Christina, I’m not sure. January – February isn’t summer yet so I think it won’t be overcrowded, but if you’re looking for secluded beaches there are definitely better choices.

  7. Great to hear you enjoyed Boracay Kat! πŸ™‚ I always love reading these kinds of experiences about Boracay. I like your post is very genuine and it looks like you found a great place at Treehouse which I really enjoy also.

  8. I’m in love with Boracay and I never really believed those who said bad things about it even before I got the chance to go there. I chose to believe the many people who love it and they are right. Boracay is a jewel. It has so much to offer, and the marriage between the urban and the rural vibes is what makes it a perfect vacation spot for me. I’ve already been there 3x already and I haven’t have enough. I still want to go back. I’m glad that you liked Boracay too. πŸ™‚

    1. I remember you wrote about the activities available in Boracay. We’d love to try parasailing and helmet diving, among other things. πŸ™‚ I hope we’ll have time to go back next year.

  9. I now have a love hate relationship with Boracay. We were supposed to spend our vacation there (booked flights and all) but for 2 years now something would come up the last minute and we had to cancel. When I was initially booked our ‘flight’, we planned to stay at Station 3 as well since I heard it’s more kid friendly. Looking at your photos, I can see that it is! I can just imagine my kids running around and having fun with the whole beach by themselves.

  10. Hi Kat,

    This is the first time visiting your blog and I love how you’ve put everything together. This trip looks like a lovely memory and I love how everything looks. The water is so clear and really takes me into the destination. Keep going!

    XO

  11. Love Boracay because of its powderly sand. I do not enjoy its noise though and the many people roaming and in bikini. But i love shops especially the market or i forgot how they used to call it- talipapa, isnt it?

  12. Did you see how much more fine and beautiful the sands at station 1 was? Station 3 used to be like that back when there was no electricity on the island. It brings me great pleasure and joy to read your post. Did you know I lived there from 1998 to 2003? I rue the fact that there is too much commercialism now on the island compared to the early 80s and 90s to the time I lived there.

    1. I know how that feels. I feel nostalgic and regretful when the place I once visited has now succumbed to commercialism. When we visited Jomalig last year, there wasn’t any homestay or resorts yet and none of that big signage in the beach. Hopefully the place wouldn’t change much and that in the future we can keep a balance between development and preservation.

  13. We actually have the first impression in Boracay. I’ve never been to it because I think it’s so overrated, overcrowded & too commercialized. I’m not also a party-goer. But seeing my friends and other bloggers, I’m starting to doubt my impressions. And you enjoying it made me wanna go even once lang. Maybe I’ll try next year, soon enough hanggang di pa ako tita for night life. HAHA

  14. I will be in Boracay early next year so I find this blog entry very helpful. My hotel is situated in Station 2 so I am expecting more crowd and nightlife there. How was the travel going to the island? Have you reserved a package for land arrangements? Reading this makes me more excited to explore. I love the pictures especially that of the sunset and slippers.

    — Floree

    1. Hi Floree! We didn’t reserve any land arrangements. There are buses and vans right outside Kalibo airport and it was also off-peak season so it really wasn’t a problem. πŸ™‚

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