Boracay Travel Guide

Boracay | Travel Guide for Solo Travelers

Sunday, March 31, 2013Ryan Mach

(Warning: This post is loaded with photos)

Boracay. Beautiful sunset, white-sand beach and crazy parties. For many, it's the ultimate summer destination. Recipient of multiple awards for being one of the world's best beaches, Boracay draws thousands of tourists from around the globe every day. It never fails to amaze even the most jaded traveler, but the commercialization as an effect of its rise to fame puts some people off, making them skip this island from their itinerary. Granted, it does have its hits and misses, beautiful spots and ugly truths but the fact remains that Boracay has one of the best beaches in the world. That alone is a good reason to give this tourist destination a try.
[The white sand beach of Boracay]

This is a guide on how to get to Boracay and how to enjoy the island if you only have a day to spare.
How to Get There
Direct commercial flights from Manila to Caticlan are available at NAIA on a daily basis. CebuPacific, Philippine Airlines, ZestAir, SeaAir - you can take your pick. Tickets without the promo fare are quite expensive (they sometimes range from 3k-5k one-way), so it's a good idea to book your ticket ahead of time - like one year in advance. Seriously. Constantly watching out for those tempting seat sales offered by these local airline companies will increase your chances of getting a very cheap round-trip plane tickets.
[It should be noted that planes that fly to Boracay Airport are ATRs - small aircraft, because of the short runway in Caticlan)

If you're not lucky to score a direct flight to Caticlan, try another route: Kalibo. More often than not, ticket prices via Kalibo are a tad less expensive than Caticlan although it does mean extra travel time since you need to drive from Kalibo to Caticlan Jetty Port. The transfer alone can take at most two hours. Imagine having your flight delayed, which sadly is a normal occurrence, you may end up spending more time on the road. And that's not good because you only have one day to spend in Boracay.
[Aerial view of Carabao Island, an unspoiled island near Boracay]

A much cheaper option would be taking a ferry from Batangas Pier to Caticlan. Now, don't just frown yet. I know sea travel doesn't sound very pretty but 2Go, a revamped shipping line, promises a hassle-free voyage (no, I'm not paid to advertise them). Their Caticlan-bound ferry leaves from Batangas at 8 in the evening, and after 8 hours, it docks at the port in Caticlan, which is just a few minutes boat transfer from Boracay.
[Another good option to get to Boracay. I don't mean the boat on the photo. Look at the poster above. :-) ]

Chyng Reyes has a nice experience taking the ship. One-way fare ranges from Php700-Php1,200 depending on the type of cabin accommodation. The drawback with this option is that you'll lose 8 hours for traveling. Ten actually if you count the bus ride from Manila to Batangas Pier.
[Boracay Airport is also known as Godofredo P. Ramos Airport. Terminal fee is Php200.00]

Once you've reached Caticlan, you need to go to Tabon Port, where there are boats to take you to Boracay Island. In front of the airport is a small terminal for tricycles. Tricycle fare is Php80.00 (3 people) while boat ticket is only Php25.00.
[Transport options]

Now, because you're alone, you may be forced to pay Php80.00 like what happened to me, but you can ask passengers in line if you could join them. Travel time from Caticlan Airport to Tabon Port won't take more than 20 minutes, unless your trike is super slow.
[Tricycles in Tabon Port]

At Tabon Port, you will be required to pay an environmental fee (Php100) and terminal fee (Php75.00). The terminal fee didn't make sense to me because the terminal looks small and tourists can't even lounge around while waiting for the boat. Besides, the boats are available every five minutes so no one really waits at the terminal.
[Small terminal at Tabon Port]

Now, the trip from Tabon Port to Boracay only takes 20 minutes, tops, depending on the weather. Boats are small but they're not overcrowded. There's a policy that a boat shouldn't take more than an x number of passengers.
[Boats are hardly crowded]
[Docking station in Boracay]

Walk a few meters from the boat docking station in Boracay and you will see motorcycles and tricycles that will take you to your hotel. You can opt to walk from there to the front beach but it'll probably take you at least an hour to get there. Usual trike fee is Php30.00 per person. You can haggle of course.

Motorcycles and tricycles are the island's main mode of transportation.

[La Carmela de Boracay regularly offers promos]

Various accommodation deals in Boracay are available online but they need reservation ahead of time. Just a few days ago, I saw a great one at eBay coupon deals. If you can get a cheap deal like that, you'll save thousand of pesos in accommodation. Hundreds of hotels, inns and resorts from Station 1 all the way to Station 3 are yours for the taking, depending on your budget. Those situated at Station 1 are much more expensive than those that are located in Station 2 and 3. Just think Station 1 as the place for Class A citizens and Station 3 for Class C, well, you should get the idea. But that doesn't mean that all hotels in Station 3 are cheap, and every hotel in Station 1 expensive. Also, hotels situated near the beach tend to be more pricey.
[One of the many hotels that line the beach]

If you're quite persistent and determined, you might be able to find a cheap gem.
[My accommodation wasn't exactly a gem but it was cheap and decent]

Hotels, hostels and inns accept walk-ins but to spare yourself from the hassle of hopping from one hotel to another, thereby wasting your time, you would want to book your accommodation in advance. I heard that Frendz is a good backpacker's hostel (I learned that from a Dutch traveler I met in El Nido). You can find several options online (a great example would be Journeying Jame's list of cheap hotels).
[One of the many posh hotels in Boracay]

Transient rooms are available too. Home stays may be found at Manok-Manok and some other villages in the interior part of the island. The challenge is finding them when you don't have the luxury of time.

Most accommodations offer half their regular price during off-peak seasons (June-September) and during summer months, expect their rates to be sky-high.
[Some hotels may be tucked along narrow alleys and far from the beach]

In choosing your accommodation, you may want to consider a few factors like how far is it from the beach and from food establishments. If you want to get wasted, it's essential that your chosen accommodation isn't tucked inside a sketchy and dim area. Boracay is relatively safe but there have been reports of assault and petty crimes so always look out for your own safety.
[Police station along the walkway to keep tourists safe]

Things to Do
Boracay offers various activities to satisfy tourists and holidaymakers. Parasailing, Paraw Sailing, motorcycling, biking, snorkeling, diving, helmet diving and other water sports promise some fun and adventure. Such activities are more ideal if you're with a group.
[Skim boarding]

For lone travelers, an array of solo adventure trips can still be done, like engaging yourself in a food trip, simply lounging on the beach, people watching, bar hopping and leisurely walking.

Food tripping
[No longer remember the name of this dish but it's from Paraiso Restaurant]

The long stretch of narrow pathway carpeted with white sand that extends from Station 1 to Station 3 is lined by hotels, boutiques and restaurants.
[An Italian Restaurant]

Most of these restaurants are open around mid-day to cater to hungry tourists looking for lunch and closed shortly before mid-night.
[Live band to serenade you as you eat. @Mandarin Hotel]

Food choices vary - from the outrageously expensive to relatively cheap (but not very cheap); from International cuisines to local fares, down to street foods.
[Bacon, egg and toast for breakfast]

Menus are composed of meat and seafood offerings. There are also fast-food joints and familiar restaurants.
[Look, they have Shakey's]
[And the overrated Starbucks]
[Chooks to Go at Brgy. Ambulong]

[Angry waves, still lovely]

If you're the type of person who loves staying at the beach, then Boracay is perfect for you. It's fine, white sand will surely amaze you. To boot, the quality of sand is one of the best in the world. That's not just a personal observation. Even international magazines say so.
[The beach start to get crowded; and it's just 8 in the morning]

Finding a good spot to lie down shouldn't be a problem as the beach is a few kilometers long. Bring your sunglasses, beach towel and favorite book. And don't forget to apply sunblock.

People Watching
[Filipino couple watching the waves]

Boracay beach, especially during summer months is crowded with people from practically all walks of life.
[Korean couple taking picture of the beach]

Here, you can find all types of people and races. Observing (and admiring) them can be a good past-time. But make sure to keep it down a notch and don't stare too much. If you're friendly, you can win a few friends.
[Mother and child walking along the white-sand beach]

Bar Hopping
[Juice Bar at Station 2]

Parties in Boracay can be a little crazy especially when the night gets older. A number of bars, pubs and nightclubs can be found just in front of the beach. Some bars may be crowded and wild, while some may be a little toned down and solemn. It's up to you which path to take.
[Taking a swig of Cuba Libre at Epic Bar]

When you're bar hopping, take extra precaution of your belongings. As much as possible, bring only enough cash and try not to drink too much.

Walking alongside the beach is also a good exercise. Be ready to literally rub elbows with strangers as the street can get really crowded. Interesting stuff can happen in the pathway. Just always be attentive.
[Commercial painter]
[The walkway at night]
[Local hawker selling hats]

Best Time to Go
Boracay has two seasonal weather patterns which are known locally as the Amihan and Habagat. Amihan season happens sometime September or October or May and is characterized by moderate temperatures, little or no rainfall, and a prevailing wind from the NorthEast.

The Habagat season, on the other hand, is characterized by hot and humid weather, frequent heavy rainfall, and a prevailing wind from the west. Both seasons are indicated by the switch in wind direction. This transition can be abrupt and may occur overnight.

I went there August and the weather was still fine, although I wasn't able to see the glorious sunset which Boracay is known for.

April and May are considered as the best months to go to Boracay as they're the hottest months of the year.

Other Things You May Need to Know
[There are ATMs in Boracay]
[There are sari-sari stores too, and Internet Cafes]
[Lifeguards are on post to keep swimmers safe (although there's no one on this photo]
[Happy Hours happen in Boracay too]

For more pictures, visit PinoyWanderingBoy Facebook Fan Page.

If you're a student, you may check out student travel deals from Who knows, you might score a wonderful deal that includes spending a day or two in Boracay.

Take care and enjoy your stay in Boracay!

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