If you have seen Boracay from posters and postcards, it probably has an image of an island paradise to you. However, Boracay has became way too commercialized in recent years due to its popularity, and moved down my “must-go” destinations. Imagine wanting a quiet romantic time, yet from the time you set foot on this island, you will be bugged by thousands of vendors who will pester you non stop to make a purchase, especially so, if you are a foreigner. Gone too are the idyllic beach hotels, and are promptly replaced by international hotel resorts franchises.
However, if you love the beach, the sea, and sun, hanging out in the crowd, and over commercialization, huge selection of international cuisines, wild nightlife, 24 7 (well almost …) partying, then Boracay will make a perfect vacation for you.
Boracay is famous for its long white sandy beaches, and is also a popular outlet for water sports activities such as scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing etc. Other than the sandy beaches, Boracay is well known for the nightlife and party scene. There are numerous bars and clubs along the whole stretch of beach, mostly located at station 2 of Boracay. Spas are also readily at most places; you can even find freelance masseurs “patrolling” the beaches!
Best Time to Visit
Refer to this article: Best time to go visit Boracay
Where to Stay
Hotels on Boracay are sectioned off into 3 stations.
Station 1: BIG commercialized beach front resorts and hotels, and where you find the BEST white sand beach on the island. Prices are generally high, and abundance of food selection available. The northern Station 1 area is quiet and peaceful, but it can get a bit noisy and crowded near Cocomangas, Club Paraw and Beachcomber.
Station 2: Mid-Range accommodation – this is the area where most bars congregate. There’s never a shortage of activities, events and fun in this area. The clubbing scene of Boracay!
Station 3: Good budget accommodations for backpackers are located. Considered a chill out location with lots of foreigners – place can get real noisy and near the market.
I suggest Dave’s Straw Hat Inn for its value for money. It even has higher standard of services and facilities than many higher priced resorts. Located in a relatively quiet area, but not without places to eat, drink and to socialize. A pedicab or tricycle means that it is 5 minutes away from all the party areas. Sand quality might be slightly worse than Station one tho’, but nevertheless, still a gorgeous beach.
Orchids Resort is also a good choice for budget.
Marzon Resort is a good selection for beachfront choices.
Ryan: TRAVEL ADVISORY- Where NOT to stay while in Boracay – Boracay West Cove Resort – Manny Pacquiao’s Resort over Boracay’s last remaining coral reefs. A clear and blatant violation of our environmental laws. DO NOT SUPPORT THIS RESORT. DO NOT SUPPORT ENVIRONMENTALLY DESTRUCTIVE TOURISM.
The nightlife scene on Boracay is just as important as the famous Puka Shell beach, you will never find a shortage of places to party with numerous bars and clubs located along the whole stretch of the beach. Here are some of the highlights:
Club Paraw – Mostly local crowd. A simple, no fuss place to hang out with good music.
Cocomangas – Has been the most happening bar for many years. Bouncers make sure of the right crowd gets in!
Gulli’s island – Very popular with the “City” crowd.
Juice – Seems like a place with lots of expats. Mainly house music.
Hey Jude: The most “wannabee” and “never-will-be” bar in Boracay. Good to hang around to see and be seen but very plastic, no soul. If you are a social mountaineer this is the place to be in. Expect to pay as much as P 800 beach entrance fee to get in on some special nights! Dress code for guys: no shirts allowed. The bigger your six-pack the better to show it off.
Beachcomber – no soul, bland but also good for social climbers and mountaineers. Good house music though.
Summer Place – good vibe, no fuss, good eclectic music, good eclectic crowd.
Tides Roofbar – For the Manila city social mountaineers club, this is considered like the Mount Everest of the club scene! Kilimanjaro ambiance assured at all times!
My To Do List:
- Waste time on the Puka Shell Beach
- Take a pedicab around the island
- Sail around the island with Red Pirates
- Snorkel at Baling Hai Beach
- Go shopping at the Talipapa market
- See tribal music performances at bars and clubs
- From expensive international cuisines, overpriced!
- From arriving in a ship during wet seasons – rough sea! Take a plane instead.
- From Station 3 accommodations IF you expect a romantic getaway.
How to get there
My recommendation for a first-timer would be to fly via either SEAir or Asian Spirit from Manila to Caticlan. Less convenient but using larger and perhaps more familiar-seeming jet aircraft (also perhaps less costly — especially with advance booking) would be to travel via Philippine Airlies or Cebu Pacific from Manila to Kalibo, and thence onwards to Caticlan via tourist bus or hired van.
I normally fly the fastest route. Manila to Caticlan via SEair w/c has a 35min flight or Asian Spirit 55min flight. Both airline uses prop engine hesitated at first but i’m used to it since my first time in 1996 (i normally book thru Asian spirit & choose their 4 prop plane). Landing in Caticlan you’d take a short 5min ride to the jetty port and then a 15min boat ride to Boracay…from the port in boracay you get a trike to your resort. the whole trip once you take off from manila should take +-2hrs to your resort room ;)
The other route manila to kalibo uses the bigger airlines like Philippine Airline, Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines. Difference w/ this route is you add another +-1.5hour landride from kalibo to caticlan jetty port
PkTan is fascinated with this beautiful, complicated country. He loves advising travellers to Philippines and have developed this site to share all his knowledge of Philippines with everyone. Learn more about me [+]