There’s something about the island of Boracay that just never fails to amaze and intrigue. There are a million images and stories you can find about this island paradise, but somehow travelers still find its charm a bit transcendent, something you have to see to believe. Is the sunset really that gorgeous? Is the white sand really that fine?
It is no surprise that both locals and foreigners still flock to the island despite the many other island beaches being developed around the world. For the first half of 2016, the number of tourist arrivals hit close to a million, a 15.32% increase from last year. The number of foreign travelers also improved by 32.33% to 472,814 compared to 357,303 in 2015.
Boracay is a revelation for first-timers, a pocket of paradise in a small country. On your second or third visit, it still gives the chills, as if you are seeing the place for the first time. Foreigners traveling to Boracay for the first time are in for a really good treat—the charm of a gorgeous beach with the conveniences of the city. It’s like getting the best of both worlds. For foreigners who plan to bask in the beauty of the island, a helpful Boracay guide is what you need to make sure that you maximize your stay and don’t miss out on anything.
Here’s a foreigner’s guide to a dream vacation in Boracay.
There is no direct flight to Boracay if you’re coming from another country. Most have to connect from the capital, Manila. But once you’re there, you can get a bit more adventurous. If you find airport transfers boring, you can hop on a bus or a ship going to Boracay. The trip will take longer (like one whole day via ship), but some joy ride shouldn’t hurt. It is also cheaper.
The Philippines is a tropical country and it is hot for a good part of the year. There are occasional rains and typhoons during the second half of the year but the weather is still fairly hot overall. So if you feel like traveling in August or September, you may. Apart from cheaper accommodations and deals, the island is not that crowded during the off-peak season. The sunset remains lovely, the waters turquoise, the sand white and powdery, and the experience epic.
The three stations
That part of Boracay fronting the “White Beach” is divided into three stations (Station 1, 2, and 3). A lot of hotels, mostly backpackers’ hotels, can be found by the beach. This is where the action is: hotels, shops, restaurants, clubs, and locals offering water activities. This is the most crowded part of the island but it is also the most fun.
Everything you’ll ever need is there. Don’t worry about not bringing in a lot of cash because there are banks, foreign exchange, and ATMs everywhere. If you have some sort of comfort food, chances are that you will find it in the specialty restaurants offering everything from continental to Persian. Coffee by the beach? There’s Starbucks and other local coffee shops that are worth a try.
Luxury or budget
Depends on where you decide to stay in Boracay, your island vacation can be luxury or budget travel. There are a lot of luxury hotels usually located a little farther from the beachside for some peace and quiet. However, there are also backpacker hotels if you’re on a budget. You can even stay in one of the homes near the island if you are traveling with a big group. Most of the hotels can be booked online so getting an accommodation should be very easy.
All night long
Chances are you have heard about the legendary nightlife in Boracay. Yes, it is one for the books. If you want to drown your sorrows, get over a breakup or just feel alive, the club scene in the island is not going to disappoint. Apart from loud and fun house music, there are DJs keeping the night young with dance remixes. “Early hour” promos are also offered in most clubs and bars. The Boracay nightlife is also a good venue to meet new people and create friendships.
Beyond the “White Beach”
If you read blogs and first-hand accounts about visiting Boracay, you will most likely come across the five-kilometer stretch of white, powdery sand. That’s where most tourists go, but that doesn’t mean that is all there is to it.
There are a lot of other beaches in the island, with different things to offer. The second most popular after the White Beach is the Puka Beach. It’s more quiet and the waters are as clear as crystal. The Ilig-ilagan Beach is a great spot for snorkeling with great limestone islets that you can explore. Tambisaan Beach is another great snorkeling site with all its coral gardens and reefs. For water activities, there’s Bulabog Beach, which is a good spot for parasailing or kiteboarding. If you want a beautiful cliff side view, the Diniwid Beach is perfect for you. You may access these beaches via boat or tricycle.
Indulge in local goodness
No traveler’s guide is complete without the mention of local fare and dishes. What’s a beach vacation without seafood? Go to the D’Talipapa, a wet market in Station 2, and pick the freshest catch. The restaurants nearby will cook them for you. You can also try local dishes that are typically priced cheap that they are almost a steal. There’s also street food, of course.
The Philippines is home to a lot of fresh, export-quality fruits. For a fix of fresh juice, you can ask restaurants or try the famous Jonah’s Fruit Shake. Another local offering is “hilot” or the Filipino traditional massage. There are massage therapists by the beach and an hour of relaxing massage would only cost you about five dollars.
Foreigners will surely have the time of their lives in Boracay. It is perfect for solo travel and soul searching as much as it is for couples or honeymooners and family or friends. The important thing is that you open yourself to adventure and discovery and the island will do the rest for you.