Boracay is one of the most visited islands of Philippines, famous for it’s soft white sand beach and party life. Thousands of tourists are rushing there every day and changing the face of the island forever. Tropical paradise or is Boracay – tourist trap?
Where to find beaches without tourists? Are you gonna pay fortune there? When is the best time to visit?
How to get there
The most effective way is to catch a plane to nearby airport of Caticlan or Kalibo. Boracay island itself has no airport, but Caticlan airport is literally metres from the port to Boracay, Kalibo airport about 1.5 hour by bus further.
From the port of Caticlan small boats are going towards Boracay whole day long every few minutes and boat ride will take about 15 minutes. Ticket price consist of ticket fee of 25 peso, environmental fee 75 peso and terminal fee 100 peso. It means it will cost you 200 peso to get there. To get back obviously you don’t pay environmental fee again, so its 125 peso on the way back.
Transport around island
Immediately after you arrive by boat and leave port you will see tricycle station. Boracay has actually very cool system of e-trikes, which has fixed price according to the distance and will bring you from the jetty all the way till station1 for 25 peso per head (even with luggage which goes on the roof). If you going further north like Puka beach, you will pay more (40-50) and trikes are not going that often.
Trikes are shared option and you can stop them anywhere around island. Unfortunately drivers are often not honest and ask for ridicullous price only to be offended if you demand normal fair price. In this case you have to accept that you won’t be taken aboard and will have to wait for the next trike. Still the “public transport” around island is reasonably cheap and effective.
This is the beach why Boracay became what it is today. Long strip of beach with white sand so soft you want to bath in it. Lined by coconut palms, but sadly also by restaurants, resorts and people.
Lot of people.
The beach is divided into 3 parts. Station 1 is the northest part where are situated expensive resorts and during the morning not so crowded as we expected.
Station 2 and 3 are following to the south closer to the jetty. This is where you can find plenty of restaurants and where all the party happens.
Everybody comes here during sunset and beach is crowded all the way from station 1 till 3. Station 2 is probably the worst.
We can only dream how it looked like 20 years ago.
Located just north of the station 1 of the white beach. You can even walk from there in 10 minutes by passing small pathway along the cliff. The beach is small with huge rocks on the beach. But amount of people is much lower. Surrounding the bay are expensive hotels set high above the ocean with amazing views and price counting in dollars instead of peso.
This is great alternative if you are fed up with people on the white beach. Of course the sand is not so white and soft, but there are just few people there. Once you come to the beach, turn to the left and pass all the annoying sellers. Yes, all of them will offer you their free sun lounges, you only have to buy a drink. Coconut there cost 150-200 peso! That’s 10x more than normal price.
But once you pass them you enter the part of the beach where lazy visitor don’t go and there is almost nobody. It is usually windy here and waves are big, but it is fun to play in the ocean there if you are reasonably fit.
To be precise we mean north part of the beach. It is small cute bay with 2 seller stands, handfull of the people and few dogs. This is the place where we escaped the rush of Boracay. It felt like totally different place. We reached the beach by walk from Puka beach in 25 minutes and enjoyed it very much. Again – nothing can beat the sand on white beach, but here you can find your own moment of peace in Boracay.
Is in walkable distance from the White beach – just on the opposite side of island. It is the place for kitesurfers, because east coast of the Boracay is pretty windy, especially from November to April. For sure it is the place we would recommend to visit, even just to see the show. Immediately after you enter the beach, the strong wind will hit your face and you will watch tens of kitesurfers crossing the sea there and back, enjoying this amazing sport.
Accomodation at Boracay – tourist trap?
We always try to keep our budget around 10 euros (550 pesos) per night (for 2 people), which is definitely not possible around the White beach. Double room starts there from 1000, maybe bit cheaper in low season. Bed in dormitory will cost you there around 500 peso.
As we are not party people, we didn’t need to be at the beach and we went for cheaper area around jetty. And it actually felt much more authentic than in westernized / koreanized center of island. Public transport is cheap and we could catch a trike anytime to hit the beach. The room in Mountain view inn for 2 people is online under 800 peso, when we walked in without reservation, we bargained to 700 peso per night. The room is nice and clean, with AC and small bathroom. Wifi is quite slow though. It is located in 2nd floor and has small table on balcony in front of the room where you can have a breakfast and overview the area while still keeping your privacy. You can even use small shared kitchen.
Advantage of this location is that after you arrive to Boracay first time, you just walk here in 7 minutes, leave your stuff and continue freely to explore the island without backpacks. Another good thing is that there are several carrenderias (eateries) around where you can eat local style – tasty (is you like filipino food) and cheap (40-50 peso per meal).
Best time to visit
February – May is the local summer with hot temperatures, calm seas and low possibility of rain or typhoon. Also it means most of the visitors = super crowded.
June – October is typhoon season. High chances of rain, strong wind and big waves. If you wanna try your luck you might be awarded with empty beaches and low prices. But if the typhoon hits the area, you might end up sitting inside of the room while boats are canceled.
November – January is shoulder season. Less chances of rain and typhoon, temperatures are still moderate, but mostly cloudy with light showers. Good for kitesurfing.
But keep in mind that in Phillipines you can’t rely on the seasons. Especially last few years the weather is unpredictable, so our advise generally for PH is: Don’t plan the ferry back to the airport for the last day before your flight home. It might get canceled and you will be stucked at one of the islands and miss your flight.
Conclusion and alternatives
Boracay really is such a beautiful island. The sand here is one of the softest we have ever seen. But with so many people, resorts and westernized restaurants around, one can’t truly enjoy it (unless you come here for the party). We didn’t plan to visit Boracay at all, but typhoon hit the sea and any further islands where off the limits. In the end it wasn’t that bad as we expected, but we wouldn’t visit Boracay again. Only if we could go 20 years back in time.
We hope that you will be able to visit other islands around, which are much less touristic and hectic. Here are some of our tips:
Caluya island – for real out of beaten path backpackers. 3 hours by boat from nearby Libertad to reach this very remote island of beautiful empty beaches and coconut crabs.
Mararison island – Small island with big options. Both beach and beautiful hills, which will make you think you are in The Shire.
Carabao, Tablas, Romblon islands – Possible to reach them from same port as Boracay – Caticlan port. Total opposite of Boracay – peaceful and laidback, with beautiful beaches and nature. Romblon has to offer amazing sand bank.
Sibuyan island – More difficult to reach, but still to be discovered green lush paradise with nickname “Galapagos of Asia”.
If you travel to Philippines for the first time, we recommend you read these 7 tips, to make you trip stress free there.