After the 6-month rehabilitation of Boracay in 2018, the island is now back to its glorious condition. With new policies to rebrand the island, you can now enjoy Boracay’s ambiguous but irresistible appeal. Some parts of Boracay are already overdeveloped, defeating its original paradise appeal, but it still attracts a lot of tourists from different countries and parts of the Philippines.
Boracay simply caters to all kinds of tourists–backpackers, honeymooners, luxury travelers, budget travelers, solo wanderers, families, friends, etc. The island warmly welcomes all its visitors with its different attractions such as exhilarating water sports, island hopping trips, and fun nightlife. There’s just something for everyone.
You could be visiting Boracay to be alone and it’ll give you that despite its notoriety for wild parties. You just have to book that trip and read this ultimate guide to make sure you have a memorable stay on this beautiful island.
How to Get to Boracay
Manila to Boracay
If you’re coming from Manila, you have two options to go to Boracay: by plane or by ferry. You can book a flight from Manila to either of the major airports on the island, Kalibo or Caticlan. You can also book a ferry ride from Batangas to Caticlan. Each option has its pros and cons.
Of course, the fastest way to get to Boracay from Manila is through flying. If you’re flying to Kalibo Airport, you’ll get much cheaper flight rates but travel time to the island could take up to 2 hours. Flight costs to Caticlan Airport are way more expensive but at least you’ll just be much closer to the island, just about 15-30 minutes away.
If you book your flights 5 months ahead, flight to Kalibo can be as low as 3247 PHP/ 6997 JPY/ 64 USD whereas flights to Caticlan are not that different from Manila-Kalibo flights, going as low as 3724 PHP/ 7960 JPY/ 73 USD.
Take note that if you’re landing at the Caticlan Airport, you can just ride a tricycle to the Caticlan Jetty Port for 50-75 PHP/ 107-161 JPY/ 1-2 USD per person.
If you really want to save big time and don’t mind being on the sea for 13 hours, here’s a nice alternative to go to Boracay from Manila. You just have to ride a bus in Buendia, Pasay that’s bound to Batangas Port or Batangas Pier. Bus lines like Jam Terminal have buses leaving and coming every 30 minutes.
2GO is the operating company for ferries heading to Boracay from Batangas port. Here is how low their rates (with tax) can get per accommodation:
- Super Value Class: 868 PHP/ 1855 JPY/ 17 USD
- Tourist Class: 1602 PHP/ 3424 JPY/ 32 USD
- Cabin for 4: 1880 PHP/ 4018 JPY/ 37 USD
- Cabin for 6: 1880 PHP/ 4018 JPY/ 37 USD
- Suite Room for 2: 4688 PHP/ 10,019 JPY/ 92 USD
The trips begin at 9 PM so you’ll get there at the Caticlan Jetty Port at around 6 AM.
Kalibo to Caticlan
You have to travel from Kalibo to Caticlan Jetty Port for around 1.5 to 2 hours. You have different options on how to get there without spending too much. Here are as follows:
- Take the local bus: You can take a tricycle from the airport to the bus terminal. Board a Cered bound for Caticlan. The bus fare is 120 PHP/ 258 JPY/ 3 USD, the cheapest way to reach Caticlan from Kalibo airport.
- Via tourist bus/van: There are “non-packaged” vans or buses at the Kalibo airport that will take you straight to Caticlan Jetty Port. Remember that the fare should only be 200 PHP/ 429 JPY/ 4 USD.
- Via transfer service: These are the packaged buses and vans. You can always book this transfer service on your own. Your hotel might is likely to offer this as well. It’s convenient as you won’t only be taken to the Caticlan Jetty Port with the fees; boat crossing, terminal fee, environmental fee, and direct hotel transfer is also covered in this package.
You’ll also be assisted all the way through. Klook offers this service for 490 PHP/ 1050 JPY/ 10 USD for van transfer and 480 PHP/ 1028 JPY/ 10 USD for the bus transfer.
Caticlan to Boracay
Once you arrive at Caticlan Jetty Port, here’s what you have to do:
- Look for the registration area in the tents set up outside the terminal. There, you’ll have to write your name on a logbook. They use this record to track the number of tourists coming to the island.
- Move on to the verification section where you have to show proof of your accommodations. It’s required that you have a hotel booking or any accommodations if you’re spending at least one night in Boracay.
- Proceed to the payment windows where you’ll be paying for the following fees
- Terminal fee: 100 PHP/ 214 JPY/ 2 USD
- Environmental fee: 75 PHP/ 161 JPY/ 2 USD
- Boat fare: Pump boat; 25-30 PHP/ 54-65 JPY/ 0.5-0.6 USD or Oyster ferry; 100 PHP/ 214 JPY/ 2 USD
- Go in the port building where you’ll go through a security check. Wait for your boarding in the waiting area.
- Find your boat when it’s time for boarding and line up. Travel time will only take 10 minutes.
- Take a tricycle to your accommodations. There are a bunch of trikes lined up at the port. You only have to pay 150 PHP/ 321 JPY/ 3 USD per ride.
The Geography of Boracay
It’s crucial that you understand the geography of Boracay so you know where to go and where to book your stay. Boracay is a bone-shaped island with three barangays or villages namely Balabag, Manoc-Manoc, and Yapak. The jetties are in the southernmost barangay which is Manoc-Manoc.
When booking your accommodations, you’ll see these barangay names although the best way to divide the island is by beach. Yes, in case you didn’t know yet, Boracay is actually comprised of more than 12 beaches. It’s just that the White Beach or the main stretch is the most featured on media.
Here’s what you should know about the four main beaches in Boracay:
Since it is the main stretch, it is also the busiest beach on the island. It is the longest beach in Boracay that’s split into three stations. Station 1 and 2 are still within the Barangay Balabag territory. Station 1 is in the north end of the beach where you can expect peace and quiet.
Station 2 is the center of shops, bars, and restaurants. It’s also where D’Mall is located. Station 3 is mostly part of Manoc-Manoc already where most bars and shops can also be found.
Overall, White Beach is where all the happenings are, and I don’t just mean the parties. It’s also the best spot to watch the majestic sunset on the island.
Also known as the back beach, this part of the island isn’t really for swimming. The sand here isn’t as fine as the sand at the White Beach. However, this is the spot for different watersports such as kite boarding and windsurfing.
It will only take you 10 minutes to get to White Beach from here too, so it’s not that far off. D’Mall is also just a 5-minute walk away from here.
If you’re going to Boracay for the said watersports or you’re simply looking for much cheaper accommodations, this is the best place to book your stay. It’s also much more peaceful in this area since it’s less commercialized.
If you’re looking for that good old beach life, then here’s the piece of Boracay for you.
Diniwid is a smaller white sand beach just a 10-minute walk away from the White Beach. This beach is much more isolated with just several hotels and resorts mostly situated on top of a hill overlooking the Diniwid shores and the White Beach.
The beachfront villas here are just gorgeous as well. This is another quiet just like Bulabog Beach, minus the water activities.
Staying in Diniwid guarantees you peace, but it’s also not so far to the main beach in case you suddenly want to party or interact with more people. A cemented walking path along Diniwid beach keeps it connected to White Beach.
Off White Beach
This is where luxury travelers stay in Boracay. Top luxury hotels in Boracay such as the Shangri-la’s Boracay Resort And Spa can be found here. Various kinds of villas and private resorts are nestled in this high-end part of the island.
This is the area where you’re absolutely taken away from the influx of tourists and busier beaches. All the hotels here have shuttle services that take you to and from White Beach as well.
So you don’t have to worry about getting stuff from the shops, exploring more restaurant choices, or joining the nightlife.
How to Get Around Boracay
The primary mode of transportation in Boracay is the tricycle or trike. These tricycles work like taxis, only they obviously don’t have meters and that you can share a trike with other passengers headed towards the same destination. Just like how jeepneys work, trikes are also allowed to pick up or drop off passengers along the way.
You can charter the entire trike for a special trip, though. That way, your driver won’t make any other stop except for yours. Of course, you’ll be paying for all the seats in the tricycle instead of just paying for yourself.
That’s about 100-200 PHP/ 214-429 JPY/ 2-4 USD per trike. This is clearly not the most economical option to get around Boracay, especially if you’ll be going around the island a lot.
Here are the fare estimates for tricycle rides on the island:
- From one station to another: (per head) 10 PHP/ 22 JPY/ 0.2 USD
- To areas outside the stations like Bulabog Beach: (per head) 20-30 PHP/ 43-65 JPY/ 0.4-0.6 USD
- To Puka Beach or Yapak: (per head) 40 PHP/ 86 JPY/ 0.8 USD
- To Diniwid Beach: (per head) 35 PHP/ 75 JPY/ 0.7 USD
- To Cagban Port or Tambisaan Port: (per trike ) 120 PHP/ 257 JPY/ 3 USD
- To an area away from the main road: (per trike) 150-200 PHP/ 322-429 JPY/ 3-4 USD
If you want to go island hopping, you’ll have to book tours for that. There are people offering them on White Beach, although they have ridiculous rates. Coordinate with your hotel or look for packages on Klook instead for much more affordable prices.
11 Things to Do in Boracay
Boracay offers plenty of activities for all kinds of tourists. Aside from basking in the sun and getting that golden tan, the island is home to various water activities, trips, and parties that are all guaranteed to make your stay unforgettable regardless if you try them all or just a couple of them. So here are the hottest things to do in Boracay you might be interested in:
Go Island Hopping
When you’re in Boracay, it’s kind of mandatory to go island hopping. Most of these tours last 6 hours during the day. You’ll be guided be on a catamaran with a professional captain and a dependable guide.
The usual stops in these island hopping packages are Puka Beach, Balinghai Beach, Crystal Cove, Crocodile Island, and Magic Island West Cove. You’ll have enough time to take pictures on each destination, as well as take a dip in the waters and go snorkeling.
These tours also come with a lunch buffet. You’ll have barbecued chicken, fresh mangos, some more side dishes, and beverages to get you through the whole day of exploring different beaches.
As mentioned above, you can ask your hotel or the guys offering these tours on the beach to join. However, we really recommend you book your island hopping on Klook where it’s way cheaper.
You can spot these big parachutes pulled behind swerving speedboats on White Beach. They may look dreamy, but it’s actually a thrilling activity where you’re not just brought all the way up in the air, but also hanging there to travel at high speeds. It’s a fun way to see the island from above, though.
The good thing about booking parasail trips is that you don’t have to do it in advance. There are always boats ready to take you all day. You’ll see a lot of guys holding out flyers and offering parasailing trips. You’ll be taken to Bulabog Beach where the speedboats are.
You’ll also spot some shops offering the activities right in the vicinity of the back beach. All you have to prepare is your camera or phones as the staff is more likely than not to be skilled in capturing Instagram-worthy photos.
Remember that the regular price for parasailing is only 2500 PHP/ 5354 JPY/ 50 USD per person. Online rates are also the same. It’s possible to get discounts on Klook, though. So check online before dealing with those offering the trip on the beach. Take note that you can also haggle if you’re going as a group.
Kitesurf on Bulabog Beach
Boracay is known for being a good place to kitesurf, so expect mostly foreign professionals as instructors. The wind strength on this beach is just ideal for kitesurfing that many kitesurfers from different parts of the world stay here for long periods.
There are always kitesurfers out there on the sea all day long. Between their gears parked on the shores of Bulabog are kitesurfing shops that’ll arrange for your lessons and gear. The regular price for a 30-minute lesson is 3000 PHP/ 6431 JPY/ 59 USD.
Even if you’re not really planning to try this activity, you can just hang out at Bulabog Beach to watch kitesurfers dance against the wind as well. It could be therapeutic too, especially after a long day of island hopping.
Experience Paraw Sailing
Paraw sailing is basically old school sailing. Paraw is a two-sail outrigger boat that is a famous Boracay icon. Here, you’ll be learning how to sail with the sails rather than with any motor.
You might think it’s just a chill activity but it could actually become exciting depending on the intensity of the waves.
I recommend that you book your activity late in the afternoon so you can watch the sunset while you’re on the boat for half an hour. If you’re new to paraw sailing, you have nothing to worry about as the boats stay close to the shore anyway.
Here are the rates for each 30-minute lesson:
- For 2 persons: 3000 PHP/ 6431 JPY/ 59 USD
- For 3 persons: 3400 PHP/ 7288 JPY/ 67 USD
- For 4 persons: 3800 PHP/ 8146 JPY/ 75 USD
You can also arrange for private lessons that are longer and more extensive here.
Cliff Dive at Ariel’s Point
If you’re looking for real adrenaline rush, you must go cliff diving at Ariel’s Point. There are 3 diving planks there with different heights. The highest one is 13 meter high whereas the lower ones are at 7 meters, 6 meters, 5 meters, and even 3 meters.
If you’re just too afraid to dive into the cliff, there’s also a bamboo ladder that’ll take you down the cliff as well. Cliff diving is also just the main activity you’ll get when signing up for Ariel’s day pass.
This pass also includes other activities such as snorkeling, paddleboarding, and kayaking. You also get a lunch buffet, an open bar, afternoon snacks to maybe energize you enough to jump off the cliff instead of taking the ladder.
The tour begins with a longtail boat taking you with other travelers to the location where you have to climb up some rocky steps to reach the main deck where the dive boards are. You can check out Ariel’s Point official website to book a day pass. It’s only 2800 PHP/ 6001 JPY / 56 USD per person for the whole package.
Go on Banana Boat and UFO Rides
Okay, you don’t really have to jump off a cliff to have some thrilling experience in Boracay. You also have inflatable vessels pulled along by speedboats at really fast speeds to get your heart raising. You have the banana boat and the UFO ride.
The banana boat cruises at a speed of 30 kph, so that’ll definitely make you hold on for dear life with your friends or family. Don’t worry, you’ll be given proper safety gear and assistance throughout the 15-minute activity. Klook offers a package for only 370 PHP/ 794 JPY/ 8 USD.
In case you’re wondering what a UFO ride is, it works the same as the banana boat only that the shape of the inflatable vessel is a disk that could get you spinning on the water for more thrill. The speedboat also drags the UFO vessel at 30 kph.
You can book this 15-minute activity on Klook for only 555 PHP/ 1191 JPY/ 11 USD. Both these activities are not allowed for anyone below 18 years old.
Try Stand-Up Paddleboarding
Stand-Up Paddleboarding or Stand-Up Paddling (SUP) is one of the activities you can still do on the busy White Beach. Here, you’ll only need five minutes with the instructor and you can just paddle on your own for the rest of this 30-minute activity.
You can also sit or even lie on your back on the paddleboard. Make the most of it–glide on the waters or just chill on the board and get some tan. Kids and adults alike can enjoy SUP. Book your activity here for a much cheaper deal. It’s just 694 PHP/ 1489 JPY/ 14 USD per person.
Learn How to Freedive
Up to learn how to swim like you’re one of the fish under the sea? That is basically diving deep into the water and holding your breath for long periods. It does sound scary, but let freediving instructors change your perception of all that.
Boracay has plenty of these professional and passionate freediving instructors, so you’ll be in good hands. They’ll let you develop your unexplored capabilities to swim deeply into the water like real fish for just a short period.
There are several shops all over the island, offering freediving courses. You can take different levels of courses from beginners to advanced.
Go Scuba Diving
Of course, this list of water activities is not really complete without scuba diving. If you’re just trying this activity for the first time, you’ll be instructed by PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certified dive masters.
You’ll be taught how to learn about the equipment and the proper way to breathe underwater with the gear. Also, of course, you get to see different colorful things under the waters of Boracay such as corals and some marine life. Take note that you don’t need any experience to learn. You don’t even need to know how to swim.
You can book your lesson here. It’s just 3000 PHP/ 6431 JPY/ 59 USD per person for a 3-hour course. If you have previous experience in scuba diving already, you can also just get advanced courses or get acquainted with these professional divers to join high-level dives.
Go on a Pub Crawl
Experience the infamous nightlife in Boracay by going on a pub crawl. Start with 3 of the most popular bars on the island:
- Exit Bar: During the day, this bar looks like a laidback watering hole. At night, it gets crowded with locals and foreigners alike. The bar has a bamboo bar and native oriental exterior and interior designs, keeping that simple island vibe. It’s also the kitesurfing crowd’s go-to bar.
- Epic: This upscale bar-grill has a happy hour lasting up to 10 PM every day. Here, you can get quality food during the early hours and have a good time on the dancefloor when it’s late. This place turns into a club at night with great DJs and legendary drinks. When you go here, order a Frooze. It’s a build-your-own-drink where you have gin, whiskey, vodka, and rum to choose from as base liquor. You can mix it with any fresh fruit of your choice.
- Paraw Beach Club: This looks like an ordinary chill beach club during the day but transforms into a lively nightclub after sunset. It’s right on Station 1 where the major happenings are. Expect groovy summer tunes, as well as delicious cocktails and food here.
Join a Boat Party
Combine the booze and the beach views by joining the legendary Mad Monkey Boat Party. Hosted by the Mad Monkey Hostel, enjoy unlimited drinks the entire tour from 12:30 PM-6 PM. You’ll be given not just a good time with a private DJ onboard but also snorkeling gear to enjoy the underwater sceneries while probably drunk.
You can check out the schedules here. It only costs 1800 PHP/ 3860 JPY/ 36 USD per person to be part of this most amazing party on the island.
A Few Last Tips
All I can say is that you make the most of your vacation in Boracay whether you’re there to just hibernate and get away from any noise or get wasted and make bad decisions for good stories. Just make sure that you throw your trash at proper garbage bins.
The island already had to go through a half-year rehabilitation before from all the carelessness of its visitors. Be a good tourist and help keep Boracay clean. Then just make sure to follow this guide if you don’t want to be scammed by some local hustlers who overprice fares and other tours and activities.