Boracay - dream destination in the Philippines?
Boracay, Philippines is a destination that many people put on their bucket list knowing that they will likely never get there, if for no other reason, because it’s so geographically remote. While visiting my sister in Singapore, I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to take a trip to Boracay and I jumped at the chance.
When I tell you that just getting to Boracay is an adventure in itself, I’m not kidding. The island is most easily accessed through one of two airports on a neighboring island- Kalibo International Airport or Caticlan Airport. After flying in, you need to catch a trike (similar to a tuk tuk in Thailand) to the Jetty Port, where you then take a fifteen minute boat ride to Boracay.
We found out the hard way that booking your land and water transportation in advance is the key to a stress free experience getting to the island. Not knowing a ton about the logistics of getting to Boracay, we flew into Kalibo, opting to save some money on our flights. The downside of flying into Kalibo is that the jetty port is nearly two hours away. Upon arriving, we found a local who was transporting tourists in a large passenger van and paid him a modest amount of money to get us to the jetty port. At the jetty port, we paid another local for the ride on his jetty boat to Boracay. The jetty boat was quite an experience- it was a homemade, glorified raft that had a rack on top for the luggage. Lucky for us, it was a relatively short ride and we both knew how to swim, just in case the boat didn’t make it. Fifteen minutes later, we pulled into the Boracay jetty port, unharmed and complete with luggage (which thankfully had not fallen off the top of the boat). We later discovered that several companies offer a charter bus and boat ride from Kalibo to Boracay, which makes the transfers much, much easier. If you are heading to Boracay, be sure to book these in advance.
Caticlan Airport is much closer to the jetty port than Kalibo. I definitely recommend flying into Caticlan if you can afford it. The increased price of the flight is money well spent.
When you get to jetty port on Boracay, you will find yourself on a delightful island full of some of the friendliest locals you will ever meet. As an added bonus- the majority of the locals speak English. Boracay is only about 4 miles long and you can easily get anywhere on the island through a trike. We hailed one, much as you would a cab, to transport us to our hotel. Boracay is still very much an untapped resource for large brand hotels. You will not find your typical Marriott or Hilton resorts anywhere on the island. Instead, Boracay is spotted with charming, boutique hotels owned primarily by locals. If you want to stay in the middle of the action, White Beach is home to several small hotels, including my personal favorite, the Red Coconut. Although we didn’t stay there, we spent many, many hours at the Red Coconut’s outdoor bar that sits on White Beach and boasts delicious drinks and bar games, including Jenga.
We stayed a bit off the beaten path, at Fairways and Bluewater Newcoast Boracay. The resort is easily the largest hotel on the island and offers a private beach, great food, several pools, and a staff that caters to your every whim. If you enjoy golfing, the resort also has a stunning 18-hole course overlooking the ocean. Accommodations at Fairways were incredibly cheap and they also offered very reasonable excursion packages, including horseback riding and scuba. If you are looking for somewhere you can stay, play, and eat, this is definitely the hotel for you. The resort is about a five minute ride from White Beach and the hub of the action in town, so its location won’t deter you from exploring all that the island has to offer.
Boracay has a ton to offer for every type of traveler. Scuba diving on the island is an opportunity that you cannot miss. My sister and I had very different levels of experience in the scuba department- I had not dived before, while my sister is about to get her Master Diver license. We stopped in to Milky’s Dive Shop, where I got certified before we went on a dive. Despite our difference in experience, neither of us was disappointed. Our Milky’s guide took us to a great location where you could appreciate the beauty of life under the sea at various depths, satisfying both my amateur need to stay relatively close to the surface and my sister’s request to dive much deeper.
Several other types of excursions are also offered on the island- everything from parasailing to snorkeling, to a full-day boat tour that stops at each beach on the island. We found all of the options to be very reasonably priced and, in fact, spent a lot less money on fun than was expected. If you are a shopper, Boracay also has numerous shops filled with art, souvenirs, and jewelry at very modest prices. Pearls are one of the specialties of the island and can be purchased for a fraction of the price that you would pay in the United States. As an added bonus, all of the merchants will negotiate on prices; I was able to purchase a multi-strand pearl necklace and a set of large pearl earrings for under $20!
In the evening, the sunset on White Beach is beyond captivating. The excitement of the island continues long after dark, when the beach comes alive with music and dancing that extends well into the morning hours.
We only had five days on Boracay. It wasn’t nearly enough time to explore everything the island has to offer, but was certainly enough time to make me want to return as soon as possible. The island is easily one of the most stunning places I have ever visited. Even though getting to Boracay is rather cumbersome, the experience that the island offers is worth makes the logistical hassle of getting there worth every single penny.
Is a trip to Boracay on your bucket list? Have you been to Boracay – what did you think?
This post was written by FWTG Contributor, Angie Forstie. Angie is an attorney living in Atlanta with her husband and two children. She has spent the majority of her travels in Asia and the Caribbean.
CC header image from Flickr: Boracay by Mer S.
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