Boracay may be a tiny place – just 7 kilometers long and 500 meters wide – but it has rapidly become one of the Philippines’ top draws for tourists, both local and international. Such is the allure of its white sand beaches, turquoise seas, and sunshiny weather that it has been voted multiple times as among the world’s best island destinations – and as soon as I read about it, I was immediately hooked on the idea of enjoying a long and leisurely vacation there!
I must say, too, that my vacation plans were also the result of boredom from my 9-to-5 job, my weekends spent at home, and my nightlife spent at the same old hangouts. I chose Boracay because it appeared to be a tropical paradise yet equipped with modern amenities and facilities, sans the over-commercialized vibe of Oahu and the like. So, here’s a few things I learned about Boracay – how to get there, where to stay, and what to do, to name a few important things aside from enjoying the quintessential sun, sand and sea.
Boracay has no commercial airport yet but it is easily accessible from nearby places. From Manila, the country’s capital, I booked a plane bound for Caticlan Airport in Panay Island, the fastest route (50-minute ride). From Caticlan, I took a 15-minute boat ride from the Caticlan seaport to Bagacay’s Cagban Pier, where tricycles can be hired to inland destinations, such as hotels where guests are usually booked for their stay.
From June to November, an alternate route from Caticlan to Tambisaan, Boracay’s alternative pier, is recommended because of the brisk southwesterly winds.
Other routes are also available. A Manila-to-Kalibo flight followed by a 1.5-hour bus ride to Caticlan is recommended as the scenic route.
Planning to Go
Boracay is a great place to visit for at least 6 months in a year, usually from November to May, since the weather is as sunshiny as can be. The off season, from June to October, may mean lower rates for almost everything from accommodations to activities but strong winds and frequent rain, even typhoons, will increase the likelihood of a poor vacation, even cancelled trips. Second thoughts may also be necessary during the holidays, such as Easter, Christmas and New Year because everybody apparently wants to be there.
Since there are plenty of banks with corresponding ATMs, I just brought my bank cards including debit cards. Foreign exchange counters are also available while most hotels, bars, and restaurants accept credit cards. Internet access is also available, either in the Internet cafes or from Wi-Fi connections.
Deciding Where to Go
Boracay is a tourist haven because everybody’s budget from the backpacker to the millionaire can be accommodated. I highly recommend these places because of their perfect balance between Mother Nature and modern amenities:
• White Beach
The White Beach is the happening place in town! Aside from the brilliant white sand beach, almost every inch is covered by resorts, restaurants and nightclubs as well as souvenir shops. A few of the notable establishments are Frendz Resort, Hey! Jude South Beach, and Discovery Shores for great accommodations while the Sunny Side Café’s breakfast and Diniview’s private getaway vibe cannot be beat.
• Bulabog Beach
The Bulabog Beach is Boracay’s watersports capital, a place where a laidback vibe can be enjoyed to the fullest. Here, windsurfing and kitesurfing are the must-do activities, even for the less athletic.
As for the nightlife and spas, Boracay has them all. During my stay, I was spoiled for choices between spending the entire night and well into the morning partying with new friends and relaxing in a spa. I recommend Area 51 Secret Party Facility for its fore dancing, tribal drumming, and overflowing food and drinks for a near-hedonistic experience. I can then unwind at the Tirta Spa or the Eden of Mandala Spa for an unparalleled tropical spa experience.
Boracay has plenty of water activities, too, that will chase boredom away like dust in the wind. I tried a few of these activities:
• Banana boating
• Helmet diving
• Island hopping
• Sunset sailing
• Snorkeling and scuba diving
• Jet skiing
• Stand up paddling
• Cliff diving
• ATV driving
• Mermaid swimming
• Reverse bungee
• Glass bottom boating
And when I needed a vacation from my vacation, I just lie on the hammock, put on my sunglasses, and take a long nap!