boracay island travel guide

The first six months of the year, when the rainy season hasn’t come, is the best time to visit Boracay island, especially from February to May. Let’s explore the beautiful island through our Boracay travel blog — The fullest guide for a budget trip to Boracay (Boracay budget trip), Philippines: Things to do, see, eat, tips & more below.

Boracay island view from above. Photo: inextravel.ge Boracay travel blog
Boracay island view from above. Photo: inextravel.ge

If you want to explore Boracay but still don’t know how to start and make plans and you are worrying about the expensive cost, refer to the information below to be able to quickly come to this beautiful paradise island of the Philippines.

Crystal blue sea water on Boracay island. Photo: cntraveller.com
Crystal blue sea water on Boracay island. Photo: cntraveller.com

Airline tickets

The first thing you need to take notice of when traveling the Philippines is the timing. The first six months of the year is an ideal time to come to Philippines because the country is not affected by storms, especially from February to May.

Boracay travel blog

Cebu Pacific Air is the only low-cost airline to operate flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to Manila – the capital of the Philippines. You can easily book tickets on its website. In Hanoi – Philippines flights, Cebu Pacific Air has flights departing from Hanoi at 1:00 AM and flights back to Hanoi starting flying at 10:20 PM (Vietnam time). Flights to the Philippines depart from Ho Chi Minh City at the same time as from Hanoi but the flights back to Ho Chi Minh City start flying at 10:50 PM (Vietnam time). Currently, Cebu Pacific having those flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to the Philippines on all days of the week.

Every year, Cebu Pacific has some big promotions with 1-peso-fare flights (peso is the currency of the Philippines) or 1-USD-fare flights. The total fare is typically 116 USD for return flight departing from Hanoi and 82 USD for return flight departing from Ho Chi Minh City.

Aside from Cebu Pacific Air, you can also book tickets of Vietnam Airlines and Philippines Airlines (only departing from Ho Chi Minh City).

Transportation in the Philippines

Kalibo international airport. Photo: aklanforum.blogspot.com
Kalibo international airport. Photo: aklanforum.blogspot.com
Caticlan airport. Photo: ihcahieh.com
Caticlan airport. Photo: ihcahieh.com

Boracay is a small island in Aklan province, about 300 kilometers south from Manila – the capital of the Philippines. In Aklan, there are 2 airports which is Caticlan airport and an international airport in Kalibo city. To get to Boracay island, you need to take a 1-hour flight from Manila.

Some airlines operating domestic flights in the Philippines are Cebu Pacific, AirAsia, Philippines Airlines, Tiger Air and Zest Air. Cheap return flights for this route usually cost 45 – 90 USD. You should check the websites of those airlines frequently to find the cheapest flight.

The difference between two airports is that Caticlan airport is very near to the pier where you take a boat to get to Boracay island while if you go to Kalibo, you need to spend nearly 2 more hours by car to get to the pier. Depending on the airline you will arrive at one of those 2 airports. In spite of being only a small domestic airport, the flights to Caticlan airport, because of the advatage of being closer to Boracay, are always much more expensive than ones to Kalibo international airport, especially the late afternoon flights.

Taking a boat to get to Boracay. Photo: duckingndiving.wordpress.com
Taking a boat to get to Boracay. Photo: duckingndiving.wordpress.com

When you are at the pier, you will take a boat to get to Boracay, that’s an about-20-minute trip by boat. If you still worry about getting to Boracay yourself, you can choose the famous Southwest Tours (a land and sea transfer service supplier), they have a full service to take you straight to your hotel with the price from 500 peso to 1,000 peso (from 11.25 USD to 22.5 USD). This price may or may not include the terminal and environment fees. You should visit the website southwesttoursboracay.com in advance for reference. Its ticket agents are located opposite the 2 airports.

From Southwest bus...
From Southwest bus…
To Southwest ferry to bring you to the island. Photo: justgoge.wordpress.com
To Southwest ferry to bring you to the island. Photo: justgoge.wordpress.com

You can also this cost significantly by choosing the means of transportation by yourself. From Kalibo international airport, you can buy bus ticket (200 pesos) to get to the pier. From Caticlan airport, only about 10 minutes of walking is enough for you to get to the pier. Before getting on the boat, you just need to buy environment fee (75 pesos), terminal fee (100 pesos) and the ticket (25 pesos). After adding up all the cost, you just have to pay half the amount of money you need to use service of Southwest Tours.

A Trycicle. Photo: wikipedia.org
A Trycicle. Photo: wikipedia.org

After having arrived on the island, you will take a Trycicle (a three-wheeled motor vehicle can carry 3-4 people) to get to your hotel. The cost to go from the pier to the hotel near D’mall (tourist center on the island) is 20-30 pesos/person.

Hotels

Map of stations and beaches on Boracay island. Photo: etatravelandtours.com
Map of stations and beaches on Boracay island. Photo: etatravelandtours.com

Boracay is divided into 3 main areas: Station 1, Station 2 and Station 3 or into 2 beach sides: White Beach and Bulabog Beach opposite each other. You should choose White Beach because of its crystal clear water and soft white sand. On White Beach, Station 1 is where you experience many exciting activities on the sea and near the pier, Station 2 is the hub of entertaining and eating dishes, including D’mall shopping center and D’talipapa seafood market while Station 3 is quieter and has many luxurious resorts. Tourists often choose Station 2 because this area is the busiest place, even at night.

Station 1. Photo: thoughtsandwanders.wordpress.com
Station 1. Photo: thoughtsandwanders.wordpress.com
Crowded Station 2 in tourist season. Photo: slightlyastray.com
Crowded Station 2 in tourist season. Photo: slightlyastray.com
Boracay Uptown in Station 2. Photo: cebuanafied.wordpress.com
Boracay Uptown in Station 2. Photo: cebuanafied.wordpress.com
D’mall. Photo: slightlyastray.com
D’mall. Photo: slightlyastray.com
D’talipapa. Photo: lifelittlestory.wordpress.com
D’talipapa. Photo: lifelittlestory.wordpress.com
Inside D’talipapa. Photo: flickr.com
Inside D’talipapa. Photo: flickr.com
Station 3. Photo: slightlyastray.com
Station 3. Photo: slightlyastray.com
Station 3 beach is not crowded like the other 2 stations. Photo: slightlyastray.com
Station 3 beach is not crowded like the other 2 stations. Photo: slightlyastray.com
Station 3. Photo: wkipedia.org
Station 3. Photo: wkipedia.org
Bulabog Beach. Photo: John Everingham
Bulabog Beach. Photo: John Everingham

To find a suitable hotel, you can visit some websites such as Booking, Agoda. Boracay doesn’t have many motels, hotels offering dorm type accommodations (having bunk beds), most of them are double rooms, if you go with your friends, colleagues or with a group of people, you should take notice of choosing hotels allowing 3-4 people in a room. The hotels’ room rates here are not very high, with around 22.5 USD/night, you can have a clean and comfortable room. If you want a cheaper room, you can choose the guesthouses located in small alley, with no air conditioner and heater.

You can find, check rates, availability & booking for hotels of Boracay hotels on Agoda.com or Booking.com.

Some information about cheap accommodation in Station 2. Source: justwandering.org
Some information about cheap accommodation in Station 2. Source: justwandering.org

Eating

Famous delicious mango smoothies. Photo: ngoisao.net
Famous delicious mango smoothies. Photo: ngoisao.net

On Boracay island, there are many cuisines for visitors, from traditional dishes of the Philippines to European, Asian, African cuisines. The small road along the beache is a long line of many adjacent restaurants, pastry shops, coffee places with famous brands in the world.

The traditional dishes of the Philippines are often made from chicken so the restaurants here have plenty of chicken dishes for you to choose. Places which are famous for the traditional dishes are Andoks Chicken, Mang Inasal, Smoke… You also come across a lot of Italian restaurants with their famous Pizza.

Andoks Chicken in Station 2. Photo: adventuroj.com
Andoks Chicken in Station 2. Photo: adventuroj.com
Mang Inasal. Photo: dinneratsixthirty.com
Mang Inasal. Photo: dinneratsixthirty.com
Smoke. Photo: visitpinas.com
Smoke. Photo: visitpinas.com
Inside Smoke: lafanggero.blogspot.com
Inside Smoke: lafanggero.blogspot.com

When coming to Boracay, it’s obvious that you can’t miss a precious chance to eat seafood. You can come straight to D’talipapa seafood market, buy seafood and ask the restaurant to help cook the seafood you buy or choose to eat the seafood buffet in many restaurants with the price from 400 to 800 pesos. The seafood on this island is abundant with reasonable price, especially lobster.

Lobster taken at D’talipapa market. Photo: midnightgirl27.wordpress.com
Lobster taken at D’talipapa market. Photo: midnightgirl27.wordpress.com

Boracay has the famous mango smoothies – Mango Shake and you should try this drink with the price 60-100 pesos/glass in a lot of places, for example Jonah’s Milkshakes. In addition, there is also the traditional dessert of the Philippines: Halo Halo.

The Jonah’s on Boracay island. Photo: flickr.com
The Jonah’s on Boracay island. Photo: flickr.com
The traditional dessert: Halo Halo. Photo: filausophyadventure.wordpress.com
The traditional dessert: Halo Halo. Photo: filausophyadventure.wordpress.com

Boracay travel blog: Things to do & activities

White sand and crystal blue water. Photo: girlunspotted.com
White sand and crystal blue water. Photo: girlunspotted.com

Bocaray island, which is pretty small with only about 7 kilometers in length and 2 kilometers in width, is still listed in the Asia’s top 10 most beautiful beaches and the world’s top 25. Therefore, the first thing you need to experience when getting here is swimming and enjoying playing on the beach. The white sand is soft and the water is so clear that you can even see the bottom, which will make you want to immerse yourself into the water, the air, the atmosphere on this paradise island.

Apart from swimming and playing in the sea water, Boracay has many other activities for you to spend your time. The most popular ones are around-the-island tour which is usually known as Boracay island hopping tour, price for this tour is 1,500 – 1,800 pesos/person (33.75 – 40.5 USD). With this tour, you will have chance to go scuba-diving, eat lunch and visit the islets such as Magic Island, Crocodile, Crystal Cove in about 4-5 hours… You can easily book a tour in the tour agents on the island, in your hotel or from the local people.

Cliff diving at Magic Island. Photo: emjaefotos.com
Cliff diving at Magic Island. Photo: emjaefotos.com
Crocodile island. Photo: travelalltogether.com
Crocodile island. Photo: travelalltogether.com
Crocodile island view from above. Photo: Arj Munoz
Crocodile island view from above. Photo: Arj Munoz
Photo: justgola.com
Photo: justgola.com
Crystal Cove. Photo: seaseb.ga
Crystal Cove. Photo: seaseb.ga
Crystal Cove. Photo: phicopass.co.kr
Crystal Cove. Photo: phicopass.co.kr

The water activities are interesting, like Helmet Diving, Banana Boat, Snorkling, Fly Fish, Parasailing… You can also admire the sunset while being on a sailing boat or a canoe, enjoy some other activities: surfing and kite flying on Bulabog beach, cliff jumping in Ariel’s Point, driving the ATV to go around the island, watching the fire dance performances, playing Zipline, Henna tattooing or braiding hair…

Helmet Diving. Photo: macoymejia.wordpress.com
Helmet Diving. Photo: macoymejia.wordpress.com
Banana Boat . Photo: takethelonelyroad.wordpress.com
Banana Boat . Photo: takethelonelyroad.wordpress.com
Snorkling. Photo: boracayleisuretravel.com
Snorkling. Photo: boracayleisuretravel.com
Photo: girlunspotted.wordpress.com
Photo: girlunspotted.wordpress.com
Fly Fish. Photo: Courtesy of 7 Stones Boracay Suites
Fly Fish. Photo: Courtesy of 7 Stones Boracay Suites
Parasailing. Photo: wikipedia.org
Parasailing. Photo: wikipedia.org
Cliff jumping in Ariel’s Point. Photo: yannahthewanderer.wordpress.com
Cliff jumping in Ariel’s Point. Photo: yannahthewanderer.wordpress.com
Photo: arielspoint.com
Photo: arielspoint.com

You can also rent a Trycicle to go around the island or visit MT.Luho (the price is 20 pesos/person) and admire a view of the whole island from high above.

View from Mt Luho. Photo: wikipedia.org
View from Mt Luho. Photo: wikipedia.org

Shopping

The main shopping area is D’mall. Here there are many types of goods such as clothing, shoes, souvenirs… with various designs, styles, colors and an affordable price. Another option is D’talipapa, aside from seafood places, it also has plenty of small shops selling souvenirs which is cheaper than ones at D’mall. When walking on the coastal road, you can also buy things at the small shops along the road.

Boracay travel tips

– The main currency in the Philippines is the Peso (PHP), you should bring USD to change it to Peso easily. You can exchange the money at Ninoy Aquino international airport in Manila or small shops which can help exchange the money on Boracay island.

– You should remember to leave an amount of money to pay the fee at the airports when you are getting back to your country: Caticlan domestic route (200 pesos) and the international route at Ninoy Aquino airport (550 pesos).

– When you choose domestic flights of Cebu Pacific Air, the carry-on baggage is only allowed to weigh up to 5 kg (with other airlines, this number is 7 kg) and the checked baggage is allowed to weigh up to 10 kg with all airlines, because the airplanes for this route are the small ATR-type airplanes. The airlines check the baggage carefully and strictly, the fee will be extremely expensive with overweight baggage.

– It’s pretty safe on the island, there are usually people guarding at the restaurants, cafeterias. However, you should not be out too late at night.

– Filipino people in general and on Boracay island in particular are very friendly and kind. However, sometimes you may be overcharged, bargain boldly to have a better price which is just half or even 1/3 the price announced at first.

– When getting off the boat and get to the pier on Boracay island, there are some men who help you carry the luggage even without your asking for help. You should not let them do this because afterwards they will demand a tip.

– You should spend time walking along the beach from Station 1 to Station 3 to admire the beauty of this island to the fullest.

Walking along the beach. Photo: vigattintourism.com
Walking along the beach. Photo: vigattintourism.com

– Remember to bring necessary items when going to the sea, especially the protective gear for the electronic equipment in the water because you will need them while diving.

– Do not forget to take pictures with the symbol of Boracay – the Willys Rock in Station 1.

Famous Willys Rock. Photo: boracayblog.com
Famous Willys Rock. Photo: boracayblog.com

– Immerse yourself in the fun at Sea Breeze Cafe restaurant every evening when the chefs have a dance together.

The dancing chefs of Sea Breeze Cafe restaurant. Photo: tripadvisor.com
The dancing chefs of Sea Breeze Cafe restaurant. Photo: tripadvisor.com

– You can freely watch fire dancing performances without being charged, but at some places which have bigger investment in the performances, you need to buy their drinks. You should also take the time to sit in a coffee place and listen to the live music since the bands are very good.

Fire dancing performance. Photo: mamatravels.wordpress.com
Fire dancing performance. Photo: mamatravels.wordpress.com

Some more photos of Boracay island

Are you looking for more top things to do in Boracay: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Let’s check it out at here.

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