The island of Boracay is always in the bucket list of world travelers who love the picturesque and refreshing beauty of a beach paradise. This captivating island in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines is everything you need to unwind and mellow out. Boracay’s pristine waters and white sand beaches will make every penny you save up and spend worth it. It’s a perfect getaway for solo backpackers, couples, cliques, and large families.
If you’re a first-timer wishing to embrace the full grandeur of this beach paradise, you’ve come to the right place. This guide will provide you with everything you need to know to make the most of your trip to Boracay, Philippines.
When to go: Identifying the peak and off-peak seasons
You can expect a heavy influx of tourists in Boracay all-year-round, but there are certain times when the shores are more studded with footprints. Tourists from every corner of the world pour in from November to May, arguably the most ideal time to visit this beach paradise. During these months, Boracay is shrouded with a cool atmosphere provided by the northeast monsoon. While Boracay is perfect for summer, the northeast monsoon turns the surrounding areas’ humid atmosphere into a breezier and more tropical one.
June and July mark the off-peak season of this tourist destination. The island is less crowded until the early days of November, when tourists start pouring in again. Needless to say, prices are less steep during this season since this is the time when the southwest monsoon enters the country, bringing with it cloudy skies and rain showers. Expect to get more cost-effective deals in air flights and accommodations.
How to go: Assessing the modes of transportation
Boracay can only be reached through the Caticlan Jetty Port. Assuming that you’re already in the Philippines’ capital of Manila, you have three ways to get to the Jetty Port. First, you can take the fastest but most expensive flight that connects Manila to Caticlan. Tickets range from Php 7,000 to Php 10,000 but your feet will be brushing the Caticlan airport runway in only 50 minutes. After a 15-minute ferry ride, you’ll be greeted by the beautiful island of Boracay.
The second route is also by air, though instead of connecting directly to Caticlan, you’ll be dropped to Kalibo, Aklan, after a 50-minute trip from Manila. From Kalibo, you can take a bus or van to the Caticlan Jetty Port. This will set you back an hour or two compared to the original route but it will save you more money. Air tickets range only between Php 1,300 to Php 2,500. Remember, you’ll still have to pay for ferry fees, environmental fees, terminal fees, and admission fees, among others, so you can surely use every penny you can save.
The third route is the longest and most strenuous, though it is by far the cheapest. From Cubao, take a two-hour bus ride to Batangas Port, and then take another two-hour ferry-ride to Calapan, Mindoro. From there, head to Roxas Port, Mindoro by land. This will take two to three hours of travel. From the Roxas Port, take another ferry that will finally drop you to Caticlan Port after four or five hours. If you’re bringing a private vehicle, this is the farthest it can go. You should leave your car in a secure and serviced parking lot since automobiles are not allowed within the vicinity of Boracay.
Once you’re finally in the island, you’ll notice that tricycles are the primary mode of transportation. Regular trips cost Php 10 per head, but if you wish to hire the entire tricycle, expect to pay between Php 60 to Php 100, depending on your destination.
Where to stay: Choosing the best accommodation
Whatever your needs or preferences may be in terms of accommodation, you will most likely find it in this beach paradise. The island is prolific with luxury hotels and budget inns. Whether you’re anticipating a stunning beachfront stay or you’re looking forward to a cheap accommodation in Boracay, you’ll surely be satisfied with the myriad of choices you’ll be presented with.
Most high-end accommodations can be found in Station 1 while the less posh hostels and inns are situated in Station 3. If you want a stylish but cost-effective accommodation, you have options like Alta Vista De Boracay, which can provide you with a comfortable stay without ripping you off. Its hilltop location has a stunning view of the island, and its exclusive access to Puka Beach can give you a rare pass to the more tranquil side of this paradise.
For the best deals, make sure to look for discounts and promos online. Most hotels have cheaper rates during the off-peak season so make your reservations between May and October.
Where to start: Hiring a guide or exploring independently
As a first-timer in this beach paradise, you should naturally prepare your itinerary. You should lay out beforehand what to do in Boracay and how to make the most of your stay. Depending on what kind of experiences you’re expecting, you can either hire a local tour guide or opt to explore the island on your own.
Getting a tour guide is more ideal for larger groups since it can help maximize their stay. Solo backpackers, on the other hand, are usually better off discovering the wonders of the island by themselves. Either way can actually provide exciting experiences for all types of tourists. If you’re planning to enlist a tour guide, you should know that the local culture encourages tipping. You can ensure better services if you give loose change not only to the tour guides but also to drivers and boatmen. Philippine peso is the preferred currency, but foreign money is appreciated as well.
Adventure treats for travelers: Activities to recharge your soul
What would a first-timer’s checklist in Boracay look like? Surely, it would be filled with numerous activities and adventures. Boracay is known not only for its white sand—air, land, and water adventures await you in this tropical paradise. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, you’ll be glad to know that Boracay is perfect for kayaking, parasailing, diving, skimboarding, jet skiing, wind surfing, paddle boarding, and island hopping, among others. Kiteboarding and surfing are especially popular in Puka Beach while cliff diving is the main attraction in Ariel’s Point.
Typical Boracay backpackers can also unwind in Diniwid Beach with the beautiful summer sunset as backdrop. Various spas and massage services are also offered to weary travelers who have spent the day partying at the beach. Whether you’re up for an action-filled adventure or a quiet appreciation of the place, you won’t run out of things to do in Boracay.
Munchies for the foodies: Restos and food hubs for the epicure
Every traveler can agree that trying out local cuisine is among the best parts of traveling. Undoubtedly, checking out the different restos and food stalls is already in your Boracay checklist. Perhaps you’ve allocated a portion of your travel budget specifically for food. If you haven’t done this yet, you better start looking for ways to budget your allowance in Boracay so you could get not only a good glimpse of the island but also a good taste of it.
Boracay is a foodie’s paradise, that’s for sure. The island is teeming with gastronomic delights, especially around food havens. Whether you have a sophisticated taste or a backyard barbecue appetite, you’ll find something in Boracay to fall in love with. There are too many food establishments to mention, so you’ll just have to go there yourself and give your taste buds a flavorful surprise.
Ready for the trip of a lifetime
First-time travels stay with us for a long time. Your first trip to Boracay will be unforgettable—that much you can be sure of. It’s up to you to make your memories of this tropical paradise the best they can possibly be. One trip to Boracay is all it takes for you to understand why it’s always more fun in the Philippines.