Boracay is a small island in The Philippines, located just north of the town of Malay. Every year without failure, Boracay is ranked by publications around the world as one of the best beaches on planet Earth. The crystal clear waters and palm lined white sand beaches truly make it a slice of paradise. With all of the attention it gets, Boracay has certainly become a major vacation destination for all types of travelers. It can definitely get a little crowded at times and there are more resorts opening every season. That being said, it is still a beautiful destination and is definitely worth a visit, even for a budget backpacker.
How to get to Boracay
I think that the only thing standing between Boracay, and it being more crowded than Disneyland, is the fact that it takes two flights, a boat, a van, and a tricycle ride to actually get there. I like the fact that no matter how much money a person has, they still have to get there like everybody else. Depending on where you are coming from, you will have to take a flight into one of two airports. The Kalibo International Airport or the Boracay Airport (MPH).
Kalibo International Airport
The Kalibo International Airport is about 70 km away from the Caticlan Jetty Port where you take the boat to Boracay. Kalibo is probably going to be the cheapest airport to fly into. The Caticlan airport is right by the port but is much more expensive to fly into.
From Kalibo, you can either take a van from the aiport straight to Caticlan (250 Ph) or take a shared van headed that way from downtown Katiclan (100 Ph). Either way, the ride takes about 2.5 hrs.
Boracay Aiport (MPH)
If you flew into Caticlan, there will be a shuttle running from the airport straight to the docs. The only reason this airport exists is to get people to Boracay. They could not get an airstrip on the island though.
The Boat to Boracay
At the Jetty Port in Caticlan you will have to purchase 3 different tickets before you can get on the boat:
- Admission to Boracay (100 Ph)
- Environmental fee (75 Ph)
- Ticket for the ferry (25 Ph)
You will then board a ferry that will take you to the island of Boracay. When you get off at the island there are several blue shuttle tricycles called E-trikes (they are electric) that run up and down the island for 20 Ph/person.
Where to Stay in Boracay
The island of Boracay is only 7km from one end to the other and less than 1km across. There are a number of beaches on the island, but when people are visiting Boracay they are primarily congregating on the Southwest side, which is divided into three stations. The good news is that you have full access to everything I am going to say about each station no matter where you stay because they are all so close together. You can spend the whole day walking up and down the beach between all of the stations finding what suites your needs about each one. It takes about 15 minutes to walk from the start of Station 3 to the end of Station 1, and from Station 1 it is a short walk to Diniwid Beach.
Station 1 is the furthest from the jetty port of the three. This station is where all of the larger resorts are located. It is the more expensive area to stay, but it also has the most beach front because the walking pathway stops where Station 1 begins, making the way for a wider gap between the hotels and the water. Another bonus about Station 1 is that you can keep walking up the beach to some cool rocks and walk around to Diniwid Beach, which is hidden away from the busy resort areas and has some decent snorkeling in some spots. As far as having the most open beach space, Station 1 is the best . However, it is the more expensive and many of the resorts put up big sand blockers that obstruct the view of the beach from the rooms.
Station two is the busiest of the three because it has all of the shopping and restaurants. Here you can find plenty of souvenir shopping, walk up bars and snack shacks, massages, restaurants, and more. It can get quite loud at night because of the bars. This is where most of the tourists congregate so if you like the hustle and bustle it is fine, but the crowds can be pretty overwhelming at night. The benefit of Station 2 is that it is the only station where the tour boats don’t dock, so your view of the water isn’t obstructed and you can swim without feeling like you might get run over by a boat.
Station 3 is usually known as the more tranquil of the three stations. There are just a couple of restaurants and only one convenience store. It is quieter without the big bars blasting music at night. Station 3 has most of the cheaper accommodations out of the three stations and the resort crowd (i.e. Koreans) don’t wander that far down too much. So it doesn’t feel as touristy as the other stations. You can walk even further down the beach before the start of Station 3 and find plenty of spots to have all to yourself too. The only downside to Station 3 is that there are a lot of boats that dock there.
The Best Station in Boracay
As I previously stated, it really doesn’t matter where you stay in Boracay because all of the stations are within a very short walking distance of one another. When we visited we stayed at the hotel called La Isla Bonita. It is directly on the beach and the rooms were quite nice for just $15 us/night. We stayed there for 4 nights. I definitely recommend booking your room online before just showing up, as the rates you will get from booking.com, Priceline, or hotels.com, will be substantially cheaper than the posted rates when you walk in. I typically just run a Google search for “hotels in ___________” for wherever I’m staying in the Philippines and I can find rooms for as little as $6 usd and when I get there the prices on the sign say double or even triple but I already paid online so there’s nothing they can say. Boracay is a great place to kick back and enjoy the beach for a couple of days. I hope that you will also visit some of the other incredible places in the Philippines. For more on travel tips in the Philippines, please visit my page on the country where I summarize our trip, and my blog post where I discuss the cost of traveling in the Philippines.