A quick overview of the best locations and hotels to stay in
The most fun activities on the island
How to get to Boracay, step by step
Boracay is the kind of island you will never want to leave. I've traveled to more than 50 countries and there are not many places where I've returned 5 times. Boracay is one of them.
Sabrina Iovino Travel Blogger & Photographer at JustOneWayTicket.com
By Paul Fournier, author of BoracayCompass
Welcome to paradise. Boracay is a tiny tropical island where people from all over the world come to enjoy beach life, watersport activities, and a vibrant nightlife. It’s located in the mid-west of the Philippines – a short one hour flight away from the country’s capital (Manila).
Boracay's attraction isn't limited to just a few things. It's the combination of many things that makes this island unique... And on this page I'll show you specifically what those things are.
So without further talk, take a look over my shoulder as I show you Boracay...
White Beach is the main beach of Boracay. It's 4 kilometers long and has resorts, restaurants and nightlife venues along it.
The main reasons why people love this beach are...
Beautiful shallow and still turquoise water - great for swimming
Powdery white sand that never gets hot
Amazing views while you eat & drink right in front of the beach
A beautiful sandy beach path, with shade
For a more detailed tour of White Beach you can read my guide: What White Beach is Like & Where To Stay.
Boracay Island has not 1, 2 or 3 beautiful beaches but 9, and all within close proximity of each other, since the island is very small (7 by 1.5 kilometers).
Each beach also has its own attractiveness. Some are amazingly beautiful, some are good for snorkeling, some have privacy, and some have a mix of those and other things.
I've created this Beach Guide to help you locate the best beaches that the island has to offer.
Photo credit: Sabrina Iovino
When you arrive in Boracay one of the first things you'll notice is the friendliness and openness of the local people. That’s not where it stops though...
Filipinos also speak English as their second language, so there is no language barrier (unlike as in so many other South East Asian countries). Because of this you can easily connect and make friends with locals as well as with other tourists.
Brazilian travel bloggers Natalie & Rob from LoveAndRoad.com say it best:
The first lesson we learned about Boracay, Philippines is that the beauty of this country is not only the nature, but the people who live there and the smile they give to us all the time!
Expats rank the Philippines as the friendliest country in Asia, a HSBC survey shows (source)
Over 63% of Filipinos can speak English. It's one of the country's official languages (source)
Gallup's Positive Experience Index ranks the Philippines as the 5th happiest country in the world (source)
Meeting new people or just having a fun night out with your friends is easy with many nightlife venues to choose from. Plus alcohol is cheap so if you like to drink you're in the right place.
John O'Nolan says it best:
Boracay is pretty much the Ibiza of Asia, in every way. The nightlife is absolutely fantastic. There is something for everyone – from live music, to clubs, to chilled out open-mic nights or flame-breathing belly-dancers. It’s got it all.
The average beer price in bars is P60 / $1.3
Over 35 nightlife venues to choose from. There's something for everyone
Have a look at my Nightlife Guide to get a detailed impression of what the nightlife is like.
The seafood market (D'Talipapa) has 23 different kinds of seafood. You can bring that seafood to one of the nearby restaurants, who will then prepare it for you...
These restaurants are specialized in cooking seafood, so you can choose from many different preparations. For example: in the above picture the prawns on the left are prepared in mango sauce and the ones on the right are grilled.
23 different seafoods to choose from at the local seafood market "D'Talipapa"
The nearby restaurants specialize in cooking your seafood. They offer many different preparations for an affordable price
To learn more about where to eat, have a look at my Food Guide which lists the 15 best budget restaurants on the island.
White beach or Puka beach for that matter are perfect places to watch the sunset. Colors vary from fiery red to orange to pink and everything in between. It all depends on the "mood" of the island in the current moment.
In the words of Lois Yasay from WeAreSoleSisters.com:
Boracay's sunset is a beautiful surprise every single day. I stayed there for 6 days and every day the colors were in different vibrant shades. It was as if the sunset goddesses were trying to outdo with each other with the sky's palette.
You can watch the sunrise at Bulabog Beach (a 10 minute walk away from White Beach).
Boracay has 27 dive sites that are accessible via a short boat ride. Most of them are easy so it's a perfect place for beginners to learn. If you are a more experienced diver then there are some challenging dive sites as well, like Yapak.
As for snorkeling: my favorite place for that is Tambisaan Beach. Or you can go island hopping and visit several good snorkeling spots by boat.
Dive site difficulty ranges from beginner to advanced
27 dive sites to explore
If you're up for some extreme adventure you can take up wind or kitesurfing at Bulabog Beach. Bulabog Beach has excellent conditions for beginning surfers as well as freestylers.
The water is shallow and flat which lets you learn and progress quickly. And the average wind speed during windy season is 12 to 15 knots (up to 30+ knots).
Shallow and flat water lets you learn and progress quickly
The average wind speed during windy season is 12 to 15 knots (up to 30+ knots)
Boracay is often seen as expensive by people who have not been there. This is a misunderstanding. You can spend a lot if you want of course, but the island also accommodates the budget traveler...
You can book a budget bed for as little as P200 / $4.5 per night or a luxurious private villa for P51.000 / $1031 - and everything in between. You choose.
To find the best place for your stay check out my recommended hotels here. In that guide I list the best accommodation in each location, from luxury to budget.
The breezy wind makes it comfortable to move around and be active
The yearly temperature averages out to 29°C / 84°F
I can give you many reasons why it's is a great place to visit, but don’t just take it from to me. Have a look at what some others have said…
No. 1, World's Best Island (2012)
No. 2 of Top 25 Beaches in the World? (2012)
No. 1 of Top 25 Beaches in Asia (2014)
No. 1 in Top Destinations for Relaxation (2013)
No. 1 of Top 5 Romantic Destinations (2013)
No. 3 in Top Destinations for Nightlife (2013)
No. 9 of Top 10 Proposal Destinations (2013)
Thanks to Sabrina Iovino for letting me use a quote and picture of hers, both from her article: Boracay On A Budget: A World-Class Island In The Philippines On $23 A Day.
Thanks to Natalie Deduck for letting me use a quote from her article: Boracay, Philippines – Rediscovering Paradise.
Thanks to Lois Yasay for letting me use a quote from her article: Battle Of The Islands: Boracay Vs Panglao.
Thanks to Carlo Garcia for letting me use his panorama of Boracay as the title picture.
Thanks to BoracayStories for compiling a list of the awards that Boracay received.
Don't get me wrong, I love the place, but I want to be completely honest with you...
So here are 7 things that could be better in Boracay and their solutions - so that you can have an great stay in spite of them:
It varies from area to area, but in general receiving internet via a smart phone or USB dongle is unreliable.
Instead I recommend you bring or get a mobile wireless router from Smart or Globe (or a universal one). Using those I've I received strong internet signals with little interruption.
Along White Beach everything is kept spotlessly clean. But if you venture into local areas you can occasionally encounter plastic garbage scattered on the ground.
It looks like some people don't care to keep their area clean. I'm a nature lover myself so this can be a sore to my eyes.
This has actually improved a lot over the years, but we still have the occasional brownout.
In most hotels this is no problem since they have generators. But if you stay in a low budget hotel or an apartment you might be without power when a brownout occurs.
White Beach and its sunsets are beautiful. But sunset time is often a bit crowded. The sunset is still beautiful of course. You just don't have that feeling of having the beach to yourself.
During morning and noon times the beach is usually quiet. I prefer to go to the beach around 3 pm. During that time the sun is less hot, but you still have a few hours to enjoy the beach before everybody comes out to admire the sunset.
As a tourist you probably like to explore. What better way to do that then on a motorcycle? Unfortunately, motorcycle rental is very overpriced.
For that reason you don't see many tourists driving around on motorcycles.
Tricycle and motorcycle drivers are reasonable priced though. It's the main mode of transportation for tourists. But of course it's not as good as having your own motorcycle to explore with.
As an expat living on the island I've visited most of the different doctor clinics there. My experience is that the knowledge of the doctors in these clinics is very limited.
More often then not you will get a young doctor that is still studying. Experienced doctors are few and far between.
If I had to recommend one clinic though I would recommend Metropolitan Doctors Clinic in Station 3. They have relatively good facilities and some more experienced doctors.
I rarely experience an upset stomach in my home country. In Boracay though this usually happens to me a few times a year. This is mostly because of the tropical climate, since it makes food deteriorate a lot faster.
An excellent medicine I've found to quickly stop any upset in my stomach is Diatab. Diatab is available in all pharmacies on the island and has stopped diarrhea in its tracks for me several times.
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It's located in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines (Mid-West), just 2 km north of its harbouring island Panay. It belongs to the province of Aklan and the municipality of Malay.
The island itself is divided into 3 neighborhoods, which are Manoc-Manoc, Balabag and Yapak. They are the south, middle and north parts respectively.
The west coast of Balabag is where White Beach, Station 1, 2 and 3 are located. On its eastern coast you will find Bulabog Beach (the wind and kitesurfing beach).
When traveling by plane you have 2 choices:
Fly to Caticlan (Godofredo P. Ramos Airport). Caticlan is located in the mainland of Panay. The total travel time from there is 30 minutes by tricycle and boat.
Fly to Kalibo International Airport. Kalibo is also located in the mainland of Panay, but further inland. The total travel time from there is 2 hours by bus or van and boat.
The advantage of Caticlan is that the travel time is significantly less, but you can only fly there from Manila or Cebu, plus check-in baggage allowance is just 10 kilo.
The advantage of Kalibo is that you can fly directly there from several surrounding Asian countries, and you'll have a large and upgradable baggage allowance. However, you'll have to add 1.5 hours extra to your travel time.
There are 2 distinctly different seasons in Boracay, named Amihan and Habagat:
Amihan is high season. The weather is sunny and dry, and the wind comes from the northeast. It lasts from November to May.
Habagat is low season. The weather is cloudy with about 2 hours of rain per day. The wind comes from the west, and it lasts from June to Oktober.
The yearly temperature averages out to 29°C / 84°F which makes for a comfortable climate. The only time when temperatures can sometimes soar above that is towards the tail end of high season (April-May).
The best times to visit are high season for good weather and low season for avoiding the crowd. I personally recommend the start of high season (November) as the ideal time to visit. This gives you the best of both worlds.
© 2016 BoracayCompass, all rights reserved.
Created by Paul Fournier under the influence of coffee and ampalaya.