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Travel Guide to Boracay: Where Parties Throb Across the Sky Edit

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Michelle Tobias  • Contributor
Opinions expressed by Explora.ph Contributors are their own.

Cover photo by Warren Camitan.

At a Glance

The party island Boracay is the most popular among the Philippines’ 7,600+ islands. It is notorious for its powdery white sand, which stretches a staggering four kilometers and rolls flatly into warm turquoise water. Some of its top activities include island hopping, paraw sailing, kitesurfing, scuba diving, and partying island-style!

Overview

When you first hold a beach postcard from the Philippines, that beach is most likely from Boracay Island. Boracay is the most popular among the Philippines' thousands of islands. It is notorious for its powdery white sand, which stretches a staggering four kilometers and rolls flatly into clean and warm turquoise water. Walking from end to end of this beach would take you about half an hour.


The island itself is tiny: it is shaped like a bone, only 7 km in length and 1 km at its narrowest width. It is fringed with 14 beaches, five of the most popular being White Beach, Puka Beach, Bulabog Beach, Diniwid Beach, and Ilig-iligan Beach. The island is also surrounded by several dive sites and islets, two of which are Crocodile Island and the park-like Crystal Cove Island.


The highest point on Boracay, Mt. Luho Viewdeck, stands at 100 meters above sea level, offering a panoramic view of Boracay and its neighboring islands and islets. This site also offers sightings of animals found on the island. Boracay Terraces Viewdeck, on the other hand, displays a bird's eye view of the famous White Beach.


Since its rave review in the 1970s, Boracay flourished with dozens of water activities and hundreds of hotels, resorts, and restaurants. Some of its top activities include scuba diving, island hopping, paraw sailing, and kitesurfing. Come night time, neon lights flicker to life, and bars and restaurants transform into party scenes until dawn.

8 Epic Things To Do in Boracay

Written by Colleen Cabili and Michelle Tobias

Trek to Boracay Terraces Viewdeck

Marked by a gigantic red cross, the viewdeck is about four storeys high, and sits on top of a cliff behind Boracay Terraces Resort. To reach the viewdeck, visitors would have to trek on rugged terrain that becomes muddy and slippery during rainy season. Read more.

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Photo by JR Felipe.

Camp or sunbathe at Puka Beach

Unlike the restaurant, bar, and hotel-studded White Beach, Puka Beach is uninhabited, with only two establishments at one end. The rest of the 800-meter beach is laid-back and raw, lined with a dense forest and some coconut trees. Before the island became popular for White Beach, Boracay was first known for its puka shells. Read more.

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Photo from tuklaserangmatipid.com.

Island-hop around Boracay

Visitors who want to see what Boracay has to offer apart from the world-renowned White Beach should definitely check out the island-hopping packages. Ranging from P600 to P2000 for four islands, guests can snorkel, swim, and sunbathe to their heart’s content!

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Photo from bluesplashtravel.com.

Lounge on the immaculate White Beach

The most photographed beach in the Philippines, Boracay's White Beach is an iconic tropical marvel in Asia. The sand is as fine as talcum powder, and stretches an overwhelming four kilometers. Major events in Boracay are hosted on White Beach, including the annual Ati-Atihan Festival (second Sunday of January), Boracay International Dragon Boat Festival (April or May), Halloween Party, New Year's Eve Party, and the monthly three-day Full Moon Party. Read more.

Watch the sunset while sailing on a paraw

Seasickness is not a problem if you want to try out paraw sailing. These native sailboats may be small, but they are known for cutting through waves exceptionally well. Watching the famous Boracay sunset is best done while relaxing in one, so make to sure include these in your itinerary.

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Photo by VN Malazarte.

Relax at Crystal Cove Island

This private island has two cream beaches for snorkeling, two caves, a small museum, and a prehistoric vibe due to its stone huts, stone towers, and stone pathways. Crystal Cove Island gets its name from its two crystal caves, aptly named Crystal Cave 1 and 2. Known for their opaque and unpolished crystals, the caves open out to the sea, where visitors can also swim during good weather. 

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Photo from World Nomads.

Experience local living at Motag Living Museum

Museum enthusiasts will surely be delighted once they step inside the interactive Motag Living Museum, the first of its kind in the country. Here, guests can experience firsthand how to weave baskets from coconut leaves, roll cigars, and grind rice. They can also mingle with the costumed performer-employees who are mostly senior citizens. 

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Photo from instagram.com/maikaufman.

Party until dawn

Boracay is the island that never sleeps. At sundown, its shores come to life as bars, lounges, and clubs turn on their speakers and party lights to signal the start of another epic night. Keep your eyes peeled for the fire dancers and their blazing pois! 

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Photo from Art Oca.

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Photo from Art Oca.

Your Boracay Survival Guide

Culture

While its culture is generally influenced by Spanish and American cultures, Boracay’s sub-culture is diverse and multi-ethnic. It is melting a pot of tourists and residents from various lands, whereas its establishments display various influences. On the island, you’ll see Malaysian or Bali-inspired hotels and restaurants serving different international cuisines besides Filipino. Boracay also possesses an underlying beach culture composed of musicians, tattoo artists, painters, bums, and seasonal wind addicts, namely, kiteboarders and windsurfers.


People

Boracay swells with an astonishing mix of immigrants from other islands and other countries, who’ve come to claim a piece of its laid back atmosphere. Boracay has more than 30,000 residents and migrant workers from the island itself and the surrounding Visayan islands as well. Meanwhile, the most intriguing people you’ll see are the dark-skinned and kinky haired Ati, a Negrito ethnic group from the larger island of Panay.


Festivals

The party island of the Philippines, Boracay is lively with festivals and events all year round. The most celebrated is the Ati-Atihan Festival, which takes place every second Sunday of January. Tribal groups paint themselves in dark pigment, dress in traditional tribal costumes, and dance to the beat of drums and ethnic music. Other celebrations to look out for are the three-day Full Moon Party every month, the Halloween Party, and the New Years Party; all three are celebrated on White Beach. Minor festivals per barangay and international watersport competitions also abound.


Language

The most widely understood languages in Boracay are the Philippines’ National Languages, English and Filipino (based on Tagalog). Meanwhile, the natives of Boracay speak Aklanon and Boracaynon. Cebuano and Kinaray-a are also spoken by migrant workers from the surrounding islands. The Ati people, on the other hand, speak a Visayan language known as Inati.


Climate

The perfect time to visit Boracay is between January to March, when the climate is not too hot and there are fewer crowds. During April to May (peak season), the climate is at its hottest, and the activities and accommodation rates almost double in price. During the rainy months between June to December (off-peak season), airfares and accommodation rates are at their cheapest, and flights and ships are sometimes delayed due to bad weather.


Season

Because Boracay is surrounded entirely by water, seasons and tides greatly affect its coastal beaches and their accompanying water and wind-based activities. During the Amihan Season (November to April), the prevailing winds come from the northeast. Kiteboarding and windsurfing dudes flock the eastern beaches such as Bulabog and Ilig-iligan Beach. This is reversed during the Habagat Season (May to October) when the prevailing winds come from the southwest. At this time, the activities are seen along the stretch of White Beach.

Travel Tips

  • Foreign exchange rates on the island are quite higher than the regular. Make sure to exchange your bills before going to the island.
  • It’s good to know how to swim when traveling to Boracay!
  • Dress up right. Wear flip flops and comfortable beach attire.
  • Buy a local SIM card for your mobile phone and save the hotline number of Boracay Police: 135.
  • Do not get drunk and sleep on the beach! You may end up getting mugged.
  • Make your cash readily available. Not all restaurants and hotels accept major credit cards.
  • Always haggle when availing water activities like island hopping and kayaking.
  • Always bring a bottle of water with you. Because Boracay Island is tropical, the heat may be unbearable to some tourists.
  • Use a sunscreen with at least 30 SPF.
  • A local ordinance, drinking and smoking on the beach are prohibited.

Where is Boracay

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Boracay is a small island in Western Visayas. It can be found northwest of Panay Island and south of Romblon. Graphics by Manel Solsoloy.

Boracay is located in the central Philippines, 2 km off the northwestern tip of Panay Island, and 315 km south of Manila. It is approximately 7 km long, and only 1km at its narrowest point. Boracay faces the Sibuyan Sea at the east, Sulu Sea at the west, and is just a boat ride away from the islands of Panay, Carabao, and Tablas. The nearby Crocodile Islet and Laurel Islets are also considered part of Boracay.

How to get to Boracay

All trips to Boracay have to pass through Caticlan on the mainland. From Manila or Cebu, book a flight to Caticlan or Kalibo. A flight to Caticlan is faster but more expensive, while a flight to Kalibo would entail an additional 1.5hr van ride to Caticlan (P200 per head).


Alternatively from Manila, the cheapest way to get to Caticlan is by ferry. You will have to travel by bus first going to Batangas. Just take a 2.5hr bus ride (Batangas via Calabarzon) from Cubao, Alabang, or Buendia in Manila, and tell the driver to drop you at Batangas Port. Book a 2Go Ferry ahead of time from Batangas to Caticlan, or you can try booking your tickets at the port. Travel time between Batangas and Caticlan is about 10 hours. Don’t worry, you can sleep this off in your cabin.


Once at Caticlan, take a 15-minute boat ride to Boracay Island. There are minimal fees too such as terminal fee and environmental fee.


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