One of the best things about the Philippines is that it has more than 7000 islands, but none stands out more than the internationally renowned Boracay Island.
Boracay Island sits 200 miles to the south from the capital city of the Philippines, Manila, and forms part of the Visayas Island chain in the Aklan Province. It’s world-famous for its soft white powdery beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a wide variety of tourist activities. The island itself resembles the shape of a dog bone and is surrounded by 4 miles of breathtaking coastlines which can rival even the most popular Caribbean islands. During the day, tourists can relax on the beaches or enjoy some of the many tourist activities such as scuba diving, swimming, kayaking, and windsurfing. What I love the most about Boracay is that the fun doesn’t end when the day is over because at night there are numerous beach parties going on all across the island which goes on until the sun comes up.
Where Is Boracay?
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The Beaches Of Boracay Island
Spending time on the beaches is one of the most popular things to do in Boracay and here I have listed some of the best beach destinations which are Puka, Bulabog, Balinghai, Diniwid, Ilig Iligan, Tambisaan and White Beach.
Puka is incredible and is everything a tropical island beach should be. It’s a pretty isolated stretch of coastline found on the north side which makes it one of the quietest beaches in Boracay and home of the famous Puka Shells. You won’t find as many hotels and restaurants here as you would on the other beaches but with the tranquility it provides it’s definitely worth sacrificing some luxuries for.
White Beach is the single biggest tourist attraction on Boracay Island and it also happens to be one of my top 10 favorite Asian beaches. The beach consists of 3 regions known as stations. Station 1 is the most developed area and the most expensive so avoid it at all costs if you are on a budget. Station 2 is more affordable but receives the bulk of tourists so expect it to be very crowded, especially during peak season. It’s also home to most of the retail outlets, night clubs, and restaurants. Station 3, my personal favorite, is far less developed than the other 2 stations and it’s also the most affordable section of the beach.
The thing I love most about Balinghai is that it’s a whole lot less crowded than the other mainstream beaches. It’s situated a short 15-minute drive from White Beach and is a great place to snorkel, swim, and enjoy your evening meals in peace and quiet. The scenery is spectacular and you will find a local tour operator here that can take you on a boat tour of the other smaller nearby islands.
Bulabog sits on the northern side of the island and is often deserted because of strong winds. This doesn’t stop kiteboarders and windsurfers though as these are the ideal conditions for these types of sporting activities. The winds are at their strongest during the first few months of each year and it’s the best place to come do some windsurfing or kiteboarding, whether you are experienced or would just like to try it out.
Diniwid Beach sits right next to White Beach and the two are connected by a footpath that runs along a cliffside. The beach offers all of the same beauty as its more popular neighbor but also has peacefulness and serenity as its much quieter. Water clarity here is also much better and this helps make it a popular snorkeling spot. There are a number of hotels/resorts and a restaurant along the beach too.
Ilig Iligan Beach
Most of Boracay’s visitors will end up visiting White Beach, Puka Beach, and Bulabog Beach with few if any ever getting to see or visit Ilig Iligan Beach. This particular stretch of shoreline is largely undeveloped as it has no hotels or resorts and only 2 restaurants. Ilig Iligan can be reached either by walking or by paying one of the locals to take you on their motorbikes.
Tambisaan is renowned for being a great family beach and also for having the best snorkeling spots in all of Boracay. The beach runs along a small bay and if you like island hopping or scuba diving then visit here because it has a jetty port from where tour operators specializing in these expeditions depart from.
How To Get To Boracay From Manila
Getting to Boracay Island is not that simple because the island doesn’t have its own airport, so visitors will, therefore, have to take both a flight and a boat. From the domestic terminal at Manila airport you will have the option of flying to either Kalibo or Caticlan City on Panay Island. Both destinations will take an hour by plane but the methods of reaching Boracay from there differs.
The Manila => Kalibo => Boracay Route
All flights from Manila to Kalibo are on Boeing 737’s. Upon arrival at Kalibo you will take a 1.5 to 2-hour ride in a private mini-van or air-conditioned bus to Caticlan. From Caticlan City you will board a boat and arrive at one of the three boating stations at White Beach 20 minutes later.
The Manila => Caticlan => Boracay Route
The Manila to Caticlan to Boracay option is cheaper and requires much less travel time but choosing this route requires a bit of bravery because the planes are much smaller and don’t really look they’re in good condition. Those who brave this will completely bypass Kalibo, avoid the 1.5 to 2-hour ride to Caticlan, and instead just take the 20-minute boat trip to Boracay.
The Manila => Dumaguit => Boracay Route
If on a tight budget and you have some time to spare then you could always take an overnight ferry from Manila harbor to Dumaguit on Panay Island. Once at Dumaguit you will have to travel to Caticlan by Jeepney or air-conditioned bus to take the 20-minute boat ride to Boracay.
When To Go
The time of year you choose to visit Boracay can make a huge difference. I suggest people avoid the peak season which is from October to May since Boracay island is extremely overcrowded with international tourists during this period. With large crowds come higher prices too so you’ll be paying a lot more for accommodation, food, and entertainment. The off-peak season runs from June to September and in my opinion it’s the best time to visit. It’s far less crowded, temperatures aren’t as hot and prices are a whole lot lower.
The only downside to visiting the island during the off-peak period is that it’s also the rainy season. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem though as the rain only falls for a brief period and is followed by sunshine.
Things to do in Boracay: The island has a lot of activities to keep tourists busy, so read about the 5 most popular things you can do while vacationing on this breathtaking South East Asian island.
Boracaycompass.com: Check out one of the best Boracay travel guide’s on the internet.