When in Boracay

What is there to do in Boracay other than swim and take selfies?

Here are some of the ways to maximize your staycation in the island without breaking the bank:

around pilipinas 31. Early-morning walk at the White Beach — If you love hiking and taking pictures, I suggest you take a walk along the beach line on foot (and I mean take off your shoes!) early in the morning like 5 am or a bit earlier. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the sunrise!

The difference is in the sand. You will feel the difference in the sand’s texture when you walk from Station 1 to 2 (Station 3 would be too far unless you’re built for extra long walks, but I wouldn’t recommend it). You will know you’ve reached Station 2 just by feeling the sand alone (not as fine as in Station 1).

The early-morning walk would give you a great view of the white beach minus the dense crowd, ideal for photography. And while you’re at it, stop by and eat delicious hot taho from local peddlers walking around the beach like you.

A view towards the end of Station 1.

A view towards the end of Station 1.

2. Shop and dine at D’Mall — Don’t miss D’Mall when you’re in Bora, it’s a paradise for shopaholics and foodies like me. Everything you need is there so even if you forgot to bring your swimwear, sunglasses, extra shirts, or even enough cash, fret not.  There are ATM’s around D’Mall and the prices of commodities are not as high as I imagined.

Tip: Haggle! Most shops allow their customers to haggle on the prices so go for it. I had to hop from shop to shop just to make sure I got the best deal in price, quality, and design (Yes dear, I have all the patience and guts for that).

Some of the steals I got were a 2-pc beach wear for only P350, a pair of slippers for P150, and cheap pasalubong items like personalized keychains for P100 per 6 pieces and ref magnets for P33-P100.

If you’re a foreigner, I suggest you bring a Filipino companion with you to get the best deals.

As for eating cheap, try Andok’s and Tilapia N’ Chips within D’ Mall. You can even find freshly brewed coffee for only P25 along the main road going to D’ Mall. When I saw that place, I immediately knew I could live in the island for good.

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3. Feast on seafood…on a budget —   If you are staying in an apartment instead of a hotel in Boracay and you have a flare in the kitchen, have your own seafood platter all you want. Fresh and cheap seafood, apart from other fresh produce, are aplenty at the wet market called “Talipapa Bukid” along the Main Road.

But if your accommodation doesn’t equip you to cook, go to the other Talipapa where there are restaurants that will cook fresh seafood for you. Ask the tricycle driver to take you to D’ Talipapa “Paluto.”  Buy fresh seafood from D’ Talipapa and ask nearby restaurants to cook them for you for a minimal fee. A lot cheaper than ordering the same amount of seafood from your hotel.

4. Walk under the sea — I’m not kidding. If you want to see what’s beneath the water some 10 feet down, try helmet diving. Package we paid was P500 each (Don’t fall for higher offers, haggle!) which included a CD of our underwater photos and videos. You get to feed the fishes too.

Tips: Listen attentively during the orientation. If the instructions are not clear to you, ask the instructor. Remember the hand signals, they’re your only means of communication with your underwater guides. Don’t panic. You will know instinctively how to breathe once you’re down there. Breathe normally and enjoy the moment. According to our guide, the best time to go helmet diving is in the morning, before 10 am. Beach is calm, visibility is good.

5. Depending on your budget, there are many other adventure packages in Boracay specifically around Bulabog Beach in Station 4 which is known for water sports. I listed a few here with their average rates which may vary depending on the season and the agency or individual you make arrangements with:

  • Parasailing –  P2,000 per person
  • Island Hopping – P1,300-P1,500 (3 hrs, 4 people)
  • Banana Boat –  P150
  • Jet Ski – P2,000 (30 minutes)
  • Paraw sailing – P1,000 (2 persons)

Of course, if you really don’t have enough budget for these activities, you can always bask in the sun with your travel buddy/buddies, play beach volleyball, go people watching, make sand castles, take loads of pictures, watch fire dances at night in Station 2, explore Boracay by tricycle or by foot and take more pictures, enjoy the cool sea breeze and the mesmerizing sunset, perhaps get a henna tattoo, and above all, frolic and swim all you want!

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First time in Boracay — Getting there by plane

I thought going to Boracay from Manila would be as simple as “You catch a plane to the nearest airport in Boracay, then take a cab/van/tricycle/what-have-you to get to your booked accommodation, and then voila!” Wrong.

It was our first time to travel to Boracay as a family and we  had no idea where to go. I didn’t even know there were five “Stations” in Boracay and what differentiated them from one another.  I had to ask friends for hotel recommendations and read tons of online reviews before making travel arrangements.

To save you from the hassle, I compiled the basic steps you need to know in getting to Boracay by plane from Manila or practically any city in the country.

How to get there:

1. Fly to Caticlan or Kalibo.

There are two airports close to Boracay — Caticlan (Godofredo Ramos Airport) and Kalibo International Airport. Which airport to choose? Here are some points to consider:

Caticlan – It is closer and more convenient to get to Caticlan Jetty Port if you’re coming from Caticlan Airport (roughly 10 minutes) compared to Kalibo (which will take you an hour and a half to two hours by van or bus going to Jetty Port).  So between Caticlan and Kalibo, we chose the former. If there are no flights available from your city to Caticlan, then Kalibo is your option.

Tip: Book morning flights. It’s a small airport with sunset limitation, meaning no adequate lighting facilities to allow flying and landing in the evening or early morning when there’s not enough visibility. Ergo, if you took an afternoon flight to Caticlan and it was delayed for any reason, your plane might be rerouted to Kalibo or worse, cancelled.

Kalibo – Cheaper airfare rates, bigger planes (but note that you have to spend around P200-P250 each for your van transport from Kalibo to Jetty Port plus the extra 2 hours you spend on the road which could sap away your vacation-mode energy). Since it’s an international airport, bigger planes can fly there unlike in Caticlan.

So between the two airports, your call. I would still go for Caticlan, more convenient for me.

2. From Caticlan Airport, you can easily get a tricyle waiting outside for P10 per passenger or P50 “pakyaw” or fixed price.

In our case, we were picked up by a van arranged by Sur Boracay, our booked hotel in Station 1.  The driver was extra friendly, he made sure were taken care of at the Jetty Port.

(From Kalibo, up to two hours ride by van or bus to Jetty Port).

3. Pay these fees at Caticlan Jetty Port to get to Cagban Port:

  • Boat fee – P25
  • Environmental fee – P75
  • Terminal fee – P100

Tip: Get free tourism handouts at the Jetty Port. They will come in handy during your stay in the island.  The handouts include a map and lists of establishments around Boracay, and activity packages you can choose from, among others.  They’ll also serve as souvenirs and perhaps your motivation to go back in the future.

4. At last, you’re in the island! To get to your booked hotel, take a tricycle from Cagban Port. If you made no prior reservations, just tell the tricycle driver which Station you want to go.

Our tricycle ride cost P100 from the port to Sur Boracay in Station 1. We passed through Station 3 first, then 2, then finally Station 1. From that trike ride alone, we could observe the differences among the three Stations — Station 3 was a bit more residential than Stations 2 and 1, at least from the street side’s perspective. The streets were vibrant around Station 2, more crowded and packed with commercial establishments. Then as we approached Station 1, the noise and the crowd slowly faded away. Serenity!

5. Once you’ve settled in your booked hotel, enjoy the place! Swim, hike, dine, dive, snorkel, island hop, para-sail, sunbathe, rest, party at night, do what you went there for.

For some tips on how to maximize your staycation in Boracay without breaking the bank, check out my other post: When in Boracay.

Have fun!

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