A Guide to Boracay for First Timers

Boracay, the robust island in the Philippines that’s on par with Bali and certain islands of Thailand. You’ve heard of Boracay and might have already visited its neighboring Southeast Asian islands and beaches, but you’ve yet to see the destination that Conde Nast readers just selected as the best island in the world, along with its numerous accolades from Lonely Planet, Leisure + Travel, and many more. Most people who’ve been would describe it as, “amazing”, although a few might say, “crowded”. Boracay seems ideal for 20 and 30 -somethings, yet it has something for everyone to love. And you’re likely to return.

Accommodations

While there is no shortage of places to stay, you should insist on booking in advance- especially during Chinese New Year and Holy Week.

Boracay is divided into several districts: White Beach Stations 1, 2, and 3; Bulabog Beach, and Diniwid Beach. Station 1 is where some of the island’s top properties are tucked away, like the evergreen yet ultra-modern The Lind Resort, or the rustic, nature-inspired Sea Wind Resort. Station 2 is more dynamic with a wide variety of high-end to budget accommodations. Station 3 is less dense with a few B&B’s and a standout boutique hotel, Villa Caemilla. At Diniwid Beach, Wyndham’s Microtel sits beachside, quaint and cozy, while the famous West Cove Resort is nestled atop cliffs and boulders. Bulabog beach is frequented for water sports and doesn’t offer many hotels, but they’re inland and within short walking distance.

White Beach

Watch the world’s arguably most gorgeous sunset at White Beach. Acclaimed as the Philippines’ best beach (which says a lot for 7,000+ islands), see Willy’s Rock, lounge in the crystalline sands, get refreshed in its clear waters, and bask under the sun in a beach that stretches a few kilometers and is divided into three stations; whereas Station 1 and 3 are considerably tamer than Station 2’s section.

Food & Drink
Complementing White Beach’s sands are countless cafes and restaurants with tables placed right on the sand. For the ultimate dining experience, The Pig Out Bistro Restaurant is the island’s highest rated place to eat. A trip to the tropical island is not complete without sampling its very own seafood, and here, grub out as much calamari and shrimp as you desire. For another festive dining experience head over to Aplaya Beach Bar & Italian Restaurant. With sofas right on the sand, enjoy the island’s best pizza while nodding your head to the beats of local drummers. But if you want to imbibe on the best smoothies in Boracay, head up to the quieter café that’s commonly nicknamed Jonah’s, in Station 3, a Filipino favorite.

Nightlife

Notorious for its boisterous nightlife scene, Boracay is as alive at night as a party block in a major city, with two organizers leading the way. First, The Pub Crawl allows travelers from all cultures to enjoy drinks and dances with strangers-turned-friends, while navigating the bars of Boracay. Second, plan ahead for the next night to be spent in style on a yacht with The Manic Monkey Crew. But make sure to book in advance through each’s site/channel, or visit their spot in person to get an early bird discount.

Hidden Gems

Spending your vacation sunbathing on the shore is nice, and so is gallivanting White Beach; but Boracay has a plethora of fun things to that don’t take place on the beach. For land activities, there’s the new underwater sea tunnel, or hiking to Boracay’s highest mountaintop, and ATVing off road. Rent a Segway or if splurging, a helicopter! Go further into the waters by parasailing Bulabog Beach, or scuba diving lessons which are an absolute deal compared to your typical scuba course back home. Whether you’ve never tried or a seasoned diver, Boracay offers several options for scuba diving. For fist timers, try the Discover Scuba Course. After 3-4 hours, including one dive, you will know the fundamentals.

Daytime Activities

Though Boracay has plenty to venture, there’s more to explore outside of it than expected. Island hopping takes you on an Eco tour of snorkel sites amid thriving corals and marine life. You’ll see how Crocodile Island got its name, then delve through the caves of Crystal Cove Island (an unashamed tourist trap!) For the fearless, there’s cliff jumping at Magic Island, or take a moment of relaxation by gazing at the crystal blue waters at Puka Beach. Island hopping also offers lunch options of local savory seafood delicacies. A vacation to Boracay should include quality time in the water, but if you’ve already island hopped, check out the shopping at D-mall in Station 2. This sprawling area is where to buy gifts and clothes, get a temporary tattoo, a lava stone massage, and to find more to eat. It is the outdoor megamall of Boracay.

Romance

More than likely you’ll unexpectedly witness a beach wedding or even a proposal. Boracay is a hub not only for singles, but also highly regarded a perfect choice for romance travel. This is where cliché “long walks on the beach” with a blissful sunset backdrop, followed by a candlelit dinners come true. To impress your newfound date or longtime partner, book a dinner high above the shore, overlooking Diniwid Beach, at the award winning Nami’s restaurant. And if you really want to surprise with a proposal, work with a specialist like The Chariot Company to arrange a fairytale-like moment that’s situated on an oceanfront cliff, complete with fireworks and a live band, just like another romantic cliché you’ve only seen in movies.

Last Minute Tips

Trike (transportation) range from 50-200 Pesos. Traffic in the Station 2 area is heavily congested with trikes.  Book Southwest Tours for airport to hotel transports. Kalibo airport is 1.5 hours from Boracay’s boat station, where you’ll be transferred to Boracay from Caticlan port. Rainy season are the months of July to October. Tip your waiters if no gratuity is added. Respect the environment. Enjoy yourself!