“We dream in colors borrowed from the sea”- thinking of this thought we packed for our beach holiday in Boracay, Aklan, Philippines. Post our one day break in Manila, we were beyond excited for our family beach vacation. Boracay is a small island in central Philippines – very well known for its beaches and resorts.
Getting there: getting to Boracay is a little tedious but once you get there and dip your feet in the pristine blue water – it’s all worth it! It’s best to plan your travel to Boracay from Manila before leaving home as the journey to Boracay goes like this: Manila (by air) – Kalibo (by road) – Caticlan (by ferry) to Boracay! The return goes Boracay (by ferry) – Caitclan (by road) – Kalibo – Singapore- Mumbai!We took Cebu air from Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) and it is approximately a 1 hour 10 minute flight to Kalibo. Cebu air’s aircraft is a super cute one – where the cabin crew made us play some mid-air quiz with summer as the theme of the questions once we were airborne and the seat belt sign was switched off. This is a great way to keep the passengers occupied & prepare them for the summer they are about to experience on the beaches of Boracay.
Once you arrive at Kalibo airport, before the exit gate there are 2 counters that provide services for a door to door drop from Kalibo to Boracay and back (provided you book a return trip with them)
There are two operators for a road, ferry and rickshaw ride & back with the best operating rate of around 1150 pesos per person all inclusive. The drive to Caticlan is very scenic especially during the rains! We purchased our tickets and commenced on our journey in our private car (south west tours will take you to Caticlan in a bus v/s the other tour operator at the same price); a 1 hour and 45 minute journey to Caticlan. You can take a flight directly to Caticlan as well, however, the connectivity and frequency at Kalibo international airport is much better.
Once you arrive at Caitclan Jetty Port you will be guided to the ferry/jetty by your driver-cum-guide and will arrive in Boracay in about 20 minutes and you will be another 20 minutes away from the comfortable bed in your hotel rooms.
We reached our hotel – Boracay Summer Palace, checked in and got ready to get a good night’s sleep for the next two action packed days.
About Boracay: White beach, very well-known for its sand in Boracay is immensely popular for its water activities & is divided into 3 stations. It’s basically one long beach stretch divided into stations so you can keep a track of where you are v/s where you need to go and come back (that’s what I did 😉 )station 1 and 2 are bustling with people, restaurants/cafés and most of the water sports commence from station 1. Station 3 is more for those who want to be on the quieter part of the island, relax and enjoy their vacations without too many interruptions. Bulabog beach is on the other side of the island where a major chunk of the water sports take place as well.
Stay: there are too many hotels and resorts on White beach and Bulabog but its recommended that you book a hotel room somewhere on station 2 as its central to the most happening pubs/bars/restaurants and water sports. The rooms in Station 1 & 2 can be a little more priced compared to those in station 3, so it’s all a matter of convenience and/or how much money you want to spend on the rooms. We looked up rooms on www.booking.com and got the best rates – however, keep the bar low when checking in to your hotel if you’ve booked online as images are for representational purposes only.
Food: you are on an island indulging in water sports, you are a vegetarian and always hungry! (That’s me, by the way!) so you eat! Vegetarians often make plans as per the food availability at a destination, however, with Boracay you need not worry as there are plenty of vegetarian options. Restaurants/cafés you must-visit here for your hunger pangs:
Manana – Mexican House- we started our first day in Boracay with this Mexican restaurant and it was a great choice. They have delicious margaritas in various flavors – mango (grown locally), strawberry, lime/lemon. The food is good, a little on the sweeter side, however, they have various sauces that are spicy that you can add to your food to make it spicy and more tasty.
Indian Curry House – if you are craving Indian food, on station 2 there’s an Indian restaurant that will serve you hot and decent Indian food. We ordered for the naan (it was gigantic), chole, palak paneer, paratha and some biryani to end the meal and night on a good note.
Visit Yellow Cab co. for all your pizza cravings and customize your order as you’d like considering they have very few options for vegetarians. Thank god for the option of DIY pizzas!
Tom & Toms café – I feel so strong and special about this café, after I had the jalapeno pizza pops and were addicted to them. They also have a variety of shakes and frappes that you can order from. This was all I needed after an amazing parasailing experience from Station 1!
Army & navy Burger + Burrito – by the end of the trip we realized how much we had ODed on Mexican food, but in the end it was all worth it and most of it delicious. A very US style café that serves burgers and burritos with some kickass French fries topped with cheese, sauces and the like. We tried the burrito, cheesy fries and the veggie quesadilla, as recommended by the staff and it was a very good choice. Perfect after scuba diving adventure.
Food by the beach– another way to indulge in food is while you are lounging on deck chairs by the beach. There are plenty of vendors around the beach with ice-creams, peanuts (try the garlic tossed peanuts!), fruits. As you walk from one part of the island to the other on the beach side you will also spot street vendors with flavors of corn on the cob (the salted + butter is delicious!), freshly squeezed juices – to ensure your hydrated enough. They have exotic flavors and must-try the yellow watermelon juice.
Getting around: everything on white beach is super accessible by foot but if you are really exhausted and can’t walk any more they have tricycles that will take around on the beach. To get around the island its best to get around by the tuk tuks that can accommodate up to 4 people and the driver is on a motorbike. These are one of a kind and really cool to ride around in – you must try it at least once.
To see/do: Coming to the most interesting and important part of your beach holiday – if you go in with a flexible schedule, this will turn out to possibly be the best vacation, ever!
- Hire a boat for about 500-600 pesos per person (try taking the sail boat and not the regular boat for a new experience all together) for about 6 hours and as part of the deal they will take you to 2-3 other islands namely Magic island for cliff diving (additional 125 pesis per person not included upon entering the island), crocodile island for snorkeling and puka beach to relax and sip on some real good and big coconut water by the beach shacks. This can easily take up to half a day and make sure to hydrate yourself and re-apply sunscreen every 2 hours as there is no shade on the sail boat to avoid heat strokes/sun burns!
- Water sports – scuba diving, parasailing, banana boat, flying fish, paddle boarding, swimming and so much more! There are multiple vendors/centers/guides that will provide you with packages and rates for these activities. Strike a conversation with a couple of guides and negotiate the best rate and get going! We did para sailing, scuba diving, paddle boarding, swimming a little after sunset and much more. It is ideal to do this at Station 1 or 2.
- Literally just sit by the beach and do nothing for a couple of hours (make sure to apply LOTS of sunscreen!)
- Have margaritas by the beach – all day every day!
- Sip on some San Miguel – their local beer, the taste grows you after a couple of pints.
- Shop at the local markets for beach/swimwear, souvenirs and lovely collection of pool floats
- Get your hair braided in corn rows – it is an amazing experience! I got my hair braided the night before leaving Boracay (finally!) and wished that I had done it sooner, but there’s always a next time! 🙂
- If your hotel has a pool – buy a fancy float from the local shop and relax in the pool reading a book/sipping on some beer/margaritas
- Party – yes, go to the beach and engage in fun water sports during the day and party hard at night. With the amount of tourists from USA/Europe, everything is westernized – the music, food, people, drinks etc., Station 2 is the best spot for pubs/clubs and to enjoy the nightlife on the island. Our personal favorites were Epic for its music, outdoor seating and food. There are multiple bars in a line on station 2 so you can head from one to another in no time.
- Sheesha – Sheesha is widely available as the cafes lay outdoor seating closer to sunset where you can enjoy some exotic flavors of sheesha. We tried the Vanilla grape and it was pretty good.
- Walk – walk across white beach start from Station 1, move on to Station 2 and 3 and experience the various parts of the island/beach. You’ll find plenty of things when you walk which you otherwise wouldn’t – this is one thing I’ve learnt from my travels so far.
- Pub Crawl – “Turn Strangers into Friends” – whatever your agenda, if you have the time and the bandwidth, you must try the Boracay Pub Crawl. They will take you the best pubs across the island where you can enjoy a drink and make friends at the same time. Read more here: https://www.pubcrawl.ph/
- Sunset – Watch the sunset by the each; its a different view every time!
Miscellaneous: Boracay is ideal for a 3 day beach vacation but if you want to indulge back to back in activities and can be extended for another day or two if you also want to relax by the beach/pool/spa. There are plenty of food options for vegetarians by the beach, things to do for all ages and plenty of beach shacks to relax on. The island has become very popular in recent times which you will see with the music, food and people on the island and is also known as one of the most beautiful islands in the world – a very popular diving/beach holiday destination.
So, the next time you are looking to take a beach vacay with friends/family or celebrate a friend’s birthday, bachelorette – think no more, pack your bathing suits and dresses and get flying to Boracay! 🙂
PS. While exiting Philippines via Kalibo airport – make sure to save at least 700 pesos per person payable before immigration check as airport exit fee. We wanted to spend all the Pesos so we did before we arrived at the airport and had to go running to the nearest ATM to withdraw money to board our flight!