Imagine laying on one of the best beaches in the world and hearing the waves crash before you, all the while sipping coconuts, drinking ice cold beers, enjoying woodfire pizzas with BBQs and paddle boarding. Doesn’t it sound like paradise?
Every time I heard about Boracay, the first thing comes in my mind is it is expensive. That there will be no chance for me to see this island in person. But now that I finally visited Boracay, I can say that it is possible to enjoy the island within a budget.
In this budget travel guide, I will give you first-timer travel tips to the island of Boracay with a general idea on how to spend your vacation, where to stay, what to do, and more.
Boracay is one of the best vacation destinations in the Philippines. It is surrounded by some of the most beautiful beaches, making it the ideal place for those wishing to spend some time in the sun.
This beautiful island is also blessed with powdery white sand beach, pristine seashore, turquoise waters, calm atmosphere, and rich biodiversity. The island is truly a paradise which offers a never-ending summer vibe and beautiful natural landscapes.
If you are traveling to Boracay for the first time, this detailed travel guide will make it easy for you to plan a trip, save money, and maximize your time. Keep reading to know about the travel tips before you go.
WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER BORACAY’S RE-OPENING
For those of you who don’t know, on April 26, 2018, Boracay was closed to tourists to give way for the island’s rehabilitation. It was re-opened to the public on October 26, 2018.
After the closure and rehabilitation of Boracay, this tropical paradise is now better and more beautiful. The long white coast is clear and clean. Cabanas, sunbeds, bean bags, wooden tables, and chairs were removed near the waterfront. In the area of the beach, smoking, drinking, eating, massages and falcons are prohibited.
Here are some of the important changes and things to note after the re-opening:
All travelers are now required to present their confirmed hotel reservations.
If you don’t have one at hand, you may not be allowed to enter the island. If the hotel has rooms available for booking on trusted booking sites, it means that they have already obtained the permits required by government agencies to operate.
There are no more guides offering tours along the beach.
This use to cause a big problem back then. Island-to-island tours and other activities are now only allowed through accredited hotels and travel agencies.
Some water activities are still not allowed to resume operations for now.
This was done in line with the government’s goal of protecting the island’s marine biodiversity and lengthening the beach/swimming area for tourists.
Expect ongoing roadworks in Boracay.
Many roads were closed due to the widening of the road and the improvement of the pedestrian areas during our visit on March 15, 2019.
BEST TIME TO VISIT BORACAY
If you like a lesser crowd, visit during the cooler month of February or the shoulder season from late May to early June.
During this period, the climate begins to change between dry / summer and rainy seasons. There is a possibility of cloudy skies/rain but the weather is generally good almost every day.
The off-peak season begins in July and ends by November, as the southwest monsoon or Habagat Season enters the country and brings rain.
Whether you plan to visit during the off-season or off-peak seasons, expect a large number of visitors throughout the year. The main difference would probably be the prices of housing and activities, as they tend to rise during the high season, including Holy Week, summer, Christmas and New Year.
HOW LONG TO STAY IN BORACAY
Boracay is small, and even if you venture outside of White Beach, you’ll still be able to see a large portion of the island in a relatively short amount of time.
We decided to make our trip more relaxing and within a budget, so we stayed for 3 days and 2 nights. I think that generally, 3-4 full days will satisfy most people for those who prefer a change of scenery or larger places to explore. Or if you have the luxury of time and budget, you may stay as long as you want. The beaches are phenomenal and you won’t feel any pressure to leave so soon.
HOW TO GET TO BORACAY VIA CATICLAN?
- Upon arrival in Caticlan Airport, go to the exit and turn to the right side to see the tricycle terminal heading to Caticlan Port. Fare is 50 PHP/passenger.
- Before entering Caticlan Port, you will need to present a printed copy of your hotel reservation and valid ID. After verification, proceed to cashier and pay the following: Terminal Fee – 100 PHP, Environmental Fee – 75 PHP, and Boat Fee – 30 PHP.
- From Cagban Jetty Port (Boracay), ride a habal-habal going to your accommodation. Fare is around 150 PHP good for 2 passengers.
HOW TO GET AROUND?
E-Jeepney – 150 PHP/special trip
Tricycle – 150 PHP/special trip
Habal-Habal – 150 PHP/2 pax
WHERE TO STAY IN BORACAY
Boracay caters to all types of travelers, from solo backpackers to large groups. Whether you are ready to splurge for luxury accommodation or on a tight budget and prefer a cheaper alternative, Boracay has it all.
Most of the accommodations are located in the general area of White Beach, which is divided into three stations. You can find many luxury resorts in station 1 (north end), mid-range hotels in station 2 (central part) and cheaper options in station 3 (south end). The beachfront properties tend to be more expensive.
There are also many luxury resorts hidden in secluded bays and hill towns throughout the island. This is one of the best options if you want to enjoy a quiet vacation away from the crowd.
If you are looking for a less expensive place to stay, keep an eye on the accommodations no more than 10 minutes’ walk from White Beach.
There are also various hostels on the island, but most of these are not located in the beachfront area. No need to worry as the beach is just a few minutes’ walks from where these hostels are.
Mad Monkey Hostel Boracay
Mad Monkey Hostel Boracay is popularly known as a party hostel. It is majorly a social place and a great way to meet other travelers. If it is your first time traveling to Boracay, check in here and I guarantee you will leave with a group of people whom you might even end up traveling with for the rest of your Southeast Asian trip. Read my list of Reasons to Stay at Mad Monkey Hostel Boracay.
As with most popular tourist destinations, most hotels/resorts or hostels tend to be booked in full several weeks before major holidays, so plan ahead and book if you plan to visit during a more crowded season.
How to book?
BOOK YOUR RESERVATION HERE
Mad Monkey Hostel Boracay
Zone 5, Bulabog Beach Road, Balabag, Boracay, Aklan
THINGS TO DO IN BORACAY ON A BUDGET
There are a lot of budget-friendly things to do and ways to spend less. And as first-time travelers to Boracay as a couple, we made sure that we will enjoy the island even on a budget. Here are some helpful ideas on travelling as a couple and splitting costs.
What to do in Boracay Island? Those of you who have come for a more sporting trip and to enjoy this beautiful island will never run out of things to do – between beach bumming, island hopping, and even the nightlife here are awesome, your body can get the vacation it’s craving here.
Below are some of the best things to do in Boracay and places to visit;
The White Beach is the most popular and most populated public beach in Boracay, but there are a total of 10 -12 other beaches to choose from which surrounds the whole island if you want to get away from the crowd. One of them is Puka Beach. Which I enjoyed visiting on our first day.
Puka Beach is already included in our island hopping activity. But I’ve read reviews and notes that visiting this beach via boat depends on the climate. So to make sure we won’t miss this out we decided to go here via motorcycle and tricycle on our first day.
The famous sunset view from White Beach is not to be missed. This is my favorite thing to do during the golden hour of Boracay. I have seen a lot of sunsets in my years, but none quite like those we saw in Boracay. It was outstanding.
Catch the sight of the skies as it burst into an assortment of soothing hues. The best part of this activity, it is for free.
Boracay offers exciting and thrilling activities that will fill your blood with adrenaline.
One of the activities that can be enjoyed in this paradise of white beach is the island hopping. Take a boat trip to different beaches and snorkeling sites to have the best time of your life.
Snorkeling at Coral Garden and Balinghai Beach Near West Cove
Swimming/Sightseeing at Puka Beach
Luckily, the weather condition was good during the island hopping so we had the chance to visit Puka Beach for the second time. We had no regret about visiting this beach twice because we saw the other end.
Lunch and Kawa Bath at Tabon Beach
We booked our island hopping via Travellog.ph
Rate is 850/pax with buffet lunch. They also give a discount if you get the package.
BORACAY ISLAND HOPPING ITINERARY
From Hotel to Station 1 or 3 for departure
1. Snorkeling at Coral Garden
2. Snorkeling/Swimming at Balinghai Beach Near West Cove
3. Swimming/Sightseeing at Puka Beach
4. Tabon Beach for Lunch
Note: Puka Beach is visited depending on weather condition. There is always a final briefing about the itinerary before boarding.
Duration: 5-6 hours (9AM to 3PM)
* Hotel Pick-Up
* Boat Transfers and Use of Life Vest
* Lunch Buffet at Tabon Beach
Food: Pork or Chicken BBQ, Shrimp Tempura, Grilled Fish, Stir Fried Vegetables, Fruits in Season
Drinks: Soft drinks (Sprite, Coke, Royal) and Bottled Water
* Environmental Fee
* Snorkeling Tube and Mask
How to book?
Facebook Page: facebook.com/travellogph
Contact No.: 0906 581 9906
Boracay’s vibrant nightlife offers something for everyone.
The island of Boracay is famous for its nightly celebrations throughout the year. The party scene is mainly centered in the area between Station 1 and Station 2.
Besides the gorgeous beaches, one of the things that attracted us to Boracay is its nightlife. From beachside bars with live music to nightclubs where you can keep on dancing until 4 in the morning or until your legs give out.
3D/2N BORACAY ITINERARY
Day 1: ARRIVAL, WHITE BEACH
06:00 am – ETD NAIA Terminal 3 – Caticlan
07:00 am – ETA Caticlan International Airport
07:15 am – Ride a tricycle bound to Caticlan Jetty Port
08:00 am – Board boat/ferry to Boracay
08:15 am – Ride a habal-habal bound to City Mall
08:35 am – quick breakfast
09:10 am – Ride a tricycle bound to Puka Beach
09:20 am – Arrival at Puka Beach
12:00 pm – Lunch at carinderia
01:00 pm – Ride a tricycle bound to Mad Monkey Hostel
01:30 pm – Check-in at Hostel, freshen up, rest
03:00 pm – Explore White Beach
05:30 pm – Watch sunset, Dinner
Day 2: ISLAND-HOPPING
09:00 am – Island Hopping + Lunch
01:00 pm – Swimming again, or rest
06:00 pm – Freshen up
07:00 pm – Dinner
09:00 pm – Party party!
Day 3: DEPARTURE
06:00 am – Wake up
06:30 am – Morning walk at the beach, Grotto, swimming
09:00 am – Breakfast
11:30 am – Check out
12:00 pm – Lunch
02:00 pm – Ride e-jeepney back to Cagban Jetty Port
02:30 pm – Board ferry back to Caticlan
02:45 pm – Ride tricycle back to Caticlan Airport
05:00 pm – ETD Caticlan Airport
06:00 pm – ETA Manila – NAIA 3
SAMPLE BUDGET BREAKDOWN
Here’s an estimated breakdown of expenses for 3 days and 2 nights and assumes the following:
– You’re a party of 2, splitting some expenses.
– Your accommodation budget for 2 nights/pax is 1,500 PHP.
- P200 – Terminal fee (P100/way)
- P150 – Environmental fee (P75/way)
- P50 – Ferry roundtrip fare (P25/way)
- P100 – Tricycle roundtrip fare from Airport to Port (P50/way)
- P75 – Habal-habal from Port to City Mall (P150/2 pax)
- P15 – Tricycle from City Mall to Puka Beach
- P75 – Tricycle from Puka Beach to Mad Monkey Hostel (P150/2 pax)
- P75 – Ejeepney from Mad Monkey to Port (P150/2 pax)
- P1500 – Mad Monkey Hostel Standard Bed (P750/night)
- P1000 – Island Hopping
- P1200 – Total food budget
- P4,440 – TOTAL (excluding airfare)
TIPS AND REMINDERS
Watch out for airline seat sales.
It would be better to book months in advance during the high season because most hotels and hostels are fully booked and last-minute accommodations may be too expensive. Do the same even during off-peak months to get cheaper offers.
Be aware of the seasons and important events on the island.
To help you decide when it would be the “best time” to visit.
For me, there is no better time to go to Boracay. Although it may save you more during the lean season, it all depends on what would you like to see and do or how would you like to spend your time when you get there.
Book at the hotel where free breakfast is included.
You could save a good amount of money that you can use on something else, such as buying more pasalubong. We stayed in the Boracay Tourist Inn in Station 1, for Php 500 per person per night including breakfast. It is not a beachfront property yet it is along the main road. It was under 5 minutes stroll to the White Beach.
Take advantage of the free lunches/dinners offered by some hotels.
But be prepared for some sign-up offers/sales pitches from hotel agents in exchange for a free meal.
Bear in mind that Boracay is not your ideal, chill out the beach.
It is a premier island paradise and as such, expect it to have a multitude of holidaymakers all-year-round regardless of the weather conditions.
Manage your expectations and don’t assume that you can have the beach all to yourself even in its low season and when you see it you’ll see that Boracay is not just a destination that is overly hyped but it lives up to it.
Don’t expect to find much Filipino culture.
Boracay is best known for tourists. Everything was designed for tourists in the cheesiest way possible.
Tourists from all over the world come to visit and enjoy this famous refreshing White Beach. Boracay gives you the chance to retreat to paradise and although this beautiful island is a part of the Philippines located in the Western Visayas region of the country, don’t expect to get a firsthand experience of the Filipino culture here.
If this is your first time in Boracay and you have come to learn about the Filipino culture, then you are not in the right place. But, there is no doubt that Boracay is an amazing place to visit and the people here will welcome you with a smile and they speak brilliant English here. Read: 17 Things to know before visiting the Philippines (Plus Local Tips)
My boyfriend and I left the island saying it was one of the most beautiful places we’d ever been, but on the other perspective, Boracay made us feel like we were not in the Philippines. It’s a bad thing? Not necessarily, but it’s something you should know before booking your trip. That you will see more foreigners than Filipinos and most of the establishments’ target market are not locals.
And whether it’s your first time or not in Boracay, the island paradise always has something new and exciting up its sleeve. Hopefully, this travel guide will help you when you visit Boracay for the first time.