White Beach: One of the top 10 beaches in the world
On our next move within the Philippines we travelled southwest of the country to this little piece of paradise, the island of Boracay. Barely 4 months since I was in another piece of paradise at the other side of the planet, 15500 kilometres to the west of Boracay, 15000 of them being the vast of the Pacific Ocean; San Pedro Ambergris in Belize (or La Isla Bonita as it is better known). Thankfully in this occasion weather made a huge difference to what was back then in the Caribbean with a horrible one! Although our second day was quite cloudy I have to admit it was even a relief after the intense heat and unbearable sun from the first day.
The island of Boracay is located in the region called Western Visayas. It’s so small that the nearest airports are on the larger neighbouring island of Panay, but easily to commute from/to as described in the transport section below.
It rapidly boomed in tourism being one of the most visited islands in the Philippines without doubts for its worldwide renown pristine beaches of fine white sand and turquoise waters. But something almost the 100% of first time visitors to the Philippines do not know is that there are by far much better islands and beaches elsewhere across the countless the country is formed of.
That we selected Boracay, the most touristy one, was just merely to do the most known but still the one that has the easiest access and overdeveloped infrastructure. Unfortunately we did not have the time we wish to have had and as such, Boracay worked perfectly for us, but certainly never to return. The Philippines have some of the most beautiful and incredible islands on the planet, Coron and Palawan rating very high up in the list.
The island has 2 main beaches, parallel to each other, (and of course other smaller ones), and this means there is something extremely important for you to know before you book any hotel there. The weather has two well marked patterns. Those are named as the Amihan and Habagat seasons in Visayan language. Amihan means a cool northeast wind generally from October to June while Habagat means west to south-west wind from June to September. Amihan season is characterized by moderate temperatures, little or no rainfall, and a permanent wind from the north-east. As opposed, Habagat season is characterized by hot weather with frequent heavy rainfall and permanent wind from the west.
The switch in wind direction tends to be abrupt, and therefore this influences which beach will be more windy while the other will have calm waters. Said this and to resume, White Beach is great anytime between October and June, while the opposite beaches are good the rest of the year. In any case, walking from one beach to the other is as quick as 15 minutes walk, and White Beach has absolutely everything you need; shopping, restaurants, night life and countless activities while Bulabog Beach is much simpler with none of the facilities as the other have.
For more information about Boracay check Wikipedia and Wikitravel sites. The Philippine’s currency is the Peso (PHP, ₱). Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
What to see and do in Boracay
- White Beach The main beach in the island, and the most famous for its pristine white sand and turquoise waters. It’s also the busiest one offering anything you can imagine from shopping, countless restaurants, bars, pubs, thriving nightlife and any water activity possible on offer.
- Bulabog Beach The opposite beach on to the east side of the island. Much quieter specially between October until June.
Getting to Boracay is quite simple although more time consuming than other destinations and depending from which airport you will be landing to. We were fortunate as coming from Manila is super easy.
The nearest airport is Boracay-Caticlan, located on the south west point of Panay Island. Upon landing, you will need to get to the small ferry terminal where you take the boat across the short distance that separates it from the southern point of Boracay’s jetty port of Cagban. Once in Boracay you will still need a tricycle ride to your final destination.
The boat ride costs ₱25. Tourists also have to pay a terminal fee of ₱100 and an environmental fee of ₱75. Don’t worry in getting confused about how much and where you need to pay. Right upon landing, head towards the counters selling tickets to Boracay island, they will sell you a combo ticket which included the tricycle ride from Caticlan to the port, the boat ride and all environmental fees. All you will need to pay once in Boracay is the tricycle ride to your final destination which the standard fare with luggage is ₱100 minimum (and can easily fit 3 to 4 people for that same price).
Making your way back to Caticlan airport is absolutely the same. You will need to reach by yourself the jetty port where you can get the combo ticket to the airport.
If instead you are landing/taking of from Kalibo airport which is farther to the east on Panay Island then you will need to calculate extra time as it takes approximately 2 hours to reach from the jetty port of Cagban at Boracay. Buses do cover the route from Caticlan to Kalibo and you can buy the combo ticket either in the office in downtown Boracay or at the jetty port that includes the boat and environmental fees plus the bus to Caticlan which runs on hourly basis frequency.
Needless to say within the island there is absolutely no need for any public transportation. You can walk along the beach and between the main beaches in no time
There is quite a good choice of hotels and resorts in the island, but as mentioned above, have in mind what season of the year you are going there in order to select which is the appropriate beach. A good point to start your search is by checking some of our preferred affiliate hotel search engines such as Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, Otel.com, Agoda, Opodo, LateRooms or Ebookers.
As rule of thumbs, along the White Beach is perfectly to stay anytime between October to June in coincidence with the Amihan, as the winds are coming from the north east. Any other month is Habagat with winds from the west, therefore the best choice would be the Bulabog Beach. In any case remember that the walking distance between both beaches is approximately 15 minutes so at the end it really does not matter where you stay.
We stayed at the Grand Boracay Resort, on Boat Station 2 (Balabag, Sitio Manggayad) which is the primary central area in the island near the restaurants and shops. Unfortunately it ended up to be a horrible experience. Not for the rooms or cleanliness, which definitely they were nice and clean, but for the most unprofessional staff we’ve ever encountered. The rudest and most unpolite people you can imagine. Don’t be fooled and check Tripadvisor or any other website the comments and ratings people are writing, it’s simply terrible. I would never recommend you this place therefore go for something else. Thankfully we were here for only 1 night and for few hours that we used the room just to sleep. As sharing the word is the best way to alert anyone, here you can find the horrific reviews this hotel gets, including ours.