There’s a reason Boracay was voted Asia’s best beach. Whether you’re a solo traveller, a couple, group of mates, or a family, it has something to offer everybody. Here are our top 5 things you need to know before you go.
1. Whilst Caticlan airport is the closest airport to Boracay, don’t forget to compare airfare prices with the larger Kalibo airport which is only 2 hours away. Direct bus transfers from Kalibo to Caticlan Jetty Port (around ₱300 or US$6) are frequent and best arranged in person just outside of the airport. AirAsia and Cebu Pacific both have some very cheap airfare specials especially during low season. They also sell all-inclusive transfers from Caticlan or Kalibo to Boracay and return, although these are more expensive than if booked separately.
2. The main beach in Boracay is White Beach which stretches a few kilometres along the western side of the island. The beach is divided into three sections from north to south: Station 1, Station 2 and Station 3. The centre of all the action is Station 2. Here you’ll find the highest concentration of restaurants, bars, shops etc. If you’re after something a little quieter with cheaper hotels, I would suggest looking south of Station 3. There are some very nice hotels and restaurants here that won’t have music pumping until 4am, and still within a 15 minute walk along the beach to Station 2. Our recommendation is Cocoloco Beach Resort or Dave’s Straw Hat Inn.
3. Most ATMs in the Philippines will charge a withdrawal fee (around ₱200 or US$4) each time you take money out using a card issued outside of the Philippines. This is in addition to any international withdrawal or currency conversion fees your bank may charge. To avoid this, plan ahead and work out your budget, then add on about 50% (Boracay is expensive compared to the rest of the Philippines!) so that you only need to withdraw money once or twice. A better tip (at least for Australian travellers) is to open a free Citibank transaction account before you leave, and withdraw your money fee free from any Citibank ATM in the Philippines (there’s one at the departures level of Manila’s NAIA terminal 3).
4. Be prepared to negotiate – especially if you’re a foreigner! If you’re planning on doing some activities like jet skiing, parasailing, quad biking etc, be sure to shop around amongst the different (commission-based) vendors on the beach to get an idea of their bottom line. If you bundle a number of activities together or are in a large group, negotiate even harder as you should get even bigger discounts.
5. Know the difference between a private tricycle and a shared tricycle. Private tricycles are those typically sitting around waiting to pick up customers. They charge 5-10x the regular price to go directly to your destination. Shared tricycles are those which go up and down the streets picking up people along the way for a fixed price. They might not go directly do your destination but can drop you off a short walk away. Always negotiate the price first and if in doubt ask for the “individual” price and not a “special” journey. An example fare in a shared tricycle from D’Mall in Station 2 to Puka Beach at the northern tip of the island should cost around ₱40, whereas a private tricycle will cost ₱200+.
What are your tips for Boracay? Share them in the comments section below!