The Philippines has been on my to-go list for quite some time, but there was one place I couldn’t quite get my head around: Boracay. Just type “Philippines” into Instagram and the majority of the pictures will be of the pristine white sands and turquoise water of White Beach, Boracay. Yet, read a Boracay travel guide on any blog and you’ll hear gripes about how it is “too touristy“, “too commercialised” and “not like it was in the 70s. ” Who to trust?!
I was not even in the womb in the 70s, so I had no chance to ever experience the untouched beauty of Boracay. But now, in 2016, I’m living within a 3-hour flight of the infamous party island. Maybe there are McDonalds and Starbucks now, but could I really turn down the chance to see this beach paradise for myself?
It was time to see if what I was seeing on Instagram really was true!
When I arrived at the ferry terminal after touching down at Caticlan Airport, I was so surprised to see that the sea really was as turquoise the pictures. #nofilterneeded. As soon as we got off the boat, we were greeted by smiles and tricycle drivers who didn’t want to completely rip us off! How’s that for an unsual travel scenario? I knew from then that Boracay and I were going to be friends. Honestly, after finishing our trip, I’m so glad that we decided to see Boracay for ourselves which is why I decided to write a more positive Boracay Travel Guide.
Yes, there probably are more secluded beaches that are just as beautiful. But, if you do some research, stay away from Station 2 (more on that later) and plan your trip sensibly, you can definitely have a relaxing stay in Boracay without a single Big Mac meal in site. Here’s my Boracay Travel Guide showing you the best of the island.
Boracay Travel Guide for Backpackers, Flashpackers and Sunset Chasers!
Where to Stay on White Beach in Boracay
The famous White Beach is the quintessential image of Boracay. This stretch of beach is divided into 3 stations; Station 1, 2 and 3. We stayed in Station 3, and I’m glad that we did!
Honeymoon Central, strictly for flashpackers and luxury travellers. Station 1 doesn’t have as much going on as the other stations but is a gorgeous stretch of beach. Unless you can find a great Boracay hotel deal here, though, I’d go elsewhere!
Station 2 is the main entertainment hub of Boracay and is where you’ll find the majority of the bars and restaurants (+ tourist traps) on the island.
When Boracay Travel Guides complain about the over commercialisation of Boracay, most of the debauchery they’re talking about can be found here!
Just a 10-minute walk away is Station 3- an equally beautiful stretch of beach, minus the chaos- and minus the premium. Station 3 is not as sought after an area as its nearby neighbours, so you can expect to find high-quality accommodation for a fraction of the cost. You can also find peace and quiet when you want it. I doubt that the same can be said for Station 1 or 2.
We stayed at Island Jewel Inn where you can get a double room with breakfast for as little as £20 when booking in advance!
Best Budget Eats in Boracay
Budget eats in Boracay aren’t difficult to find- especially in Station 2.
(And, yes, I know that I just said that I recommend staying away from Station 2 but I simply can’t deny that it has great places to eat!)
A place that I surprised myself by really liking was D Mall; an open air shopping area with a wide array of restaurants. I expected an air conditioned mall with a big food court but I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of options and also the boardwalk like atmosphere.
During our stay, we ate at Smoke Restaurant which serves a huge variety of Filippino dishes for under 200 pesos. (3GBP/4USD) A bargain for the generous portions they serve. I had the coconut fish curry which I would definitely recommend.
We also ate at Spice Bird which is a Portuguese style chicken restaurant- think Nando’s but with a bit more character. This was also easy on the pocket- a half chicken only sets you back 295 pesos (4.5GBP/6.10USD) although I must say, the portions weren’t quite as generous as what we got at Smoke’s (or even what you would find at Nando’s.) But still, for the taste and quality, it was definitely good value for money.
Sadly, I only spent 3 days in Boracay and only have one stomach (*sob*), so this Boracay Travel Guide can’t fairly talk about everything to eat on the whole island. Here’s some more inspiration on places to eat in Boracay!
Best Place for Happy Hour in Boracay
Boracay has an extremely lengthy Happy Hour, so much so that I could probably write a full Boracay travel guide based on the island’s generous happy hours. Many bars are serving half price, or buy one get one free drinks and cocktails, from as early as 2 pm until as late as 8 pm.
Our go-to Happy Hour spot was Bei Kurt und Magz, a cosy German-owned bar and restaurant on Station 3. I really liked the fact that this bar had a totally different vibe from the rest of the bars that line the strip. I also REALLY liked the fact that they had 40 peso caipirinhas! (60p/0.85USD) And because their Happy Hour is so long, it’s the perfect place for sunset drinks, lunchtime drinks and even pre-game drinks!
Best Place for Sunset in Boracay
So if Boracay is on your bucket list and you’re anything like me, you’ll definitely be familiar with Boracay’s sunsets from good old Instagram creeping! No matter where you are on the island, you’re bound to be within walking distance of a beautiful sunset spot. Of all the sunsets we saw in Boracay, my favourite has to be the sunset from Wahini Bar on Diniwid Beach. This place is a bit of a mission to get to but totally worth it. Think beanbags, ambient chilled out music, 2 for 1 cocktails and a completely unrivalled sunset. The perfect place to kick back and refuel before heading out for the night!
Best Things to do in Boracay
My opinion is that the best things to do in Boracay include books, cocktails and sunloungers! This is the place to go slow.. these are a few favourite things to do, though!
Visit Pukka Shell Beach or Bullabog Beach
Unfortunately, due to poor weather conditions, our plans to visit Pukka Shell Beach and Bullabog Beach fell through. These beaches are much less developed than the famous White Beach, so I’m sure they’d have a much more chilled out vibe. Definitely worth checking out if you have a few days in Boracay.
Island Hopping Tours in Boracay
We spent a lazy day doing an island hopping and snorkelling tour by catamaran. While this was fun, I would skip it if Boracay isn’t the only stop on your trip. The snorkelling conditions weren’t great and the scenery you’ll see on the boat isn’t really varied enough to make it worth your 3 hours.
Parasailing in Boracay
Aside from cocktail drinking, our favourite thing to do in Boracay was Parasailing at sunset. At 1050 pesos (15GBP/22USD) per person for 15 minutes, it’s certainly not the most budget-friendly activity. But, still seeing a birdseye view of this gorgeous island while the sun was setting over it is something I’ll never forget.
(And if I do, I’m sure I’ll never forget the fear I had of falling out the harness!)
Chill out in Boracay!
Since a lot of the activities offered in Boracay could be done at any beach resort in the world, I’d recommend spending your time completely chilling out, enjoying a cocktail and taking in the scenery. If you’re trying to travel in The Philippines on a budget, a lot of these watersports are fun, but expensive. Save your pennies and your energy until you get to places like El Nido where you won’t want to miss out on island hopping boat tours, or Siargoa with its amazing surf scene!
If the thought of staying still and doing nothing gives you ants in your pants, there’s definitely a better-suited place for you in the 7107 islands of the Philippines! But if you’re looking for unrivalled beauty, I challenge you to find a more gorgeous beach than Boracay!
Travelling to The Philippines?
I hope this Boracay travel guide has showed you the best of what to eat, see, drink and do on the island. If you’re travelling to the Philippines soon, I recommend booking your flights in advance to get the best deals. I always find the cheapest flights using Kiwi: my favourite flight comparison site!
And, while you’re here, don’t miss my other Philippines posts!
- Getting Adventurous in El Nido
- Bohol: The Jungle Book of The Philippines
- 2 Weeks in The Philippines: How Much did it Cost?
Is Boracay on your travel bucket list? Tell me why in the comments below 🙂
Disclaimer: This Boracay Travel Guide contrains affiliate links but, as always, all opinions are my own.