Boracay: 6 tips to experience this party island on the cheap!
On a budget? No problem!
Picture this – the finest white sand sneaking through your feet, “divetastic” waters, sun-kissed horizon, and rows of coconut trees. It’s what you would usually expect when you talk about beach bumming. But Boracay is more to that! I’ve got some simple tips that will tell you that Boracay is still the best party island in the Philippines.
White Beach during Sunrise
Located 315 Kilometers (196 miles) south of Manila and about 2 Kilometers (1.24 miles) northwest of mainland Panay, Boracay is part of the Municipality of Malay, Aklan. It comprises the Barangays of Manoc-Manoc (southern), Balabag (central), and Yapak (northern). Earning the title “Best Beach Island” by Travel + Leisure Magazine in 2012, you can never go wrong with its 7-Kilometer span of white sand and coconut tree-strung shore. It has 2 major shorelines: White Beach on the Eastern side, and Bulabog Beach on the Western part (dubbed as Asia’s Top Kitesurf Destination).
Many people think that before you can go to Boracay, you have to have lots of money. Well, personally, it’s a ‘yes’ and a ‘no.’ Yes in a sense that when you go on “Vacation Mode,” you should really have extra money to buy all the things you wish to buy because commodities in the island are a bit pricey and; No in a sense that you can experience all the luxuries in the island on the cheap. You can eat in budget restaurants or you can even buy cook your own food! It’s just a matter of how you budget and allot your money when vacationing.
Boracay is definitely the place to be. From friendly locals to affordable buys, from “unli” powdery sand to palm-fringed shores, and being one of the best beach spots and islands in the world, one will definitely not forget everything the place has to offer.
Yehey for vacay!
As one of my friends said, “What’s life without taking any risks?” So off I went, together with my best friend and her boyfriend, to Boracay, and make the most out of summer. In fairness, this is my first airplane trip using my own money! Yey! So we decided to go one of the best beaches in the world because summer’s not complete without hitting any beach, right? (Yeah, we all came from Baguio, that’s why.) This vacation is off the chain as we ‘planned’ this in a short span of time. Although as many would say that going to Boracay is so overrated, I would tell them that this destination should never be missed on your bucket list. Your Filipino experience will never be complete without going to Boracay.
As a first-timer in Boracay, these are some of the simple budget-friendly tips we’ve come up in enjoying the island:
Check-in at an affordable but cozy hotel or inn
When we were planning our vacation to the island, we’ve come across the website of Orchids Resort (located at Station 3) as it is known as one of the budget-friendly hotels in Boracay. We then booked two nights for our Boracay trip. The hotel is not beachfront but is about 2 minutes away from White Beach. This piqued my interest even more because the whole hotel is designed with nipa and seashell interiors which give it a native and laid-back mood. The reception is just simple and their friendly staff welcomed us with seashell necklaces!
Check their room rates at www.orchidsboracay.com or contact Sir Junn Alcazaren, Resident Manager, at +63 917 242 0833; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For the updated full list of all the Hotels / Lodging Houses in Boracay (plus their latest hot deals), click here!
Maximize your time by doing some activities.
Your Boracay experience will not be complete if you haven’t set your foot on its fine sand. It’s your time to do water activities! From helmet diving, scuba diving, sunset cruise, to banana boating, name it, they have it. There are many activity booths ashore White Beach offering various water activities in different price ranges. Choose wisely! You can haggle prices with activity concessionaires to get the lowest and most convenient prices as possible. There are just a lot of activities that can be done on the island that a 3 Night, 2 Day stay is really not enough.
For first timers, we suggest you try island hopping (Lunch at Tambisaan Port, Snorkeling at Coral Bay, Sightseeing at Crystal Cove Island), parasailing, paraw sailing (especially at sunrise!), and helmet diving! We did all these activities in just a span of two days and it really is not enough! Bitin! I would be updating this post once I come back to the island.
I have also heard from locals that spelunking (in their Bat Cave), cliff diving, riding the zip line in Mt. Luho, seafood shopping (at D’ Talipapa), availing of a relaxing massage (along White Beach), hair braiding, tattooing, and t-shirt personalization are also some of the things that should not be missed while you’re in Boracay.
There are lots of activities on the island that you couldn’t resist trying. Just do it!
Many people offering activities are scattered in the main pathways of White Beach. They often approach you and offer you activities at different prices. So what I can suggest you is to be patient in dealing with these people as they are insistent.
Stroll by the shore
Beach bumming is the cheapest way of spending free time on the island. It is where you’ve got to choose where to eat and drink, what to do, what to buy and where to stay. It is also where you meet different kinds of people (and why not start a conversation with them?) Or better yet, just lay down and bathe under the warm rays of the sun and get that desired tan!
You will never run out of places to dine and have fun in Boracay. Many restaurants and bars offer al fresco setups for you to enjoy the white sand and the view of the beach. Buffet restaurants are also the main game in White Beach – from Seafood, Vegan, Indian, Asian fusion cuisine, to regular meals, they offer lots (I mean lots) of food choices that you can only taste in the island (although some of them are really expensive but worth it!)
Explore the mainland
Unfortunately, due to time constraint, we haven’t seen the Boracay metro. I heard there are much cheaper finds there – from souvenirs to karinderyas on the island’s side strips. If ever planning to visit the island, this is also your chance to experience the locals’ way of living. Though we just saw a glimpse of the mainland, we’ll see to it that we’d go explore Boracay more on our next visit. (And update this post, too!)
Tricycle is the main mode of transportation in Boracay. Fare ranges from PhP 10-20, depending on how far your destination is. Be also sure not to “charter” a tricycle as they would let you pay for the whole seating capacity of the vehicle. Most tricycles have a capacity of 5 or 6, and they also pick up passengers like a regular jeepney would do. Just tell the driver that you let him pick up other passengers so that the fare would be cheaper.
Enjoy the island’s nightlife!
It’s a non-stop party island! Your stay is incomplete if you haven’t experienced Boracay’s nightlife. You can find many bars and restaurants ashore that have different gimmicks to invite you into their own ‘nooks.’
During our visit, it is the “APEC Season” in the island that’s why security is a little bit strict. (But at least we feel secured.) It’s because some APEC meetings were held on the island. Anyway, we still enjoyed the party atmosphere because everyone is in the mood to party!
From expert fire dancers to shishas, dinner buffets, and lots of seafood, you’ll never run out of choices. There are at least a hundred establishments in White Beach (including the stores in D’Mall and D’Talipapa), the main beach attraction in Boracay. You just have to choose the right place that fits your budget, and other preferences while enjoying stepping on white sand everywhere and the sound of the calm waters at night! A budget of PhP 1000 for 3 persons is enough, unless you really want to go lavish when partying, then why not?
Look for cheap buys and souvenirs
There are a lot of stalls along the shores from station 1 to 3 (most especially near D’ Talipapa) that offers you a wide array of tchotchkes from bracelets, small figurines, key chains, hand-painted and printed shirts, tank tops, and sculptures at very affordable prices! Most of them are made from shells, sand, pearls, wood and everything that is natural to Boracay, not to mention, the never-dying coconut-tree-in-the-beach design of all souvenir items are to look for. While some are sold in columned stalls, some are bargained on the beach itself – people approach you and will offer you their products, which, I tell you, is really hard to resist.
Maximize your money! Remember, ‘expensive’ is subjective!
With numerous activities to choose from, a 3-day stay in the island is really not enough. For an up-and-coming travel blogger like me, I have learned that when traveling to places alien to you, you should adapt to your destination’s culture and experience their way of living!
*As soon as we come back, I’ll update this article and I’ll let you know more about the Philippines’ best island!*
Watch out for my Travel Guide to Boracay Island HERE!