Boracay, Philippines: Real-Life Pleasure Island

What I’m about to write sounds pretty spoiled, but it’s the unfortunate truth. After a few months of travel, it becomes easier to feel jaded at gorgeous sites like waterfalls and beaches. Despite spending some quality time at gorgeous beaches in places like GreeceThailand, and Lombok (and some not-so-beautiful beaches in Cambodia), we were still blown away by the quality of White Beach in Boracay.

Was Boracay totally touristy and commercialized? Absolutely – it has a Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Subway, and two Mcdonalds – they even have a Johnny Rockets, for God’s sake. And nightly fire shows. But we didn’t go to Boracay for the culture, the diving, or really any reason other than the beach, and we’re so glad it lived up to expectations. Here’s how we spent our five nights in Boracay.

Dock Spider House Resort Boracay
Spoiler alert: mostly this

Getting There

Options

There is no airport on Boracay itself; you need to take a boat from the Caticlan Port to get there. To get to the port, you can fly into one of two airports: Kalibo and Caticlan. Kalibo is the farther, but much cheaper option (it’s about an hour and a half drive from the Caticlan port), whereas Caticlan is the much more convenient, but more expensive option (it’s literally right next to the port).

How We Did It

We flew from Cebu to Kalibo and saved about $100. Our flight was scheduled to arrive at 8pm, and from what I read online, the last boat from Caticlan port to Boracay left at 10pm. Since it would take 1.5-2 hours to get to the port from the airport, I was worried we wouldn’t make the last boat, so we booked a door-to-door package with Southwest Tours. For $15 each, we quickly and efficiently got from the Kalibo airport to our hotel in Boracay. If we had done it ourselves, it would’ve cost half the price, but it would’ve been more of a hassle/stressful situation. If you’re not on a super tight budget and/or you’re worried about making it to Boracay for the night, I’d recommend this company. Otherwise, it’s pretty simple to do it on your own.

Accommodations

Where to Stay

The White Beach area of Boracay, the main place where tourists stay, is split up into 3 main areas: Stations 1, 2 and 3. Station 1 is furthest north and home to a shallow, wide beach and fancy resorts; Station 2 is where most of the action is (restaurants, bars) and can be very hectic; Station 3 is where you can find most backpacker/budget accommodation and (IMO) the best beach.

Where We Stayed

After deciding that Station 3 sounded the most appealing, we found a great place: 812 Angol Boracay.

812 Angol Boracay bedroom

We rented essentially a studio apartment for $30/night. Along with high ceilings, great wifi and air-conditioning, it also had a cute little kitchen we utilized to cook ourselves breakfast every morning.

Pete pretending to cook FTB (for the blog)
Pete pretending to cook FTB (for the blog)

This hotel is the farthest one in Station 3, so it’s about a 30 minute walk to Station 2. We made this walk most days for dinner, but found we enjoyed the beach closest to our hotel much more enjoyable, with its deeper water and quieter atmosphere.

To find other accommodation, you can search here:


 

Food/Drink

Sunny Side Cafe (Station 3)

If we were here on vacation (read: balling out instead of budgeting), we would’ve come here every day. Unfortunately we have to be semi-responsible with our money, but we still managed to come here twice; once for breakfast, and once for an afternoon pancake “lunner.”

Eggs Florentine
Eggs Florentine

Try the incredibly large, fluffy pancakes or the Eggs Florentine.

Smoke Resto (branches in Station 2 at D’Mall and Bulabog)

This restaurant is famous for its cheap, Filipino food. While we thought the food was alright, we weren’t wowed by it. It’s worth noting we went to the newest branch at Bulabog, so it might be better quality at the D’Mall location. We tried the Bichol Express and the fish curry.

Munchies (Station 2)

Another “budget” restaurant, we liked the food here much better than at Smoke Resto. Since we were craving Mexican food, we split the nachos and fajitas and definitely recommend the fajitas.

Spider House (far north end of Station 1, by Diniwid Beach)

We walked over an hour to get to Spider House Resort and it was totally worth it. First of all, the atmosphere is totally different from White Beach; as you walk farther north, the crowds and the hawkers slowly disappear. You need to walk through some caves to get to this haven overlooking the sea. Second of all, the mango shakes and the pizza were both amazing. We’re sure the rest of the food is lovely too. Third, the view is great – it’s probably the best place on the island to watch the sunset.

Spider House Boracay

Come here to hang out for a few hours and secure your spot for a sunset view; you can snorkel, swim, tan on the floating dock, or just enjoy the ambiance.

Red Pirates Pub (Station 3)

Craving a small bar that makes you feel like you’re in the Pirates of the Caribbean? This is the place for you! Decently priced beers at one of the only bars in Station 3.

Paradise Garden (Station 2) – happy hour

Their live music caught our eye; their happy hour, beach seating and reggae band convinced us to stay. After the band stops playing, you may want to stay for their highly entertaining fire show.

Activities

Lounge on the Beach

I’m not gonna lie; we spent most of our time reading and/or sippin beers on White Beach. Like I mentioned earlier, that’s pretty much the entire reason we came to Boracay.

Where we spent most of our days: CocoLoco beachfront
Where we spent most of our days: CocoLoco beachfront

Tip: if you purchase a drink, the friendly servers at CocoLoco (Station 3) will let you lounge in their bean bangs or chairs in the shade.

Get a Massage

You’ll be hounded with offers of cheap massages (averaging 350) the entire length of White Beach. After a while, I gave in and got an hour-long massage at Massage by Abe (Station 3) for 400 PHP ($8). It was one of the best massages I’ve ever gotten.

Watch the Sunset

This is becoming a staple in our island itineraries. The sunset in Boracay is fabulous; our favorite one we watched was over a pizza at Spider House.

Sunset Spider House Boracay

Get Your Hair Done

Don’t fret – Pete didn’t get his tips frosted. I did decide to get a hair cut & color while Pete just got a hair cut. I was scared to get my hair colored in a foreign country where my hair color and texture is very different from theirs, but for $30, I thought, hey – what’s the worst that could happen? Read about that experience here.

Have you been to Boracay? Is there anything we missed out on?

2 Comment

  1. Jerome Ordona says: Reply

    Ahhh. This was such a fun review. All the reviews I’ve ever heard about Boracay are people from the Philippines, so it’s nice to get a different perspective. Boracay will happen for me relatively soon, so reading your recap is very refreshing!

    Safe travels!!

    1. Brittany says: Reply

      I’m glad we could offer a new perspective! I’m excited for you – Boracay was so much fun. Let us know how your visit goes – safe travels to you, too!

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