I struggled with the idea of going to Boracay, I really did. You see, I had been there over ten years ago and it was amazing, it was heaven on earth. But ten years is a long time and many things change. From what I had heard and seen of my friends’ visits, change might not have been good for Boracay.
With such a short time in the Philippines though, I really couldn’t take the time to go anywhere like El Nido or Anilao. I wanted to take David special, so the decision was made: Boracay indeed.
Boracay is an island off the northwestern coast of Aklan province, about 200 miles south of Manila. It’s really tiny, with an area of only about 4 square miles. However, it has become internationally known for having one of the best beaches on the planet, notably receiving Travel+Leisure’s award for best island in the world in 2012.
The sand on its most famous shore, White Beach is ridiculous. I’ll talk more about it later but seriously it is so fine that walking on it feels like digging your feet into flour. It’s really white too, so blindingly white that walking around without sunglasses on was actually physically painful.
There are three sections to White Beach, simply called Stations 1, 2, and 3. There are other beaches on the island as well and there are hotels pretty much everywhere. For many years Boracay has been catering to tourists and they are very experienced at it.
How to Get to Boracay
Fly to Caticlan
Boracay itself is very small and does not have its own airport. Caticlan is the closest airport and flying directly there means that the island is a short ferry ride away. However, that nearness comes at a premium: over twice the price of flights to Kalibo. A quick search yielded round trip tickets for one at almost 14000 pesos. The flight from Manila to Caticlan is only an hour, so if time is the most important consideration, then this is definitely the choice to make. Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines fly this route, and may offer deals on occasion.
Fly to Kalibo + 2-Hr Transfer
We flew from Manila to Kalibo on AirAsia Zest. The deal was pretty good: about 6000 pesos for the two of us, round trip. Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines frequent this route as well so check them out for comparison.
From Kalibo, one must drive about two hours to Caticlan and catch the ferry. You have a variety of options on how to accomplish that drive.
- Book a transfer with your hotel prior to arrival.
- Book with a transfer provider such as Southwest Tours prior to arrival.
- Upon arrival, walk out of the airport and choose one of the many transfer providers to get you to the port.
We contacted our hotel for their transfer rates and figured we could do better. However, for those with the cash, this may be your desired option for a minimum of fuss.
At Kalibo airport, we stepped outside and were immediately besieged by the many transfer operators, each trying to lead us to their tent.
Southwest Tours had been suggested to us and their rates were 600 pesos each, one way, from the airport to the hotel with all fees included. Better than the hotel, but still not great. They operate a coach for the drive, and have their own ferry from Caticlan port to Boracay island.
Right next to Southwest Tours was an operator named KIATA. They offered us the van ride including the ferry for 250 pesos each. I asked the Southwest Tours representative what we get with the 350-peso difference and they said “The service.” I will have it noted that I had no issues whatsoever with KIATA and required very little in the way of service. =) Their van fit about 11-12 people. Along the ride, we occasionally picked people up and dropped them off, but the pauses were momentary and it wasn’t a big deal at all.
Ferry from Caticlan to Cagban
Having gone with KIATA, we had to quickly pay the environmental fee (75 pesos each) and the terminal fee (100 pesos) at the window outside. We then headed out to the jetty and boarded a small motorboat. It’s a bit of a tight fit and the thing seemed to have been slapped together with wood and random parts (they were using a truck’s steering wheel and what looked like a phone cable for wiring) but it did well enough for the 15 minute ride to the island.
Cagban to Your Hotel
Cagban is Boracay’s port. Upon arrival, you can take a tricycle or a pedicab to your hotel. The closer you are to the port, the cheaper it is, of course. Station 3 is closest and should only cost about 25 pesos by tricycle. We were staying at Yapak, further north of White Beach, and for us it was 100 pesos. The prices are standard from the port. If you don’t have a lot of luggage, I encourage trying to find other people to share the ride with if you’re going to similar areas.
Boracay is easy to get to, far more so than many of the beautiful areas in the Philippines. The tourism in the area has created many options for travelers. Your budget — and your sense of adventure — will help you decide the best options. So far, Boracay was turning out to be a good choice. But we arrived late at night and had yet to see the island. More to come as we explored, and answer the question: should you go to Boracay?