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Boracay is a tropical island about an hour's flight from Manila in the Philippines. It has superb long white sand beaches, as good as any anywhere, and is one of the country's most developed tourist destinations. Facilities are available to suit different levels of activity. For those wanting to just lounge around and take in some rays, beach-front hotels usually have lounge chairs set up just a few steps away from the hotel entrances. Facilities for the usual water sports activities such as sailing, wind surfing, snorkeling, diving and jet skiing are also widely available for those in search of more active pursuits. The fun in Boracay also doesn't end when the sun sets. Boracay nightlife is pulsating with many bars and restaurants serving food, drink and fun until the very late evening. Boracay is an excellent choice for anyone who wants a full range of facilities in a prime tropical location and can pay for it. However, it is not a good bet for bargain hunters; prices are relatively high by Philippines standards, though moderate by Japanese or Western standards and lower than many places in the Mediterranean, Caribbean or South Pacific. (less...) (more...)
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Points of Interest in Boracay Island
- White Beach - This is what most people are here for. Not only is it a lovely stretch of powdery white sand against azure water, it's also the commercial center of the island. The long beach is divided into three sections, Station 1, Station 2, and Station 3. Station 1 is the northernmost and has the widest beachfront, where prime hotels and resorts are located. Accommodations are pricier, but quality is generally the best as well. Station 2 is the commercial and geographical center of white beach. This is the center of it all for shopping, eating, partying, and etc. That said, the beach here is also the most crowded, and the area the nosiest. Station 3 is the southernmost section; quieter than station 2, it is the least developed, and also the lowest priced. All of White Beach from the northernmost tip of Station 1 to the southernmost of Station 3 (~4 km) is open to the public, so one can relax and/or swim wherever they like, regardless of hotel location.
- Puka Beach - A quiet stretch of white sand along the northern tip of the island, Puka Beach is an image of what most people expect on a tropical island: white sand, azure water, and relatively empty. This is where locals gather the small puka shells for some of the jewelry that is sold on the island so expect the sand to be more coarse than on White Beach. The water tends to be a little rougher on this side of the island but it is much quieter. Similarly, there are fewer services—there are only a couple of restaurants, but you likely won't have a problem getting a cold drink or an ice cream as there are a few vendors that patrol the beach. The main road in Boracay terminates at Puka Beach therefore you'll be able to hire a tricycle to get there in less than 10–15 minutes from central White Beach. Make sure you arrange a pickup if it is a quiet day and no tricycles are hanging around the beach. Most people experience Puka as one of their sailboat or banca stops during a day trip. This is a good spot for a picnic, but be sure to bring your trash home with you.
- Baling Hai Beach - This is a quiet little cove just north of Diniwid Beach, where you can enjoy swimming, snorkeling and dining in a relaxed, peaceful environment. There are some fantastic views from the clifftop restaurant. Baling Hai is often included as a stop-off on an island boat tour.
- Bulabog Beach - Come there on a windy days to see kiteboarders doing high jumps and crazy tricks.
- The Bat Cave. One will see in several tour guides and maps of Boracay something called the Bat Cave, which houses many small insectivorous bats (the larger fruit bats roost in the trees on the hillside above Punta Bunga Beach), and locals will be more than happy to accompany you there for a fee, or "tip". The cave is on the western-end of the island and down several dirt roads. The guide will then take you on a short hike through the forest to the mouth of a cave, which drops down at a very steep angle. The mouth of the cave is littered with large boulders, and is extremely difficult to enter and walk down. There is no visible path, no handrail, and the stones are extremely slippery with slime and bat guano, as well as extremely dangerous, since the cave is at such an extreme angle. Also, the air inside the cave is very warm and humid, and in addition to the amount of guano, is very difficult to breathe. Additionally, several snakes live inside the cave. Caution should be taken by those visiting and entering the cave. There are bats in the cave, but down at the bottom of it in the dark, and unless you have a flashlight or are there at dusk, you won't see them. The ceiling of the cave is interesting, however, with multiple, small stalactites. Just nearby, you can find another cave, called "crystal" cave which has a lot of stalactites and a hole on the opposite site of the entrance, from which you can watch out to the sea if you dare to climb up to it. You will have to pay 50P entry-fee to visit both caves on behalf of the family that owns the land, in addition to paying your guide. Visiting both caves can cost up to 2500P for the guide, but this is the "rich tourist price", so try to bargain if you like.
About Boracay Island
During the dry season (Nov-Apr), also known as Amihan, White Beach is calm and very suitable for swimming, etc. The other side of the island has large winds and waves making it suitable for wind surfing, wave running, etc. During the rainy season (Jun-Oct), also known as Habagat, this is reversed, with a risk of typhoons. White Beach often gets large winds and waves which sometimes makes it unsuitable for swimming. Current weather conditions can be found online.
For those interested in scuba diving, there are literally dozens of dive centres along White Beach; it is a good place to learn or to improve your skills. Cost is typically $33 per dive which includes hire of all equipment.The dive centres operate a cartel and have agreed standard prices amongst themselves so prices will be the same at all centres. There are 25-30 dive sites within 10–15 minutes speed boat ride from the beach, suitable for beginners up to advanced level. Dives range from 'Angol Point' (10m), through 'Crocodile Island' (22-25m), a straightforward wall dive, up to 'Yapak'- a deep wall dive suitable for only the most experienced divers due to strong currents, although there is the possibility of seeing sharks and stingrays.
The best way to see the beauty of Boracay and its various beaches is by Paraw (native outrigger sailboat). You will be constantly asked if you want to take a boat trip, as there are literally dozens of companies offering this service. It is better to go with a reputable and established group such as Allen Fun Tours (motorized banca boat tours) or Red Pirates (paraw sailing) to ensure your safety and avoid being overcharged.
Boracay's Bulabog beach claims to be the best kitesurfing destination in Asia. The season runs from November through to April with onshore winds varying between 12-30 knots. A small lagoon (2 km wide) is protected from waves by a coral reef. The water becomes almost flat at low tide, making it easy to start learning kitesurfing and continue with freestyle tricks. Because of its nice conditions, the spot becomes overcrowded with riders in high season. A serious disadvantage is sewage pollution of the lagoon, so smell from water and infections from even small injuries are common.
- Hangin Kite Center, Bulabog Beach, ☎ +63 (0)36 288 3766. The island's first kite center. Offers lessons from beginner to advanced. All instructors are IKO-certified.
- Freestyle Academy Kitesurfing School, Bulabog Beach, ☎ 09155593080, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Offers lessons from beginner to advanced. All instructors are IKO-certified.
- Isla Kiteboarding school, Bulabog Beach, ☎ +63362885352, e-mail: email@example.com. Offers courses from beginners to advanced level. All instructors are IKO-certified
- Pinas Kite Boarding, Bulabog Beach, ☎ 09182574658. Locally owned kite-boarding shop, offers courses from level 1 to 3. All instructors are IKO-certified.
Skimboarding in Boracay has been a new fun sport for kids and entertainment for older for people for several years. It is a welcome new attraction and a pleasure to watch. Skimboards are available for rent at several places along White Beach. But be sure to hire an expert to teach you the skills; a one-hour lesson from a local rider is usually around 300 pesos.
- Along White Beach you will be approached frequently by women offering to give you a massage, which they will do on the spot or on a towel laid out on the beach - your choice.
- A bit more organized, White Beach also has several "Massage Stations": collections of masseurs that have their mats set up. The stations are typically open as long as there are customers around but in general start to shut down just after sunset.
- For Swedish, Accupressure, Shiatsu etc., visit Abe (pronounced Abby) the blind masseur who operates outside Cocoloco restaurant in Angol (south of boat station 3). Only P300 per hour.
- There is a great outdoor massage station in the beach area of Nigi Nigi Beach Resort, where they have two tables set up. The booth is draped with curtains which they will close if you wish, or leave open if you want to watch the people on the beach. They offer every massage in the book, and charge 500 Peso for one hour.
- Bella Isa Salon & Spa. Is a little spot on the beach in Station 3 with upscale decor and professional staff. They provide a full range of services including massage, facials, foot spa, and hair services.
- There are several smaller/mid-range spas in Boracay that offer a menu including massages, scrubs and facials but don't quite have the facilities to be considered a full spa. Most hotels in Boracay offer a limited spa menu that falls into this category.
- Caesar's, found along the main road near boat station 3, specializes in Thai massage and uses two masseurs simultaneously to deliver the service. A 90 minute massage is priced at $50 USD.
- Tirta SPA. — found in Sitio Malabunot, Manoc-Manoc, area. Indian treatments in a stunning environment. Friendly and helpful staff. It is a good idea to compare prices between Tirta Spa, Mandala Spa, and Shangri-La Boracay to find the best deal.
- Ariel's Point. Ariel’s Point is an affordable eco-adventure destination for Boracay travelers who want to experience the natural splendor of the Philippines and meet fellow travelers. Located 30 minutes away from Station 1 by outrigger boat, Ariel’s Point allows travelers to enjoy a wide array of adventurous activities such as cliff diving (the destination has five different platforms ranging in height from 3 meters to 13 meters), snorkeling, and paddling in an unspoiled setting with volcanic caves, mangrove forests, turquoise coves, and remote beaches. Visitors can reach Ariel’s Point by purchasing tickets at Ariel's House (along the White Beach in front of the Boracay Beach Club) before 11AM on the day of departure. 1200 PHP for round-trip boat transfer, a BBQ buffet, unlimited drinks (bottled water, beer, soda, rum), and access to cliff diving, snorkeling, paddling.
- Parasailing. Take a parasailing tour around the island, to explore quiet beaches and snorkel sites. Ask your crew to organize a romantic BBQ on the beach with fresh grilled seafood, if you like. Cruise back at sunset to experience breathtaking views.
- Motorbiking. It is worth hiring motorbikes or scooters out to explore the island, as there are other beautiful beaches on the other side of the island that are even better for snorkeling that will be completely deserted. Hire them for a couple of days and you should get a discount. The roads are a bit dodgy, and some are still being constructed, but it's a good laugh and better than plunking yourself on a patch of white sand and seeing nothing.
- Horseriding. Horse riding is a fun activity in Boracay. Get off the beaten path and experience villages and scenery most other visitors don't get to see. All levels of experience are catered to. Ask a tricycle to take you to the Boracay Horse Riding Stables.
Because of its wide draw of international travelers, Boracay has a wide variety of places to eat, including a surprising number of bakeries.
- A1 Boracay. Coffee that serves only the best imported Italian arabica coffee beans.
- Andok's. Andok's, which has 5 locations, sells rotisserie and fried chicken as well as favorite Filipino dishes.
- A Loja Delicatessen was for many years the only deli on the island. A Loja Deli, working with Heidiland Deli, caters today more to the wholesale market, but offers also a nice quiet place to eat sausages and sandwiches and drink wine in a quiet garden, away from the crowded beachfront area. Wholesale prices also apply to visitors who buy in bulk.
- Aria in "D' Mall". Delicious Italian food. If they don't give you the spicy olive oil bottle on the side for your custom made pizza, make sure you ask for it.
- Arwana Coffee Shop (near Station 3) is one of the nicest spots in the area for a tasty breakfast at a beachside table.
- Bamboo Lounge, near Station 1, serves a good selection of Chinese food in a relaxed beachfront setting.
- Bistro Valhalla. In the mall is a newly refurbished steakhouse with a varied and interesting menu.
- Blue Jade Cafe is in D'Talipapa and offers Asian and European cuisine. Customers can also shop in the market for fresh seafood and have it cooked for them at the restaurant.
- Blue Mango, near Station 3, has a good reputation and serves some interesting mango-inspired creations on the menu, among other things.
- Chez De Paris Resort, on the White Beach balabag (beside Le Soleil and The Mandarin), ☎ (036)288-3233. One of the first European restaurants on the island, the first in fact to have chocolate mousse and Italian pizza when the island was without electricity in the early 80's. Owned by the infamous and eccentric Frenchman Roger Deparis who has lived on the island since his backpacking days, it is a throwback to the old island style of mismatched decorations and heavy foliage.
- Cocoloco bar/restaurant near Station 3 serves great Filipino and international cuisine in an attractive native-style setting.
- Cowboy Cocina near Station 3 serves tasty steaks, ribs and other grilled dishes, and arguably the best burgers in Boracay.
- Crafty's Rooftop Bar and Coffee Shop is on the top level of Crafts Department Store at D' Mall's main road entrance. There is an excellent menu of Indian food as well as international dishes, and there's also a wide selection of imported beers and ales. This is a great place to watch the sunset.
- Cyma, in the new part of the mall. Excellent food and service at this Greek restaurant. Try the mezedes combination, the spinach and artichoke fondue and the chicken souvlaki.
- D'Talipapa The cheapest - and for many people, the best - place to eat. Around the place are a variety of food stores that offer to cook for you. You can buy fresh seafood, etc., right near the stores, then have the stores cook it for you however you like. (For example, you can get crabs for 250 Pesos for 1 kilo opposed to buying in restaurants that charge 130 pesos per 100 grams).
- Deja Vu, Station 2. 10AM-2AM. Fresh seafood, pizzas and burgers. Contemporary decor and big comfy lounge furniture.
- Dos Mestizos This restaurant is the brainchild of respected Boracay chef & restaurateur Binggoy Remedios and his close childhood friend, Jose Ramon Valdes Nieto. Both owners have Spanish ancestors, hence the name "Dos Mestizos". This restaurant serves a selection of excellent tapas and is located between stations 2 and 3, behind the Tourist Center.
- Fridays Boracay, ☎ +63 36 288-6200, fax: +63 36 288-6222. All day dining, themed dinner, Friday night buffet, seafood grill, plus 3 cultural dance shows every week with fire dance.
- Hama, a Japanese restaurant located at the D'Mall and just across The Hobbit House.
- Heidiland Deli. Next to the main plaza at the D'Mall Phase IV is a fully air-conditioned European style deli selling all kinds of deli food as cheeses, cold cuts, salami, yoghurt, wines, etc. Locally famous for reasonably priced sandwiches.
- The Hobbit House (Also located in D'Mall). With great food, drinks and live music, this place is the best of the Hobbit House chain. The main draw is the midget staff, however.
- Jammers, on the front beach of D'Mall. Up and running for more than 8 years, amazing burgers, hotdogs, fruit shakes, etc. Open 24/7
- Jonas Fruitshake in Station 1. Their fruit shakes are to die for!
- Kasbah Authentic Moroccan cuisine serving exquisite tagines and couscous. Next to Discovery Shores, Station 1.
- Kurt's restaurant and bar near Station 3 has a wide selection of good German and Filipino dishes and a friendly atmosphere.
- Lemon Cafe, in D' Mall. A new addition to the island, this place serves a variety of breakfasts, lunches and light meals. The service and presentation is excellent.
- Lovells Swiss Bakery, Balabag (next to Pantelco and infront of the balabag main hospital). Boracay's first European bakery and pastry shop, founded and run by a Swiss guy since the early 1980s.
- Manana, near Station 1, serves large portions of tasty Mexican food. Guacamole is only available when avocados are in-season despite what the menu says.
- Obama Grill Bar-Restaurant (Station 1), Beachfront & Main Road Frontage (across from Andok's Station 1 and Shore Time Hotel). Steak restaurant, opened April 2009. Some say it's expensive and the portions are small.
- Ole (located in D'Mall) is a great place to go for Spanish tapas and other specialties. Beware - the main courses are enormous!
- Real Coffee, near Station 1, serves a variety of pancakes, sandwiches, omelettes, baked goods and salads as well as freshly brewed coffee. The mother-and-daughter owners also get repeat customers who have been going there for years. They are also famous for their lemon muffin cupcakes, which are very much in demand; order as early as you can within the day before stocks run out.
- Rumbas, in D'Mall serves good steaks, pies and other English-style dishes. Enjoy curry, fish and chips and sausage sandwiches while watching live sports on big screens.
- Shantal's Resto Bar, in Station 3 at the pathway to Dave's Straw Hat Inn, Morenos, and Escurel. Revered, family-owned cantina on the beach with great value homemade food. The menu offers a bit of everything and the friendly staff will go out of their way to make you feel right at home.
- Smoke, located down one of the alleys opposite Lemon cafe in D'Mall is a very good budget eatery. Local dishes, meat and seafood dishes, omeletes and excellent sandwiches are on offer. Most meals cost around 70 pesos and are all cooked fresh. If you are around between 11AM and 2PM you get a free drink of iced lemon tea with every rice meal.
- Tilapia 'N Chips, G/F Kamayan Bldg. Station 2, Boracay (Beside Crafts), ☎ +63 36 288 2283. 12PM-10PM. Visit this place for good beer battered fish and chips. They also serve Asian and Western style fish dishes, burgers, sandwiches and soup at this modern, airconditioned restaurant. Take out also available.
- Titos (Resto & Grill), is a brand new restaurant located in the heart of the action in station 2 White Beach. They serve modern Filipino cuisine that combines the casual comfort of a home cooked meal with the relaxed sophistication of fine dining. Drop by for a quick snack or a delicious meal and enjoy the live music coming from Pat's Creek and Bom Bom Bar.
- True Food, in Station 2, offers fiery Indian cuisine that will awaken the tastebuds. The place is cozy with straw mats and over-sized cushions. The staff is polite and very accommodating. For those who enjoy the spicier side of life, try the tandoori chicken.
- Wind riders, on Bulabog beach, offers tasty food before and after you kiteboarding sessions. Everything is delicious and made with passion. Try "Rider's fish favorite", Tuna pasta, Cheeseburger and mango shake.
- Zuzuni, near boat station 1, is the island's newest Greek restaurant, serving excellent cuisine in a romantic, beachfront setting. The service is friendly and extremely efficient.
Don't miss the opportunity to enjoy one of the best mangoes in the world. Climate in Philippines is perfect for mangoes, so you always get them mellow and sweet.
If you like to party, there are plenty of places to choose from. The livelier bars are situated near boat stations 1 and 2. There are plenty of places to party all night! Boat station 3 has a more laid back and relaxed atmosphere, with small native bars and restaurants - popular with backpackers.
Expect to check your handgun with the security guard!
- Bom Bom Bar (near D 'Mall) is a native-style beach bar that often has live music. It's a popular hang out for artists and musicians.
- Charhls Bar, Station 2 (Right in the middle of the beach). This bar is a long-time favorite on Boracay with live bands that play covers. Customers are invited to sing with the bands.
- Cocoloco, near boat station 3, is an attractive beach bar/restaurant that also serves tasty food. You can enjoy your drink by the beach, under the coconut trees, and there's a pool table in the bar too.
- Cocomangas, near station 1, is famous for it's "Still standing after 15" challenge. Drink 15 ferocious shots and win a t-shirt and a plaque on the wall. This bar is popular with the younger crowd but a few "working girls" are around for lonely men. Try the Jam Jar, a pineapple and vodka cocktail.
- Crafty's rooftop bar has probably the most extensive selection of imported beers and ales on the island. Head to the top floor of Crafts Superstore.
- Cream Cafe, right on White Beach, between La Reserve & Crystal Sand in Station 1. It's a great place for good old fashioned milkshakes and Arce Dairy Carabao (Water Buffalo) Ice Cream.
- Deja Vu, Station 2. Contemporary design and big comfy lounge furniture. Deja Vu's disco starts around 10PM or so; however, the drinks start flowing in the afternoon during lunch and dinner. Deja Vu has at least 10+ drinks on their menu that you can only find there.
- Juice located right between Boracay Regency and Boat Station 2 offers top notch cocktails and a variety of "sneaky smoothies". with a wide open courtyard opening up to the beach it tends to fill up by around 11PM but still very comfortable. The crowd is a nice mix of locals and foreigners. Great staff and charming bartenders.
- Kurts Bar, near station 3, is run by friendly Bavarian Kurt and his wife Mags. It's a very popular spot to meet and chat, and one of the few places on the island serving draft beer.
- Nigi Nigi's, between boat stations 2 and 3, three minutes walk north of the tourist center, is a popular centrally located spot to have a cool drink and enjoy a little people watching. The manager is an expat.
- Red Pirates Pub, is a native style beach bar (Angol, near boat station 3) with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and good selection of fruity cocktails as well as affordable ice cold beer. It's a good place to meet other travelers and chat, and on weekends, selected weekdays and full moon nights there is live music and an all-you-can-eat beach BBQ and buffet (Fridays).
- Rumbas, in "D' Mall Plaza", is an English-style pub that attracts a friendly crowd. The menu is pretty good too, especially the sirloin steaks. Big TV screens show sports.
- Shantal's Resto Bar, in Station 3 at the pathway to Dave's Straw Hat Inn, Morenos, and Escurel. Has a popular Happy Hour from 2PM-8PM, offers one of the best beachside and sunset views on the island, and bumps a non-stop soundtrack of the best in electronic, hip-hop, R&B/soul, and reggae music.
- Station 3 Sports Bar, located along the station 3 road has decent tapas and English food (at affordable prices), three good pool tables, dartboard, and plenty of large flat screen TVs to catch the sporting events of the moment.
Along White Beach, especially around Station 2, there is a wide variety of gift shops and boutiques along the beach path. In addition to the crowded stalls that you expect in Asia, Boracay also has several high-end stores including clothing, art and household items. Some places will permit you to haggle, others have a fixed pricing system with price tags. Shop around as prices vary. Outside of White Beach, the shopping becomes sparse or non-existent. D*Mall at Station 2 and D'talipapa at station 3, between the main road and White Beach, have many shops. D*Mall is larger but D'talipapa features a number of shops, vegetable merchants and a large meat market also selling a large selection of live seafood. Prices at D'talipapa (including those for basic necessities such as milk, vegetables and meat) are about 25% below those of D'Mall.
While walking or laying on the sand, anywhere on Boracay, you'll be approached to buy a variety of items including jewelry made of shells, fresh fruit, ice cream, sunglasses or a nice massage.
- Shell jewelry — similar to what you can find elsewhere in the world, the jewelry made of shells is popular as for the most part it is made locally from shells found on Puka Beach.
- Paulo Collection BodyWear, D'Mall,Bamboo Beach Resort,PC Main -Fish eye diving shop,Island Magic near cocomangas beach Resort, ☎ +63 36 288 3448. Variety of beach wear and other souvenir items.
There are about 8 ATMs on the entire island for the 16,000 inhabitants plus tourists, and when they run out of cash, they are not refilled until the next business day. On weekends and holidays it is even worse, as the ATM's might go several days without being refilled. On paydays one will also see very long lines at the ATM's, and be aware that not every ATM accepts every card. One might only accept cards with the Visa logo, and not the MasterCard logo, so before standing in line for two hours, be sure it accepts your card. Also, be prepared for a very long wait in line, as many Boracay natives seem to do all their banking at the ATM, spending what seems like an unusual amount of time at it. Maximum withdrawal at any one time is 10,000.00 pesos, the maximum per day at an ATM is 20,000.00 pesos.
The best solution is to bring travelers checks or plenty of cash. Also, many establishments, including the tricycles, cannot break a bill over 500 peso (around $10), so it pays to always have small bills.
Foreign money (US dollars, Euros, Korean Won, Japanese Yen, etc.) can be exchanged at several locations around the island. It's worth checking around for the best exchange rate, as all places don't offer the same rate. You're best off heading away from the beach for better rates.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Boracay on Wikivoyage.