Borocay Island, Philippines: Destination Guide
By Peta Bassett
Off the large island of Panay in the Visayas, the main island group of the Philippines.
For a glorious stretch of white sand that is often shortlisted as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Fine white sand, great swimming and snorkeling and sunsets to die for — what more do you want in an island?
WHEN TO GO
March to May is the best, driest season.
GETTING THERE AND AROUND
Fly to Borocay via Kalibo or Caticlan from the Manila Domestic Airport.
Fly to Kalibo with Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines. From Kalibo Airport you need to catch a bus (right outside the airport) to the pier in Caticlan (approx. 1.5 hours).
Pacific Air and Asian Spirit fly direct to the Caticlan Airport, which is a 15-minute drive from the pier. But be warned: these planes are smaller and the airfares are more expensive!
The boat ride over to the island takes about 30 mins. Expect to get your feet wet when disembarking on Borocay.
On the island, you can rent a scooter from one of a number of rental outfit down on the White Beach promenade near the entry to the Talippapa Market.
White Beach! Enough said.
Laurel Island can be reached by a 30-minute boat ride from the main island. The island features Crystal Cove Park, which has two caves for snorkeling, exploration and trekking.
Other popular activities include beach volleyball, motorbiking, mountain biking and windsurfing.
BEST UNUSUAL ATTRACTION
Head down to the markets. Catch the fish markets when the catch of the day is in. Seafood slithers and glistens on the concrete bench displays. Or stop into a tattoo parlor and get a tattoo; a real souvenir of beach paradise.
Or go to the Borocay Dive Lodge, which offers diving courses from beginning to master levels.
A community cleanup operation has every resident on a rotating roster to assist in protecting the environment and the beach. Travelers are welcome to pitch in at any time.
BEST ACTIVITY OR TOUR
Diving in the warm waters off Boracay is easily arranged through the Party House Dive Center (Tel: (036) 288 3918) on White Beach.
Alternatively, arrange a day of snorkeling with a picnic lunch on an isolated strip of sand. Choose from and bargain with a number of beachfront outfits.
Or better still, bring your own champagne, grab some glasses and hire an outrigger for a romantic trip at sunset.
Find more intrepid tour options in Boracay.
Escape to the idyllic and private beach at Balinghai
Tel: (036) 288 3646
Stay in the Rock House or the Tree House nestled on the steep hillside. Pull back the mosquito net each morning and enjoy the magnificent views of the lime green water below. Tiny pathways lead to your first swim of the day!
There’s also the Bat House, the Hut, the Big House and the Hill House to choose from.
Prices range from US$25-95. Most definitely worth it. Book ahead.
Another option is a cottage at Cocomangas, located right next to Borocay Dive Lodge.
Find more ideas for unique accommodations in Boracay.
If you don’t stay at Balinghai, at least dine there.
Sit on the beach and enjoy a late afternoon swim. Order a gin and tonic and some pre-dinner snacks, and your order will be delivered in a basket from the kitchen above via a pulley system! You may choose to stay on the beach and dine, but the clifftop restaurant also oozes ambience. Rent a scooter to get there or arrange a boat for the return trip from White Beach
Or try the Casa Pilar Restaurant, which offers Filipino and Continental Cuisine.
Don’t come here for shopping. The main markets are crammed with shell souvenirs and cheap beach wear. The best shopping is the food markets, overflowing with fresh produce and seafood. Plan to cook at least one of your meals with the local foods.
But, if you must shop for stuff, go to Talippapa Market, White Beach. Shell chimes, island style clothing, tattoos, colorful placemats, it’s all there.
Sunset on the beach. If you’re looking for nightlife, try Charl’s Bar on the White Beach. Dance on the bar with the owner of Summer Palace, White Beach. In general, don’t expect Bali-style parties or pick-ups, though. This place is pretty mellow.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Use that sunscreen!!
Borocay Medical Service is open 24hrs. Tel: 288-3147.
Women should avoid walking alone late at night.
VISAS AND DOCUMENTS
Get a free visa on arrival in Manila for a 21-day stay. Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 more months from when you intend to leave the country.
COMMUNICATIONS AND MONEY
Head to the Borocay Tourist Center, Manggayad, for communications needs and currency exchange. Carry US dollars as well as pesos. It is also possible to rent a safety deposit box here to store valuables.
The island also has a photo developing center, airline ticketing offices, banks and foreign exchange outlets.
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