The Philippines – Boracay Island Travel Tips

The Philippines – Boracay Island Travel Tips

Boracay Island is filled with paradisiac beaches, crystal clear sea, friendly people, and perfect breezy weather 

The Philippines is a country in South East Asia with more than 7600 islands. Designing a trip to explore some of the islands for the first time took a lot of research and some tough decision making. There are so many beautiful places to explore…!

Boracay Island is one of the most beautiful islands in the Philippines. It is known for its white-sand beaches, shallow and calm turquoise sea and palm trees.

Closure and re-opening of Boracay Island

The Government decided to close the island for six months and clean it up because the beaches had become contaminated. In October 2018, the island re-opened to the public; however, there are new rules that enforce respect for nature, cleanliness and sustainable tourism. In this link, you can read an interesting article that explains in detail the closure and re-opening of Boracay Island and the new rules.

Flying to Boracay

We flew to Caticlan airport (the closest airport to Boracay Island) from Hong Kong, via Manila. We had arranged airport transfer through our hotel (I highly recommend to do this.) The journey to reach the hotel was as follows:

Caticlan Airport
Caticlan Airport
  • A 10-minute drive from the airport to the port,
  • A 15-minute boat ride to Manoc Manoc port,
  • A final drive to the hotel via a main busy road that starts in Station 3, continues through Station 2 and goes all the way to Station 1 in the north of White beach. The time this drive will take depends on where your hotel is located, but should not be too long.

Boracay’s main beach

White beach is a long (4 km) and wide white-sand beach with very fine sand, shallow turquoise sea, and palm trees in the back. A white-sand path called White beach path runs straight between the buildings that sit in front of the beach (hotels, shops, bars and restaurants,) and the beach. It is separated from the beach by palm trees that give natural shade.

White beach path
The long White beach path

White Beach is divided into three sectors called Stations, and each one has a different vibe!

Station 1 – Luxury, peace & fewer people

Station 1 is located in the northern part of White beach and south of Diniwid beach. There are many luxury resorts in this sector and some boutique hotels. The beach is beautiful, wide, with shallow turquoise water and gets quieter and more relaxed as you go north. 

white-sand beach
White-sand beach with palm trees in the back – Station 1
White beach - Station 1
White beach – Station 1

Station 2 – Busy, convenient, mid-range hotels

Station 2 is the centre of Boracay with a busy open-air shopping centre – D’Mall, many restaurants, and bars. 

The beach and the White beach path get busy at sunset and in the evenings. If you are looking for some peace and quiet at the beach, the morning is the best time to go for a walk, a swim or lie down on the beach.

White beach - Station 2
White beach – Station 2

Station 3 – Nature, peaceful, budget hotels

This is the most chilled sector with more vegetation and rustic hotels. Mostly frequented by backpackers.

Highlights of my trip to Boracay

Puka Beach – Swimming, kayak, cave swimming

Puka Beach in the northern part of the island, is one of the most beautiful beaches – definitely worth a visit. It’s about 20 minutes by tricycle from the centre. The tricycle ride is nice because you see how the scenery changes and becomes less populated as you go north.

sand and blue sea
Puka beach in the morning

The entrance to the beach is quite rustic, with some souvenir huts and places to eat and drink. As you walk towards the beach, you’ll see a decorated Puka Beach sign which is a photo spot for tourists.

The beach…

The beach is quite long but not as wide as White beach and the sand is a little coarser. There is vegetation in the surroundings and in the morning the beach is almost empty – a relaxing and beautiful experience! The colour of the water is turquoise and the views on the horizon are green cliffs and light blue water. The temperature of the water was refreshing and perfect – easy to get used to. The water increases in depth quickly, unlike White beach where it’s shallow for a while.

Kayak ride, swimming in a cave and on a tiny beach…

We took a one-hour kayak tour with The Puka Beach Boys. We each sat on a kayak and let our Filipino guides ride the kayaks along the limestone cliffs towards a cave. 

Kayak ride
Kayak ride with our Filipino guides

The ride was pure bliss, I felt like I was in the VIP area of Paradise!

After a beautiful scenic kayak ride, we arrived at the entrance of the cave and parked the kayaks. As we entered the cave, everything looked pitch dark. We allowed our eyesight to get used to the darkness and walked into the cave with the aid of a small flashlight. We reached a natural turquoise swimming pool with light coming in from a small cave opening.

Natural swimming pool
Natural swimming pool

We jumped in the water and it felt beautifully adventurous and completely unexpected. We went from being relaxed in a white-sand beach to swimming in a dark cave. On the way back from the cave, we stopped in a tiny beach for one last swim with our Filipino friends.

A stroll along White Beach (Stations 2 & 1)

A walk along White beach with your feet in the water is a relaxing and scenic activity. I started in the centre, in Station 2 and walked all the way to Diniwid Beach which is past station 1.

Typical boats on the sea - White beach
Typical boats on the sea – White beach
Those who prefer to hang out in Station 2…
Tourists walking on the beach and protecting themselves from the sun - White beach Station 2
Tourists walking on the beach and protecting themselves from the sun – White beach Station 2

In station 2 there are many hotels that can accommodate tourists who travel in big groups of friends or large families. This is noticeable when you walk on the beach or on the White beach path. Station 2 has more palm trees that give natural shade than Station 1, so people who protect themselves from the sun with umbrellas, rash guards, big hats or visors, prefer this sector because they have easy access to the natural shade. 

As you walk up north on the beach, the vibe becomes more relaxed and less crowded. There is no exact separation between one station and the other, it is an imaginary frontier but the atmosphere changes.

Diniwid Beach – small and peaceful, some coral and algae

The walk from Station 1 to Diniwid beach is beautiful. You need to take a path that goes around to the next beach and go through Mother Mary Cave.

Path to Mother Mary cave
Path to Mother Mary cave

Beautiful views are on the way, small colourful rowing boats anchored on the sea or parked on the beach. There is a wonderful small beach with boats and rocks, beautiful for taking pictures but not as inviting for a swim.

As you continue, there will be a short set of steps under the shade of trees before you go down to Diniwid beach. 

Diniwid beach is quite small, surrounded by a green cliff with houses, as well as some hotels by the beach. The vibe is pretty relaxed and the sea is nice and refreshing, with some coral and algae. 

Diniwid beach is one of the favourite spots to watch the sunset in an intimate setting.

Private beaches

The most luxurious hotel in the Island, located north of Diniwid beach and south of Puka beach is the Shangri-La Resort. It has a small private beach called Banyugan beach. It also has access to another semi-private beach called Punta Bunga, accessible from two other luxury resorts.

Spectacular sunsets

Sunset takes place every afternoon at around 6 pm and they are spectacular. There are several ways to enjoy the sunset. Here are some ideas:

Sunset sailboat ride

There are ½ hour sunset sailboat tours in White beach Station 2. It’s a short ride but a beautiful one. You can even touch the water with your feet. Try to book the tour earlier in the day to make sure you get a spot on a boat. They are pretty popular.

Drinks at La Sirena Seafood Restaurant & Clifftop Bar, Shangri-La Resort

This is a wonderful way to enjoy the sunset. The bar has one of the most spectacular views and great cocktails to enhance the experience.

Sit on the beach and enjoy the dramatic sunset 

  • Puka beach is a quiet place to see the sunset. Make sure you coordinate a tricycle ride or a boat to go back, beforehand.
  • Diniwid beach is another chilled place to enjoy the sunset.
  • White beach is lively, busy and also beautiful.
Busy White beach at sunset
White beach at sunset

There are two places where I had good dining experiences – both very different

Aplaya Beach Bar and Italian Restaurant – Located in the busy part of Station 2 is a cool place to have a drink, eat good food and enjoy drinks to the beat of the live DJ’s latest hits. The bar staff are very friendly and the service is good.

Italian restaurant and bar Aplaya
Italian restaurant and bar Aplaya

 Shangri-La Resort has many good restaurants. Booking a table in one of them is a great way to explore the best resort on the island.

Getting there…

To reach the hotel, you need to take a tricycle that will need to go uphill to reach the resort’s security entrance. Once you arrive and the security person confirm your reservation, a hotel shuttle will come to pick you up and drive you to the resort’s reception. Now, you are free to explore the beautiful resort. Get a map and explore on foot or request a buggy to drive you somewhere. 

A wedding at the Shangri-La resort
A wedding at the Shangri-La resort
What to expect…

I saw a wedding happening close to the pool, a circle of chairs on the beach with live music relaxing music, lit torches and wonderful views. The atmosphere in this exotic resort is relaxed, with wonderful service, beautiful decoration, great cocktails and food. Make sure you reserve in advance.

Travel essentials

  1. Hat
  2. Sunglasses
  3. Sun protection (face, body, lips)
  4. Rash guard for long boat rides and sun exposure
  5. Mosquito repellent 
  6. Comfortable flip flops or sandals
  7. Dry bag to fit camera, phone, and wallet (easy to find on the islands)
  8. Sarong (easy to find on the islands)
  9. Refillable water bottle
  10. Camera
  11. Bathing suit
  12. A good book
Boat on a paradisiac beach
Boat on a paradisiac beach

Enjoy Boracay and be camera ready all the time!

You might be interested to read more travel tips from around the world.

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