About 300 km south of Manila, on its own private island, you will find the tropical retreat of Boracay. If you are into fabulous beaches, great sunsets, and views that belong on a postcard, you will love Boracay! Renowned for its award-winning beauty, this Philippines island is around two kilometres north off the tip of Panay Island. It is an extremely popular destination for sun and sand tourists who want to soak up the beauty of this island in the western Pacific Ocean, but there are plenty of activities to keep people occupied, too. Known for their friendly demeanour, the residents of Boracay Island will love to tell tourists all about the highlights of this tropical paradise, and provide any information needed on places to eat, drink and explore.
Most of the activity - along with most of the hotels in Boracay - can be found on White Beach. But if you want to enjoy the beach somewhere that is a little quieter and a little less crowded, head to either Puka Beach or Bulabog Beach. The White Beach area is also the main place for shopping, with several dedicated stores for any essentials that holidaymakers might need. There are, of course, lots of shopping outlets within the resort, and local stalls that sell special souvenirs to take home with you. Puka Beach is a picturesque tropical oasis that is perfect for a day out in the sun. While there are not many crowds, there are plenty of people selling tropical jewellery made out of - you guessed it! - puka shells
Bulabog Beach is the place to go if tourists are interested in shopping for little trinkets and local produce, but mainly this is the place for water sports. At Bulabog Beach, people also love to snorkel and go kitesurfing. When you are sitting on Bulabog Beach, you may get a flavour of that desert island feel, as it is one of the lesser-known beaches in the area - making it perfect for some rest and relaxation. Activities such as parasailing, all kinds of boating, kite-boarding, jet-skiing and windsurfing are the order of the day. Swimming and scuba diving in these warm waters - sometimes reaching temperatures of up to 35 degrees Celsius - is also highly recommended. Marine life that can be observed in these calm waters include barracuda, angel fish, boxfish, butterfly fish, eels, lionfish, rays, octopus, turtles, seahorses crabs and all kinds of coral. Be aware (and beware!), that there are sometimes grey reef and white tip sharks swimming in the area. Due to the fantastic surrounding scenery, cliff diving is very popular in the area. Tourist information centres can advise you of the safest areas to dive.
Arts and Entertainment
Boracay is so revered as a water sports destination, that the Asian Windsurfing Tour and the Boracay International Funboard Cup competition are held on Bulabog Beach, usually in January. The Boracay Open Asian Beach Ultimate Tournament, which is a very popular Frisbee event, is also held every year during the summer. In addition, a fun event held around April or May time, and one not to be missed, is the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation. Each year the Federation holds races for Philippine nationals and other Asian nations.
For more relaxed, land-based activities, golfers will love taking swings and making puts against the beautiful backdrop of the Boracay Island scenery. The world-class golf course there, designed by Graham Marsh, has 18-holes and is par-72.
There is a very popular festival that takes place in January on Boracay - a smaller version of the Ati-Atihan Festival that also takes place in Kalibo on the nearby island of Panay island. This is not to be missed by tourists who want to get a feel of the local spirit during traditional festivities. Native dancing, food and drink can all be enjoyed.
Eating and Drinking
Traditional food that you can try during your holiday in Boracay, includes infusions of Asian, Chinese and even Hispanic dishes. There is a large emphasis on seafood, so you can enjoy freshly caught and cooked fish with rice, paella, plaintain and coconuts. Although the mix of flavours is strong, the food is not often spicy. Fruits such as mango are abundant, or those with a sweet tooth can enjoy the halo-halo dessert, which is made from ice, milk, a selection of fruits, and ice cream. Boracay rum is not for the faint-hearted - you will find it in all of the bar cocktails, but local and international beers and wines are available too.
When it comes to letting your hair down, travellers will find plenty of choice in bars, pubs and clubs dotted around the island. The busier part of White Beach is where the widest variety of nightlife choices can be found, where revellers can either dance the night away to local bands, or chill out on the beach, cocktail in hand. In the Red Pirates club, partygoers even have the choice to sail along the Pacific Coast - although this is not recommended if you suffer from seasickness!
Top Things about Boracay
All in all, Boracay is a beautiful place to stay, with a peaceful history. Instead of being colonised, the island remained sparsely populated until travellers 'discovered' it in the 1970s. Now, it remains fairly unspoilt through development - the resorts are sympathetically built - so that the natural wonders and the beautiful pale beaches can still be enjoyed to the maximum.
Back on White Beach, you will find the most photographed sight in Boracay - Willy's Rock. The rock is actually a giant volcanic formation that has a statue of the Virgin Mary on top. If you are more into thrills than lounging, head to Ariel's Point. There, they have a variety of rock formations that you can dive off, and mangrove forests that you can explore. For more outdoor adventures, see the sights of Boracay on horseback. Amid the sea and the sand, there are stables where you can arrange to take in all of the area's tropical sights from the comfort of your very own horse.
Getting around the island using other means of transportation, is nice and easy. Most places are within walking distance along the beach, but motor-tricycles go along the roadway. It is also possible to rent cycles, mopeds or quad bikes. Pedicabs are available to hire, for those who want to take the Beachfront Path. If you want to travel across the sea from the mainland, you can catch a catalan or a car ferry. There are two airports in the Aklan province that serve as starting points for travellers to Boracay Island.
When it comes to accommodation, during your stay on Boracay Island you can choose from the White Beach area or the Bulabog Beach area. The White Beach accommodation can be reached along a single stretch of footpath, making for great views from the island during your stay. The type of accommodation to be found here includes upscale resorts in the Boat Station One area of White Beach. There is a mix of budget and high-end accommodation, with budget and native-style huts and bungalows available in the lesser-developed region of Boat Station Three. Bulabog is a quieter area, with a mix of resorts and hotels to suit all ages and budgets.