Boracay Holiday Guide (Philippines)

Reviewer: Simsi
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The butterfly-shaped island of Boracay is seven kilometres long and about one kilometre wide. It’s famous for its white, sandy beaches, tropical flora and fauna, large caves, and turquoise waters which are plentifully endowed with live coral and tropical fish species. Boracay island is surrounded by coral reefs and is ideal for people who like lazying about on beach resorts as well as those who enjoy more active pursuits such as diving, water skiing, fishing, jet skiing and wind surfing. Boracay sits at the northern tip of the much larger Panay Island in the Phillipines. Transport is available to Panay Island by air from Manila via Asian Spirit, Cebu Pacific Air or Seair. It will take about an hour to fly there by turbo prop and then transfer by speedboat about 30 minutes.

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Cebu Pacific Air Landing at Kalibo Airport, Panay Island.

The island’s main tourist thoroughfare is White Beach where the sand is – yes you guessed it – as white as flour and and is surrounded with coconut trees from one end to the other. There is a great variety of hotels on the White Beach from five star luxury to the cheap backpacker haunts. Cars are banned on the island and so everyone must move about on foot, motorcycle or tricycles which can be hired for daily use inexpensively. On the beaches there are several restaurants where a variety of cuisine is served from many parts of the world. In close proximity to the sea, the beach restaurants often enable travellers to enjoy an amazing view of the sunset over dinner. Meals are prepared from fresh seafood and there is a large variety of eastern cuisine: Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian and Korean dishes, as well as European and even Mexican and Brazilian and many restaurants have “happy hour”. Prices in restaurants and cafes are generally very reasonable. There are many small shops, currency exchange and pharmacy in the White Beach district. For those keen to work up a sweat there are several sports available such as tennis, golf, bowling, mini golf, sailing and horse riding.

There are more than 20 diving schools on the island which offer instructions in several languages and there are dozens of places for scuba diving which are suitable for beginners as well as for experienced divers. Borcay has great night life and they often stage free concerts and parties featuring local rock bands and DJs. The bars, discos, restaurants, and karaoke clubs do a roaring trade. The most popular pub is “Cocomangas” where it’s possible to purchase exotic cocktails. If you can drink 15 “shooters” – a small glasswith a strong mixture of whisky, tequila, rum, gin you receive a gift, and your name will be engraved on the table alognside those of other winners.

Sightseeing

The so-called “dead wood” forest is situated near Bulabog Beach. Many decades ago the small dam near the beach collapsed and flooded the forest destroying the local flora. A local legend emerged about supernatural forces in the dead wood forest at night during the full moon. You’re unlikely to see evil spirits there but you can certainly take some amazing pictures. Kagban Beach in the eastern part of the island and is a perfect spot for diving and treasure hunting. According to a legend there are pirates’ chests with treasure that are hidden in many caves off the coast. The highest place in the island is Laho mountain which is 100 meters above sea level. There is a small café on the top of the mountain where you can purchase soft drinks and have a quip kip in a hammock. It’s easiest to get there by motorcycle or motorised tricycle. At Ilig-Iligan there is a private museum which exhibits a rich collection of sea shells of varying shapes and sizes.

Located on the rocky coastline on the eastern part of the island there are caves which are inhabited by fruit bats with wingspans often reaching more than a metre in length. They are nocturnal creatures and leave their caves to dine on fruit morselsa at night. The Gloria and Robert Tirol Heritage Museum is a free private museum located on White Beach which exhibits artefacts from the island’s historical heritage and is open from 9:00 AM to 9 PM . The world famous Puka Shell Beach is about 800 meters in length and is renowned for its small white cockleshells. which became popular in the 70s when Elizabeth Taylor appeared in public in a bead necklace that were made from them. Over at the “Talipapa” bazaar you can purchase ornaments and keepsakes that were made from local trees and cockleshells as well as figurines and other kitch souvenirs.

Climate and weather

Boracay has a classic tropical climate so it’s always hot and humid. The dry season is from March to May) and the the rainy season from June to November. From May to October the southwest monsoon – known as the “habakat” occursand from November and April there are the drier winds known as the “amihan”.

In October-November the weather is often windy, rainy and cloudy. The best time to travel from a weather perspective is from November to April. The largest influxes of tourists occur during the December- February holiday season as well as the Easter period which is known as “Holy Week” in the Phillipines.

Daytrips

Boracay is small enough to theoretically walk to every attraction on the island, but renting a scooter is a fun alternative to hoofing it, especially when you consider the cool breeze created by cruising. Some of the finest beaches are located on the deserted north and south ends of the island, and a scooter will ensure an easy day trip spent lounging or snorkelling in sublime isolation.

The roads on Boracay are works in progress to put it politely, but still in good enough shape to handle easily on a scooter. Baling Hai’s pristine little cove, and end-of-the road Puka Beach are two destinations worth the drive. Alternatively, hire your own traditional outrigger boat for a cruise around Boracay. For pennies you can see the whole island from the unique offshore perspective.

Horseback riding is another superb way to get off the beaten track and check out local villages tucked into the island’s interior. Boracay Horse Riding Stables will ensure scenery only possible by horseback. There are also around 20 scuba diving shops around White Beach, offering countless day trips into Boracay’s surreal underwater realm.

Must-see attractions

The beaches of Boracay are what lure most travellers to this isolated Philippine destination, and White Beach is the epitome of tropical splendour. Powdery white sand, azure water and shady palms create a postcard ambience, despite the large range of tourist amenities along the beach. Rent a reclining chair and spend the day soaking in memories for when you’re back at home.

The Bat Cave is an interesting site offering a change of scenery from the sea and sand. This popular tour will take you on a short hike to a hidden cave in the jungle where fruit bats with wingspans over a metre swarm out every evening. This is an adventurous excursion best done at dusk, but you won’t forget the image of thousands of bats exiting their cave for the dinner hunt.

To get a better perspective on the layout of Boracay Island, make the trek up to Mount Luho, the highest point on the island. It takes a bit of effort to climb 100m above sea level but the panorama is worth every step and drop of sweat. Snorkelling and diving options are fantastic around Boracay. Ilig-Iligan Beach has some world-class snorkelling right off the beach, while the dive sites are just too numerous to mention.

Best time to go

Boracay has two seasons dominated by its two monsoons known as the Amihan and the Habagat. From November through March the Amihan weather is cooler and typically drier, with average temperatures between 25degrees C and 32degrees C. April through June is the hot season, with temperatures staying well into the upper 30degrees C. This is the prime season for diving due to high visibility. June to October brings the rainy Habagat season, with frequent heavy rain and high humidity.

Rainy day suggestions

If you have the bad luck of a rainy day on Boracay, check out the Kar-Tir Shell Museum on Iligan Beach, which features seashells as well as local handicrafts and impressive woven textiles. A massage is also a great way to unwind, especially from the professional blind masseurs at Fausto’s Shiatsu Massage. If you’re willing to don a rain jacket, check out the Talipapa central market, which will probably be pleasantly uncrowded on a rainy day.

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A Trip to Boracay


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