Sunday, 13 March 2016

The Complete Guide To BORACAY

Travelling Boracay cannot be any easier as the island is only 8km long x 1km wide! But getting to Boracay can be confusing and planning your trip can be tiring as you might not know where to start thus please do read on as i guide you through the perfect planning to a 5 star holiday.
I have been to Boracay for 3 times, thus self-proclaiming to at least qualify myself to share tips on how to travel Boracay.
First things first, the only access from KL is to fly direct to Kalibo International Airport (KIA). You can also opt for a connecting flight from KL to Manila and then to Caticlan Airport (skipping the land transfer from KIA) but that would eat up a whole lot of travelling time in between airports.
Best Time to Visit
There is no best time to visit Boracay as it’s either peak or super peak in Boracay. Although there is no ‘best time’ to visit Boracay, you can always choose to avoid travelling when the typical typhoon hits Philippines. I would recommend visiting Boracay from mid November up to early May as the seas are calmer with more options on water activities.
Tips: Comparison of trips to Boracay during different time of the year
1) I have been to Boracay in January, generally dry with very minimal rain drop which did not really affect much as you will be wet anyway while in Boracay. It’s generally you and the beach for as long as you are in Boracay! Highlight of my trip would be the Ati-Atihan festival happening on the 3rd Sunday of every January. Do expect performers, music bands, mascots and more parading along the beaches of Boracay.
The Ati Atihan festival happens annually on the 3rd of January with performers flocking the beaches complete with music and pretty costumes
2) I have also been to Boracay in early April where in my opinion, happened to be the best time ever! This is also the super peak period where you will see tonnes of tourists at the beach, by the road, just everywhere! Highlight was definitely the Laboracay festival which happens annually during the week of Labor Day (hence the name). 1st of May being the official date, you can already feel the festive throughout April. People party like there is no tomorrow in Boracay! Expect to be thrilled along White Beach with volley ball competitions, crazy beach parties, complete with dances and performances all around the beach! 
I wasn’t joking about crazy beach parties during Laboracay! Not mentioning the foam parties, the beach knockouts, sunset parties and the list goes on…
3) My trip during late May was however a big contrast from what I experienced in April. Boracay was indeed much more quiet and peaceful right after Laboracay. For those who want to avoid crowds and paying less for accommodations, do plan your trip to happen after the first week of May.
1) Fly from klia2 to Kalibo International Airport (KIA).  Flight will take around 4 hours 5 minutes with AirAsia.

2) Once you arrive in KIA, take a deep breath as you will need to brave through immigration in the super small and tight airport. Probably the smallest airport I’ve come across! Que lines are almost non-existence thus you either fight your way through the crowd or start a que and act civilized. I recommend the latter.
Kalibo International Airport is probably smaller than 2 Malaysian petrol stations combined.
3) The airport is so small that once you pass immigration, you are literally 10 steps away to the exit. Step out and look for Southwest Tours as they are apparently the largest and most credible tour transfer from Kalibo to Boracay Island.
You will see tonnes of canopies lining up the exit of the airport once you pass immigration

Tips: During my trip in 2014, the transfer cost about 950 peso per pax (approximately RM80) which includes:
a) Bus transfer from Kalibo International Airport to Caticlan Jetty (2.5 hours)
b) Boat transfer from Caticlan Jetty to Boracay Jetty (5 minutes, yes Boracay is just opposite Caticlan Jetty)
c) Taxi transfer from Boracay Jetty to your hotel lobby (time depends on the location of your hotel but nothing more than 15 minutes)
d) The transfer cost of 950 peso includes the return ticket from your hotel lobby right up to the airport in Kalibo. Do plan ahead with your hotel as they would happily call Southwest to arrange the return transfer for you.

This is how the Southwest counter looks like. Be ready to be overwhelm with the que-less, non-civilized crowd pushing their way to get their hands on the transfer.
4) To make things easier, you can plan ahead and book your transfer online so that you can skip the crazy que and get your pass as soon as you get out of the airport. Book here!

Once you are in Boracay, forget about arranging transportation. The island is so small that you can literally walk the whole of Boracay but I mean, don’t be a cheap skate, pay a ‘tuk tuk’ motorcycle-like taxi and you are good to explore Boracay wherever you want. If you were to fly from KL via AirAsia, you will reach KIA by 2.35pm. By the time you reach your hotel, it will most probably be approximately 7pm where you will cuss for not being able to even catch a glimpse of the pretty beach and the crystal clear waters. Trust me, the hassle getting in to Boracay is totally worth it when you wake and sees the beach the next morning. 
Just to give you an overview, Boracay has about 11 different beaches and the most popular has to be the White Beach. White beach itself is being divided into 3 main stations; namely Station 1, 2 and 3. This is where most of the tourists including you should stay as first timers in Boracay.

Tips: How to determine where to stay while in Boracay
Station 1– This is where all the high-end, private and luxury resorts are located. To name a few that I have visited and thinks it’s awesome; it has got to be Shangri-la and Discovery Shores. These resorts easily ranged from USD263/ RM900 a night for 2 pax. 
Station 2–  This is the ideal station as it’s the central of Boracay. You can easily find accommodations ranging from resorts, hotel to some backpackers lodge/ inns. Depending on your budget, you can comfortably find accommodations ranging from USD50 to USD200 (RM200 – RM800) a night per room thus you can share with 2 to 3 pax per room. (Tips: Hotels rarely check on number of pax checking in as Boracay is constantly packed with tourists waking in and out of hotel. Some hotels comes with 2 queen size beds despite it stating that it only allows 2 pax) To name a few, I have tried Boracay Gardens, The District, Hen Ann Lagoon Resorts being the more upscale ranging from USD210/RM800 a night for 2 pax. For a more budget option, I have also tried Blue Veranda Suites ranging from USD130/ RM500 a night for 6 pax, probably one of the best deal ever! 
Station 3– This is located right at the end of White Beach and the beach/ sea is usually filled with boats thus not too ideal for swimming but not to worry as the beach from Station 1 to 3 are all linked on the same stretch. Station 3 is also where you get cheap hotel deals as it houses most of the back packer lodges and inns. Hotels located here are easily available ranging from USD30 (RM100) a night for 2 pax.  

Now that you know Station 2 is the place to be, you will try to search for that perfect stay. And this is when the headache kicks in. A simple search on any of the hotel booking sites will show you endless hotels and resorts located along Station 2. On a simple rule of thumb, always take D’mall (the biggest open-air shopping mall in Boracay located right in the middle of Station 2) as the central point. My advise is to book as near to D’Mall as possible if you are looking for convenience and night life. Don’t worry if the hotel that you are trying to book is not facing the beach as the beach will always be less than 20 steps away from wherever you are going to stay. BORACAY IS THAT SMALL.
D’Mall, located right in the middle of Station 2
Trip Duration
I will recommend for a trip of no shorter than 3 nights in Boracay. I mean who’s in for a spoiler having to pack and unpack in less than 48 hours? No, really, trust me, it’s either you go with 4D3N or 5D4N. A 4D3N trip will only give you a maximum of 2D3N in Boracay and a 5D4N trip will only give you a maximum of 3D4N time span. Do remember that you will spend your first day transiting from airports to jetties and only being able to enjoy the night scene and your last day literally saying bye to the sunrise of Boracay as you will need the same amount of time transiting from your hotel to the airport to catch your flight back to KL at 3pm thus giving you no time to enjoy Boracay on your last day.
We are finally talking about the fun part of Boracay! I would recommend for you to check in to your hotel and roam along White Beach to seek for the best deals on your first night itself. There are plenty of tour operators selling tour packages hence you do not have to worry about itinerary until you are there in Boracay. It will however be good if you roughly know what you want to do before approaching them. Remember to bargain because there are so many of them offering the same tour packages thus you do not want to settle with one. Roam around and bargain until you are satisfied before you choose the tour guide who you will then use for the next few days while in Boracay. 
My advise is to use the same tour guide for the next 3 days for everything you do to maximise your pesos as you can then bundle your activities for cheaper price.
Tips: A simple 5D4N itinerary that you can start planning with
  • Day 1: You will only check in to your hotel by 7pm thus you can spend the night familiarizing the place as well as scout for the ideal tour package for the next 3 days.
  • Day 2: Spend it out in the sea filled with water activities like island hopping, snorkeling, visiting Crystal Cove, cliff jumping in Magic Island, do water sports like parasailing, and more.
  • Day 3: Spend day 3 exploring different beaches as well as trying out some of the land activities like ATV ride up Mount Luho, Zip lining, Zorbing, G-Max reverse bungy and more.
  • Day 4: Try keeping day 4 free and easy and just chill by the beach. Even if you get bored after a while, just walk up to any tour operators and see what you can do. There are plenty more activities that you can explore while in Boracay.
  • Day 5: You pretty much spend the morning eating breakfast and by 10am, you will already be on your way out to Kalibo International Airport. (Do seek help from your hotel to arrange for Southwest Tours to pick you up from your hotel lobby)
As below are some of the activities that you can explore while in Boracay.
Water activities:
  • Island hopping/ Beach hopping (recommended)
  • Cliff jumping (you can choose to do it in either Ariels Point/ Magic island for a cheaper alternative) (recommended)
  • Tour and snorkeling in Crystal Cove (recommended)
  • Sunset cruise
  • Stand-up paddling
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Glass bottom boat ride
  • Helmet dive (recommended)
  • Jet ski
  • Parasailing (recommended)
  • Kite boarding
  • Extreme flyboarding
  • Wave rider
  • Wind surfing
  • Flying fish (recommended)
  • Banana boat
  • You name it! The list goes on and on.
Land activities:
  • ATV and buggy ride up mount Luho (recommended)
  • Horseback riding
  • Cable cars
  • Zipline (recommended)
  • G-Max Reverse Bungy (recommended)
  • Go Karting
  • Pub Crawling (recommended)
  • and of course not forgetting the party when the sun sets!
All in all, Boracay caters to all. There will always be something for you no matter who you travel with. As below some of my travel photos. Till then, happy planning!
The District Hotel in Station 2. Although small but very cosy.
Shangri-la Boracay Resorts and Spa located in Station 1 where I can only afford to visit. A night here easily cost up to USD 1000/ RM4,000
Shangri-la Boracay Resorts and Spa located in Station 1
Discovery Shores Resort, the perfect hotel to see some of the most awesome sun sets as well as have dinner by their private beach. Sorry for the blurry picture, I was carried away by the view.
Crown Regency Hotel and Convention Center located at Station 2. The hotel even have a surfing pool. Stayed here for a night but didn’t really like the finishing of the hotel
Boracay Garden Resort located at Station 2. I stayed here for 3 nights and saw strangers coming in to use the pool thus you can do the same by sneaking in here if you prefer swimming in the pool rather than the beach.
I somehow enjoy walking along White Beach during the night where couches and sofas lined the beach with plenty of live bands for those looking for a chill night. For those seeking for more adventures, head on to further to the end of Station 2 (next to station 1) for more hyped up bars and clubs.
Be thrilled with plenty of bars having fire dance performances along the beach.

No matter where you are, the sunset will be as stunning. From the beach, in the waters, from the boat, from your hotel, just anywhere!
Breakfast with a million dollar view from Boracay Lagoon Resort
Try Zip lining from the top of the mountain right straight to the beach and be amazed by the view!
Horseback riding

ATV and buggy ride


Highly recommend G-Max Reverse Bungy because it’s cheaper than doing it in Malaysia

Cliff jumping in Magic Island is a cheaper alternative to Ariel’s Point

No worries if you forget to bring your essentials. They are available all over Boracay!

Part of Diniwid Beach where you can expect less crowd with crystal clear waters

Nope, i did not filter this picture. Took this straight off the camera.

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