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Boracay

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Boracay[1] is a tropical island about an hour's flight from Manila in the Philippines. Its long white sand beaches rival the best beaches of more popular destinations such as the Caribbean, the South Pacific as well as neighbouring Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Facilities are available to suit different levels of activity. For those wanting to just lounge around and take in some rays, beach-front hotels usually have lounge chairs set up just a few steps away from the hotel entrances. Facilities for the usual water sports activities such as sailing, wind surfing, snorkeling, diving and jet skiing are also widely available for those in search of more active pursuits. The fun in Boracay also doesn't end when the sun sets. Boracay nightlife is pulsating with many bars and restaurants serving food, drink and fun until the very late evening.

Areas

White Beach is divided into five areas from

In every station, there are two lifeguards on foot patrolling equipped with whistle, life buoy and hand-held radio. The boat station 2 is the lifeguard and rescue command center.

Climate

During the dry season (Nov-Apr), also known as Amihan, White Beach is calm and very suitable for swimming, etc. The other side of the island has large winds and waves making it suitable for wind surfing, wave running, etc. During the rainy season (Jun-Oct), also known as Habagat, this is reversed, with a risk of typhoons. White Beach gets large winds and waves which makes it unsuitable for swimming.

Get in

Whether you go by plane or by boat, the port of entry for Boracay Island is the small town of Caticlan on the mainland. Outrigger boats or "bancas" leave every few minutes from Caticlan's jetty port. The short boat trip to Boracay's jetty port at Cagban costs 20 Pesos. Tourists have to pay a terminal fee of 50 Pesos and an environmental fee of 75 pesos. Tricycles are available at Cagban to bring passengers to their hotels. Tricycle fare is from P20 per pax up to P150 per trip depending where your resort is.

By plane

The nearest domestic airport to the island of Boracay is Caticlan or Godofredo P. Ramos Airport (IATA: MPH) (ICAO: RPVE). The runway is very short and only propeller planes can land there. Flights to and from this Caticlan are bounded by sunrise and sunset limitations. Airlines with flights to and from Caticlan are South East Asian Airlines (SEAIR) [2], Cebu Pacific Air [3], Philippine Airlines (PAL) [4], and Air Philippines [5].

From the Caticlan airport, you can either take a tricycle (PhP 40.00) or walk (10 minutes) to Caticlan Jetty Port.

The second airport near Boracay is the Kalibo International Airport (IATA: KLO) (ICAO: RPVK). With longer runway and night landing facilities, Kalibo Airport is served by bigger planes with early morning and late evening flights. The airport is at least 90 minutes away by land to Caticlan Jetty Port. Airlines with flights to and from Kalibo are Cebu Pacific Air[6], Philippine Airlines[7], and Zest Airways[8].

There are minivans, vans, coasters and buses that serve travellers between Kalibo International Aiport and Caticlan Jetty Port. Be sure to ask if your ticket includes a ferry to Boracay (200 PHP for a van and ferry), and how much the additional environmental taxes will be (a total of 125 PHP on top of your tickets).

Note that if your flight connects in Manila, you will be charged an airport tax of 200 PHP in cash between flights. When you leave Manila on an international flight (upon departure) you will be charged 750 PHP, about 16.75 USD.

By road and ferry (RoRo)

The "Nautical Highway" is a combination of overland highways and roll-on, roll-off (RoRo) vessels that allow you to bring your vehicle up to Panay Island and visit key cities like Kalibo. Taking your car all the way to Boracay, though, is not possible. Public transport also operates on the same route, and is the most cost-effective way of traveling between Manila and Boracay. Assuming good connections, the total journey time is around 12 hours.

The easiest way of arranging this is to book a van in Manila by contacting private operators such as Angel Star (02 783-0886 c/o Abner) and Gope (02 732-6891 c/o Cesar). This will enable you to book a straight trip from Manila to Caticlan at the cost of P930.00, more or less. Their group operates several passenger vans which can load 10-14 or 15-18 persons. You book the trip exclusively or share with fellow travellers. The Van leaves at 9PM daily from Manila, travelling through Batangas-Calapan-Roxas (arrives Roxas at 5AM or 6AM) to catch the 8AM or 10AM ferry/boat to Caticlan, where you are expected to arrive between noon to 2PM. Before proceeding to Boracay Island though, be sure to get your return ticket (Roxas-Manila) at the Caticlan Ferry Terminal (inquire about the updated schedule from the staff of the van operators). Take an early dinner before boarding the van and bring water and something to eat while on travel. Riding a van gives you a more relaxed pace to Caticlan because you wouldn't have to stop in many sub-destinations which lengthen your trip and therefore can be truly tiresome. Noted that the fee of P910.00 already includes two RORO fares.

The more challenging (but slightly cheaper) do-it-yourself version goes as follows:

  1. At 01:30AM, take a bus at the G.Puyat (Buendia) bus terminal along Taft Avenue, Pasay City.
  2. Get off at the end of the line which is the Batangas Port. Estimated arrival is between 4:00 to 4:30AM. Travel time actually only takes 2 hours maximum. The estimate is made to allow for other contingencies on the road.
  3. At the port, get/buy a ticket for a private van bound to Calapan, Mindoro.
  4. The van will be ferried by a medium-sized passenger ship. Estimated arrival time in Calapan, Mindoro is between 6:30 to 7:00AM.
  5. The same van will travel by land towards Roxas, in the island of Mindoro and arrive at the terminal between 9:30-10:00AM.
  6. Ride a ferry from Roxas to Caticlan. Travel duration is from 3 to 3.5 hours.
  7. From Caticlan, take the "bancas" following the procedures stated above.

You can also start your journey with Philtranco, Alps, Dimple, Ceres, Rodastco coaches which leave at regular intervals throughout the day from Cubao, serving the Manila-Caticlan route for P1,050.00. Rodastco also offers a door-to-door service with pick ups anywhere in Metro Manila. The contact numbers for trip booking are +63 2-7326891 or +63 917-3820426, or +63 919-3820426.

Get around

See

Do

Scuba diving

For those interested in Scuba Diving and Diving Packages, there are approximately 20 Dive Centres along White Sand beach; it is a good place to learn or to improve your skills. Cost is typically $33 per dive which includes hire of all equipment.The dive centres operate a cartel and have agreed standard prices amongst themselves so prices will be the same at all centres. There are 25-30 dive sites within 10-15 minutes speed boat ride from the beach, suitable for beginners up to advanced level. Dives range from 'Angol Point' (10m), through 'Crocodile Island' (22-25m), a straightforward wall dive, up to 'Yapak'- a deep wall dive suitable for only the most experienced divers due to strong currents, although there is the possibility of seeing sharks and stingrays.

Boat tours

The best way to see the beauty of Boracay and it`s various beaches is by Paraw (native outrigger sailboat). You will be constantly asked if you want to take a boat trip, as there are literally dozens of companies offering this service. It is better to go with a reputable and established group such as Allen Fun Tours (motorized banca boat tours) or Red Pirates (paraw sailing) to ensure your safety and avoid being overcharged.

Kiteboarding

Boracay's Bulabog beach is known as the best kitesurf destination in Asia. The season runs from November through to April with onshore winds varying between 12-30 knots.

Skimboarding

Skimboarding in Boracay has been a new fun sport for kids and entertainment for older for people for several years. It is a welcome new attraction and a pleasure to watch. Skimboards are available for rent at several places along White Beach. But be sure to hire an expert to teach you to do the skills..

Massage/Spa

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Buy

Along White Beach, there is a wide variety of gift shops and boutiques along the beach path and in D*Mall. In addition to the crowded stalls that you expect in Asia, Boracay also has several high-end stores including clothing, art and household items. Some places will permit you to haggle, others have a fixed pricing system with price tags. Shop around as prices vary. Outside of White Beach, the shopping becomes sparse or non-existent.

While walking or laying on the sand, anywhere on Boracay, you'll be approached to buy a variety of items including jewelry made of shells, fresh fruit, ice cream, sunglasses or a nice massage.

ATMs

There are about 8 ATMs on the entire island for the 16,000 inhabitants plus tourists, and when they run out of cash, they are not refilled until the next business day. On weekends and holidays it is even worse, as the ATM's might go several days without being refilled. On paydays one will also see very long lines at the ATM's, and be aware that not every ATM accepts every card. One might only accept cards with the Visa logo, and not the MasterCard logo, so before standing in line for two hours, be sure it accepts your card. Also, be prepared for a very long wait in line, as many Boracay natives seem to do all their banking at the ATM, spending what seems like an unusual amount of time at it.

The best solution is to bring travelers checks or plenty of cash. Also, many establishments, including the tricycles, cannot break a bill over 500 peso (around $10), so it pays to always have small bills.

Foreign money (US dollars, Euros, Korean Won, Japanese Yen, etc.) can be exchanged at several locations around the island. It's worth checking around for the best exchange rate, as all places don't offer the same rate. You're best off heading away from the beach for better rates.

Vendors

There are literally hundreds of Muslim vendors from Mindanao (Muslim Vendors Association) who walk White Beach and try to get tourists to go on boat rides, scuba diving or snorkeling excursions, jet ski rides, etc., for which they are paid a commission. Some carry racks of sunglasses with them, which they try to sell even if you are wearing some already. Most annoying are the obsolete articles such as pirated DVDs, strands of huge pearls, and rip-off watches, none of which interest most tourists.

These vendors are everywhere, and it doesn't matter if you are walking down the beach, lying on it, sunbathing, eating at a sidewalk restaurant, or lounging in a hammock outside your hotel, they will come up and start bothering you, starting with "Yes, ma'am?" then asking "Jet Ski? Parasail? Scuba? Sailboat? Sunglasses?" and waving a laminated card in your face. Normally, you have to tell them several times to go away, and it isn't long before another approaches. Many hotels and restaurants have "No Vendors" signs posted, but to little avail.

Local women and children sell manicures and massages, shells, fruit, and jewellery on the beach. (If you refuse initially, you may hear "For your husband for your wife?") This is irritating especially if you are trying to read. Children may ask you to buy them food once they befriend you.

The uniformed security guards may serve to keep the vendors at bay, as they do not tend to approach you if an officer is near. Hopefully, these guards are also on the watch for any theft.

After several days, you may find the vendors extremely irritating, as instead of enjoying a nice meal relaxing on your vacation, you will find yourself constantly waving away and avoiding vendors. They will even come up and start tugging on your shirt sleeve, while you are trying to take a picture. You may see a fed-up tourist walking in a T-shirt or henna tattoo reading "No Scuba! No Jet Ski! No Sunglasses!". Vendors are not allowed in the D*Mall, but are waiting along the path. Boracay and its tourist guests would benefit greatly if they removed the vendors from White Beach.

Eat

Because of its wide draw of international travelers, Boracay has a wide variety of places to eat, including a surprising number of bakeries.

Drink

If you like to party, there are plenty of places to choose from. The livelier bars are situated near boat stations 1 and 2. There are plenty of places to party all night! Boat station 3 has a more laid back and relaxed atmosphere, with small native bars and restaurants - popular with backpackers.

Expect to check your handgun with the security guard!

Sleep

Accommodation standards vary, with top of the line hotels and resorts to a simple bed rented from a resident. As such, whatever your budget, you could easily find a suitable place to stay. During peak periods such as Holy Week, Christmas and New Year, rooms are more difficult to find and more expensive, so book in advance.

Staying along White Beach gets you closer to the bars, lounging and food, while staying closer to Bulabog beach gives you better access to the popular wind and kite-boarding areas.

A word of warning: Boracay is notorious for travel agents (many in Manila) passing themselves off as the resorts, often through websites. When you call them to get a room rate or make a reservation, you will be quoted much more than if you called the resort itself. The travel agents simply take your request, call the hotel and make reservations and charge you extra for the service, up to double the original rate. Meanwhile, the traveler has no idea he wasn't talking to the resort. This can often lead to frustration, as the traveler will show up at his hotel or resort and see he was charged double the rate that the hotel is listing, even though the hotel had nothing to do with it! So the advice is, try your best to ignore the many travel agencies and make your reservation with the resort or hotel directly.

Better yet, don't make advance reservations in the low season. Just go to White Beach or the region you want to stay and negotiate deals with the places you want to stay at. Many street touts will offer to show you the rooms first and then you can negotiate.


White Beach

If you prefer peace and quiet, avoid accommodation at the centre of White Beach, as this is the most crowded area. Head further north or south instead. The area south of boat station 3 has a more relaxed and peaceful vibe - no pounding disco till 4AM. Accommodation is more reasonably priced, and there are some friendly little bars and restaurants where you can meet people and chat. North of station 1 you'll find many of the more luxurious (and expensive) establishments. The beach is at it's widest here, and the area is usually relatively peaceful.

Among the many quality resorts in Boracay at which you may stay are (in alphabetical order):

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Boracay Beach Club Station 1, Balabag +63.36.288.6770 http://boracaybeachclub.com/ Temporarily spam blacklisted

195-room hotel overlooking the beach. Wwo swimming pools, gym, business center and a host of restaurants that serve international dishes (Korean, Japanese, European, American). </sleep>


Bulabog Beach

Bulabog Beach runs parallel with White Beach and is on the east side of the island. It is approximately 1.5kms long and has similar white sand to that found on White Beach. It is protected from strong seas by a coral reef located 500 meters offshore, and from late Oct. to April the Amihan wind(NE wind) make this beach very popular with windsurfers and kiteboarders.For these reasons it is often referred to as the "No.1 kite boarding beach in Asia." Bulabog Beach has the "old" Boracay atmosphere, being less developed than the White Beach area, quieter, more laid back, with onshore breezes most of the year, and a number of foreign residents have made it their home. In addition, resorts are starting to appear and the various types of water-sports (para-sailing, banana boats, jetskis, water-skiing, etc.) are using this area during the White Beach off-season (May-Oct, when the Habagat wind blows). Access to the D'Mall Shopping Center is only a 5 minute walk and a couple of minutes later you are on White Beach with all the crowds, restaurants, bars, discos, etc.

Mid-range

Splurge

Near White Beach

Some hotels and resorts are located along roads and footpaths off of White Beach, generally within just a few minutes walk from the beach. Room rates in these may be a bit lower than prices for comparable rooms located in resorts which have beach-front entrances, and the rooms may be a bit quieter than rooms located right on the beach.

Budget

Splurge

Balabag and other areas

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Get out

Boracay Beach Club Station 1 http://boracaybeachclub.com/ Recently listed in Travel + Leisure magazine’s “Top 25 Secret Seaside Getaways,” the Boracay Beach Club is an upscale 30-room resort featuring an endless array of modern amenities such as walk-in showers, wireless internet, digital closet safes, and flat-screen TVs.

Whether you choose to chill-out at our beachfront lounge, swim in our lap pool, party at Ariel’s House, or sleep late in our spacious rooms, the Boracay Beach Club will provide you with the ideal blend of family hospitality and first-class comfort at reasonable prices.

Related Information




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A list of contributors is available at the original article on Wikitravel. Additional modifications may have been made by users at TRAVEL.COM [33].

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