During my work trip to Manila, my boyfriend and I did a weekend getaway to Boracay. Boracay is best known for their beautiful white sand beaches and if this place isn’t on your travel list, it should be! We spent most of our weekend walking along the beach, exploring one station after another. And at night, we wandered under a blanket of bright stars. My highlight was definitely snorkeling in open water and seeing all the colorful fishes. For me, snorkeling here was better than in Hawaii!
D’ Talipapa Market
D’ Talipapa is a market where you can buy fresh seafood and have nearby restaurants cook it for you. As someone who loves seafood, this place sounded like a dream. But in reality, there are flies everywhere and people screaming at you to buy seafood. It was so dirty and chaotic that I left without buying anything.
Thai Basil Restaurant
With hungry tummies, we went to D’Mall for some Thai food. We ordered the Vegetarian Pad Thai, Chicken Panang Curry, and Fried Spring Rolls. The Panang Curry was the best item, especially when paired with their watermelon juice on a hot day.
This fast food chain is known to have pretty good halo-halo. Halo-halo is a popular Filipino dessert made of crushed ice, evaporated milk, various toppings, and ice cream. This was our first time eating this dessert and without knowing much about it, we started eating it from the top down. It wasn’t until we got to the crushed ice and evaporated milk that we realized that we were supposed to mix it. When I told this story to my colleagues in the Philippines, they laughed and told me that halo-halo actually means mix-mix!
As you walk along the beach, you will be approached by many locals offering to show you a good time with the many activities that Boracay has to offer. At some point in the day, we caved and decided to do Paraw Sailing with a vendor we met on the beach. A paraw is a double outrigger sail boat native to the Philippines.
It was 800 PHP for 2 people and even though it was cheap, I would’ve paid more for a better experience. I expected to board near the shore but we actually had to walk chest deep into the ocean before we were hoisted onto the netted outrigger. In simple terms, we sat on a net with no seat belts. I held on for dear life to the net because as the paraw sails out into the ocean, the ride is extremely bumpy and salt water is continuously splashing on your face. The thrill was unexpected but I was having a blast – until a wave pushed by leg hard against a wooden pole. Ouch. But before I knew it, we were back on shore, because even though the ride was advertised for 30 minutes, it only lasted around 15. Overall, it was a great experience but next time, I’ll do it with a more established company.
This Korean restaurant had 4.8 stars on Google and while we thought the food was good, it certainly wasn’t the best. We ordered the Army Based Stew (budae jjigae) and Tofu Soup. My boyfriend loved the restaurant because the set up reminded him of Korea.
Fun fact: hair braiding is a popular tourist activity in Boracay. Who knew? My boyfriend was getting sick of how long his hair was and he decided to get his hair braided for 200 PHP. He was thrilled with his new cornrows, and I was having a good laugh.
On our second day in Boracay, we decided to go island hopping with a tour group. The best part, and really the only activity I enjoyed, was the opportunity to snorkel in open water. Next time, I think I’ll skip the island hopping and just go snorkeling and helmet diving on my own.
Island #1 – 30 minutes
The first spot was a private island filled with fellow tourists. With paid drinks in hand, we relaxed on the beach under our own private cabana.
Snorkeling – 40 minutes
This was the highlight of the trip! The boat stopped in the middle of the ocean and we hopped out to do some snorkeling. We paid 40 PHP for the gear and we were able to swim above colorful fishes and beautiful corals in open water. A fellow kid brought bread with him which attracted a lot of fish, but I read it’s really bad to feed fish bread, so I wouldn’t recommend it.
Lunch Buffet – just enough time to eat
The tour did come with lunch, but the food was horrible. And it was so sad seeing all these stray dogs walking around begging for scraps. It wasn’t the best ambiance for lunch.
Crystal Cove Island – 1 hour
After lunch, we were taken to a really shitty tourist attraction known as Crystal Cove. And by shitty, I mean the decorations were made of soda cans. With an hour on this island, we had no choice but to spend 200 PHP to participate. The coolest part about this place was the underwater cave, a spot where you can swim out into open waters.
Cliff Jumping at Magic Island – 30 minutes
Yes, you can go cliff jumping in Boracay! I sat this one out because I didn’t want to lose my contacts but this was my boyfriend’s highlight of the day. And that’s even after getting a huge bruise on his thigh from the water impact. Let me just say, that this bruise lasted for weeks.
Jonah’s Fruit Shake & Snack Bar
This is a great spot to grab a smoothie on the island! I got the Mango Banana Smoothie and it was SO GOOD. Definitely a spot to return to!
Story Time: To get here from our hotel, we took a ride on a tricycle (a bicycle with a side cart attached). This old Filipino man took us from Station 3 to Station 1 by bike, and there were even hills along the way. We were so impressed by this man’s strength, that we tipped him 233%!
Pig Out Bistro
This was my favorite restaurant in Boracay, fancy but so cheap! I would highly recommend it for its ambiance, service, and price, not to mention the delicious food. We ordered the Calamari, String Onion, Tuna Sandwich, Octopus, and Clams. The tuna sandwich was the best and just melted in my mouth. I dream of it to date… and I so wish we ate here earlier in the weekend so we could’ve gone twice.
With a consistent line out the door, we had to follow suit. We ordered the Mangoholic. I don’t even love mangos and I still loved the combination of the soft serve and mango chunks.
On our last day, we decided to take it all in by relaxing on the beach. And for our breaks, we took to the water! While there is debris, the beach is still incredibly beautiful and makes Boracay a great vacation spot.
Along the beach, there are multiple sand sculptures that make for a great souvenir photo. And for the low price, it was worth it! Just make sure to have a good photographer who won’t take pictures sideways.
Top Tourist Activities: Relaxing on White Beach, Snorkeling, and Paraw Sailing
For Next Time: Helmet Diving
Must Eat Restaurant: Pig Out Bistro
What to Skip: Island Hopping
The Other Necessities
We stayed at Boracay Ocean Club in Station 3. It was a bit far from the tourist spots (in Station 2) on the island but we really enjoyed our stay. The staff was friendly, the room was clean, and the included breakfast was pretty good. The best part was the private beachfront! The hotel even provides lounge chairs so you can enjoy the sunset on the beach.
How to Get to Boracay
There are no direct flights to Boracay, so from Manila, we flew to Caticlan. When we arrived, there was a stand outside the airport offering full-service transportation from the airport to the hotel. Since we had no idea what we were doing, we took the offer. We were a quick bus, boat, and another bus away from arriving at our hotel.
On our return trip to the airport, we decided to venture on our own and here’s what we did.
- We took a tricycle taxi (a motorcycle with a carriage attached) to the Boracay port. You can find motor tricycles on the main street. [120 PHP]
- We took a boat from Boracay to Caticlan Port. [25 PHP for the boat and 30 PHP for the terminal fee]
- We took another tricycle (follow the signs to locate one) from the port to the airport. [80 PHP]