The small island of Boracay has long been lauded by the international community for its beautiful landscape and stunning beaches. Its growing reputation has led to more and more developments being made to the island, which is now beginning to gain an additional reputation as one of the best party areas in the Philippines.
Before the arrival of the Spaniards to the Philippines, Boracay was home to the indigenous Ati people, who farmed and fished the land and sea for centuries. As the settlement grew larger, the people of Boracay became more diverse, yet continued to depend mostly on fishing and coconut plantations as their form of sustenance through trade. Its status as a tourist hub first arose in the 1960s-70s, as it became a favourite spot for local families looking to holiday in the area. As word spread, first around the Philippines, then around the world, Boracay became a major destination for discerning tourists looking for play and relaxation.
As in the rest of the Philippines, Boracay is a predominantly Roman Catholic area. Like in many other regions of the Philippines, beliefs from pre-colonial times and European religious rites have been syncretised and given origin to unique feasts and religious celebrations. One of such festivals is the Ati-Atihan Festival, similar to the Sinulog Festival of Cebu, which is celebrated every January in nearby Panay, with a smaller celebration in Boracay.
As Boracay has been a major tourist destination for some time, its indigenous cultural influences have mostly been subdued under a wide variety of influences from around the world and from other regions in the Philippines. However the original inhabitants, the Ati tribe, are still around—you may spot some of them selling handicrafts along the main beach. Support them when you can.
- Believes in concept of face
- Touching is welcomed, handshakes and hugs are common as greetings, as well as beso-beso, or air kisses on each cheek
Boracay Island is approximately seven kilometres long, with a total land area of just 10.32 square kilometres. It is located across a small strait from the jetty port at Caticlan on Panay Island, which generally serves as Boracay’s main entry and exit point. The weather in Boracay is divided into two seasonal weather patterns – the first is characterized by a cool northeast wind (which lasts from about October to June) while the second (lasting the rest of the year) is characterized by a south-west monsoon. Daytime temperatures range from about 25 to 38 degrees Celsius.
This is a popular island destination for a reason. Boracay has everything an island lover could want, from pure white silky sand, to lines of palm trees dotting the horizon, to a beautiful mountain range – and that’s just on land. Under the sea, divers and snorkelers can enjoy the sight of a wide variety of marine sanctuaries, each offering coral reefs and sea life galore.
Much of the most interesting wildlife and nature in Boracay is to be seen underwater. Home to a unique range of sea life milling around the pearlescent coral gardens under the sea, try your best to go island-hopping (and into the water) to best experience the marine adventure that awaits for all who dive into Philippine waters.
Before you go
- Language: Tagalog, officially Filipino, an Austronesian language distantly related to Malay
- Currency: Philippine peso (php)
- Time Zone: Philippine Time Zone, utc+8
- Voltage: 220
- Electric Socket: Type A/B/C
- Sim cards are sold everywhere in the Philippines
- The biggest mobile network operators are Globe, SMART, and Sun
- A sim card itself only costs about $1, but it is advisable to put it around 1,000 pesos if you are planning to make more international calls or use lots of data.
- It is quite easy to find atms in Boracay
- Exchanging cash often leads to better rates than just withdrawing from an atm
- Transaction limits are about 10,000 pesos per withdrawal, and 20,000 pesos maximum per day.
- During high season, it is quite likely for many of these machines to run out of cash
- Sisig: Chunks of pig head and liver seasoned with kalamansi fruit and chili peppers. Trust the Guru, it’s better than it sounds!
- Sinigang: Sour, tamarind-like soup base mixed in with chunks of whatever you like: choose from fish, pork, shrimp and beef.
- Kaldereta: Tomato paste combine with cuts of pork, beef or goat.
It’s up to you how much you’d like to tip when in the Philippines, although it is common courtesy to leave spare change when you can.
Taxis: If the driver leaves the meter running and gives you decent service, it’s reasonable to tip 10% of the fare as a sign of appreciation.
Tricycle taxis: there is no need to tip the driver as ideally you must have negotiated a fixed price beforehand before starting on the trip.
Restaurants: A general rule for tipping in restaurants is to do so whenever there is no service charge added to your bill by the restaurant. There are no real rules as to tipping.
Hotels: Try to give the bellhop or concierge a small tip when possible. When staying in better (brand-name) hotels, be aware that this kind of tipping is often expected by hotel employees.
- Suggested vaccinations: hepatitis A and typhoid
- As in much of the Philippines, the hospitals available in Boracay are more like ‘clinics’ and can only hope to stabilize patients in serious condition, in order to transport them to better hospitals in more urban areas.
- As in every tourist-heavy destination in the Philippines, always keep your valuables close and watch out for pickpockets. Most locals are very friendly and will treat foreigners well, so treat any strange or prodding behaviour with the suspicion it deserves.
Emergency Line: 117
Ciriaco S. Tirol Hospital (public): Balabag, Boracay, Malay, Aklan, Tel: (+63) 36 288 3041
Metropolitan Doctors Medical Clinics (private): Ambulong, Sitio Manoc-Manoc, Boracay Island, Malay, 5608 Aklan, Tel: (+63) 36 288 6357
Tourism Board: Boracay Main Road, Balabag, Boracay Island Malay Aklan 5608, Tel: (+63) 36 288 3689, www.tourism.gov.ph/pages/default.aspx
- Hello (in general): Mah-boo-hi
- Excuse me. / Sorry: Mah-wah-lang-gah-lang-poh
- Thank you: Sah-laah-mat
- You’re welcome: Wah-lang anooman
- Good morning: Mah-gandang oo-mah-gah
- Goodbye: Pah-ah-lahm
- How much is this?: Mag-kahno-toh
- Cheers! (Toasts when drinking): Tah-guy
- Bon appetit!: Mah-boo-ting gah-NA
- Where’s the toilet?: Nah-sah-aan ang CR?
- Help!: Too-long
- I understand: Nah-i-in-tin-di-hahn koh
- I don’t understand: Hin-di ko nah-i-in-tin-di-hahn
How to get into this area, and how to get around it!
There are two airports nearby the island: Caticlan (or Godofredo P.Ramos Airport) and Kalibo International Airport. Upon landing here, you will then need to either take a tricycle or walk to the Caticlan Jetty Port in Malay.
The best way to use a ferry to get to Boracay is to take one of the few ferries that leave from Batangas Port directly towards Caticlan Port.
These little motorized tricycles act as the island’s taxis, and fares for them are fixed according to distance travelled. Unfortunately, the dearth of tourists has led to many sly drivers trying to take advantage of tourists – try to make sure you pay the fixed price, and don’t get tricked into haggling over the amount to be paid.
These flexible vehicles can be rented anywhere on the island quite reasonably, and are the best way to get around the island in a flexible manner. However island traffic may be difficult to handle due to the aggressive nature of tricycle drivers here.
Bikes are available for rent at several locations along White Beach. This is due to the beach being off limits to motorized vehicles
Things to see
The top locations to visit in this destination.