Saturday, 12 October 2019

It's all about the tiny tropical island

Where is Boracay?
Boracay is a small island located in the Western Visayas. To get a better understanding of what and where the Visayas is, you need to understand the geographical division of the Philippines. The entire 7641 islands of the Philippines are grouped into Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Boracay belongs to the island group 'Visayas'.


How to get to Boracay?
The best and the most convenient way to get to Boracay is by air. There is no airport on the island, but the nearest airport is the Caticlan airport located in the province of Aklan. It takes just 15 minutes ferry ride to get to the island from Caticlan. There's another airport at Kalibo which is 1.5 hours away from the Caticlan. The thing to be noted here is at Caticlan airport no flights are allowed to land or take off after 5 PM. If you're planning to land there after 5 PM then you must opt to land at Kalibo instead of Caticlan.

How expensive are the flights to Boracay?
From the below map, you can clearly see that the 55 min flight ride costs approximately ₹2500. I was already in Cebu and I booked my flights 12 hours before I flew. It cost me ₹4500 round trip, which is extremely cheap in my opinion. You can even get flights as low as ₹1200 if you book three months in advance. Note that the prices are the same if you opt to fly out of Manila. Also, note that if you're flying from outside of the Philippines, I would suggest you fly to Manila first and then take a flight to Boracay. This is because Caticlan handles domestic flights and there is no immigration office setup at the airport. I believe you need to clear the immigration either at Manila or Cebu and then proceed to take a flight to Caticlan.


Okay, say that I've arrived at Caticlan. What should be my next move?
The moment you step out of your aircraft, you will go through a short bus ride to the airport arrival point. There you will find some information counters where you will find the means to get to the island from the airport. If you opt for a ferry + shuttle ride to the Boracay port from the airport, it costs PHP 150 per person. If you opt for a shuttle ride + ferry + private transfer to the hotel from the Boracay port, it costs PHP 700 per person. I opted for the PHP 150 as I found it cheaper. Trust me, you can do this much cheaper than this by following the below guidelines,
  • After exiting the airport, opt for a tricycle ride to the Caticlan Jetty port instead of a shuttle ride. This will cost PHP 75 for two persons. 
  • Once you arrive at the Caticlan Jetty port, you need to fill the immigration form. With the filled form, proceed to the counters where you have to pay a non-refundable terminal fee (PHP 100) and environmental fee (PHP 75), a total of PHP 175 per person. 
  • A normal ferry ride costs PHP 30 per person from the Caticlan port to Boracay port. 
  • From the Boracay port, walk outside and opt for a tricycle ride that costs PHP 100 for two persons to get to your hotel. 


Apart from normal ferry, there's also something called 'Oyster ferry' which costs PHP 100 for the International tourists and PHP 75 for the locals. For the short 15-minute boat ride, I personally would not prefer opting Oyster ferry unless you want to experience a bit of the luxury, and of course, air conditioning. I did take that ferry while coming back from Boracay as you need not pay an Environmental fee while exiting (but note that you still need to pay the terminal fee when you're getting out of Boracay). 

Oyster Ferry at Boracay Port
Inside an Oyster Ferry
A normal ferry boat at Caticlan Jetty Port

 ATTENTION PLEASE


To enter the island, you need to show a valid hotel reservation at the immigration checkpoint in the Caticlan ferry station. Without a valid hotel reservation, you will not be permitted to enter the island. 

Okay, now to book hotels, I recommend you to use different websites like booking.com, skyscanner, agoda, trivago, and choose the one that is cheap and best. It took me a while to zero in a hotel at Boracay as the stay is pretty much expensive. 

Boracay hotels are spread across these stations - Station 3, Station 2 and Station 1. I recommend choosing Station 2 or Station 1 for the stay because of the easy accessibility to the eateries and the meeting point for most of the activities. 

'RedDoorz @ Taj Resort and Spa Annex' is where I stayed. It was just 150 meters away from the beach at Station 2. The rooms were clean and the price was very much affordable (just ₹1500 per night; you will get it for ₹700 or ₹900 if you book well in advance). 

What to do in Boracay?
Now that you've reached Boracay, you have following things to do,
  • Parasailing
  • Helmet diving
  • Banana boat ride
  • Island hopping
  • Surfing
  • Riding Jet Ski
  • Watch Sunset from any of the stations
When I was there I opted for Parasailing and Island hopping. I booked the tours from Klook as they're cheap. You can find cheaper options when you're in the island (no scams, they seem legit to me). 


Map of Boracay (Source: Google)

How much did I spend in Boracay?
I spent two nights and three days in Boracay and I incurred following expenses. Note that the below expenses are for the entire trip, not just for one day.


This accounts to approximately ₹14000 for the entire trip (excluding flights). For two persons, it would be slightly higher (say, ₹20000 approximately for the entire trip).

In a nutshell, Boracay isn't that expensive, from what I've experienced, if you plan it the right way.





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