For a long time, Boracay and its dreamy white sand beaches has been one of the Philippines’ best kept secrets. Over the years, it has developed to one of Asia’s “hottest holiday destinations” (read more here).
Consequently, this evolution meant a development from a quiet retreat to the bustling and lively island it is today. Boracay is definitely a full on tourist destination, with vendors crowding the streets, hotels popping up everywhere and a myriad of bars filling up with people from sunset until sunrise.
When I came to the Philippines, my goal was to stay away from places that drew too many tourists, however, I was curious to see this island that has been praised on the internet and by friends and family who had visited before. Their stories of blue water so clear, endless rows of palm trees and seafood so fresh convinced me to book a 3-day stay.
- Period of visit: beginning of January
- Overall impression: Yes, Boracay is a busy place but the remote beaches like Puka Beach also cater to the wishes of the travellers who are looking for tranquility.
Day one: arriving in Boracay
I stayed at the Crown Regency hotel and met Adrian, a staff member who came to pick us up at the airport (Caticlan) and escorted us to the hotel. After a short car drive, followed by a swift speedboat journey we arrived at the shore of the island. We were very excited to see the beaches from the speedboat, so when we got to the hotel we quickly dropped off our luggage and hurried to the acclaimed White Beach.
When we got there, the beach was filled with men and women relaxing while children were playing while the waves rolled on the beach.
When the sun went down, we sat at a table on the beach with our toes in the sand, enjoying the sunset. A waitress informed us that happy hour began and that the seafood buffet was ready. All included for just 280 pesos per person. (at the time, 5,5 euros)
Before we fell asleep, Boracay had already nestled in its very own place in our hearts.
Day two: Snorkling, Crystal Cove Island and date night
At the hotel, there is a desk where you can book activities. I have to say that I am very happy with the staff who did their very best to arrange whatever we wanted with such efficiency. We booked an activity to go snorkling with a private boat (we were a group of 5) and a visit to Crystal Cove Island for 3500 pesos in total. (66 euros) It took us about 4-5 hours for the entire activity, so basically we each paid about 13 euros for a day activity.
Crystal Cove Island is an exceptionally beautiful island; the views on the ocean against the dramatic cliffs create captivating pictures. Just when you started to get ‘used’ to seeing one beautiful island after the other, you discover that every place has its own distinctive charm and exquisiteness that reinforces your need to keep exploring because there is still so much out there to be seen, admired and revered.
If you’re looking for a cosy restaurant in Boracay where the food is good, the staff friendly and the atmosphere intimate, I would recommend Dos Mestizos. We had the paella and cocktails and had an unforgettable evening. After a day of sightseeing, sinking in one of the chairs and soaking up the Spanish background music while sipping your mojito (180 pesos) is exactly what you need.
Day 3: Puka Shell Beach and parasailing
We started off the day with breakfast at the Nigi Nigi Bar, a trendy breakfast and lunch place that channeled Hawaiian vibes. During our meal, we made plans to visit Puka Shell Beach, which is one of Boracay’s best beaches.
Because of its remote location (it takes a tricycle ride to get there, 150 pesos), Puka Beach has been saved from the presence of tourists. You get the same postcard white sandy beaches and palm trees minus the tourists you find at White Beach.
There is no other choice but to surrender to the beauty of the island and lay down on the beach, feel the welcome rays of sunshine on your skin and listen to the smooth rhythm of the ocean waves while you close your eyes: you have truly arrived in paradise.
The path leading up to the beach is home to scattered small shops where they sell fine handmade shell products. What goes for the rest in the Philippines is also a rule in Boracay: you must haggle. My mom is an expert in this, she always manages to get the products she wants for at least 60% off the original asking price!
During sunset, we went parasailing. It was the first time I did this and it was so much fun! At first, I didn’t expect it to go so high, it looks much lower from the ground but when you fly over the dark blue ocean, it gives a super excited feeling. When you’re up there, you’re overwhelmed by an incredibly loud silence. High above the water, far from buzzing tricycles and humming speedboats, you come close to finding peace.
I highly recommend doing this during sunset, it adds to the magic of the moment making it a truly unique experience. I also want to highlight the service of the staff of the Crown Regency. One of the activity desk staff members accompanied us all the way to the parasailing boat and even came along to take pictures and videos of us while we were up there. Amazing!