NOVEMBER 12 - NOVEMBER 29
Our initial plan was to spend two weeks in the Philippines and split that time between two or three of the 7,500 islands. We did some research and a few came up that caught our attention - Palawan, Cebu, Camiguin and Boracay. We read that all of the above were really quiet except Boracay. It had beautiful beaches and a nightlife. So, we decided to book a flight to Boracay and deal with the rest later.
When we looked further into flying from one island to another we realized it was going to cost a lot. Also, it was going to be quite the hassle. Getting to Boracay from Manila is a bit of a mission ( I will explain below), so we just couldn't be bothered to hop on and off planes, boats and buses every few days. We decided to trust all the positive reviews that we found on the internet and spend two weeks in Boracay. More than a few articles claimed that this was a must see island before you die, so we figured that spending two weeks there couldn't be too bad.
We flew to Manila from Kuala Lumpur with Air Asia. Our flight cost us CAD$138/each. Once we arrived, we had to catch a one hour flight to Kalibo the same day, so we never left the airport. This flight cost us $190/each. We flew into Kalibo and from there we took a bus to the pier which took 1.5 hours, then a 15 minute ferry to Boracay, plus a shuttle to our hotel. It was quite a journey, but we booked all of our ground transportation with Southwest Tours and the whole trip couldn't have gone smoother. The service was very efficient and organized. I highly recommend it. That cost about CAD$72/each.
WHERE TO STAY
We split the 18 days between two hotels just because we wanted to mix things up.
We booked the first 7 nights at Agos hotel through Booking.com. We got a pretty good deal but we were surprised at the prices on Boracay. It was more expensive than we anticipated especially for a third world country. It was no Thailand, that's for sure!
The most popular beach in Boracay was White Beach. It was the most crowded, had all kind of restaurants and a nightlife. It's devided into three stations - Station 1 being the furthest north where the hotels and restaurants are most expensive; Station 2, the centre of the action and Station 3, further south which was a bit quieter and closer to the residential area.
Agos was right in the center of Station 2, so we couldn't be happier with the location. We had a huge clean room and breakfast included. Super nice staff as well.
We were curious as to where our second home on the island would be, so we went to check out Greenyard Inn. It was late at night and we had to walk all the way to Station 3. The further south we walked along the beach the emptier it got. We got a little worried because we couldn't find the hotel and we weren't sure how safe it was to walk around at night. Plus, we read about a few kidnappings in the recent year, so that didn't help our nerves.
We finally found the hotel but we didn't like where it was located. It was far from the main area and we had to walk down a sketchy road to get to the main entrance.
It looked much scarier at night - trust me! haha
We thought that maybe we could cancel the nights we booked there and extend it at Agos. Unfortunately, it was too late.
When it came time to move to Greenyard Inn, we were pleasantly surprised. The place was beautiful. It was a mansion with a bunch of units available for rent.
Our room was the size of a small condo and had everything we needed. We paid about $40/night which included breakfast. Every morning, the staff would serve us breakfast on our terrace. It couldn't get any better than that.
In the end, we enjoyed this place more than Agos even though it was further from the main area.
WHAT TO DO?
Boracay is a GREAT beach getaway. The water is so clean and perfect for snorkelling and swimming. If you're happy just chilling on the beach all day - it's the perfect place to visit.
Most of our days were spent relaxing o this beach, sipping on mango and papaya shakes. At night, we would pic one of he many sunset bars, plant our butts in the bean bags and listen to some awesome tunes as we watched the sunset.
This beach is also home to Willy's Rock - one of the most photographed landmark on Boracay. It's basically a volcanic formation that is located about 100 metres from the shore. Facing the beach are stairs leading to a chapel at the top, which has a statue of the Virgin Mary.
We went to check out this beach a couple of times and it's perfect if you're into windsurfing. It's literally across the street, and on the other side of the island (this tells you exactly how small Boracay really is). It was packed with windsurfers so it wasn't ideal for swimming. It was a little quieter so it was a good place if we wanted to get away from the crowds on White Beach.
This is probably one of the most undeveloped beaches that we visited. If you are looking for the 'old' Boracay, the one without structures and fast food chains then this is the closest thing you will get. The beach is not too crowded and it its absolutely stunning! It's got a much more laid back atmosphere than White Beach.
WHERE TO EAT ON A BUDGET
We thought we'd be eating in Boracay as well and as cheap as Thailand, but this was not the case. Boracay is quite expensive if you stay on White Beach. There's so many food options but they are ridicilously overpriced except for a few places that we found. This little street had it all - fresh fruits and veggies and really good, cheap food!
This place was exactly what we were looking for. We didn't discover it until maybe 5 days in but once we did, it was pretty much the only place we ate at. There are two locations in Section 2 and it's always packed for lunch and dinner! The food is amazing and the food is the cheapest we found! Yumm.
Our favourite meal was the chicken khao pad - made up of rice, chicken, mango and eggs. The second favourite was morning glory. :)
Another place for cheap local food, but once we discovered Smoke, we stopped going here.
So what did we think of Boracay? It's a beautiful island but it's also the ULTIMATE tourist trap. Walking around White Beach felt like we were part of a massive resort, which is perfect for some people but this is exactly what we wanted to get away from. All in all, I'm glad we went, but I don't think I'd go back anytime soon. Next time, I'd like to check out some of the more remote islands and get a better feel for the culture.
Here's the breakdown of how much we spent for 18 days:
Domestic Transportation: $301
Tourist Visa: $0
Daily Average (per person): $62
*Excludes one-way flight from Kuala Lumpur to Manila ($69 each)
**Currency exchange 11/12/2015: $1 (CAD) = 36 Pesos
Check out all of the photos from the Philippines!