Getting the best of Boracay on a budget

alright, you’ve read something like this before. and in any case that you haven’t, you’re probably thinking i have posted this too late; summer is already over. i said so in my previous posts.

yet, after visiting boracay eight times for the last four years, i would still recommend visiting the world’s famous powdery white sand beach off-summer. the waters are clear, the sea weeds are gone, and the sunset is all yours.

and a bonus to top this off: everything costs half as cheap.

boracay

boracay1

so how would i normally do this?

i would forget about flying seair or asian spirit; getting to the gateway of boracay 1.5-2hours early is not worth the Php6k-8k roundtrip airfare. ro-ro is the cheapest way to go but i strongly do not recommend this. an 18-hour to 20-hour total travel time is a total waste.

going to kalibo early via cebu pacific would be the best way. For Php3.2k roundtrip airfare (~Php2k if you are lucky enough to grab their Php1/Php10 fare) and Php300 for the airconditioned van to Caticlan, i would be 15-minutes away from the white sands of boracay. the ride from Kalibo airport is scenic in itself; starting 20 minutes before the end of the trip, i would already get a really great view of the ocean far down below.

there are a few fees to pay before i can enter boracay (Php50 for environmental fee and Php40 for terminal fee- both of which i find really bollocks but there’s really nothing much we can do about it). upon arriving in the island, a special tricycle ride to either station 1, 2, or 3 would cost me Php100. i can opt to skip this and walk a little outside the pier and hail one of the passing motorcabs. that will only cost me Php7 (at this stage, i got to be a little generous and pay double or maybe Php20; it is still way cheaper than Php100!).

(i am of course not expected to be dragging a four-wheeled luggage. travelling on a budget also means travelling light; you have to be rightfully equipped to be able to be more flexible on adapting better alternatives at a lower cost. and there are a lot of things you cannot do if you are dragging your entire closet of wardrobe with you.)

where would i stay? i still prefer station 1; yes it is the same stretch of the beach, but i want the best strip on arm’s length. the good thing about arriving in the island on an off-peak season (especially August- i love boracay best in august) is that it is naturally safe and recommended to not book the rooms in advance. walk-in rates are way, way cheaper.

i would talk directly to the hotel staff; and would avoid middlemen or fixers. they do not really fix anything aside from their commissions. there are backpacker-friendly resorts along the beach (or right behind the beach-front hotels) of station 1. i have stayed at bans beach resort a couple of times and for a Php500-700 per cottage/per night rate with complimentary breakfast, i am not the one to complain about how small the longganisas are.

i would also forget about renting a boat for island hopping. the crystal cove resort charges php100 for entrance fee and there is really nothing much to see there. the marine life of boracay is mediocre so i definitely wouldn’t be bothered with snorkeling. what i always look forward to, though, is the trip to puka beach (which is always part of the itinerary of the island hopping). hiring a motorcab (Php100) will bring me to this secluded, pebbled-congested beautiful beach.

puka

the left strip of the beach (when facing the ocean) has the nicest view around. it is also not frequented with local vendors so i cannot be bothered while i bask under the sun or spend the day away staring at the horizon.

there are no shortages of restos in boracay which for me has rather become an inconvenience rather than a plus (deciding where to eat makes it so difficult!). the restaurants in D’Talipapa have a notch for cooking delicious seafood menus. thus, i wouldn’t want to miss this if i am travelling with a group. if i travel solo, this might prove to be more expensive. seafood grill of villa de oro are both affordable and delicious. the joints along d’mall have inexpensive yet mouth watering dishes.

happyhour

happy hour allows me to buy two drinks for the price of one and usually starts from 5pm until 9pm during off-peak season. a cocktail glass on hand while watching the sunset is absolutely a must. i would also prefer the round, bartender-in-the-middle type of bar (versus the likes of Club paraw or Pier one) where i can chat with the bartender and fellow guests. there is an air of personal touch on that kind of arrangement compared to just calling the waitress to get me my drink.

the best thing i love about boracay in august is that the island is caught midway between hibernation and the hype. i remember the slow, lazy morning lying on the beach. the even slower, lazier afternoons with the birds chirping and the coconut leaves whooshing with the wind. i remember watching the sunset without a single soul standing between me and the sun, just two or three sailboats taking its time crossing the seas.

i do remember it rained for a few hours in those visits, and how liberating it felt: the wet powdery white sands under my skin and the beauty of the island proudly keeping its grace as the rain kissed the shores. i would remember the famous line, “the sun always shines in boracay!” whenever i witness this.

and true enough, it did.

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