White Beach Station 1 in Boracay, The Philippines
A holiday on the island of Boracay should ideally be as stress-free as possible; after all, you’re there to unwind.
If you have been enticed by our Insta-glam pictures of Boracay and more picturesque shots you’ve seen online, use our checklist as your “cheat sheet” for some of the best of dining, shopping and watersports spots.
Here, we scout seven of our favourite spots and activities on this beach destination in the Philippines.
1. ISLAND-HOP AROUND BORACAY
For a chance to view sights like Puka Beach and the isles of Boracay, be sure to go on an island hopping boat trip while you’re there.
Be warned that prices vary across the beach. You are likely to be approached by many touts along Station 1 and 2, the most popular beach stretch on Boracay, who may charge different prices for the island-hopping package.
The easiest solution is to get a fixer to schedule all of your outdoor activities for you. This will reduce the overall cost of renting the gear and the return boat ride for every trip out to the sea; give the guide tips of around 10 per cent of the total cost for each day.
Puka beach at Boracay in the Philippines
Prices: From PHP1,600 (about 45.95) each for island-hopping, inclusive of snorkeling gear. If you can’t dive or snorkel well, try helmet diving at an additional PHP 700 each; you’ll wear a 30kg helmet that allows you to get up-close with the fishes and stay submerged underwater for around 20 to 30 minutes.
2. CLIFF-DIVE AT ARIEL’S POINT
Sign up at Station 1, Boracay Beach Club, Tel: 63 36 288 6770, website: www.arielspoint.com
Make a day trip to Ariel’s Point for cliff diving. Besides being a scenic spot for lunch, Ariel’s Point can be a suitable dive spot for beginners too. With five platforms ranging from two metres to a peak of 20 metres’ height from sea level, those new to cliff diving can start at the lower levels for a taste of this extreme sport.
Prices: PHP 1,600 (approximately S$45.90) for a day trip to Ariel’s Point. This covers the boat ride, a buffet lunch and a free flow of drinks. If the weather permits, you can go kayaking and snorkeling; the package includes equipment loan for these water sports too. The boat to Ariel’s Point departs from Station 1 at 11.30am daily. Be sure to register at least a day ahead at Boracay Beach Club to secure your spot.
With most bars and clubs staying open ‘til 5am, seize this chance to party by the sea. You’ll be spoilt for choice along White Beach, the main beach stretch of Boracay, which is sectioned into Stations 1, 2 and 3. You’ll find wind-surfing, sailing and luxury resorts like Shangri-La located at Station 1, while most of the shops, beachfront bars and restaurants are at the densely-populated Station 2. The quieter and less crowded Station 3 is currently in the midst of development.
Popular spots along Station 2 include Summer Place, which is typically packed with gyrating party-goers by midnight. If you prefer something a little more laidback, why not sip a cocktail or two by the beach; our favourite spots include Bamboo Lounge at Station 1.
Watch the fire dancers, a common sight along Beach Station 1 and 2, while chilling out at beach bars like Bamboo lounge
Sizzling tapas and cool drinks await you at this beach bar and restaurant. Dip your feet in the sand as you stare out at perfect views of the sea, with your drink of choice in your hand. You’re also likely see “fire dancers” performing their daredevil stunts at the bars too.
Prices: From PHP 120 for a hotplate dish of sizzling squid (above, right) at Bamboo Lounge.
4. GRAB A FRUIT SHAKE
Jonah's Fruit Shake and Snack Bar, Station 1, next to Willy’s Rock
What better way to beat the heat than with a cool fruit slushie at the beach? Grab your drink at Jonah's Fruit Shake and Snack Bar, reputed to served some of the best fruit shakes on the island. Frothy and freshly made, many deem a trip incomplete without these sensational shakes.
Prices: From PHP 95 for an Avocado milk shake.
5. DINE ON AUTHENTIC SPANISH FARE
Dos Mestizos, Station 3, +63 36 288 5786
Eat well at one of Boracay island’s finest restaurants, located at Station 3. Dos Mestizos serves up tantalising plates of authentic tapas like gambas al ajillo (shrimps sauteed in olive oil, garlic), Spanish sausages and albondigas (beef meatballs), along with hearty servings of paella that are ideal for a large group to share. With its cosy interiors and a friendly, affable maître d', you’ll feel right at home at the restaurant too.
Prices: From PHP 240 for mixed green salad.
6. DON’T MISS OUT ON THE DESSERTS
Dulcinea, Station 2; Real Coffee and Tea Cafe, Station 2
Skip the calorie-counting, else you’ll rue missing out the sweet treats on the island. We love the traditional churros from Dulcinea at Station 2. Made fresh upon order, these churros come with a warm and oozy dark chocolate dip; you’ll be tempted to drink the remaining chocolate up after you’re done with the Spanish doughnut.
Another sweet find are the calamansi muffins from Real Coffee and Tea Cafe. The Californian mother-and-daughter team Nadine Rosaia and Lee Rosaia first made these out of “necessity”, back when these were the only citrus fruit available on the island. Plus, coffee fiends can grab their caffeine dose here too.
Prices: PHP 105 for churros at Dulcinea and PHP 45 for the calamansi muffins from Real Coffee and Tea Cafe. Once located along a small alley, Real Coffee has moved to its new location beside Summer Place at Station 2 since September 1, 2013.
If you’ve had enough of your slogan beach tees, shop for souvenirs that you’ll actually want to keep.
Top shopping spots include quality handmade leather accessories from Django Leather Art and Craft.
From what we saw, prices are bargainable if you buy more than one item; this writer spent a total of PHP 700 on two handmade leather bracelets and a bi-fold leather wallet. The “foot bikini” is its quirkiest design. More dramatic than an anklet, go barefoot in style with this fun accessory adorning your foot.
Lampirong at Station 2, D’mall de Boracay is another top artisanal craft shop. Named after the lampirong oyster shells that they use, this shop sells exquisite jewellery boxes, purses and other gifts crafted out of seashells by local artisans.
(L-R): Lampirong, Nothing but H20 and Django at White Beach, Boracay
Update your bikini collection with a visit to Nothing but H20, a Philippines-based swimwear chain. Don’t miss out on the funky ikat print swimsuits from Anemone, its in-house label. Besides all the beach buys that you need, the store also stocks Toms and more summer-worthy merchandise.
Fly to Boracay from Singapore via Tiger Air’s direct flights to Kalibo International Airport. Flights start from $80 one-way, exclusive of taxes and other charges. Go to www.tigerair.com for more information.