When I was making a list of the places that I wanted to visit in the Philippines, one place was a given: the white sand, blue watered island of Boracay. The island paradise beckoned each day from the travel inspiration accounts I follow on Instagram, and all you have to do is Google ‘Boracay’ and you will agree it is stunning beyond anything you’ve probably seen before.
After doing quite a lot of research into different ways to get to Boracay from where we were in Bohol, we settled on two options.
The difficulty with Boracay is two-fold, firstly (and quite obviously), it is an island, and a very small island at that. And secondly, it is more of a luxury tourism destination (see any ‘best beach honeymoon’ list) so things tend to be on the expensive side – and that even includes transport there.
It seems most tourists tend to fly from Manila (or Cebu) to the closest airport to Boracay Island on the neighbouring island of Panay, and then you are required to take a short ferry from there to Boracay.
So factoring in both time and money (the two most important factors after ‘experience’ when travelling!), we were left with either:
- Taking a ferry from Bohol to Cebu, then a ferry to Iloilo (on Panay), then a car/bus to Caticlan, then a ferry to Boracay. Price-tag for this journey P1500 each ($US31), and would take 36 hours; or
- Taking a ferry to Cebu, flying to Caticlan, then getting a ferry to Boracay. Price-tag for this P13,000 ($US275), and would take 8 hours.
We chose option one, not just because of the much smaller price tag, but also because taking the overnight ferry to Iloilo actually sounded like a lot of fun!
(Before you laugh too hard, the shipping line is pronounced ‘Chock-a-liong’!
I’m actually surprised at how easy the ferry system here is – the tickets were simple to buy, and the boats easy to board. The picture above is the non-enclosed bunk option, which was jam-packed for our journey, and by morning it was a little on the soggy side considering it rained solidly overnight. Thankfully, we chose the slightly more expensive option (I’m talking P600/$US12 each) of a private indoor room, which came with a double bed, a TV (all Filipino channels) and its own bathroom.
As is apparently quite regular, the ferry arrived into Iloilo late – about 2 hours after it’s schedule. We had originally decided to take the Ceres bus from there the 5 hours north to Caticlan, however, once the bartering began at the ferry terminal with the private car drivers, the price was actually lower than the bus ticket would have been. So for P400/$US8.50 each we had a driver take us directly to the ferry terminal in Caticlan.
Only one connection left, and that was the small outrigger ferry from Caticlan to Boracay:
Lifejackets are mandatory on the short five-minute journey, but the weather played along on the day so were thankfully unnecessary!
As mentioned before, Boracay can be pretty expensive, especially if you’re wanting to stay anywhere along White Beach – hence we actually booked on the Eastern side of the island instead, along Bulabog Beach at Aissatou Beach Resort. The resort is run by a German kite-surfer who runs his kite-surfing business from there also – highly recommended.
Boracay itself is a water-sports lover’s paradise. Head over to White Beach and you will find everything from parasailing and stand-up paddle boarding, to snorkelling and banana-boating. At sunset, we wandered up to the Spiderhouse bar passed Station 1 for happy hour and wood-fired pizza – both a must if you’re in the area. The walk only takes about 20-minutes, and you walk through a cave in the rocks and along the crystal clear waterfront.
Our three days spent in Boracay were of course marred a little by the weather, but that’s what happens when you come to this part of the world in rainy season. We were going to go SUP boarding, but the water was too rough that day. Also, the entire island floods quite easily, so journeys to other parts of the island involved slowly wandering through knee-deep drainage water along the roads (when we couldn’t justify paying for a tuktuk!).
Overall, I’m glad we made the trek to Boracay, but it’s not the best (see: cheapest) place for a backpacker to head to, especially given the limited and costly modes of transport just to get there. I’ve made a note to come back here once I’ve won the lottery though…
Have you been to Boracay? I’d love to hear what you got up to while there!