Best Boracay Beach Vacation
If you are looking for the ultimate tropical beach vacation, pack your bags for White Beach on the palm studded Philippine island of Boracay. Have you ever walked on talcum power? Spend your holiday lazing on this white sandy Boracay Beach and enjoy the warm water and the Philippines’ perfect weather. The 2.5 miles of White Beach have been called the “finest beach in the world.” After you have one of the best days of your life playing in the sun, get ready to party after dinner. This barefoot island in the Western Visayas caters to a wide range of fun, from late nights to family entertainment.
The natural beauty of White Beach is why you must be willing to travel nearly a full day from the United States for your beach vacation to Boracay Island. If you decide to make the trip, you will find everything you want right on the beach: activities, nightlife, food, and obviously beach resorts. Swimming from the beach in Boracay is great. There is no current, the water very gradually becomes deeper and generally it’s flat and calm. The sand on White Beach is brighter and finer than most of the archipelago’s other beaches. The texture of White Beach makes it feel like you are walking through baby powder. It’s unlikely you have previously seen or visited a beach like this. It will be one of the best beach vacations of your life.
Where is Boracay Beach? 11°97′N 121°92′E
Cheap exotic vacation, a beach spot in the Philippines
The famed beaches of Boracay are in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines. This small tropical island is about 200 miles south of Manila and just slightly more than a mile from the Panay Island. In recent years, travel magazines and agencies can’t give awards fast enough to this exotic island’s beaches.
[pullquote]A barangay is the native Filipino term for a village, ward or district in the Philippines. Independent and well organized villages were found by Spanish explorers in the 16th century, when they arrived in the Philippines. These were called barangays, a Malay word that means sailboat.[/pullquote]
Boracay is a very small intimate island, less than a mile wide and only 4.5 miles long with a population of 16,000. There are only three barangays, (Balabag, Yapak, and Manoc-Manoc), on the entire island. Boracay is in the Malay municipality of the Aklan Province. Both Aklan’s provincial government and the Philippine Tourism Authority share the administration of the exotic white Boracay beaches. In addition to the possibly having the best beach in the world, this island is also known as a top “relaxation” destination with discos in the sand as well.
Is the award winning White Beach the best beach in the world?
The popularity of this tropical paradise is increasing exponentially. According to the Philippine Information Agency, in 2016 the number of tourist arrivals to Boracay Island was 1,725,000! That is 10.6% more than the previous year. Visitors to the island are split nearly equally between domestic and international arrivals. As such, there are a wide range of facilities to meet such a diverse crowd and their respective expectations. Whatever your budget, if you are a sun worshipping beach bum and don’t mind sharing with others, this is paradise. But- if you are looking for a private getaway, maybe this beach destination isn’t for you. It’s crowded because of the powder like sandy beaches. In addition to White Beach, there are over a dozen other of the best Pacific ocean beaches on this Philippine Island. Unlike most other beach spots, the Boracay beaches do not get boiling hot in the afternoon. If you are looking for a secluded beach spot, check out Corn Island in Nicaragua.
When to Visit Boracay Beach
Boracay and the Philippines have two seasons that are related to the trade winds, Amihan and Habagat. The peak time of year to visit the beaches of Boracay is during Amihan. Amihan is the period of a “cool northeast wind”. While there may be huge variations every year, typically the Amihan weather pattern in the Philippines begins in November and runs through June. The season is is characterized by a prevailing wind from the east, little or no rainfall and by moderate temperatures.
[pullquote]Amihan is the first creature to inhabit the universe, in Tagalog folklore, with the gods Aman Sinaya and Bathala. Amihan is a bird in the legend that saves the first humans from a bamboo plant [/pullquote]
White Beach, the main tourism area and beach spot of Boracay, is sheltered from the wind due to its location on the western side of the tropical island during the high season. The beautiful water just off the beach is glassy throughout Amihan season. The best diving and wind surfing on Boracay happens across the island at Bulabog Beach on the east coast. When the weather turns in June, the Habagat, southwest monsoon, begins. In the Philippines, this means frequent heavy rainfall with hot and humid weather.
Popular Beach Vacation Party Destination
Boracay’s hotel pricing structure clearly reflect the two seasons. Low season is from June through November. Average prices increase by 30% in high season. It should be noted that you can negotiate prices, but that means you are comfortable showing up with no plans. If you are just out of college and don’t care about schedules, that might be a good idea. That flexibility probably no longer exists or seems appealing when you are on 3 weeks vacation per year.
The influx of new travelers in recent years to Boracay, is obviously due to the accolades it consistently receives. You can call Boracay the following: 2014 Best Beach in Asia (TripAdvisor), 2012 Best Island in the World (Travel + Leisure), 2nd Best Beach in the World for 2011 (TripAdvisor), 2016 Best Island in the World (Condé Nast), and countless others. You should get the picture. It is on every list that tries to quantify, purely subjective.
In the morning and early afternoon, this dog bone shaped island will be comparatively peaceful. Besides the more sophisticated jet set, a lot of the foreign tourists are a hard partying hedonistic backpacker crowd. Early morning offers a good chance for tranquility or a quiet stroll. As the day progresses, the beach comes to life. Crowds will start to gather on the beach in the afternoon, as people start to get up and play. The most popular beach game in Boracay is volleyball. Tourists and locals generally play together and have fun. If you are looking to join a soccer/football game, go by Willy’s Rock in Station 1, where the beach is wider. By the time the sun starts to go down, White Beach will be a full on party. Due to Boracay’s proximity to the equator, the sun sets at about 6pm every day. It is an impressive sight, so expect the everybody to be out and more than a couple people taking pictures.
Boracay Activities: At the beach
As the tourist authority says, “the code in Boracay is strictly informal”. Like most islands, the attitude is pleasantly relaxed. That is code for slow by the way. It also means shoes are optional at best. The island’s easy inviting vibe leads to such pursuits as massages in hammocks or dancing the night away on a disco on the beach. You are free to let go every night, until sunrise at this party place.
Unquestionably, Boracay offers an active nightlife. Don’t forget, the day time festivities are why you want to plan your next beach vacation here. There are over 350 tourism companies that are looking to entertain you. Sailing, horseback riding, snorkeling, kite boarding, cliff diving, scuba diving, mountain biking, parasailing etc are widely available. Make the time for a quick trek to the interior of the island and continue until you see the island’s rocky cliffs or hidden coves.
Boracay also has an 18-hole golf course designed by the Australian Graham Marsh. There are more than 2,000 hotel rooms available on the island, and something for everybody. The finely tuned tourism industry has been developed to ensure all visitors are catered to and needs met.
Party Late Night at the Award Winning White Beach
For a little more than a mile, in the central portion of White Beach, there is a footpath. This beachfront path separates the bars and restaurants from the beach. Walking along “the path” in White Beach you will find restaurants and pubs catering to all nationalities and tastes. At night, the beach path gets extremely busy. The bars and pubs pick up around 9pm. They stay active until roughly midnight, when people either turn into Cinderella or hit the clubs.
Businesses, shops and bars are directly on the beach to the north and south of “the path”. The path is basically a promenade without the pomp and circumstance of paving. The island’s main road is connected to the path in several places along the way.
There is no generally agreed upon origin of the name Boracay, as there are a couple plausible stories. One unlikely version, comes from the Spanish epoch, believes the name is from “sagay”, shell and “boray”, seed. I don’t see that. Another slightly more plausible explanation is that Boracay is derived from the local word for white cotton, “borac”. It’s a bit of a stretch, but the color of white cotton is relatively close to the color of the Boracay beach.
Best Island Destination: Boracay Beach in the Philippines
It is known, that the first settlers of Boracay were the Ati, a Negrito people that spoke a Visayan language. This language was Inati. A number of other languages were brought to the island by later settlers. These included: “Aklanon (as Boracay is part of Aklan province), Hiligaynon (Ilonggo), Kinaray-a, Capiznon, other Visayan languages, Filipino, and English.”
Back around the year 1900, the Tirol family became the owners of a considerable portion of Boracay and planted fruit trees, coconuts and other greenery. Lamberto Hontiveros Tirol was a judge on the neighboring island of Panay, so the development and cultivation of the rest of the island followed quickly. A war movie, Too Late the Hero, was filmed on location in Boracay in 1970. Most notable about the film, “after all costs were deducted, the film made an overall loss of $6,765,000, making it one of the biggest money losers in the history of ABC Films.” It may have been bad news for ABC films, but Boracay’s tourism industry started here. A decade later, backpackers found the island. Fast forward another decade and Boracay is an over night sensation and the best beach in the world.
Boracay holds it own in conversations that debate the merits of beach vacation destinations, amongst the well heeled beach snobs or connoisseurs. Typically, Boracay has more of an exotic wow factor and a distinct price advantage over more popular beach destinations in the South Pacific, like Bora Bora, or the Caribbean. Boracay’s tropical beaches are are fringed with clear blue waters and boast stunning white sand beaches. From the Americas it is unquestionably a hassle to get to. However, it’s only an hour from the capital Manila.
Affordable exotic trip to Boracay Beach, but what a distance
If you elect to have a beach vacation here, you are going to be amazed in general. However, it is still a bit on the “developing” side still. There is an acute shortage of ATMs on the island. There were less than ten not long ago. When they run out of cash, they are not refilled until the following business day. So imagine weekends and holidays. Plan ahead. Be forewarned that not all machines accept all cards, ie a visa machine may not accept your plastic from master card.
Speaking of ATMs, expect to be seen as a walking ATM by the locals. Philosophically and personally that may annoy you, but get over it. Unless you speak Tagalog, you are going to be paying more than locals. Don’t let it bother you, it happens in the best Caribbean beach spots as well. Enjoy the beaches and unwind for a little bit. Maybe try one of the mangos. The Philippines’ climate is ideal for growing the perfect sweet mango.
One last thing to keep in mind, is that most of the foreign tourists who had been here have made Boracay their yearly destination. Others have chosen to live on this haven. It’s a strong choice for an exotic beach destination.
Thank you very much to Natalia and Evan for the photos. They have settled into San Diego after leading the expat lifestyle for years in Asia. It’s been a pleasure getting to know them. Natalia is in the process of launching an exciting new travel brand.