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March 1, 2012

Boracay Trip Part 3: Some Helpful Tips

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1) Climate

Boracay has two main seasons: dry and wet. It is best to go during the dry season (November to April), as White Beach is calm and very suitable for swimming and other water activities. Bulabog Beach (the other side of the island) has large winds and waves, making it suitable for wind surfing, kite flying, etc. During the rainy season (June to October), the opposite is true, with a risk of typhoons. White Beach gets large winds and waves, making water activities unsuitable.

Kite flying in Bulabog Beach

2) Money

Bring spare change – most of the vendors and tour guides (who brought my friends and me to the activity sites) do not carry change with them. You do not want to end up overpaying for the activities if unnecessary!

3) Bring Filipino-speaking friends

Although most vendors in Boracay speak decent English, if you really want to save money when haggling for activities, bring Filipino-speaking friends. Make sure to keep your mouth closed if you don’t speak Tagalog when your Filipino friends are haggling—you don’t want to get ripped off if the vendor suspects that you are a foreigner.

4) Getting to Boracay

Whether you go by plane or by boat, the port of entry for Boracay Island is the small town of Caticlan.

Getting to Boracay Island requires several modes of transportation and can be somewhat complex. Therefore, prior planning is highly recommended. Here are some steps to follow.

Step 1: Upon arrival at airport

There are 2 main airports near Boracay:

From Caticlan Airport, you can either take a motor tricycle (P40) or walk 10 minutes to Caticlan Jetty Port, where you will take a ferry to Boracay.

Motor Tricycles (not your average tricycle)

Compared to Caticlan Airport, Kalibo Airport is 90 minutes away from Caticlan’s Jetty Port. After getting off the plane, you must take a van or bus from KIA to Caticlan Jetty Port. Be sure to ask if your ticket includes a ferry ride to Boracay (P200 for a van and ferry), and how much the additional environmental taxes will be (a total of P125 on top of your tickets).

*Note: If your flight connects in Manila, you will be charged an airport tax of P200 between flights. When you leave Manila on an international flight (upon departure) you will be charged P750.

Step 2: Take the ferry once you arrive at Caticlan’s Jetty Port

Although people call them ‘ferries’, they are more like outrigger boats and leave every few minutes from Caticlan’s Jetty Port. The short boat trip to Boracay’s Jetty Port costs P20. Tourists have to pay a terminal fee of P50 and an environmental fee of P75.

*Tip: When you get off the ferry, make sure you carry your own luggage. Otherwise, it will be carried up by a staff worker and you will get charged for the labour.

 

Ferry (outrigger boat) from Caticlan’s Jetty Port to Boracay’s Jetty Port:

 

Step 3: Take a motor tricycle to your hotel

Motor tricycles await upon arrival at Boracay’s Jetty Port to bring passengers to their hotels. Tricycle fare ranges from P20 per pax (person) to P150 per trip depending where your resort is.

5) Getting Around

Short rides on busy routes, say from D’Mall to Station 3 or from Station 1 to Station 3 (to do activities like ATV or Zorb), are a standard rate of P10, but expect the tricycle driver to ask for P20 or more if you look like a foreigner.

The two main modes of transportation in Boracay are motor tricycles along the main road or walking by foot along the beaches. (Be prepared to walk on soft sand, as there are no paved sidewalks along the beachfront vendors, restaurants, etc. That can be a good thing or not depending on your preference. You will most likely walk on foot during most of your stay as everything is within close proximity.)

*Tip: Get a map of Boracay from the hotel receptionist or print one out yourself. Although Boracay is not that big, it helps to know where you are situated or if you want to find a particular landmark.

6) Accommodation

Accommodation standards vary, from 5-star hotels and resorts to a simple bed rented from a resident.

Book months in advance, especially during peak season like Christmas and New Year, as rooms tend to be more difficult to find and expensive then.

Stay at an accommodation in Station 2 if you want the full experience of (water) activities, benchfront vendors, and nightlife.

I’d recommend Boracay Garden Resort in Station 2. If you’re going with a group of 4 or more, it’d probably be cheaper to book a family room. Complimentary breakfast is included for up to 4 people.

Boracay Garden Resort Pool

7) Vendors

There are literally hundreds of vendors walking along White Beach promoting boat rides, scuba diving or snorkeling excursions, jet ski rides, etc. to tourists, and the vendors are paid a commission. Some carry racks of sunglasses and strands of huge pearls with them. These vendors are everywhere—they can be found while you are walking down the beach, sunbathing, or eating at a sidewalk restaurant.

Although these vendors can be very irritating, keep in mind that many Filipino workers are relatively underpaid and overworked, even in a tourist attraction like Boracay. In fact, I saw the deep fatigue on a waitress’s face as she took my friends’ and my orders. In another instance, a sign was posted at a restaurant (probably by the manager), saying something along the lines of “Don’t complain and work hard or we’ll hire someone else in your place.” The bottom line is, try to have some consideration and respect for the vendors keeping in mind their working conditions and  remember, we’re only visitors of the locals’ territory.

Hope you enjoy your trip experience in Boracay if you decide to travel there! And please comment below to share your experience with us, whether you’ve been to Boracay before or have any questions or concerns about Boracay!



About the Author

Elaine Lin
A Sociology major at UBC, better described as the following: E njoys capturing Kodak moments, L aughs easily, A dmires fashion, I n love with the Backstreet Boys, N ever disorganized, E ats health-consciously, L oves and gives with all her heart, I nclined to write long messages/cards, and N ot tolerant of close-minded people.





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