One of the most popular tourist destinations in the Visayas, 350 kilometers south of Manila, is the paradise island of Boracay. This island is a picturesque getaway for honeymooners, a bucket list destination for kite surfers, and dream come true for everyone in-between.
Only 7 kilometers long and 1 kilometer wide, it won’t take long to get the lay of the land on this dog bone-shaped island. There are 13 beaches on Boracay, each one more beautiful than the next. The two main beaches- White Beach and Bulabog Beach- are separated by a 1-kilometer path with shopping, restaurants, and hotels.
Fly into Kalibo Airport or Caticlan Airport on the island of Panay. From the airport, you can hop on public transport or take a short taxi to the ferry dock. Or if you’ve already booked a hotel, they’ll often offer a service where pickup and ferry tickets are included. There will be many Filipinos selling boat tickets from the airport so just follow their lead. You’ll then be taken to the Cagban Jetty where you’ll hop on a ferryboat to Boracay and your vacation will begin!
Let’s explore the best things to do in Boracay:
1. Ariel’s Point
Conquer your fear of heights with a full day of cliff diving and water sports. You’ll be whisked out onto the open waters in a longtail boat along with a dozen other thrill seeking backpackers and travelers. The boat will bring you to Ariel’s Point where you’ll climb up the rocky steps until you reach the main deck. That’s where the fun begins.
You’ll see that there are 3 planks from which you can dive, ranging from 3 meters to 15 meters. Start with a simple Pencil Dive or you might end up making a loud slapping sound when you hit the water.
If you want to play in the water but are too nervous to cliff dive, you can ascend the cliff via a bamboo ladder. There is snorkeling, kayaking, and paddle boarding to enjoy when you sign up for Ariel’s day pass. This day pass includes a lunch buffet as well as an open bar to give you some courage.
2. White Beach
Boracay’s main beach is called White Beach. The sand is powder soft, the water is crystal blue, and the coconuts are cold.
White Beach is 4 kilometers long and is divided into 3 sections: Boat Station 1, Boat Station 2, and Boat Station 3. You’ll find that hotels and restaurants use these boat stations as markers of reference. Station 1 is known to be the high-end area; Station 2 is where most of the restaurants, bars, and shopping are located; and Station 3 is the quieter area away from nightlife. Take your pick.
3. Kite Surf on Bulabog Beach
The wind strength on this beach is so strong that it whips your hair and blows sand in your eyes, but if you’re a kite surfer- this is paradise.
All day long, you’ll see kite surfers catching some serious air. Stop into one of the many kite surfing shops along the shore and they’ll hook you up with lessons and gear.
Even if you have no intentions of surfing, Bulabog Beach is only 1km away from White Beach- an easy walk if you’re curious to watch some kite surfers shred it up.
Another tip is that accommodation here tends to be a bit cheaper than on the other side of the island!
4. Puka Shell Beach (Yapak Beach)
Located on the north of the island, Puka Shell beach offers something that the other popular beaches do not: privacy. Maybe it’s because this beach doesn’t have bright white sand or maybe it’s because this beach doesn’t offer enough food and drinks- but Puka Shell beach sees far less tourists than White Beach.
You won’t find more than a couple guesthouses and cabanas for lounging on Puka Shell Beach. Play in the sand to discover shells and crabs, have a long walk, or take a quiet swim and enjoy the moment.
5. Diniwid Beach
Mosey on over to Diniwid Beach to check out the real estate. This beach has a lot to offer in terms of guesthouses right on the water! From you window, you can watch catamarans sailing in and out of the shore on the turquoise water. There are big coral rock formations to climb on and plenty of quaint cabanas to read a book under.
There are a of couple bars, some of which play live music, that are perfect for chilling out with some food and drinks. While the beach isn’t the biggest on the island, it sure does offer a relaxing day of swimming and sun- which is what you came here for right?
6. Zipline Boracay
You can get stunning views of the whole island without having to do any hiking or physical excursion! Visit the zipline park where a cage-like gondola will pull you up to the top. From there, you’ll be harnessed in on your belly and released to zip at racing speeds down to the bottom.
It’s a quick zip line which means you don’t have to dedicate you’re whole day to this one adventure, but you still get a taste of adrenaline and some pristine views off the shore.
7. Ride the Zorb
Have you ever heard of zorbing? Here’s how it works. There is a huge plastic ball sitting at the top of a very steep hill. 1 person climbs inside of that ball, is sealed up and is then hurled down a ramp, careening through a grass path like an outdoor bowling ball while bouncing about inside. Meanwhile at the bottom of the hill, your friends are lying in wait to be run over by the huge rolling zorb. It’s madness.
You can get in on this crazy fun activity at Zipline Boracay where you can just come for the zorb, or make it a package deal with the zipline.
8. Go Island Hopping
Join an all-day 6-hour island hopping tour on top of a classic catamaran equipped with a professional captain and attentive staff.
Most island tours stop by same islands and beaches: Balinghai Beach, Crystal Cove, Crocodile Island, Magic island West Cove, and Puka Beach.
The day will be spent snorkeling, jumping off the boat into the water, tanning on the deck, and coming to shore to explore. Of course, there will be a lunch buffet with fresh mango, barbequed chicken, sides, and beverages to keep your energy up!
You can book tours like this all around the island at hotels, tourist desks, or from Filipino guys hustling with flyers.
From any lounge chair or barstool on White Beach, you can look out onto the water and see parasails catapulting travelers and holidaymakers into the sky, as the big parachute is pulled behind a swerving speedboat. Not only is it thrilling to be so high up in the air while traveling at relatively high speeds, but you also get a stunning bird’s eye view of the island.
There is no need to book a parasail trip days in advance, as there are multiple boats ready to go all day. Simply walk down to the beach and someone will offer you a tour before you can even ask.
10. Boracay Pub Crawl
Want to meet some new friends on the island? Want to get a lay of the land to discover the best pubs this piece of paradise has to offer? Want to get free shots and a free Boracay t-shirt? You should have answered ‘yes’ to all of those questions because this pub-crawl is awesome.
The Boracay Pub Crawl has been going strong for almost 10 years now and has no intention of slowing down any time soon. Join the crew by crawling to 5 bars, playing games and enjoying drinks at each stop. The pub-crawl uses the hashtag ‘turning strangers into friends’ which is so true. For the rest of the trip, you’ll have more people to hang out with and new buddies to go on adventures with.
11. Bat Caves
You’re in for more than just bats and caves when you sign up for a Bat Cave adventure. First of all, to access the bat caves you need to go on a trek through the beautiful jungle. Walk along a well-trodden dirt path and you’ll come to a man-made cave that was carved into the cliff hundreds of years ago. Since that point, bats have taken shelter here. You can see hundreds of them clinging to the top of the cave, every once in a while releasing their grip to flap around.
Some tours will take you to the bat caves via boat- if that’s what you prefer.
12. Steampunk Boracay Bite Club Burgers
Come hungry. Come extremely hungry. The burgers at Bite Club Burgers are without a doubt the juiciest, most outrageously delicious burgers not only on this island, but also in this country.
The menu works in a ‘build your own burger’ type of style where customers can choose their buns, the cook of the burger, toppings, and best of all, sauces such as Cheddar Cheese Cream or Hickory Smoked Barbeque Sauce.
At Bite Club Burgers, you can also choose the size of your burger- this is where it can get wild. Here, they have what’s called the Triple X burger, which is a 1lb burger big enough for 2-3 people to share. Order if you dare!
13. Tirta Signature Massage
You’ve never had such a relaxing, detoxifying, and soul-purifying massage like the one you will receive at Tirta Signature Massage. Their 1.5 hour signature massage combines all of the best styles of massage in one: Swedish Massage, foot reflexology, therapeutic aroma massage, and a process called “lymphatic drainage” where they press on your lymph nodes to release the toxins. When it’s all over, come back to reality while sipping a homemade cup of ginger tea.
This massage is perfect for couples as it is held in a romantic villa setting complete with an outdoor bathtub and rain shower. There is a koi pond, beautiful music and lush green fauna all around. It doesn’t get any better than this.
14. Filipino Cooking Class
Go home with more than just a Boracay tote bag; go home with some cooking skills that will stick with you for a lifetime! Sign up for a morning cooking class and you’ll have the pleasure to accompany the Filipino chef to the morning market where you will collect fresh ingredients to bring back to the kitchen.
You’ll learn to cook 2 main dishes, an appetizer and a dessert. Then- the best part- you get to eat what you’ve cooked for lunch! Most of these classes throw in a couple free beers or soft drinks with your lunch as well.
But the learning doesn’t stop there! Most cooking classes will send you home with a printed or digital cookbook so you can keep the Filipino flavors alive.
15. Do Some Shopping
Handicraft stores and clothing shops line the path between White Beach and Bulabog Beach. This outdoor bizarre, often referred to as ‘D Mall’, offers souvenirs such as paintings, jewelry, and the ever popular, Boracay refrigerator magnet. There are proper shops here as well, where you can buy new flip-flops, bathing suits, and clothing to wear on the beach. There are also shops here that sell beach and water accessories such as floating rafts and buckets for sandcastles.
You’ll find plenty of western food such as French fries and sandwiches, as well as whole roasted pig known as ‘lechon’ in the Philippines.
16. Learn to Freedive
Freediving is essentially where you learn to become a fish, diving down in the ocean while learning how to hold and control your breath for minutes on end. Sound scary? Impossible, even? You’d be surprised. Working with highly skilled and super passionate freedive instructors, you can push yourself beyond what you thought your body was capable of.
There are a few shops here that offer freediving courses that will teach you how to dive without breathing apparatuses, explain the limits of depth, pass on techniques and more. You can do a beginners course and/or an advanced freediving course.
17. Ilig Iligan Beach
Hire a tricycle taxi from Station 2 on White Beach and they will deliver you to the idyllic llig lligan Beach. This beach is relatively unbeknownst to travelers, which means more space and more attentive service for you!
There are a few grass hut cabanas that line the shore with bamboo lounge chairs. Lay your towel on a chair, order a fresh coconut from one of the vendors, and enjoy this secluded beach. The sand is beautiful and the water is crystal clear- it’s a wonder why more tourists aren’t rushing to get here.
18. Go Scuba Diving
Visit the island from April to June and you will experience some of the best diving of your life. During this time, the water is warm and the visibility extends from 30-50m. With a tropical coral reef that is home to more biodiversity than anywhere else in the world, you are in for a show. You can expect to see sharks, tunas, rays, and tons of colorful fish.
You’ll find a plethora of dive shops on the island offering similar packages and visiting similar dive locations, so just walk around and see where you can get the best deal.
Currents in these waters are mild so Boracay makes for an ideal spot for beginners to take their open water diving course.
19. Philippine Mermaid Swimming Academy
A dream come true for both kids and adults, you can transform into a mermaid on the island of Boracay. Slip into a mermaid tail to turn your legs into sleek scales capable of gliding through the water and your feet into powerful fins that propel you to amazing depths.
Mermaid Swimming Academy is supposed to be a fun, artistic, and entertaining activity that puts a smile on your face. Taught by certified mermaid instructors through the International Mermaid Swimming Instructors Association (that’s a real thing, now), you’ll learn how to move, pose, and swim like a mermaid. And of course, there will be lots of pictures taken.
20. Island Nature Tour
Boracay Adventures Company offers a glimpse into Boracay wildlife on their 2-hour island tour. You’ll spend this time exploring hard-to-reach areas of the island that you wouldn’t otherwise have accessed on foot. You’ll visit the highest mountain on the island which gives your incredible views clear enough to see the outline and shape of the island you’re standing upon.
You’ll visit a wildlife center that is home to a freshwater crocodile, spiders, birds, and monkeys. The tour guides point out interesting fauna and tell you fun facts about the biodiversity of the island. The end of the tour will take you to Puka Shell Beach to watch the sun go down.
21. Willy’s Rock
Special touches that makes Boracay so unique are map-worthy natural markers such as Willy’s Rock. From Station 1 on White Beach, you should be able to peer to the right and see a big volcanic rock not too far from the shore with humans climbing all over it. This is Willy’s Rock.
It may not seem too special, but have a closer look. The locals have taken the time to carve stairs into this huge hunk of volcanic rock and in traditional Filipino fashion, have adorned it with a giant Catholic statue.
Photographers love Willy’s Rock for the strange structure makes for awesome photos. You can also take pretty magical portraits on the rock with the open water behind you. At sunset, Willy’s Rock casts a gorgeous shadow into the water which offers the best photo opportunity of all.
22. Crocodile Island
Don’t worry, there aren’t actually any crocodiles on this island! As you will see when approaching the island, it genuinely resembles a large crocodile both in shape and texture from the foliage. Surrounding this bizarre island is some of the best snorkeling in Boracay. The reef here has been undisturbed as there is no construction and the presence of many tourists is scarce. You are bound to see some amazing underwater scenery and wildlife.
23. Crystal Cove Island
20 minutes from the shore lays Crystal Cove Island- a small island with pristine white sand beaches and quirky huts, play places and sculptures scattered all around. When you first set foot on the island, it will feel like you’re in an abandoned jungle camp of sorts as the structures are rickety and falling apart. This is what gives Crystal Island its curious charm.
While you’re there, you can snorkel or explore some of the island’s caves where collections of crystals have formed. Some of these caves are dead ends, but some of them are passageways through to the other side of the island. It’s a strange experience that is definitely worth a visit.
24. Smoke Hookah
Kasbah Moroccan restaurant offers cozy seating right on the beach where you can smoke hookah as the sun goes down. The staff are really knowledgeable about their hookahs and will help recommend flavor combinations. The staff also are very attentive to the coals, rotating and changing them when needed.
You can order some fantastic Moroccan food her as well, including mezze plates that are out of the world delicious. They’ve also got cocktails, beer, and live music.
25. Fusion Sports Bar
Drink, eat, laugh, and chill out at Fusion Sports Bar. For food, this place hits the western nail on the head, especially with their chicken wings. After a long day in the sun, you can chill out on beanbag chairs to watch a movie on the projector.
They’ve got huge flat screens showing sports games round the clock that are best when accompanied by a bucket of beer. There are beer pong tables and billiard tables setting a upbeat social scene. Come for poker night to meet new people, or come for BBQ night where they roast a whole pig (lechon).
The owners are always around to give the place a personal touch.