Considered one of the most idyllic areas of the Philippines, Boracay is an incredibly beautiful place. The beautiful beaches, good food, weather, hotels, makes it a perfect place for a few days or even more.
From what I hear it wasn’t always this way. It had gone downhill years ago and then was closed in 2018 and then of course the pandemic. But from what I’ve seen, the work did it well. It’s really been transformed into a pretty incredible place.
So for those who are interested or planning to visit. We help you figure out some of the best things to do with your time here. Or even not, as relaxing on the beach is perfectly great too.
Quite possibly the most famous and beautiful of the beaches and likely the one most folks will see by default. The World-famous White Beach has the silkiest, smoothest sand in Boracay and it’s also the one that is close to the popular beachside hotels as well.
The beach stretches along the coast of Boracay north of the ferry landing along the various stations. It’s also got some great restaurants and shopping opportunities too! It’s where we spent the most of our time during our stay in Boracay especially since our hotel was beachside in Station 2.
Puka Shell Beach
Located on the top end of Boracay, Puka shell beach is named for the seashell that washes up along the beach (and used for those lovely necklaces). The beach is also more secluded than others with a high wall of vegetation that runs behind it making it feel far more remote. It is a popular beach though with lots of day trippers, especially those who visit as part of a “island hopping” excursion. So if you are island hopping check to see if you’ll be visiting here anyway!
Puka beach is more rough in texture than white beach or other beaches due to the shells that wash up here. Given its location and beauty it’s worth a visit, just don’t expect that you’ll be here alone.
Mount Luho Viewpoint
The highest point on the island, Mount Luho, gives you some of the best panoramic views over Boracay. At Mount Luho to get the best views head up to the viewpoint which is a tower up in this area. You’ll get nearly 360˚ views over the area (there’s another taller tower going up next to it but it seems private). There’s also a small ”zoo” here too although it’s a bit sad. Price to access the tower is 150 pesos.
One of the most common water crafts in Boracay are the paraw sailboats that ply the beautiful waters off white beach. The boats are fun to ride any time of day but the perfect time is around sunset. The activity and serene moments are a perfect activity with a significant other or even good friends. Be sure to negotiate prices and times ahead of time for paraw sailing if it’s high on your to-do list.
Cujo’s Keyhole is a natural bridge located on the east side of Boracay. It’s a popular tourist attraction with visitors to Boracay and for that reason we made it a point to come out here as well. The area around it is quite lovely with manicured green areas and lovely beaches.
The arch itself is cool to see, but it’s also blocked off so you can’t actually get close to the arch these days. It’s also very popular so if you want an unobstructed photo you may have to wait in a long line (there was a bus here of tourists when we visited).
To be honest, it’s not worth coming out just to visit the keyhole unless you are planning to be out here for other things as well. It was cool, but with the restrictions and crowds a bit of a let down.
Located on the east side of Boracay, the windy Bulabog beach is beautiful and famous for kitesurfing. And boy are there a lot of kitesurfers, I would be a little nervous about running into someone. But if you are not me, you can take your hand at it here, and even rent equipment or take lessons.
The beach also has a “local landmark” for a bent coconut tree. There were a lot of folks lining up to take photos by and on the tree. I suppose I haven’t seen many bent coconut trees on the island, but it didn’t seem like it would be as unique as folks made it out to be.
Located on the northwest side of Boracay, Balinghai is a beautiful rocky beach that feels very secluded. It’s located around a rocky outcropping from the Shangri-la, but without the high priced costs of visiting there.
The rocks are huge, but that’s only one of the many draws of the beach. It is also popular as one of the best places for snorkeling to see sea life in the area. Overall to be honest I was a bit disappointed with the sea life in Boracay so there’s benefit to doing it here compared to other spots.
Getting here takes a bit more work I found. There’s a few entrances, the one that we were taken to was along a small dirt road village. Which was fun in its own right.
Crystal Cove Island
One of a set of small islands off the coast of Boracay, Crystal Cove is a private island with several fun things to explore in the area. Most folks will probably visit here as part of an island hopping tour. The island itself requires an entrance fee of P300 to come and explore the areas of the island. If it’s part of your tour, you can stay on the beach area without a charge however.
The main attraction of the islands are the two coves that you can explore within the island. The island itself is not large so it’s certainly possible to visit both while here. Cove 2 has options for swimming if you prefer or want to just visit one. Cove 1 requires heading down a set of stairs and the only way back up is the same stairs. I found it to be very slippery and a bit crowded but worth a quick look.
Beyond that there is some food and some other places to watch and photo opportunities.
Island Hopping Tours
One of the top things to do in Boracay, you’ll find folks trying to sell Island-hopping tours anywhere you go across Boracay. And it’s definitely worth doing at least one. Many of them are pretty similar, a few stops, lunch, a few more. But what they do can vary, so it’s important to research.
Island hopping is a slight misnomer too as several of the stops are really on the island of Boracay.
First, Find out which stops the tour is scheduled to visit. Not all of them are going to visit the same places. And some may just take you to several beaches on Boracay. So if you want to do cliff diving at Ariel’s Point, you’ll want to make sure you visit.
Second. Shop around. Most people are just agents for tour companies, so prices can vary for the same tour. Be sure to shop around (or negotiate) to get a reasonable price.
You have the option of doing a group or private trip. For private it’s going to be pricey but you’ll have more flexibility. Group trips tend to be packed as much as they can. So if you are fine with bigger groups you can definitely save.
Located on the east side of Boracay (close to the keyhole), Ilig-Iligan beach is known for some beautiful sand and surprisingly far quieter than many of the other similar beaches. It’s also known for having some deeper water closer to the coast as well. This can be a plus or a minus depending on what you want!
It’s a fun place to laze on the beach (it’s shocking how few people were here), or a good place to swim or snorkel on the water. Balinghai beach is probably preferred for snorkeling if you are time-limited (more sea-life). However, this is a good beach to check out if you are on this side of the island.
Located off Station 1 in Boracay, Willy’s rock is a small rock out-cropping that houses a small virgin mary statue. The statue itself is a popular spot for tourists to visit and you’ll often see folks waiting to get their photo with the statue here.
The rock is accessible all day long but it’s easiest to go at low tide when it’s an easy walk out to the stairs up to the statue. However, this is also the most popular time as well! So you’ll have to contend with more visitors now. But don’t worry if you’re ok with it, the water isn’t too deep at high tide and you can wade up here pretty easily.
The crystal clear water is pretty spectacular in Boracay. And boy is there a lot to do. You can swim, snorkel, or scuba dive. You can take a banana boat, sail boat, kiteboarding, jet skiing, paraglide or more! One of the best parts of Boracay is that it’ll be a lot cheaper than many other similar islands in other countries.
I did find a few of the things to be pricier than I expected, such as jet skiing being pretty similar to some places in the United States as well. Scuba Diving and Snorkeling are very popular as well. You can check out a few of the dive shops in the area to visit some of the popular dive sites around the island.
For those going to other islands you may find the options here limited compared to those places. So if you are time or budget limited you may want to save your drives for later.
Most of the places on the island can be done independently. Actually quite a few probably are a reasonable walk from your accommodations. On the island there are options for buses, tricycles, and even motor-bikes (we rode on the back of ones when we got lost at one point). One thing I like about the tricycle rides on Boracay is the electric vehicles. I think it’s a positive move for reducing pollution in the area as well.
Be sure to negotiate if you are going this way. You’ll get a better price on the street, as your hotel will add in a booking fee of their own.
Where to Stay
If you want to explore the top things in Boracay you definitely have to stay here for a couple days. Actually they are pretty adamant on recording your lodging when you go and come from the island as well.
The island has lodging all over the island. Some of the highest end places are isolated from most of the main areas people tend to congregate. Hotels such as the Shangri-la are basically their own bubble up north.
For most people staying on the island you’ll stay in the areas along the beach running north of the ferry terminal. Here you’ll see the areas divided into 3 stations. Supposedly as you go north it’s nicer but I didn’t really find it as cut and dry as that. You can find great places and budget places across the various stations. What I did see however, is that station 1 tended to be quieter than the lower stations.
But to help you plan your trip, we recommend a few places across the island from personal experience as well as friend recommendations.
- Shang-ri-la: It’s an impressive, luxurious, and pricey hotel with a private beach. However, you are also far from non-hotel restaurants. If you want seclusion it’s great and it’s also popular for honeymoons. Villas even have private pools/hot tubs.
- Crimson Resort: Large and secluded. You cannot miss the place for its size and location. It’s also got a private beach. It’s located in the north of Boracay and far from many of the restaurants. But you probably won’t miss them.
- Coco Huts: Station 1: Location is great, right on the beach. Hotel is like a “tree house” feel. Rooms are decent and clean. You also get a discount at the Army Navy Restaurant. Can be loud in the evenings though.
- Royal Park Resort: Station 1: Located on the beach in station 1. Clean and lovely rooms and quite reasonable prices as well! Great value, staff, and overall quality.
- Calypso Beach: Station 3: Lovely rooms and located on the beach. But pricier than other options in the area. Close to a lot of restaurants.
Where to Eat
Food is quite good in Boracay and there’s no shortage of places to explore and eat. Some of our favorites are below. There’s also some great spots with live music, shows, and more to enjoy during your dining as well.
- Sunny Side Cafe: My favorite place we went for breakfast. The food was delicious, the portions were large. I really like the Ube pancakes, but be sure to share, even half a serving was a lot.
- Smooth Cafe & Lounge: Stopped in here randomly and turned out great. It had some excellent coffee, breakfast, and other all day options. Has a chill vibe as well.
- Red Coconut: The food was good, but come for the life music and fire dancers as well. Having a table is the best way to enjoy it all. You can also get some amazing photos with fire dancers too.
- Hobbit Tavern: You know the concept was a bit strange and I’m still trying to know the story here. But from a strictly food and service standpoint, this place was great. My meal was excellent and my friend’s fried chicken was the best I had in the area.