Seeing how the popularity of beaches and Philippines is rising, I speak with Sarah, who has recently made a trip there and amazed us with how little she spent on this touristy island called Boracay!
[Update: I later went on to compare the difference between Boracay and Palawan to decide which is the better island to visit.]
Read on to find out how you can spend only USD 303 on a 5D4N trip to Boracay!
I’ve always had a fascination with beaches while growing up. Thinking about it, there is always something about the waves that calm even my most troubled thoughts. I live in the Philippines, a country that has 7,641 unique islands. I’ve been to many of them, but never on Boracay.
There’s a reason why I haven’t visited the famous island. I’ve heard stories about how expensive it is. To be honest, I am a frugal traveler, and I’m more fixated on having a great time without spending too much money.
Here’s the catch though, I was totally amazed to discover how cheap things can get with the magic of bargaining.
We stayed for five days and four nights and only spent 15,000 Pesos/USD 303 in total, including flights and accommodation. We were fortunate to get seat sales for our airfare which only costs 400 Pesos/USD 8 for my fiancée and me.
Boracay Budget Breakdown
|Round Trip tickets Kalibo International Airport back to Davao for 2 Adults||400 pesos/USD 8|
(Check Skyscanner for cheap flights)
|Transport (airport taxi, Boracay ferry boat, trike rides)||2,800 pesos/USD 54|
|Accommodation for 4 nights||3,000 pesos/USD 58|
|Food||2,000 pesos/USD 39|
|Local tours and activities||5,000 pesos/USD 97|
|Resort tours||1,800 pesos/USD 35|
|Souvenirs||3,800 pesos/USD 74|
Well, if you want to know how we did it on a budget, read on!
But first things first, here’s how you get to the beautiful island.
How to get to Boracay, Philippines
Boracay is part of the Philippine’s Region XI, a group of islands that are situated south of the National Capital Region (NCR) To get there, you can book a flight to either the International Airport of Kalibo or through the Godofredo P. Ramos Airport in Caticlan for local flights.
Tip: If you’re traveling from Cebu or Manila, it’s best that you book your flight to Caticlan. It’s just five minutes away from the Caticlan Jetty Port, and 20 minutes from Boracay Island.
Getting to Caticlan Port from Kalibo International Airport
Since we took off from Davao City, we had to book a flight to Kalibo. After arriving at the airport, you will be greeted by a desk of available transport services heading to the Caticlan Jetty Port.
Because Kalibo airport (also referred as the Boracay airport) is 90 minutes or more away from the tourist island, It is advisable to buy snacks at convenience stores located just outside the airport.
To get to Caticlan port, you have to hire a chartered vehicle. The most convenient and cheapest way to get there is via airport taxi. It costs us 2,500 Pesos/USD 50. Luckily, we were able to save more because we went as a group and ended up paying 500 Pesos each/USD 10 to get to the jetty port.
Getting to Boracay Island from Caticlan Jetty Port
After arriving in Caticlan Jetty Port, board on a Bangka (local name of a motorized pump boat) and get ready to pay the tourist fees:
- Bangka Ride Cost: 30 Pesos/USD 0.60
- Environmental Fee: 75 Pesos/USD 1.50
- Terminal Fee: 100 Pesos/USD 2
If you brought in heavy luggage, a porter can assist you for a minimum fee of 20 pesos/USD 3 per bag.
Duration: 15 – 20 minutes (Depending on weather)
Finally, you’re on the shores of Boracay, but to get to White Beach (that’s where the action is), you have to hire a trike that costs 120 Pesos/USD 2.30.
The trikes won’t be able to drive you to the popular beachline. It is usually a five-minute walk to get there.
How to find Cheap Accommodation in Boracay, Philippines
Once you get to White Beach, you will be greeted by an overabundance of hotels, but the big problem is they cost around 3,000 pesos/USD 58 to 10,000 Pesos/USD 194 a night. The trick to finding cheap accommodations is to ask locals or trike drivers to the nearest budget hotel or inn. They’ll be happy to assist you, and will not even hesitate to bring you there.
Search for cheap accommodations on HotelsCombined, Agoda or Booking.com
We stayed at a budget hotel called AJ Traveler’s Inn that’s located near station 2 (White Beach is divided into three stations). Through some haggling, we were able to strike a good deal. We paid 3,000 Pesos/USD 58 for our four-night stay. That’s just 750 Pesos/USD 14.50 a night!
Things to Do in Boracay, Philippines
There’s a lot of things to do in Boracay. Apart from enjoying the fine white sand, Boracay has a ton of water activities to offer. But here comes the tricky part, they’ll often sell the packages 100% more expensive than their original prices. To get the best price, you’ll have to bargain or go to another barker to get a cheaper arrangement.
Luckily we found a good barker that offered us a great deal. My fiancée and I paid a total of 2800 Pesos/USD 55 for a package that included five activities. It included:
- The famous Fly Fish Ride
- Helmet diving
- Paraw sailing (it’s best to do this late on the afternoon to catch Boracay’s breathtaking sunset).
- ATV ride
- Island Hopping tour
You can do these activities in one day, but we opted to spread the activities across the duration of our stay. That way, we would have more time to discover the beauty of Boracay.
Aside from the activities that we booked, there are other options that you choose from. Here’s a quick preview of Boracay’s popular water activities.
1. Cliff Diving in Ariel’s Point
If you’re much of a thrill seeker, cliff diving in Ariel’s Point is a must try activity. For a price of 1,700 Pesos/USD 33, the tour package includes boat transfers to the location with a complimentary BBQ lunch buffet and afternoon snacks. Other perks include unlimited use of their kayaks and canoes.
There are five levels that you can try:
- A short 3-meter leap
- A medium 5-meter dive
- A 6-meter, 7-meter, and a 13-meter platform that you can try at your own risk (Perfect for thrill-seekers!)
2. Parasailing, Windsurfing, Kiteboarding
Parasailing is one of Boracay’s most popular water activities. Although we weren’t able to try it out, tourists flock to Bulabog Beach to try it. It usually costs around 2000 Pesos/USD 39 and can be included in your tour package. It’s one of the best ways to see Boracay from a vantage point, so it’s worth every penny.
Alternatively, If you are looking for some action, you can also try out windsurfing and kiteboarding. Both activities are a bit expensive though and cost 3000 Pesos/USD 58 per person.
3. Fly Fish
This activity is a no-brainer if you’re looking for a crazy ride. You will be sitting on a huge inflatable boat that resembles a flying fish pulled by a speedboat (similar to that of a banana boat)
You’ll find yourself accelerating from 0 to 100 in just a matter of seconds. You’ll be hanging on for your dear life, and the operators are more than willing to speed up, just to see you fall.
Tip: Let go when things get awry.
4. Paraw Sailing
The Paraw is a dual outrigger sailboat native to the Western Visayas Region of the Philippines. It resembles a Bangka, but it’s smaller and has an enormous katig (sail) that allows it to glide in the water. The activity usually takes about 20 minutes and the best time to do it is late in the afternoon when the sun finally sets.
5. Snorkeling or Scuba Diving
This is a basic package offered on island hopping tours, for an additional 3,500 Pesos/USD 68, you can go scuba diving on Boracay’s famous diving spots.
However, if you’re on a budget like me, snorkeling is a good, cheaper alternative. You can still marvel at the hidden beauty of the island’s flora and fauna without breaking the bank.
6. Helmet Diving
This one is a unique activity. Somewhat comparable to scuba diving, helmet diving lets you stay underwater through an oxygen line that’s connected to a helmet. It usually costs around 900 Pesos/USD 20 per person, and the package includes free underwater photos that will be delivered to your hotel room the next day.
It’s a 20-minute activity that involves fish feeding and walking on the reef. It’s not a walk in the park though, aside from the heavy helmets, you’ll have to survive the sudden pressure build up as you descend to the seafloor.
7. ATV Ride
For 1,000 Pesos/USD 19, you can explore Boracay on an ATV. We were lucky to have struck gold when we were told that we could include this activity in our tour package. The trip consists of a 45-minute climb to Boracay’s highest point Mt. Luho and when you arrive at the destination, you’ll be tempted to climb up the view deck to overlook the whole island from a vantage point.
Entrance fee for the view deck only costs around 20 Pesos/USD 0.40.
8. Island Hopping Tours
Hopping around different islands is one of the best ways to discover the Boracay Island. The tour usually takes the first half of the day, and it typically costs around 1,400 Pesos/USD 27 per person.
The tour includes a complimentary lunch buffet and free use of their snorkelling equipment. You can go to places like Puka Beach, Crocodile Beach and the Crystal Cove. If you want to see the whole island, taking a tour is highly recommended.
9. Other Activities
On your way to Mt. Luho, you’ll see several zipline and zorb parks. We weren’t able to try them because we have a lot of them in our hometown. It costs 700 Pesos/USD 13 for both activities if you want to try it out.
Other beaches in Boracay
Aside from the long stretch of White Beach, there are beaches in Boracay that’s also worth visiting. Since we did the island hopping tour on our first day, we were able to visit some of them, and it’s a good relief from the crowded main area. You can also get to the places by renting a trike for a minimum payment of 200 pesos/USD 3.90.
1. Puka Shell Beach
It’s probably the quietest and most secluded beach in Boracay. If you are looking for a place that you can relax, Puka Beach is certainly the best place. There’s a ton of activities to do there too! You can rent a paddleboard or let locals cook fresh food that’s absolutely scrumptious!
2. Ilig-Iligan Beach
Known for scenic limestone islets that you can visit if you charter a bangka (minimum of 1000 pesos/USD 19.40 per trip) Ilig-Iligan Beach is also a must visit spot in Boracay. You can get there via the island hopping tour that I mentioned earlier or by hiring a trike to get you there.
3. Lapus-Lapus Beach
This gorgeous stretch is privately-owned by the Fairways & Bluewater Newcoast Resort and unfortunately, it is only open for their guests. It’s really secluded from the public and if you want to visit this part of Boracay, you’d have to get booked into the resort.
4. Balinghai Beach
Located in one of the Boracay’s least visited places, Balinghai Beach is owned by a small private resort that goes by the same name. Unlike Lapus-Lapus, unbooked tourists can enter the resort as long you pay the entrance fee. It’s one of the island’s least crowded spots, so there’s plenty of opportunities to take photo’s while in the area.
5. Bulabog Beach
This stretch of beautiful beach is home to the island’s extreme water activities. If you’re up for parasailing, kiteboarding, and windsurfing, Bulabog Beach is the go-to area.
You can get there by hiring a trike, it usually costs around 140 pesos/USD 2.70 per trip. The beach has the same vibe as Boracay’s White Beach, with specialty shops and restaurants lined up at the shoreline.
6. Cagban Beach
Cagban is home to Boracay’s main port, although it doesn’t have the glitz and glamour of White Beach it does have some decent resorts that you can check out. We weren’t here personally, but locals recommend the place if you’re looking for a spot of peace and quiet.
7. Lagutan Beach
If you’re coming to Boracay for the first time, this is one of the places where boats dock. Lagutan Beach is not as scenic and interesting as other places on the island, but it does have its unique charm. If you’re willing to hear stories from locals and share your time with them, this is certainly the place to do that.
8. Tambisaan Beach
Tourists that are looking for extravagant coral gardens and reefs can check out Tambisaan Beach. It’s not far off from where you’ll dock once you get in Boracay. You can hire a trike to get you there.
9. Punta Bunga & Banyugan Beach
Owned by five-star hotel operators, Shangri-La Resorts, the area is one of the island’s most picturesque locations. A tourist can’t enter the complex unless they book a room in the resort. It’s quite expensive though, entry to the resort usually costs 6,000 pesos/$116+ to 12,000 pesos/$233+ a night. Ideally a place for luxury and comfort, the resort boasts a ton of facilities, and you can enjoy first class service during your stay in Boracay.
10. Tulubhan Beach
Tulubhan is a local beachside community that’s frequented by tourists that are looking for a fresh catch of seafood. It’s cheaper here compared to the fish market that’s situated in White Beach. It is also home to a couple of local owned resorts. Tulubhan can be a delightful place to stay in if you’re looking for a quiet getaway.
11. Crocodile Beach
This small island is situated in the southeast part of Boracay. You can get there by chartering a bangka boat (a local mode of boat transportation that are mostly paddle-driven), or through prearranged island hopping tours. It’s home to rich flora and fauna, including snakes that can be seen on small canyons around the sanctuary.
12. Manoc-Manoc Beach
Known for locals as a hub to practice various watersports, Manoc-Manoc Beach is a surfers’ paradise. If you want to train with Filipino athletes, you can go there by hiring a trike. This area doesn’t have an influx of tourists that you find in White beach and can be a great place for some R&R.
13. Diniwid Beach
Diniwid Beach is a laid-back stretch of coastline that’s found near Station 1. Aside from the beautiful white sand, it’s also home to stunning cliffside views. If you’re looking for a spot to chill, there’s a place that’s frequented by many tourists called the Spider House.
Food in Boracay, Philippines
Food in the island is relatively cheap. If you’re up for an adventure you can definitely try out local restaurants sprawled through-out Boracay. A meal usually costs around 100 Pesos/USD 2 and that includes two viands, a drink of your choice and a cup of rice.
If you want to spend more, there are plenty of popular buffet restaurants that you can try out. Some notable eateries include:
- Cha Cha’s (Location)
- Haven Bistro (Location)
- Gypsea Shack Bar (Location)
- Sea Breeze Cafe (Location)
- Friday’s Boracay Restaurant (Location)
The buffet price is usually around 300 Pesos to 500 Pesos/USD 6 to USD 9.70. I assure you, the amount of food that you’ll be able to eat is worth every penny.
Famous fast food joints are also available in Boracay. Most of the common food places include:
- Jollibee – A popular local fast food chain
There’s also an abundance of Chinese and Korean restaurants throughout the island. Variety won’t be a problem if you want to try out different Asian cuisines.
Where to buy souvenirs In Boracay, Philippines
If you’re looking to buy souvenirs, there’s plenty of cheap specialty shops in Boracay that won’t break your budget.
We spent 3,800 Pesos/USD 74 shopping for T-shirts, bags, exotic food and other stuff.
Tip: You can always bargain for lower prices, especially if you’re buying bulk items.
Here are some of the cheapest spots to shop for souvenirs.
1. D’Talipapa and E’Mall Talipapa
The word ‘Talipapa’ means market in the local dialect. It is widely used throughout Boracay Island.
If you’re looking for a good bargain, you can check out D’Talipapa in Station 2 or E’Mall Talipapa in Station 3.
T-shirts range from 100 Pesos/USD 1.90 to 200 Pesos/USD 3.80, depending on the size and design. Small items like keychains and Boracay refrigerator magnets cost just 20 Pesos/USD 0.40 each.
It’s more of a classier version of the Talipapa markets. You can also buy souvenirs here, but it’s a bit expensive. If you’re looking to shop for designer shoes, jeans, and T-shirts, this mall has plenty to offer. You can also find jewelry if you have that much of an extra budget.
Aside from scenic landscapes and white sand beaches, Boracay is also known for its exhilarating nightlife. The island has a plethora of bars and you can see them while you’re walking in the stretch of White Beach. If you are looking for a party, some great places to go to include:
- Boracay PubCrawl
- Club Paraw
There are plenty of other places too if you want to go bar hopping.
Unfortunately, we are not big fans of the party scene. My fiancee and I prefer drinking light beer while sitting by the beautiful beach.
There are also a lot of convenience stores located in Boracay, so if you don’t want to spend much money on alcohol, the best thing to do is to buy them from these stores.
That’s about it, you certainly don’t have to go broke while trying to enjoy Boracay and its ton of exciting activities. There is a lot of budget hotels and inns around the area.
Talking to the locals is key to finding some hidden gems. Food is also not that expensive and booking an island-hopping package will usually get you the best deal. Finally, don’t forget to haggle!
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