For most visitors to Boracay, lounging on the beach with a good book or a cold shake, feet tickled by the powdery fine sand, is enough activity for a week. But for first-timers to Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Island in 2012, it’s worth taking this checklist with you for the Boracay basics.
In summer, paraw rentals go for P1,000++ but you can haggle and bring this down to P600 if you sail any time before 4 p.m. It’s the sunset that jacks up the price. In low season, you can go sailing at sunset for P500. Either way, the breeze on your face is worth it.
If you can get past your hangover from the previous night, it’s ideal to take a walk, barefoot of course, around 6 a.m. The usually crowded White Beach is deserted and you can climb Willy’s Rock for one of the best spots from which to take snapshots of the beach.
Massage on the beach
This is a classic beach (in)activity that you can enjoy for P350 (or P400 if you want the massage in the comfort of your bed at night). Ask your resort for the best therapists who hang out at their premises. Arlene and Tita, who you’ll see playing cards near One Azul in station 1, give a really good massage.
Buy seafood from the market just past D’Mall and have them cooked at Beach Camp, which offers cheaper cooking service (P120 for grilled, P200 for chili/butter-flavored dishes) than the rest of the stalls at the Talipapa. The restaurant is hard to miss, with all those Korean, Japanese and Chinese translations plastered on its glass door. The servers are attentive, and the food is as good as it gets.
Jonah’s in station 2 is the institution in fruit shake history but Jony’s in station 1 offers equally good thirst-quenchers and better views.
There are countless food carts selling this Boracay staple, but you can’t go wrong with the original Merly’s BBQ chorizo burger (P35 on a stick, P45 in a bun) near Willy’s Rock. They’ve been around since 1988 so they know what they’re doing. The secret is in the sauce.
For the best Filipino fare at the most affordable prices (P100++), make a beeline for this restaurant in an alley of souvenir shops at D’Mall. Come early if you want to enjoy your Bulalo or Sinigang sitting down. Tables run out quickly. Tip: Pick a table outside – the heat from its open kitchen can be unbearable at noon.
You know what’s another great way to see Boracay? On a parasail! Like most activities, parasailing will cost you more during peak season (at least P1,900/person for 15-20 minutes), so try to do this in low season (June-October) when it’s cheaper and the winds are blowing harder. You may register at the booth in front of Astoria Boracay.
- Discovery Shores’ international dinner buffet for P1,500 net with drinks is touted to be worth every penny. It goes with some very good live acoustics, too.
- Make an excuse to go to Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort and Spa (it has free shuttles that leave on schedule from Budget Mart at D’Mall). Get there by 5 p.m. for the best view of the sunset.
- Ambassador in Paradise, whose restaurant has been voted the best on the island, offers themed dinner sets from P1,100. Or you can just come for desserts – it still has the best chocolate ganache and the most romantic settings.I know, we got married here, and everyone raved about the food.
- An international favorite, Mandala Spa and Villas in station 3 has award-winning spa treatments starting at P3,850.
* I don’t usually endorse vendors but Mang Dodong, who hangs out at One Azul in station 1, can get you discounts even in peak season. He’s one of those locals who will approach you, offering activities like reef walking (I wouldn’t recommend this — Boracay isn’t known for coral reefs), parasailing, paraw, etc. Give him a decent number when you negotiate and he can bring down prices to low-season rates (but you have to stick to certain hours for the activities). A quick story: My father, who is diabetic, lost his insulin on the way to Boracay and no drugstore on the island had any supply. It was Mang Dodong’s wife who got us the insulin in Caticlan and gave exact change (We gave her gratuity, of course). You may reach Mang Dodong at +63 912 901 2749.