Geographically speaking, Boracay is part of the municipality of Malay in the province of Aklan, which is located in Panay, one of a cluster of islands that constitute the central section of the Philippine archipelago.
Boracay can be reached from Manila by daily flights on Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Air Philippines, Asian Spirit, Seair and Pacific Air. Caticlan is nearer the island, but the airstrip is short and narrow, and only the smaller planes of Asian Spirit, Seair and Pacific Air can land on it. The larger aircraft of Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines fly to Kalibo, the capital of Aklan. From Caticlan it takes about 15 minutes by boat to Boracay; from Kalibo, an hour and a half by bus plus the 15-minute boat ride.
Once on the island, you will find out that getting around is simple and easy. There are three categories of transport: pedicabs and motorized tricycles shared with other passengers; individually rented bicycles and motorbikes; and the shuttle service offered by some hotels. Taxis are not available. However, since everything is more or less within walking distance, you will most likely join the majority of visitors in moving around the island on foot.
Boracay is seven kilometers long and divided into three barangays, or communities. Yapak lies in the north, Balabag in the center and Manoc-Manoc in the south. Within these barangays are smaller villages such as Angol, Manggayad and Bolabog.
Yapak is spread out over hilly terrain situated some distance away from the main tourist beat, but the shoreline is dotted with beautiful, uncrowded beaches and coves such as Puka Beach and Balinghai Beach . The island's only golf club, the 18-hole par-72 course at Fairways & Bluewater , is also located in Yapak. The Bat Caves , a popular destination for nature lovers, can be found at the barangay's northeastern tip.
White Beach , Boracay's biggest tourist attraction, stretches some four kilometers on the western side of the island, mostly within the barangay of Balabag. It is largely because of the pristine, white powdery sand of White Beach and the crystal-clear blue water of the surrounding sea that Boracay is often called "the world's most beautiful tropical island."
While White Beach takes up most of the western shoreline, Bolabog Beach dominates the eastern coast. Bolabog (sometimes spelled "Bulabog" or "Bulabug") belongs to the barangay of Balabag (with very little difference in spelling, Bolabog is often confused with Balabag by newcomers to the island). Normally the boat trip from Caticlan terminates at White Beach, but during the monsoon season when the western side of the island is lashed by strong winds, visitors are brought to a docking area in Bolabog. The waters here are also considered to offer ideal conditions for windsurfing. A small dirt road takes you from Bolabog to the foot of Mount Luho , the highest point on the island.
Understandably hotels on White Beach attract the most guests. The northern end of the beach is "lorded over" by Fridays , the southern end by Lorenzo South . In between you will find all kinds of accommodation, from native bamboo-and-nipa bungalows to Western-style concrete buildings.
White Beach extends into Manoc-Manoc, but the barangay features its own share of beaches worth visiting and exploring, including one named Manoc-Manoc Beach . The barangay also encompasses the Boracay Beach & Yacht Club and Crocodile Island, a popular destination for picnics, diving expeditions and marine excursions. The Dead Forest , a scenic spot believed to be populated by elemental spirits, is likewise located within the boundaries of Manoc-Manoc. White Beach Path runs along White Beach but is set back from the shore by rows of coconut trees. Hotels, eateries, bars, stores and dive shops line the entire length of the meandering footpath. This is where visitors to the island come to see and be seen.
You will find hotels like the longstanding Red Coconut Resort and more recently constructed Boracay Regency Beach Resort on White Beach Path, and likewise the Tourist Center , a handy one-stop shop for all kinds of travel needs (airline reservations, postcards, stamps, film, souvenirs and so forth). Thai Castles, True Food, Steakhouse Boracay , Gorio's , La Reserve Restaurant , Banza and La Capannina are among the better known eateries. Bars include Bom Bom and Summer Place Bar & Restaurant . Victory Divers and Aquarius Diving are just two of the many dive shops (there are more than 20 such outlets on the island) scattered along the path. Retail stores range from Paulo Collection Body Wear to Lonely Planet. The Talipapa Market, which burnt down in early 2005, has now been rebuilt in several locations between White Beach Path and Boracay Main Road .
Tricycles ply Boracay Main Road and a handful of side streets but are not allowed on White Beach Path. Except for Jony's Beach Resort , the town square (where the church and DOT Office are located), Beachcomber Bar & Disco , Moondog Shooter Bar , Pink Patio Resort and a few other establishments, there are not many places geared toward tourists on the main road. You may, however, ride a tricycle on the road to get to a hotel or an eatery on White Beach Path; just get off at the nearest stop and walk the rest of the way.
To facilitate locating an establishment on the island, the nearest boat station is often specified in its address. Here a word on these stations is in order: Numbered 1, 2 and 3, they are used as stopping-off points by boats ferrying new arrivals from Caticlan. Do not, however, expect some well-constructed structure with a welcoming jetty for you to conveniently step on. To disembark, you can go for one of two options: Jump into the water and wade ashore or allow yourself the luxury of being borne aloft on the shoulders of some hapless porter. Happy landing!
One of the joys of being on Boracay is discovering the many different eating places that abound on the island. Most of them are clustered along White Beach Path , the main tourist beat and a popular walking/shopping area for residents and visitors alike. It would seem that there is a restaurant for almost every cuisine of the world. Many were established by people from foreign countries who, themselves once tourists, fell in love with the island and decided to set up home here.
Given the limited size of the island, the range of eating places is really quite remarkable, not just in terms of culinary tastes, but also in terms of the range of cuisines available. There are all kinds of restaurants, from inexpensive beach side eateries like Neca and Rizzo Snack Bar to air-conditioned fine-dining emporiums like La Reserve Restaurant , where a glass of cognac and a Havana cigar after the meal are almost de rigeur. European and Asian foods predominate on the island, but what you will not find here yet—thank goodness—are American-style fast-food chains like McDonald's, Wendy's and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Most restaurants are small, intimate and with a friendly staff. It is fun eating around, getting to know the different owners and hearing a few tales, tall and otherwise, from around the world!
Regarding the restaurants and the cuisines themselves, here follows a selection that you might want to consider.
True Food comes highly recommended for Indian food, La Capannina for Italian, Banza for Portuguese, Zorba's for Greek and Bavarian House or Steakhouse Boracay for Austrian/German. Spanish cuisine may be enjoyed at El Toro and spicy Thai at Thai Castles. Good French food is served at Gorio's , though it can be pricey. Gorio's is also quite famous for its crepes. Bar & Restaurant de Paris serves both French and Thai cuisine.
Some of the resorts provide excellent meals. In this respect, the fresh seafood and curries at Nigi Nigi Nu Noo Bar & Restaurant and the outstanding lunch buffet at Fridays Restaurant & Bar merit special mention. Nigi Nigi is also famous for its breakfast menu: Patrons are invited to eat as many eggs as they possibly can at no extra charge. The English Bakery , a veritable institution on the island, should not be missed for its hearty English-style morning repast. In fact, most restaurants and bars open early to draw in those going off to catch early morning flights. Many offer a choice of Filipino, American and continental breakfasts. The Filipino variety is characterized by garlic fried rice and such local delicacies as longaniza (pork sausage) and tocino (cured pork).
Aloja Delicatessen makes delicious gourmet sandwiches, which you can eat on the premises or take away to the beach or your hotel. It is also a good place to stock up on deli foods and beverages that you might want for a picnic.
For a romantic interlude under a canopy of stars, try one of the restaurants along White Beach . Here you can dine to the sound of the waves lapping on the shore and the light of lanterns swaying in the cool night breeze.
Wahine Cafe Mongolian BBQ specializes in an all-you-can-eat Mongolian feast. Choose the ingredients (meat, seafood and vegetables) and the sauce to garnish them with, and the chef will expertly prepare your meal and bring it to your table. This is certainly a good way to fuel up. The ingredients are fresh and your meal is cooked to order. There are some street side eateries near boat station 3 that offer low-priced buffets, particularly in the evening. However, be wary of eating cooked food that may have been standing around for a considerable length of time!
Stables Real Coffee , with its wonderful espresso, homemade brownies and cookies, and the sparkling conversation provided by the American lady who owns the place, is another treat that should not be missed.
Among the many bars and drinking places recommended is Bom Bom , where the music is both rhythmic and cool, and Cocomangas Shooter Bar for an "otherworldly" experience of trying to down 15 nasty alcoholic drinks. Many of the bars operate a happy hour in the early evening when seconds of beers and selected local cocktails are provided gratis.
A final thing to remember: Many establishments take only cash and most of those that do accept credit cards charge a six percent to 10 percent premium on your bills. So you might just want to pay cash!