In March, I got the chance to go to Boracay with my family. It was my 7th trip to the island, but it was the first time for dad and my brother, and the second time for my mom. Naturally, we had to try out all things that first timers in Boracay must do, since it was our first time there as a family. The last three times I’ve been to Boracay was for work so it was so refreshing to be able to enjoy Boracay again as a leisure traveler. And since I was there with first timers, it was nice to actually appreciate the island as if it were my first time too.
I also came up with this guide on the TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN BORACAY based on what we did on our trip (and a few things from my previous visits) to help you out for your own Boracay itinerary, especially for first timers and those traveling with family:
1. Have fun with water sports
Boracay has so many water sport activities, from the cheap banana boat to parasailing, snorkeling, and diving. So many local guys are lined up along the beach and lurking outside hotels to offer all sorts of water sports for tourists.My favorite water sport in Boracay is the Flyfish, where you get on an inflatable ride then hold on for dear life as you get dragged along by a speedboat (and where the ride will literally make you fly off the water, depending on your appetite for speed). Best thrill ride on water. EVER. Tried this for the first time in 2008 then went on again in 2012 and it’s still as fun as ever!
With the Flyfish costing at just P150 to P200 per person (you can bargain away the price and they usually give big discounts for locals/Filipinos), the ride is really a deal. During summer (non-habagat season) the jumping off point for the watersports activities is at the Station 2 area of White Beach. Otherwise, it’s on the other side of the island at Bulabog Beach.
2. Go Helmet Diving/ Reef Walking
With my family, I was finally able to experience helmet diving off the coast of Boracay. Originally priced at P450, I was able to haggle this for just P150/person (and our contact even admitted that they offer this for the shameless price of P4000/pax for Japanese tourists!).
3. Go on a Paraw Sunset Cruise
The paraw is Boracay’s local sailboat and along with the island’s world-famous sunset, the paraw is part of Boracay’s quintessential landmark/seascape. When I first went to Boracay back in 2003, you could only see blue and white sails on the paraws but now, during the summer months and with the increasing commercialization in the island, the sails are more often than not decorated with ads and brands.
The first and only time I’ve tried paraw sailing was in 2010. I distinctly looked for a paraw with only white and/or blue sails, as I wanted a more authentic, ad-free Boracay experience.
The ride itself is both relaxing and exhilarating. You will marvel at the skill of the paraw captain as he maneuvers the boat without any motors, using only the sails and the winds. These paraw boats are scattered all over White Beach and you can bargain with the boatmen on the price (30 minutes on the paraw is good enough so you can get a lower price if you don’t go on a full 1 hour ride).
I enjoyed bodyboarding but skimboarding was more challenging for me as it takes lots of balance and timing. But they’re both great to try out in the endless beaches and waves of Boracay. Prices for these lessons are negotiable, and can also come in 1 hour or 30-minute rates.
5. Shop and Eat in D’Mall
D’Mall is an area in Station 2 of White Beach composed of shops and restaurants, and is really the central place in Boracay for shopping and fast food.
6. Paluto in D’Talipapa
D’ Talipapa (or also called “D’Market” is an area along Boracay’s White Beach near Station 3 where there are more shops (cheaper than those in D’Mall) and more importantly, there’s a wet market and nearby restaurants where you can have the fresh food you bought cooked, which they call “paluto”.
|Fresh watermelon and coconuts in Boracay’s D’ Talipapa|
A lot of Boracay’s restaurants have nice set-ups for dinner by the beach (especially those along Station 2). There’s a variety of selections for buffet, with prices ranging from P300-P600/person.
For seafood buffet dinner, try Paradiso or Paraiso grill (they’re almost next to each other along Station 2). If you’re not in the mood for buffet, other standout restos in Boracay: Spanish food in Dos Mestizos (Station 3), the Mongolian barbecue buffet in Seawind Resort (Station 1), the pizza in Don Vito Ristorante Italiano (at Boracay Mandarin hotel in Station 2), and the baby back ribs of Hawaiian Bar-B-Que (Station 2).
While the “what-happens-in-Boracay-stays-in-Boracay” parties may be best left to the youngsters, it doesn’t mean that families can’t enjoy what Boracay’s nightlife has to offer. There will always be the super long happy-hour cocktails and the ubiquitous Boracay fire dancers, which can be enjoyed by kids of all ages ;).
10. Lounge Around, Marvel at the Boracay Sunset, and Take Nothing But Pictures
|After 7 trips to Boracay, my first picture by the Boracay rock/ grotto!|
My first trip to Boracay was back in 2003 and it was not yet as commercialized and crowded as it is now, although the evidence of lack of “urban planning” was already there. Nevertheless, with the crowd and all, Boracay remains to be a place where you can get away, enjoy nature, and yet you won’t be far away from the creature comforts of life, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what type of traveler you are, and your mood for that trip. And of course, there’s always the world-famous sunset and the powdery white sand (which I want to enjoy for as long as I can and as long as they’re still there). And beach photo ops, of course.
I don’t really know how many more Boracay trips it will take for me to put up my hands and say I’ve given up on Boracay or that I’m already tired of this island. For now, it’s still a place that I like remembering and going back to.
I’ve been there with friends, with boyfriends, with co-workers, for work and for play, and recently, with family. And what I’ve realized after seven trips and vacations is that Boracay always has something for everyone and always holds its own magic. It can be the best place to be with friends, the best place to be a couple, or as I’ve discovered in my last trip to Boracay, the best place to simply be a family.