Travel Guide to Boracay, the Philippines' Party Island

All you can see and do in the Philippines' perfect island paradise

Beach near Station 2, Boracay, Philippines
Beach near Station 2, Boracay, Philippines. Mike Aquino, licensed to About.com

If Boracay Island in the Philippines isn’t the perfect tropical island getaway, it’s certainly darn close.

Visitors to Boracay enjoy unlimited access to beaches of powdery white sand, crystal-clear water, and a multitude of entertainment options. During the peak season between March to June, the weather obliges Boracay with clear skies and unobstructed sunlight - perfect weather for soaking up the rays or enjoying some watersports.

When the sun goes down, Boracay’s rowdy nightlife kicks in, drawing crowds to nightly revelries at D’Mall at Station 2. Despite snowballing development, Boracay Island retains much of the charm that first brought foreign visitors over in the 1970s.

No wonder this dreamy tropical beach stop is one of the top reasons to visit the Philippines, if not right on top of the list.

Boracay’s Beaches

The beaches of Boracay are the island’s biggest draw - 12 beaches are distributed around the island, each having their share of resorts and seaside activities. The first-time visitor to Boracay only needs to know two: White Beach and Bulabog Beach.

White Beach holds the lion’s share of Boracay’s popular establishments, as it has the island’s longest uninterrupted stretch of beach, with arguably the best sand and most favorable winds during peak season.

Visitors to Boracay tend to refer to the “boat stations” along White Beach as geographical reference points, even as the new jetty at Boracay’s eastern tip has made such stations obsolete.

Station 1 in the north combines posh resorts and relative peace and quiet; centrally-located Station 2 is Boracay at its liveliest, as the shopping district known as “D’Mall” is located there; Station 3 in the south offers plenty of budget beachfront accommodations.

Bulabog Beach is directly opposite White Beach, and is more popular with the watersports crowd. Yearly surfing and kiteboarding competitions are held on Bulabog Beach during peak season, as the prevailing winds are stronger on Boracay’s eastern coast.

Activities in Boracay

The sea, sand and sun make Boracay an awesome setting for many activities. Scuba diving and other watersports are excellent diversions, naturally - Boracay is surrounded by over 30 dive sites suitable for beginners and expert divers alike.

White Beach and Bulabog Beach are lined with providers renting out equipment for almost any watersport - windsurfing, kiteboarding, skimboarding, kayaking and more.

Boracay’s spas provide hours of essential “me” time for more laid-back Boracay visitors who want to take their relaxation to the next level.

Golf enthusiasts can tee off on the golf course at Fairways and Blue Water to the north of the island.

At night, Boracay comes alive with partygoers looking for booze and an awesome experience to talk about back home. Many of them take up the challenge at Cocomangas Bar, whose "Still standing after 15" challenge is a rite of passage for many first-time Boracay visitors. (Winners must finish 15 shots to get a t-shirt and their name on a plaque on the wall.)

Both food and drink can be had in plentiful proportions among the restaurants and bars crowding the beachward side of D’Mall, Boracay’s primary shopping district.

  • To Do List: For more Boracay activities, read: Eight Awesome Activities in Boracay. For Boracay's top party season, read about the Labor Day weekend called "LaBoracay".

Boracay: Getting In and Around the Island

Boracay Island is in the Philippine province of Aklan, 200 miles south of Manila. The narrow Tabon Strait separates Boracay from the larger Panay island; the port of Caticlan lies on the Panay side, a prime gateway for air and land travelers going to Boracay.

The city of Kalibo is another two-hour drive away, and its Kalibo International Airport serves as an alternative airport for Boracay visitors.

  • Island hopping: For transportation options to Boracay, read: how to get in and around Boracay. With two airports serving Boracay, you'll find a surprising number of international flights connecting this island with the rest of the region.  

The shape of Boracay reminds one of a dumbbell or a cartoon bone - two protuberances on either end of a long shaft 4.3 miles long. Most of the fun takes place on either side of Boracay’s length - White Beach occupies most of the southwestern coast, while Bulabog Beach stretches across part of the northeastern coast.

Politically speaking, Boracay is part of the municipality of Malay, located within Aklan province. The island can be subdivided into three communities called “barangays”: Yapak in the north, Balabag in the middle, and Manoc-Manoc in the south.

  • Boracay 101: For essential travel information to this island, read: Boracay Travel Basics. Find out when to visit Boracay, how to get around, plus money and communications information relevant to Boracay.

Hotels and Resorts in Boracay

Boracay’s wide range of hotels can accommodate almost any budget. Most of the best places are clustered on White Beach - with some exceptions, the expensive ones tend to be on Station 1 and budget places on Station 3.

Visitors with a tight budget can read this article: Budget and Mid-Range Boracay Hotels and Resorts. Travelers who have a little extra to splurge can consult our list of Luxury Hotels & Resorts in Boracay.