Getting to Caticlan Airport from Manila is a simple and reasonably cheap process now that airport tax has been factored into the cost of domestic tickets at Terminal 3, however the return journey is not the same story. Make sure to check out the whole post for the little extras you need to factor into the cost of your get away to the Philippines’ reputed party island.
Once you reach the airport in Caticlan, one of many airports servicing Boracay Island, you will be ushered into the terminal and asked to register yourself or your party. You will promptly be asked for PHP250 that will also include the cost of the boat and tricycle to the port (all of five min away). When you get to the port you must pay PHP75 per person in environmentla fees (some irony there as the environment is not all that clean) and PHP100 per person in terminal fees. Banka boats are abundant and regular between 5am and 6pm. All arrive at Cagban Pier on Boracay Island. By this time you will have been accosted by a local guide who will accompany you to a tricycle whether you like it or not. Tricycles ar PHP100 to station 3; more if you are going further. All together travelling from the airport to boat station 3 will take all of half an hour.
Even in the low season Boarcay is busy. Three fligts a week direct from Korea mean that the beach can still be thick with tourists around noon. However, everyone generally keeps to themselves and you can still relax with an unimpaired view of the ocean. The shore front path is overdeveloped and walking from one end of White Beach to the other along the shops is a real spectacle. Chances are you will tire of being asked about jetskis and parasailing. It has been suggested that they way to avoid this is by walking up the beach instead. To be honest, this method won’t save you much hassle. Just try and be polite 🙂
I recommend the off season as the best time to go. It is cooler, though the chances of rain are higher, and the rates are lower. Tiernan and I stayed in the wonderful Pinjalo Resort, a two min walk inland at Boat Station 3. It is a lovely courtyard of villas that represents everything good and peacful about the rainforest! For NZD80 per night we had a balcony room with pool view and breakfast included. Breakfast was a short walk to the beach front Calypso Resort, Pinjalo’s sistrr resort. Guests of Pinjalo can also use the facilities of Calypso including some lovely sunbeds on the sand. Because it is afront a resort, other travellers generally don’t swim there. So it is just you and the other guests. The resort guard also makes you feel prettydarn safe!
As for the swimming, the sea is bath water warm. It is shallow enough that weak swimmers can be comfortable. Being the sea it is tidal and the water clarit reflects this. Day one we had calm and crystal water. Day two and three were more choppy due to a change of wind. This meant that sand was being kicked up and it was definitely less clear tst we had seen it previously. It is just luck of the draw.
There is plenty to fill your day with if snoozing in the sun isn’t your thing. Island hopping starts at about PHP1500pp, or perhaps jetskiing or diving is more your taste, things can get pricy, but there are activities for every budget. We were on the low side so only did the glass bottom boat, just to get out on the water. It didn’t rate too higly with me, although kids will love it. The trip runs for a good length of two hours from Boat Station three. It rounds Tambisaan Pier, where cargo comes in, and stops there. The water, sights and smells here are quite horrid so unless you want to breath in fumes for an hour I don’t recommend it. I am convinced that is why everyone was passing out on the way back to shore! After what I saw on the ocean floor here I was not interested when the operators offered snorkelling, though many others did take it up. For PHP750 pp it is one of the cheaper things to do and although we saw some cool star fish we saw and learned more about sea life at Manila Ocean Park. They may advertise sea turtkes and other lovely things, but chances are you will not see them (and of course if you are out of season you definitely will not). Now I have warned you all off glass bottom boats I will recommend to you sunset cruises. Although we didn’t do one I am sure you will love an unihibited view of this…
After all that it is probably time to relax with a beer in a waterfront bar at Station 1 or 2. Boracay offers a lot in the way of food – every taste is represented. But I will talk about that next blog.
Atthe end of your trip it is another PHP100 to get back to the port. PHP25 pp for a banka boat ticket and PHP100 pp for the terminal fee. This time without the arbitrary bag scanning! When you get to the other end you will be mobbed with people guiding you this way and that to various airport transport. Check your ticket and make sure you are headed to the right airport! At Caticlan Airport you must pay a terminal fee… again. It is about PHP200 pp.
In summary, Boracay is worth a go just for the experience. It is not Phuket or Bali simply due to its size. It is struggling to breath with over popularity and there are other places in the Philippines that are just as spectacular.
Cost of a beer: PHP90
Dinner for two: PHP1000-1200 for a mid range three dishes and drinks. You can go lower and higher
Transfers to Boracay: PHP 350 pp share twin (terminal fee, transfer to port, environmental fee, terminal fee, banka boat, tricycle to boat station 3)
Transfers to Caticlan airport: PHP 200 pp share twin (tricycle to port, terminal fee, banka boat, tricycle to airport)
Island hopping: PHP1500 pp four hours
Massage: PHP350 one hour
Airport terminal fee: PHP200 pp