Friday, September 4, 2009

Boracay on a Budget

photo credits-Charlene Diane Albert

Certainly, a traveler can't get enough of this paradise and enthralling get-away called Boracay. Some of the reasons why include the talcum-fine white sands, crystal-clear calm waters, the culture and the people.

But if you are on a budget, please consider the following breakdown of anticipated expenses:

Now, how do you actually get to and enjoy this paradise island?

1. First, on your arrival in Manila, book a decent budget accommodation in the heart of the City but close to the airport. Then, take The RORO system to Boracay which is fast becoming the preferred mode of transpo for people who would like to explore the different islands of the Philippines, Boracay included. The Nautical "Highway" is a combination of overland highways and roll-on, roll-off (RoRo) vessels that allow you to bring vehicle to Panay Island and visit key cities like Kalibo. However, one cannot ferry a car to Boracay Island.

For the more structured individuals, the short cut of the long process is to book a van in Manila by contacting private operators such as Angel Star (02 783-0886 c/o Abner) and Gope (02 732-6891 c/o Cesar). This option provides you a straight trip from Manila to Caticlan at the cost of P930.00, more or less. Their group operates several passenger vans which can load 10-14 or 15-18 persons. You book the trip exclusively or share with fellow travellers. The Van leaves at 9PM daily from Manila-Batangas-Calapan-Roxas (arrives Roxas at 5am or 6am) to catch the 8am or 10am ferry/boat to Caticlan, where you are expected to arrive between 12nn to 2pm. Before proceeding to Boracay Island though, be sure to get your return ticket (Roxas-Manila) at the Caticlan Ferry Terminal (inquire about the updated schedule from the staff of the van operators). Take an early dinner before boarding the van and bring water and something to eat while on travel. Riding a van gives you a more relaxed pace to Caticlan because you wouldn't have to stop in many sub-destinations which lengthen your trip and therefore can be truly tiresome. Noted that the fee of P910.00 already includes two RORO fares.

The RoRo system even as it entails extended travel time is easier on the pocket and therefore more ideal for budget travellers. But if you only have a few days to spend in the Philippines, by all means book a flight early (at least two months in advance) within the range of $50-100, one-way. Budget fares are available thru Cebu Pacific Airways or the Philippine Airlines (select the "econolight" fare type in the drop-down selection menu of the booking section in their website).

2. Contact us (OUR MELTING POT backpackers) - 0917*8328539; we can arrange for you the cheapest accommodation in the island which can range from P500-800 pesos, on a twin-sharing arrangement.

3. Explore the wet market and request specific stall vendors to cook your food according to your own taste or preference.

4. Be open to making new friends while in the Island, among local tourists or foreigners. Your new-found acquaintances may be willing to sharing boat rides with you during your island hopping adventure or other fun activities like banana boat ride, kayaking and many more. On an individual basis, the price for popular services or rides can be prohibitive. But when you divide the cost among three or four other travelers, your exploration of the island truly becomes affordable.

When you are already in the island, remember the following . . .

During the dry season (Nov-Apr), White Beach, which is located at the western stretch of the island, is calm and utterly suitable for swimming. Here, you can simply while away time. In fact, the best thing to do when you are in Boracay is not to do anything. Let nature charm, calm and mesmerize you while sitting on the beach, enjoying the powdery white sands, feeling the cool air breeze, watching people pass by.

But if you can’t resist the water, soak in it by all means because the beach is an unbelievable, magnificent, expansive natural swimming pool. The whole beach front extends for several kilometers. The water stays quite shallow for several meters out. When it’s low tide, 30 meters off the frontage, you only have the water up to your waistline. Underneath, the softest, gentlest, finest cushion of sand gives you the best natural foot spa for free.

Boracay sunset is both awesome and captivating. On a lucky day, you get all the colors in the sky which make you momentarily forget the particular time and space you’re in. That’s why it’s called paradise. You wouldn’t wanna leave the place.

In contrast to other popular beaches in Southeast Asia, Boracay does not yet (and will probably not) have the amenities of BIG shopping malls or theaters and multi-purpose stadiums that somehow put pressure on the traveler TO DO something. But you can also get the pleasure from a lazy afternoon by building castle in the sand, playing board or card games with your companion or joining an unknown group of locals or foreigners in a fun beach volleyball game. Yes, you may only have to flash your wide smiles without need of introducing yourself. Presto, you can be in the game with people whom you have only met for the first time.

The eastern side of the island has strong winds and big waves making it enjoyable for wind surfing, wave running, etc. During the rainy or typhoon season (Jun-Oct), it’s the White Beach which gets the larger share of winds and somehow angry waves that make it unsuitable for swimming. Take note that there are no lifeguards on White Beach. Even as there are dive shops every few meters on this paradise island, the operators or the crew are not there to watch over people who swim in the inviting waters of Boracay.

During the night, however, Boracay is transformed. The place is lavish with plenty of bars staging different kinds of shows every night. You can enjoy a reggae ambiance or listen to country music played by local bands who are amazingly good at it. A traveler simply has to know that the Philippines is the leading exporter of talents in the entertainment field, virtually unaffected by the ups and down of the global economy.


  1. Finally, an article about boracay that is not only for the reading but also for the doing. I love the part where you've shared how to go there on budget. Many Filipinos wish to go places in the Philippines but would rather spend their vacation in other countries which would cost them less.

    Now, more and more Filipinos would be able to come again and again to the Paradise Island, Boracay, and hopefully, more beaches in the Philippines as they discover new ways in getting there that is easy on the pocket.

    Thanks so much for this post.

  2. Nice article.

    We will be visiting Manila and Boracay in a month and this is great information for better planning.

    Nomads in Asia

  3. As of today, you won't get stressed looking for cheap hotels in boracay, you can easily find them because there are already many of them.