Boracay on a Budget

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Boracay (yes I took this picture myself!) is considered one of the world's top destinations for tropical white sand beaches and is comparable to destinations such as the Carribean and the South Pacific.  Boracay is a tiny little island in the Philippines, one of 7000 islands i the Philippines.  It is not a very large island… It is 7km long and 1km at its narrowest. Boracay is mainly famous for its long stretch of pure white sand beach and beautiful azure and tropical blue water.  One of my friends who visited Boracay said it was the most beautiful beach she had ever seen (mind you, she had not been to the Maldives yet so perhaps if she saw that she would change your mind… I wouldn't know because I have never been there myself.. it's on the travel bucket list though!), so of course I had to check it out.

As many of you know, I'm not one to travel frivolously.  I enjoy staying in $6 a night accommodation (for example, in Chang Mai, that's exactly what I did).  This time though, I was a little more upscale than that.

White BeachBoracay is pretty expensive to be honest… a lot of the accommodation was similar in pricing to Hawaii.  There are a lot of international tourists from Russia, Korea, Taiwan, and China.

Here are a few ways to save when heading to Boracay for its white sand beaches.

Getting There

Getting to Boracay, I went through Caticlan airport via Cebu Pacific Air, which is a discounted airline and it is part of the One World group now.  Arriving at Caticlan airport, you take a ferry to Boracay, then a tricycle (motorbike attached to a side-car, pretty much) to your hotel.  The whole trip after the the airport cost about 600 pesos (about $15) for two people. The hotel you book with may charge you 1000 pesos per person, or if you book directly at the airport, it will be 600 pesos per person.  The cheapest way (as per usual) is to DIY and seek transportation yourself.  Be wary of porters who help you carry your luggage only a few meters, they may demand a tip.

Sleeping

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The low season is between June and October which is the rainy season and the island is susceptible to Typhoons.  If you want to pay a lower price, and don't mind rain so much (intermittent rain) then traveling in the low season might be an option for you.  Station 3 is quieter and the accommodation is much cheaper than Station 1 or 2.  We booked the first night through Agoda.com at Boracay Ocean Club (one of the cheaper options) and it was already $100/night.  We walked along the strip asking hotels for their promo rate.  Their promo rates weren't any better than the rates available on Agoda (and some were even higher).  Most places include breakfast (make sure you check) as that will save you another $5-10 a day.  We found a great place in Station 3 called Blue Dawn which was clean (the bathroom is clean!), included a piping hot shower (powered by solar panels), breakfast, and was just a hundred metres from the beach at half the price ($50/night) during low season.  Most places that were not very clean and were very run down were asking for at least $75 a night.  Most places average $110-$250 a night.

Things to Do

Other than enjoying the beautiful white sand beach (the sand is so soft, no rocks, no coral, just pillowy soft sand) you can also walk up and down station 1-3 for free and watch live fireshows in the evening, people watch, or grab a bag of green mangoes from the vendors.

There are lots of solicitors so don't accept the first price that they offer you.

Snorkeling and Island Hopping

We got a pretty good deal for snorkeling and island and beach hopping to Crocodile Island, Puka beach, and included a delicious lunch for $16 (600 pesos per person).  That took up from morning to mid-afternoon and was a great excursion.

Scuba Diving

There are plenty of dive operators along the strip. The average cost of a dive is around $35.

Shopping

There is a large outdoor shopping plaza complex called D'mall located in the Station 1 area.  It somewhat resembles the International Marketplace area in Waikiki.  You can practice your haggling or grab a bite to eat at the many restaurants available.

Readers, have you been to Boracay before?  What other tips do you have to travel to Boracay on a budget?

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Young is a writer and former owner of Young and Thrifty and the main "twitter' behind Young and Thrifty's twitter account. She lives in Vancouver, BC and enjoys long walks on the beach, spending time with her anxious dog, and finding good deals. If you like what you read, consider signing up for email updates.

5 Comments

  1. L on July 26, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    Cebu Pacific is not part of oneworld



  2. Young on July 27, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    @L- I have a friend who used to work for Cathay Pacific who told me this information, but I guess it’s inaccurate. But lol yes I know the difference between Cebu Pacific and Cathay Pacific.



  3. Carolyn on July 28, 2015 at 9:14 am

    The Philippines has 7,107 islands; the number varies whether it’s low or high tide. Some of the islands disappear for a while.

    Though I’m a Filipino, I’ve never been in Boracay but with the tips such as online booking etc I can get a better deal for myself or as a gift. Thanks!

    You may also want to visit El Nido, Palawan. The Amazing Race was held there a few years ago.



  4. Stephen @ How To Save Money on August 14, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Being married to a Filipina-Canadian, I actually CAN say that I’ve been to Borocay. I was very surprised to find this post here so I had to comment 🙂

    I’ve only been to the Philippines once, and while we were there we did stay a few day in Borocay. It was way too short as I think we only had two full days there. We stayed at one of the higher priced hotels/resorts right on the beach (probably in station 1). I don’t remember the name of the place right now and I can’t really offer any frugal tips as my in-laws took care of all of the planning seeing as they are natives. Maybe I’ll get to go back someday.



  5. Young on August 16, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    @Stephen- out of curiosity, was it windy when you were there? I don’t know if it was because we went on low season or if Boracay is usually windy. I am assuming the latter because of all the water activities/ wind surfing available.



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