Powder soft white sand beaches lapped by clear blue water. Coconut palms overhanging the beach under which you can lounge at any one of hundreds of restaurants and cafes.
There are endless things to do in Boracay, with activities to suit every taste.
Think Boracay is too exotic and you could never afford it?
Consider this: we spent about two and a half weeks on Boracay for less than $75 per day for a family of four. We break it all down in this post so you can see how we did it.
We found Boracay to be near perfect for family travel and we want to make it easy for you to plan a trip to this Philippines paradise, so we wrote this guide.
First, here’s a short video of some highlights.
Boracay Family Travel Guide – Quick Reference
The guide refers to some of our other posts, which cover specific topics in more detail. They’re all linked here for easy reference.
- How to Get to Boracay
- Orchids Resort: Boracay Beach Resort on a Budget
- Cheap Food on Boracay
- Boracay White Beach and Beyond
- Boracay Oceanarium
- Boracay to Kalibo Airport
In our planning we relied on these two posts from Just One Way Ticket: Boracay on a Budget and A Travel Guide to the Philippines’ Most Visited Island. Update: Also check out this Boracay beaches guide on Boracay Compass.
Boracay is a tiny island off the coast of Panay in the Visayas region of the Philippines. We’ve covered all the details about how to get to Boracay in an earlier post, but here are the basics.
- You first fly to either Kalibo or Caticlan airports, which are on the neighboring island of Panay.
- Boats leave from Caticlan to Boracay, so if you fly to Kalibo you have to also take some ground transport to Caticlan.
- Once on Boracay you can hire a tricycle or van to bring you to your resort from the port.
- You can also purchase a package from Southwest Tours that will get you all the way from Kalibo airport to your hotel.
There is essentially one main road on Boracay that runs down the middle of the island from north to south. Small side roads run between the main road and the beaches.
The main road is busy, jam packed with motor tricycles and scooters.
The primary Boracay tourist area, White Beach, covers the central portion of the island’s west coast. It is pedestrian only and is a dream for families with little ones. White Beach ranges from busy to tranquil depending where you are. Station 3 is the quiet end of the beach, perfect for a family vacation.
Yes, there is a lot of development along most of White Beach. But it was still not crowded even during peak season. It was easy to carve out space for ourselves on the sand (much easier than Cape Cod where we are from).
If you are after an completely untouched tropical oasis experience then White Beach probably won’t do it for you. But you can find some solitude even without leaving Boracay (try Puka Shell Beach).
We really enjoyed Orchids, our affordable Boracay beach resort near White Beach Station 3. We found it convenient to be near all the shops and restaurants that line White Beach.
It seems that you can pay just about whatever you want for accommodation on Boracay. There are awesome budget lodging options in traditional buildings like Orchids Resort where we stayed, as well as glitzy resorts with fancy swimming pools and more modern architecture.
Take a look on Agoda for an idea of prices, though keep in mind the best deals are often in person or via email directly with the resort.
To us, the big draw of Boracay is the beach. None of the White Beach resorts have private rights to the beach, so you’re free to roam the full length no matter where you stay. We figured why pay for a high end room when we’re going to the beach every day anyway!
There are a slew of budget options behind White Beach in the same area as Orchids. While not directly on the beach they are all within a few minutes walk and offer significant cost savings over the waterfront places. The beach in this area is beautiful and uncrowded. There are also several delicious options for cheap one-of-a-kind Boracay dining experiences nearby.
We paid 800 pesos (less than $18) per night for accommodation. You should be able to find several places in the 800-1,000 peso range without too much trouble.
Food in Boracay
Eating in Boracay is similar to the lodging – you can pay about as much or as little as you want.
There are many vendors selling mouthwatering skewers of grilled pork right on the beach for 20 pesos apiece (about $0.45). Then there are Boracay restaurants like Paupatri where it’s hard to find an entree for less than 700 pesos ($15).
There are also lots of unique Boracay restaurants like the D’Talipapa fish market where you purchase your seafood and have it cooked on site.
We found a bunch of great places to eat all over Boracay but the majority of moderately priced restaurants are around Station 3. Check out our guide for recommendations about where to eat cheap on Boracay.
Something we didn’t mention in our Boracay food post – for breakfast you can save some money by finding a nearby bake shop and picking up pastries and bread the night before. These shops are scattered all over the island and have a variety of delicious rolls, buns, cookies, and breads.
Despite having really inexpensive breakfast offered at Orchids Resort (130 pesos per plate) we still saved a bunch when we decided to go the pastry route instead. At most bake shops there’s a big selection of tasty carb loaded treats for 5 or 6 pesos each.
Another Boracay food tip is to listen for the call of the Taho man. Every morning you’ll hear “Tahoooh” up and down the roads of Boracay.
If you find the source of the calls you’ll see a guy balancing two metal pails over his shoulder, each hanging from the end of a long stick. Inside the pails are the ingredients for a Philippine treat called Taho. You’ll have to take initiative and approach these guys – unlike most Boracay vendors they don’t target tourists.
Taho is basically a soft tofu mixed with a molases-like sweetener and little beads similar to tapioca. It’s delicious and a fun taste of local culture. You should be able to get a cup for 20 pesos or less (our salesman’s first offer was a cup for 40 pesos, so be sure to negotiate).
Our average food cost on Boracay was $45 per day for 2 adults and 2 children, including all meals, snacks, and drinks.
Activities in Boracay
Go to the beach! We spent the vast majority of our time on Boracay going to the beach. In fact we wrote a post all about 3 awesome Boracay beaches.
The beach is free fun! One of the reasons we were able to travel inexpensively in Boracay is that our costs were mostly limited to accommodation and food.
We did splurge a little to visit the Boracay Oceanarium on one rainy day. It was worth it though and we had a lot of fun.
Other than the Oceanarium we spent very little on activities and entertainment.
Not that there is any lack of things to do in Boracay.
As one tout said to us only half joking during a walk on White Beach: “Sir, Ma’am, are you interested in spending some money today?”
There are sailing tours, island hopping adventures on local banca outriggers, parasailing, and even mermaid swimming (seriously, you can pay to put on a mermaid tail and swim). There are a lot of sunset cruises.
There’s also scuba diving and banana boat rides (a long inflatable “banana” pulled behind a speedboat). You can get a massage or have your toes nibbled on by little fish while you dangle your feet in a big aquarium tank overlooking White Beach.
We spent an average of $2 per day on entertainment and activities.
We did a lot of walking up and down White Beach, but there are other ways to get around Boracay too.
The main mode of transportation on Boracay is the motor tricycle. These contraptions are basically an oversized side car bolted to the side of a motorcycle. The driver rides on the motorcycle and the passengers in the side car (most of the time – occasionally one or two folks will ride on the bike with the driver).
The Boracay version of the “trike” has both a front and rear passenger compartment and, based on our observations, an unlimited capacity for people and stuff.
We’ve seen at least 8 people on one of these at the same time. We’ve also seen them towing 20 ft. long bamboo poles down the road, with the ends of the poles dragging on the street. Some are loaded with construction debris or crates of San Miguel beer.
We crammed the four of us into the front compartment and all of our bags piled precariously into the back on our way to the port to leave Boracay and didn’t get any weird looks.
Hailing and Paying for Trikes
You can either hire the whole trike or allow the driver to pick up and drop off additional passengers along the way to your destination (hop on hop off).
If you hire the whole thing you can get between just about any two points on Boracay for 150 pesos (about $3.50).
If you share and allow the hop on hop off then the fare is 10 pesos per person between most places in the White Beach area.
If you’re going outside the White Beach area you usually have to hire the whole trike because the driver doesn’t stand much chance of picking up other passengers.
The trikes are easy to hail in most places and the drivers are friendly and expect some haggling (some want 200 pesos for longer trips like to Puka Shell Beach, but we found they will take 150). Just stand by the edge of the road and look for an empty one (if you want the whole trike) or one with enough empty seats if you want to share (basically any one – remember, unlimited capacity). Just wave and they’ll stop.
Along White Beach itself there are several human-powered tricycles that can give you a lift up and down the beach. We didn’t try one of these as it didn’t look like we could all fit in one. Plus even if we could we felt it would just be cruel to the driver! We understand the fare is typically about 150 pesos.
You can walk to most places along White Beach from other places along White Beach.
Walking from one end of White Beach to the other probably takes about a half hour if you keep up a good pace. We often made the walk between Station 3 and the D’Mall area with the kids and that typically took about 15 minutes (some with kids walking, some with us carrying them).
Our average transportation cost was $4 per day.
Boracay Travel Wrap-Up
Boracay is great for family travel. There’s a ton of activities in Boracay even if you get tired of building sandcastles, swimming, and watching sunsets at the beach.
Boracay is inexpensive if you’re coming from most developed countries so you can stretch your savings further. Here’s our expense breakdown for our 17 day stay on Boracay:
- Accommodation: $18 per day
- Food: $45 per day
- Transportation: $4 per day
- Entertainment/Activities: $2 per day
- Souveniers, communication (e.g. wifi, cell phone), other miscellaneous: about $5-6 per day
- Total Boracay Travel Budget: $75 per day for family of four
The people are super welcoming. We saw smiles everywhere we looked. The twins were extremely popular and people were always more than willing to help us out.
Boracay is definitely “touristy” but there are still opportunities to discover a deserted stretch of sand that’s just for you.
The upside of the tourism boom here is that there are nearly limitless options for Boracay accommodation, food, and entertainment.
The local businesses also do a great job of keeping the water and beaches clean, something that can’t be said about other places in the Philippines.
We loved Boracay and hope we have the opportunity to visit again!