Find and book unique accommodations on Airbnb
Guests agree: these stays are highly rated for location, cleanliness, and more.
Sand so pale you’d swear it was made of crushed eggshells. A translucent ocean that darkens from aqua to royal blue. Lush greenery and gently arching palm trees. If the tropical beauty of Boracay doesn’t stir the senses, you might as well stay at home. This tiny island — only five miles long and less than a mile wide — is located in the Western Visayas, about 200 miles south of Manila, at once remote and one of the Philippines’ best-known getaways.
The 13 beaches circling the island offer you every flavor of relaxation, from lolling about on the beach to parasailing and snorkeling to drinking cocktails under a cabana from sunset well into the night. Book a boat ride to visit some of the neighboring islands, with a swimming stop or two along the way. Pick up a freshly caught fish at the market and bring it to a nearby restaurant to prepare your dinner. Boracay actually became too popular too quickly, and in 2018, the national government closed the island to visitors for six months to restore the beaches. Now you have to make a reservation in order to stay. Which means, of course, that your trip to paradise won’t be ruined by overcrowding.
To get to this tiny island, you’ll have to take at least three forms of transportation. First, the airplane: Catch a flight from Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) in Manila to Caticlan (MPH), on the northern tip of the island of Panay. Then take a taxi or motorized tricycle from the Caticlan airport to the Caticlan Jetty Port, where you catch the ferry for a 10-minute ride. Keep in mind: You’ll need to show proof of a reservation on the island to receive a tourist QR code before purchasing a ticket on the ferry. Once you’re on Boracay, the island is small enough to walk around. For faster trips, hail a tricycle — and for slower rides, a boat.
When you travel to tropical Boracay, you rarely have to guess what to pack. With lows in the 70s Fahrenheit and highs in the 80s and 90s year round, light, breathable clothes are a must. Do check the calendar regarding rain gear, however: The monsoons begin in June and go through September, raining as much as 8 inches a month. The dry season in this corner of the Philippines — and peak tourist season, too — runs from October through April. New Year celebrations on Boracay are particularly festive, followed soon after by the Ati-Atihan Festival, when musicians and partiers with brightly painted faces take to the streets.
Stretching two miles along the west coast of Boracay, the stunning White Beach is in some ways the island’s main strip, lined with hotels, restaurants, shops, and all manner of amenities for visitors. You can parasail in the waters above the beach or stretch out on a towel and run your fingers through the powdery white sands. In some spots, sandbanks stretch out far into the water, allowing you to bask in the ocean and, for those traveling with kids, safely play. Tip: The farther south you wander along the beach, especially in the Station 3 region, the more chill the vibes become.
Though tourism has taken a toll on the coral reefs that encircle Boracay, the Philippine government has been working to restore and protect this vital natural resource. One of the best spots for snorkeling among the corals is the Punta Bunga Beach, near the northern tip of the island. From April to June the water is especially clear for spotting colorful parrotfish, lionfish, and angelfish —and if you head out a little farther, you might catch a glimpse of reef sharks or barracuda. Consider wading into the water soon after sunrise, when human activity is at its lowest.
The eastern coast of Boracay is the windier side, especially from November to April, and folks who’d rather play on the water than relax beside it certainly take advantage. Just across the island from White Beach, Bulabog Beach teems with sails and parachutes. Outfitters along this 1.5-mile stretch will set you up with the equipment and training you need to kiteboard or windsurf, and soon you’ll find yourself zipping along the water.