Yes we’re off to the Philippines for the 3rd time this year. Countless people have commented on the Philippines being our favorite place; but honestly, you just can’t beat the cheap airfare (We keep seeing fares for between $150-$200)! Plus we’ve been visiting different spots in the Philippines to see different things. We went to Manila to see the city and check out Taal Volcano; we went to Cebu to enjoy the beach and see the whale sharks; and we were in Boracay to do absolutely nothing.
Work has been fairly exhausting lately and Scott and I both finished giving a tour of Korea to some work visitors. Therefore we were ready to do nothing but relax in the sun.
When I planned the trip, I did some searching online and there are those who love the island atmosphere and those who find Boracay some kind of tourist trap/ecological disaster. I’ll go ahead and add my point of view to the mix and you can decide for yourself.
My first suggestion would be to think what’s important to you. Are you a beach junkie? Well if you are then Boracay should definitely be on your radar. Even if you don’t have to be at the beach, and are happy just laying out by the pool, the views from the island are worthwhile.
Second question should be, do you mind crowds while you’re at the beach? If you think you’re going to a deserted beach where it’s just you and your significant other, than Boracay is definitely not for you. The white beach area is definitely crowded with vendors and tourists. There is no semblance of privacy, but having grown up going to Clearwater beach regularly, I’m no stranger to fighting the throngs of people to enjoy some beach time. Regardless, a nice walk on the beach is nothing to snuff at.
So I’ll tell you what we decided to do. We decided that peace and quiet was more important to us and chose to stay on the opposite side of the island from the white beach. We opted for a resort that had a nice infinity pool and spacious rooms. This resort (and many others) offer an hourly shuttle to the white sand beach area so that you can still enjoy the beach, shopping, food, and entertainment. I am 110% not disappointed with this decision. Monaco Suites de Boracay has far exceeded our expectations in terms of the rooms, service and just overall atmosphere. I could say more, but I’ll just let my photos do the talking.
Since we were looking for more of a relaxing getaway atmosphere, the Monaco worked out great for us. If you would like to to stay closer to the action and nightlife Boracay has to offer (more to follow in part II of my Boracay post) then you might opt to stay at one of the white beach resorts like the Hennann Resorts or the District (disclaimer: we didn’t stay at any of these resorts so I can’t speak to the quality, but they looked nice from the exterior and tripadvisor reviews).
Our room also included a daily breakfast buffet which was served till 11 AM (which comes in handy when you don’t plan on waking up till 10 AM!). The restaurant also provides full service lunch and dinner as well and has Filipino as well as a variety of other foods.
Now that you’ve decided Boracay is a place you’d like to visit, let’s talk about how to get here. There are 2 main airports that people use, Kalibo and Caticlan. Kalibo airport is by far the cheaper airport to fly from (our fare was approximately $160 round trip on Air Asia from Incheon International Airport ). Whereas when I searched for flights into Caticlan it was about $450. That’s a big difference.
Now the trade off is that Caticlan is much closer to Boracay, just a quick ferry ride to be exact. To get to Boracay from Kalibo is a 1.5 hour taxis/bus/shuttle ride to the Caticlan Jetty Port and then you take the ferry. We were pretty concerned about the 1.5 hour drive, but it ended up being no issues. We actually landed at 8:10 pm and by the time we made it through the immigration line out the doors and I exchanged money and picked up a SIM card, we still made it between 9:45 PM to the jetty port and plenty of time for the 10:00 PM ferry. By 10:30 we were already checked into our resort and having a late night snack.
For the transportation, we utilized myboracayguide.com and booked the private transfer. There was a guide waiting for us as soon as we walked out of the airport and he guided us to our van. When we arrived at the jetty port, again a guide was waiting to give us our tickets and take us through to the ferry and then to put us on a van to our resort. Overall their services were good (except they made a mistake on our pick up time to return to the airport, luckily our hotel was on top of things and called them). I would still do some price comparison with Southwest transport and don’t forget to ask your hotel.
The Kalibo airport is tiny, here it is from the outside.
When you land, you literally walk from the Tarmac to the arrival gate. Here is the departure area, there are 2 gates total!
Before they even let you into the airport, you must have a health form in addition to immigration form completed. So make sure you do this on the plane or you’ll be lingering outside on the tarmac. Immigration consists of 2 immigration officers at a booth. The line here can look pretty long, but for the most part they were moving through the people fairly quickly. Right after immigration, is the single luggage belt (for checked luggage) and then you turn the corner and go through customs. The customs officer didn’t check people’s luggage but did check purses and hand luggage.
Two more things you’ll want to keep in mind about the airport are:
1. There is a terminal departure fee that is not included in your ticket price. And you will want to make sure you keep enough money for when you depart Kalibo. The domestic fee is 200 PHP and the international fee is 700 PHP.
2. Don’t get crazy with your carry on luggage. For instance, Air Asia permits 1 carry on weighing 7 kg. And they weighed our carry one to make sure we were in compliance. So if you plan on making a lot of purchases or you’re just an over packer, might be worth it to pay for the checked luggage.
So what to do once you make it to the Caticlan Jetty Port? You will get your tickets at the main counter, and then follow the signs to the ferry. Our guide bought our tickets for us and guided us all the way onto the boat, which made it nice and easy.
Stay tuned next week for Part II of our trip to Boracay. I’ll show you the white beach and tell you about some yummy noms that we had!