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Thursday, 23 June 2016

Borocay Travel Guide And Tips


Borocay is a very small island and a destination where you can easily travel on your own. Measuring  only 7km long and about 800 metres at its narrowest stretch, it is feasible to explore a fairly large part of the island on foot. There is only one main road running from the south to the north (marked by the yellow line on the map) and many small lanes branching off this main road which leads mostly to the beaches so it is unlikely to get lost even though most of the lanes are not named.
I am sharing a few guidelines and travelling tips that may make travelling a lot easier for first time visitors to this island.

Best Time To Visit Borocay
The best time to visit Borocay as recommended by Borocay Weather Guide is from mid-November till mid-May. This corresponds to the dry season where one can expect clear blue skies and calm seas. During the typhoon season which last from mid-July till November, heavy rain, thunderstorm and choppy seas  are to be expected. 
I chose to be in Borocay during April which is supposed to be a good month and true enough, the skies were clear and the seas were calm. However I didn't expect the sun to scorch so mercilessly. The heat started to built up as early as 8.30am and the day remained hot till the sun set at 6pm. It was very humid during the day and we were drenched with sweat each time we spent the day out. So the 'best' is not really the best for me and I am not sure which is a better month to be in Borocay. Try January, that may be a cooler month.


Getting From Kalibo Airport To Your Hotel In Borocay
Getting into Borocay involves a 3-tier transportation:

1.  From Kalibo Airport to Caticlan Jetty (in Caticlan) 
This journey will take one and a half to two hours by van, bus or taxi depending on the traffic condition. Php200/pax appears to be quite the standard rate if you take the van.

2.  From Caticlan Jetty across the sea to Cagban Jetty (in Borocay)
You will have to pay Php100 for terminal fees, Php75 for envionmental fees, and Php20 for ferry fare which totals Php200/pax.. These tickets are bought at Caticlan Jetty Terminal.

3.  From Cagban Jetty to Your Hotel in Borocay
The rate increases from Boat Station 3 to 2 to 1 which gets further and further away from Cagban Jetty. Transport to Puka Beach would be the most expensive as it is on the extreme northern end from Cagban jetty. Staying at Bulabog Beach would be slightly more expensive compared to Station 1 as it is on the eastern coast of the island.
This is an account of my experience: 
It was a chaotic scene outside the arrival hall of Kalibo Airport when we arrived. Many taxi drivers and van operators were seen holding up price cards soliciting customers. I was searching for proper offices or kiosks of travel agents that could make arrangement for our transfer all the way to our hotel but I didn't see any in the vicinity of the arrival hall. Instead there was a make-do stall opened by Southwest which sells a travel package all the way to the Borocay accommodation.
(I learned later that the proper kiosks of  these agents are located opposite the departure hall which is at the extreme end of the airport walkway (just a few minutes walk away).

Anyway Southwest wanted to charge Php600  but another agent called KCAMC only charged Php500 so we went for the cheaper one. We could save a few bucks if we did the 3-tier transport ourselves but our luggage is heavy and we didn't want to go through the hassle. Anyway KCAMC was reliable and we were brought right to the door step of our hotel in Borocay. There could be other agents as well but only these two turned up upon our arrival.
KCAMC also operates a mini market diagonally opposite the arrival hall of the airport.
We arrived at Caticlan Jetty after just one and a half hours.
Paying the agent comes with a lot of convenience as all these tickets were bought for us. 
We were ushered to an outrigger boat that took us to Borocay.
Cagban Jetty Port in Borocay.
The boat ride to Cagban Jetty, Borocay is just a short one, less than 15 minutes. From the jetty we were put on a BLTMC van that dropped the passengers at their individual hotels.

Useful Things To Collect At Caticlan Jetty Port.
Don't forget to collect this VIP card and a big map of Borocay for free from MyBorocay Guide counter at Caticlan Jetty before taking the boat across to Borocay. There are many participating F&B outlets that give 10% discount with this card. 
A map of Borocay is also useful to gauge the distance you need to travel from one point to another. This can at least prevent you from being ripped off when you take public transport.

Currency To Bring
All shops and eateries use the Philippine Pesos so that's the currency to bring. It is good to prepare small denomination of this currency for potter's tips, tricycle rides, etc. Credit cards are accepted at most hotels and higher end eateries.
Money changers are easily available along the main road at the various boat stations, at D'Mall and at White beach. All offer more or less similar exchange rates.

Best Place to Stay
This is rather subjective. If you are looking for extremely quiet getaways, hotels near Puka Beach or Bulabog Beach would be ideal. But who would want to holiday in Borocay and miss out on Borocay fun and night life?  For me the ideal place would be one where eateries, transportation and major attractions are just around the corner. I would say the southern end of Station 1, Station 2 or the northern end of Station 3 are the best places to stay (refer map above).
I stayed in Crown Regency Prince Hotel which can be considered an ideal location. To see a review of this hotel click http://anythinglily.blogspot.com/2016/06/borocay-travel-crown-regency-prince.html#more

Public Transport In The Island
There are no cars, buses or trains in Borocay. The main mode of public transport are vans and motorized tricycles. The motorized tricycles are the most common mode of transport and hop-on hop-off rate within station 1, 2 and 3 is just Php10. This rate is very cheap but the tricycle rider has to first agree to bring you to your desired destination within the 3 boat stations. Getting to places off this route would cost more depending on the distance and your bargaining power.
Visitors who are entering Borocay or leaving it at the end of their vacation usually need the van to transport their big luggage.

Things To Do 
There are so many things one can do in Borocay, it may not be possible to list all of them. Things that normally interest me are culture, lifestyle, geographical features and cuisines unique to the place. 
I am listing some of the best things you can do in Borocay.

1. Watch Borocay Sunset 
Borocay Sunset is simply stunning. You can view sunset from the beaches on the west coast or north coast of Borocay. Sunset can also be viewed from Mount Luho. Click to see the beautiful sunset pictures I took. http://anythinglily.blogspot.com/2016/05/whats-so-special-about-borocay-sunset.html

2. See Borocay coastline from Mount Luho
A must-do activity in Borocay is a visit to its highest peak. Mount Luho is just 100 metres a.s.l. but it is Borocay's best viewpoint. From here you get to see a spectacular panorama and more than half the coastline of this island. Click to see what I saw from Mount Luho: 

3. Visit Borocay's Popular Beaches
Borocay is famed for its pristine beaches so a visit to this island would be incomplete without a visit to at least two or three of its beaches. Click to view the beaches I visited:
(i)   White Beach
(ii)  Puka Shell Beach
(iii) Diniwid Beach
(iv) Tambisaan Beach
(v)  Bulabog Beach

4. Join An Island Hopping Tour
Another must-do activity in Borocay is to join a group Island Hopping Tour.
There are many agents that sell this tour but the cheapest available is one organised by Allan B Fun Tours which charges only Php700/pax inclusive of a buffet lunch.
To know more about island hopping in Borocay and to see a review of Allan B Fun Tours Island Hopping activity click: 
http://anythinglily.blogspot.com/2016/06/borocay-travel-review-of-allan-b-fun.html

5. Visit Crystal Cove Island
The island hopping tour I joined include a visit to this beautiful island off the north east coast of Borocay. Click to see more pictures of Crystal Cove Island on the link below: 
http://anythinglily.blogspot.com/2016/05/borocay-travel-crystal-cove-island.html

6. Visit The Markets
The most popular market in Borocay is D'Talipapa which is located at Station 2. It is a wet market where you can buy seafood and get them cooked for a fee at a nearby restaurant. There is also a maze of stalls selling all types of merchandise in the vicinity.
Another market with a similar setting is I'Talipapa. This market which is located at Station 3, is smaller and less popular compared to D'Talipapa.  D'Mall Palengke is just a marketplace at Station 2 where you can get fresh produce alongside other shops and restaurants. To know more about these markets click: http://anythinglily.blogspot.com/2016/05/borocay-travel-dtalipapa-island-mall.html

7. Visit Willy's Rock
Willy's Rock is natural rock formation that houses a catholic shrine. It is one of Borocay's most iconic features and a must-see if you are in Borocay. Click on link to find out more http://anythinglily.blogspot.com/2016/05/borocay-travel-willys-rock.html

8. Try Out The Myriads Of Activities At White Beach
White Beach is the most happening beach in Borocay. There is a myriad of activities to do at this beach. Click to see what you can do at White Beach:  
Things To Do At White Beach

9. Appreciate The Borocay Lifestyle
Walking the street and the small lanes, visiting the villages, the churches, the beaches, tasting the food and seeing how the locals live can be a rewarding experience in itself.
Click to see Borocay lifestyle the way I see it.
http://anythinglily.blogspot.com/2016/05/borocay-travel-borocay-lifestyle.html


Where To Shop
Most of Borocay's shopping outlets are located at Station 2. 
Listed below are a few places to shop:
i) D'Mall 
This is the main shopping hub of Borocay. There are all types of good sold here including upper end merchandise. To see more click http://anythinglily.blogspot.com/2016/06/borocay-travel-dmall.html

ii) D'Talipapa
This is probably the cheapest place to get made in Philippines souvenirs, T-shirts, etc. 

iii) I'Talipapa, Bamboo Market, White Beach, Main Road Shops
There are many shops and small stalls at these mentioned areas where you might find a thing or two to bring home. 

What To Buy
These are made in Philippines products that may interest you. The preserved fruits are very sweet and are best avoided by those with sugar intolerance.
These made in Borocay souvenirs are very cheap if purchased from D'Talipapa.
T shirts, singlets, beachwear, etc are available in abundance at the hundreds of stalls.

What And Where To Eat
There are countless eateries in Borocay serving local as well as international cuisines. There are cheap as well as higher end eats to cater for visitors with varying budgets. There are also international food chains like McDonalds, TGI Friday, Subway, Starbucks, Shakey's Pizza etc. Buffet meals at some hotel operated restaurants offer a wider spread of cuisines and most are very affordable.
To see my dining experience click:http://anythinglily.blogspot.com/2016/06/borocay-travel-borocay-eats.html
To see a review of the biggest buffet restaurant along White Beach click:http://anythinglily.blogspot.com/2016/06/borocay-travel-review-of-dinner-buffet.html
To see a review of a restaurant with a "toilet" theme click: 
http://anythinglily.blogspot.com/2016/05/a-restaurant-called-borocay-toilet.html#more

Useful Things To Bring From Home
Most Borocay tourists spend a lot of time at the beach. A list of Must-Bring include sunglasses, broad hats, suntan lotion, beach sandals and beachwear. These things can be purchased in Borocay but they may be more expensive compared to your home country.

From Borocay To Kalibo Airport
A major concern of most visitors would be getting back to the airport on time to catch their flights home.
The same 3 tier transportation applies:
(i) From your hotel to Cagban Jetty
(ii) From Cagban Jetty To Caticlan Jetty
(iii) From Caticlan Jetty To Kalibo Airport. 

You can do this yourselves and save a few bucks but it is much more convenient to pay a travel agent to get you safely to the airport. Staying around the tourist hub of Station 1, 2 or 3 has its advantage as it is easy to find such agents. 

The journey from Cagban Jetty to Caticlan jetty is cheaper by Php75 as environmental fee is only paid once during the inbound journey. The outbound journey is therefore always cheaper by Php75.
Our hotel is just a few steps away from Island Star Express that arranged our transport all the way back to Kalibo Airport. From Station 1 to Kalibo Airport, this agent charged Php450/pax. There are many such agents at the various boat stations.

At Kalibo Airport


6 comments :

  1. Love to travel to a he Philippines. You've provided some amazing tips. Especially the Mount Luho sunset tips. I'm always on the hunt for the best sunset/rise hotspots.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am a fan of sunset but not sunrise as I am not disciplined to wake up early.

      Delete
  2. Fantastic Post as I'm planning to visit from digital travel guru

    ReplyDelete
  3. Your post is sensational! I love Philippines 'cause I have been there twice! On the second time I stayied on Boracay for 5 days; All you wrote above is more or less what I think about this beautiful Island! Thanks for sharing it, anyway I saw one of the most beautiful sunset of Asia on Boracay!

    ReplyDelete

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