“Where is Boracay, and why are you going there?” – The most common question I was asked when I told people about my latest adventure.
For those of you who don’t know where Boracay is, it is the most visited island in the Philippines. The island is known for crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches… basically, a tropical paradise! My family and I travelled to Boracay from 21 to 27 January 2017, which falls within their peak season.
My first post about Boracay will be relating to our travel experience. On day 1, we began our long journey from King Shaka International airport in Durban, South Africa. The route that we chose looked something like this:
- Flight 1 : Durban to Johannesburg (1 hour)
- Flight 2 : Johannesburg to Singapore (10.5 hours)
- Flight 3 : Singapore to Manila (3.5 hours)
- Flight 4 : Manila to Calibo (1 hour)
- Drive : Calibo to Caticlan jetty (2 hours)
- Ferry : Caticlan to Boracay (10min)
28 hours later (after adding in transit times), we arrived at our hotel in Boracay. It’s safe to say that this was one of the longest trips that I have ever taken! Of course, prices and flight times had a lot to do with selecting this particular route.
Getting to the Philippines
For South Africans, and most other citizens, the first step in getting to Boracay is to head to Manila. From South Africa, this can easily be done on airlines such as Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, Cathay Pacific, Malaysian Airlines and Singapore Airlines. Being the capital of the Philippines, Manila is also easily accessible from many other countries.
Getting to Boracay
After arriving in Manila, the next step is to travel to either Calibo or Caticlan airport. Caticlan would be the ideal option since it’s closer to Boracay Island than Calibo is.
The only international flight into Caticlan airport is from South Korea, making it super easy for South Koreans to visit Boracay!
Boracay is only accessible via a 10 minute ferry ride from the Caticlan jetty. Flying into Caticlan airport means that your drive to the jetty port will be approximately 10 minutes. Arriving at Calibo airport (like we did), means that you will get to the jetty within two and a half hours! We did feel the extra trip to Caticlan, especially after so many flights, however it was a good opportunity to catch a glimpse of all the little towns along the way.
For the entire transfer from Calibo to Caticlan to Boracay and back, we used a company called South West Tours Boracay. They were very professional and well organized, allowing the transfer to go through without any hiccups. I would highly recommend them to anyone travelling to Boracay. Transfers can either be booked online in advance or at Calibo airport when you land. We booked in advance, just for peace of mind.
Once again, we used Singapore Airlines for our international flights! And once again, we were not disappointed! Changi airport is seriously a pleasure to wait at. The sales at various duty free shops such as Kate Spade, Michael Kors, and Tumi, make it even more comfortable! 😉
For the flight from Manila to Calibo, we booked on Air Asia (via cheapflights). The airline was very comfortable and affordable. Many may be hesitant to fly Air Asia, considering the fatal crash in 2014, but flying is such, and anything can happen on any airline at any time! Other options into Calibo include CEBU Pacific Air and Philippine Airlines.
Whichever route you choose, safe travels!
Our transfer with South West Tours took us directly from the jetty to our hotel.
TIP: Please book accommodation in advance to avoid disappointment! We booked this trip 4 months in advance, and the island was already at 60% capacity.
Luckily, we managed to get a family room at the 5 star Henann Garden Resort, located at station 2. White Beach is the most famous part of the island for tourists, and is divided into stations 1, 2 and 3. Station 1 is the wider stretch of beach, and home to the more luxurious hotel brands such as Shangri La. Station 2 is known as the heart of white beach, with many bars, restaurants, and shops. Station 3 is the least developed, and also the quietest portion of White Beach. Although there are many low budget hotels and hostels, a few upmarket hotels have now been introduced at Station 3.
Most hotels have beach access, or are located very close to the beach. The Henann group of hotels seems to be a very popular group in Boracay, with 4 properties along White Beach. Henann Garden Resort is a stunning hotel on a large property, with direct beach access. The family room is like an apartment with 2 spacious bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a lounge area. Modern rooms with comfortable beds, and a clean bathroom made our stay very pleasant. Not to mention free wifi! The first bedroom has two single beds, and the second has a queen bed as well as a single bed. The one problem we had was that the shower spray wasn’t very strong, and the shower didn’t drain as quickly as usual.
The rate we chose included breakfast, which was a big spread of continental and local cuisine. During peak season, the breakfast area can get very busy and rowdy, so be sure to get there early if you can! There are 4 pools on the property, and a pool bar which serves delicious cocktails and juices! The Henann Garden Resort proved to be comfortable, clean and modern, with a central location within White Beach’s Station 2.
The other popular resort area is Bulabog Beach, which is across the island from White Beach. The beach is also stunning, but the wind tends to be a problem (it is a popular kite surfing spot).
There are many hotel options, but I still feel that White Beach is the better area to call home. However, if you do book on Bulabog Beach, it takes ten minutes by tricycle to get to White Beach!