Oh I love the Philippines, when it’s sunny. I’ve spent over a month there island hopping and love the carefree lifestyle and beautiful beaches to explore. Boracay is a definite highlight, but doesn’t everyone know it?
When I went it was Chinese New Year and it was hectic. So, top tip: make sure to check your festivals before you plan a trip to Boracay.
There are loads of things to do in Boracay on a budget, making it perfect for all sorts of travellers. Of course the cheapest thing to do in Boracay is to just lie on the beach, but you can’t do that all day, can you?
Let me take you through a few of the best things to do for cheap in Boracay.
Top tips for cheap Boracay
- Stay at Station 1 down the other end of the island.
- Don’t go in February (Chinese New Year).
- Most hotels have breakfast included, but you’d be missing out on the best breakfasts in Boracay
- Airport transfers are cheap, just bargain down.
- Make sure to go to the fish night market for cheap and fresh dinners.
- Check out the roof top pool at W Hostel if you’re skint, free entry with a drink!
Boracay island is only 10km2, but it fits a lot of fun and adventure in. I’d recommend you spend 4-5 days exploring, as a minimum. I spent a week there in February, so let me tell you a little bit about it.
Where is Boracay?
Boracay is a surprisingly small island, especially considering its notoriety. It’s almost 200 miles south of Manila and just a mile off Panay Island.
How to get to Boracay
You can reach Boracay by flying from Cebu or Manila to Caticlan, the nearest airport. From there it’s just a 10-20 minute boat ride over to Boracay Island. Or, you can take a ferry from Batangas, which will take ages but be cheaper.
Either way the routes to Caticlan are well used, and made the easier by the touts. If you have a few pesos to spare, take them up on their offers of getting you to your hotel in Boracay, via boat and bus, it’ll make your arrival much simpler.
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Budget Boracay vs luxury
Boracay is right at the heart of the backpacker route through the Philippines, and whether you go by yourself, or with old or new friends, you’re bound to make some more in the friendly hostels and beach bars.
It’s also got some stunning hotels for anyone on a bit more of a flexible budget, and if you’re going all out (honeymooners?) then there are some really nice, private hotels here too.
White Beach, Boracay
The main beach in Boracay, White Beach, is divided up into three ‘Stations’.
Station 1 is busy but manageable.
Station 2 is crazy busy and where most of the parties are and where the boat tours leave from.
Station 3 is definitely more peaceful. It’s where most of the yoga is, and where the boutique hotels are.
It’s easy to walk between the three along the beach, and a little more difficult along the road. Boracay is surprisingly hilly.
Cheap things to do in Boracay
As one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Philippines, there are loads of cheap things to do on Boracay.
You could go parasailing, paraw sailing (in the cool Filipino wooden boats), or have freediving lessons. Mermaid swimming is a thing here – you attach a mermaid tail and learn to swim like Aerial. All for the photos, obviously.
The Philippines are one of the best places in the world to go scuba diving, and Boracay in particular. You’ll find plenty of scuba diving places lining the beach if you want to give it a go. If that’s not your thing then just grab a snorkel and a mask and explore. Just make sure you put your head under water at some point.
You definitely can’t go to Boracay without exploring some of the surrounding islands. The journey, and the islands are absolutely stunning. There are so many boats going out to the islands that you can get one pretty cheap, and they go super regularly too. You can also go helmet diving – great if you want to see under the sea but don’t have the money, skills or time to go scuba diving. You can just pick up a tour from one of the touts on the beach. Make sure to haggle for the best price.
Yoga in Boracay
Yoga is quite a big thing on Boracay. Start your day off right with a class on the top floor of True Food Indian Restaurant, looking out over the beach. You couldn’t get a more serene location for your downward dog. Or, you could try the Mandala Spa and Villas, where you’ll be guided through your vasanya surrounded by the lush plants and trees and with the Flipino breeze floating on through.
I loved doing yoga in Boracay. There was just something really magical about feeling the wind through the classroom (not that kinda wind).
ATV driving on Boracay
You’ll see lots of places advertising ATV driving on Boracay. You can choose from either a ‘scenic’ or ‘adventurous’ ATV drive through the Boracay mountains.
Both trips start and end at the Happy Dreamland Theme Park, which no one bothered to repair when the typhoons destroyed everything. It’s now kind of eerie and a reminder of the severe weather the island is mercy to. There’s an illusion museum here, you can look around for free, and you can also combine your ATV drive with a Superman style zip line.
Nightlife in Boracay
And as for the evening fun in Boracay, just head to White Beach. If you’re travelling by yourself the nightly pub crawl is a great way to meet other travellers, or just pop along with your group to meet some new people.
The island’s biggest parties happen at The White House and Club Paraw, both located in Station 1.
Beaches on Boracay
Picture perfect beaches all round on Boracay – if you manage to find a quiet one!
White Beach is where most of the tourists head to, and where the Stations are positioned but let’s go all explorer on Boracay and take a look at the other beaches you could enjoy.
Bulabog Beach is where the kitesurfers hang out, and when you read ‘kitesurfers’ you know that means wind. So sporty people might like it, not so much for the sunbathers.
Puka Beach is a great spot to get away from the sunset crowds of White Beach as it’s a 20-minute tricycle ride away from town.
Tambisaan Beach, the best beach for snorkelling and checking out the marine life. Swim out a few metres with your snorkel on and you can enjoy spotting the creatures chilling at the bottom of the ocean.
And finally, for now, one of the best things to do in Boracay on a budget, is to indulge in a massage. Except it’s not that much of an indulgence because they’re only about £5 for an hour on the beach.
I had a massage in Boracay every day – couldn’t resist.
Where to eat on Boracay
You can eat for pretty cheap in Boracay, if you focus and don’t get distracted by all the restaurants. The food options in Boracay were a lot better than the rest of the Philippines, trust me. Get your fill while you’re here.
I had some great breakfasts in Boracay. Try Sunny Side Cafe right on the beach for their famous waffles, go to Lemoni for a traditional Filipino breakfast, and Nonie’s for some Filipino cuisine with a more modern flair.
The Boracay d’Mall has loads of options for lunch and dinner, including cuisines from all around the world. Try Steam Punk for burgers and American flavours – you can even build your own burger here and they serve one that’s big enough for 2-3 people. Nice little challenge for you there after a night out.
You can do it!
If you want to get away from the hustle, and the sun, step back away from the sea and head to Pig Out. Full of delicious porky products in some nice air conditioning, this is a great place to relax and just enjoy your meal.
The D’Talipapa fish market is the most popular place for a cheap dinner. It’s super popular with locals and tourists, and is a great place to pick up some tasty fish, as fresh as you’ll ever eat it. And for a good price too.
If you fancy trying some traditional barbecued Filipino food, head to Mang Inasal. It’s well known as the local cheap place to eat, serving all kinds of food for you to try.
Mango fruit is super popular here. They must have good access because you can get a delicious mango shake for about £1 – so good. Just look out for the street food stalls lining the beach.
Best budget hotels on Boracay
I stayed at one of the most popular hostels on the island, the W Hostel. It was in a great location just off the main strip but close enough for all the fun of the beach. Unfortunately the staff were so rude (very unusual for the Philippines), but the rooms were big, there was a rooftop terrace and bar with a swimming pool and the beds had curtains – made up for it.
Other good options for cheap accommodation in Boracay include Mad Monkey if you want to party, Chillax to relax with an eco vibe and My Hostel Boracay if you want somewhere just that little bit fancier.
Hostel accommodation on Boracay starts from around £3.
More budget places to stay on Boracay
Check out the best places to stay in Boracay on Booking.com.
My top 5 experiences on Boracay
1. Eating as much as possible at the Sunny Side Cafe, with mimosas to knock it all back.
2. Joining an island hopping tour to go snorkelling. Jump off the boat, it’s fun.
3. Going for a night out at the bars, restaurants and clubs on White Beach.
4. Hiring a moped – definitely the best way to get around and you get to see the beaches on your own terms.
5. Lazing on the beach and only moving to sip on a mango juice and admire the scenery. This is what you came to the Philippines for after all!
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