Finally, here’s my Boracay blog after planning to go here for a very long time. Yes, it’s my first visit here and haven’t seen the previous look before its rehabilitation last year as spearheaded by Duterte’s administration.
We’ve traveled to many beaches but I feel bothered to go on due to the reason that I haven’t been to the most popular beach on the Philippines – – Boracay.
Certainly, it is the most popular beach in the Philippines but also the most commercialized one. That’s one reason that hindered me from visiting this island as I prefer more natural ones like Calaguas and Bon Bon beach. But after the major rehabilitation last year, I just wanted to immediately travel to the new Boracay.
On my previous blog post, I have shared my experience on going to Boracay via 2go ship. We have limited budget alloted for this trip and going via 2go saved us thousands of pesos. There is a summary of expense listed at the end of this blog.
Arriving at Boracay via 2GO
I had goodnight sleep at the cabin. It was around 6am when the paging system announced the arrival at Caticlan port. Unfortunately, another ship has docked earlier and the ship has to wait for a slot to dock. We unloaded after around 45mins and called a tricycle to go to another port called Tabon. We paid P200 which I think was expensive.
At the port of Tabon, there was a booth collecting the Environmental and Port fees with a total of P100. Here, they will check if you already have an accommodation. Note that only DOT-accredited hotel and resorts are allowed. The boat fee did not hurt our budget at just P25. It’s similar to the boats going to Puerto Galera from Batangas port.
Tambisaan port greeted us with its fine white sands. From there we chartered a trike for P200 going to our accommodation at Hotel Soffia. It was worth it as it was far and steep.
Accommodation at Hotel Soffia
Hotel Soffia is located on the northern part of Boracay in Barangay Yapak. The closest station is Station 1 which is a 12 to 15-minute ride from the hotel. We chose this because we wanted an affordable hotel with a swimming pool — and after searching for hours, Hotel Soffia was the one which fitted. We booked via Agoda app as it offered huge discounts.
We arrived at the hotel early in the morning around 8:15 AM. Usually, hotels accept check-ins at 2:00 PM, but we were so glad that the front desk staff let us have early check-in at 9:00 AM. If you’re booking, make sure if your hotel does this as traveling in Boracay via ship or air has inconvenient times.
Hotel Soffia was simple but as a nice ambiance. The room we had has two Queen beds merged together. It rocked a balcony overlooking the skyline of Boracay. The restroom had a shower enclosure, but no bidet on site. Haha. There was also a view deck near our room where you can enjoy hang out, do sight-seeing or star-gazing at night.
As mentioned, one deciding factor why we chose this hotel was the pool. It has infinity pool that overlooks the horizon and seascape of Boracay. Located near it was the restaurant where the free buffet breakfast was served. We liked the tasty and variety of breakfast made available.
Day 1 – Sunset by the Beach and D’ mall
After a little rest at the comfy hotel bed, we went to D’ mall to start our walk along the shore. I was curious first why D’ mall was frequently mentioned on reviews on Agoda. Upon arriving there, I understood why. D’ mall is a one-stop shopping plaza where you can find souvenir items, fast-foods, famous restaurants, mini-market, hotels and many more establishments.
We walked by the shores of Station 2 at around 4PM. The waves were strong that time which made the water less clear. I loved how the shore was very organized. It’s relaxing to walk by the fine white sands of Boracay, enjoy the beautiful sunset and explore the shops nearby.
The boats were orderly with its blue sails matching with one another. Due to the former rehabilitaion, the shore was absolutely trash-free. After we enjoyed the setting of the sun, we walked far reaching the end of Station 3 and here I lost my action cam SJ6 Legend. I don’t know if I dropped it or someone took it. After searching a couple of minutes, we gave up and decided to rest.
Day 2 – Island Hopping and Helmet Diving for P500!
Yes, you read that right. The total price for our island hopping activity and helmet diving was only P500. It’s lot cheaper compared to discounted rates I saw on travel agency promos in the internet. The usual rate for island hopping alone is P1000. We got that promo the day before as a local tour guide approached us.
Early 9 in the morning we met with the tour guide the same place at Station 2. He fetched us and brought us to Bulabog beach where the water activities were located.
Our first top was Puka beach. It has fine white beach similar to station 2. There were no shops here hence giving a more natural look. No water activities to do here other than swimming. Just enjoy the view and strike your collection of poses in this beautiful place.
We then went to a spot where Snorkeling happened. Take note that there was a payment for gears for Snorkeling. They didn’t said it but the payment was for the gears not for the spot. The first spot has few corals while the second spot has many colorful corals and fishes. Fee for the gears was P40 per person.
We didn’t visit other spot as the waves were strong during our visit. Maybe this will be a norm during the rainy season running through ber-months.
Free lunch after Snorkeling
The boat ride from the Snorkeling pot to the dining spot is far as it was located at Malay island. It has a couple if long tables and local foods served in buffet.
Foods were delicious but quite few. I thought of Cowrie-like buffet in Palawan. That’s one room for improvement and I hope it will happen soon. After eating, we rode a jeep to helmet-diving spot.
Our group bound for helmet diving waited on another beach. The water was shallow and rubber pump boat would be the mode for transport. But before that you have to walk on around 10 meters of sea grass before you reach it.
Helmet diving was done on a barge with floating nipa hut. The queue was quite long at around 2 hours for a 15 to 20-minute activity.
It was quite an experience to stand at the bottom of the sea. Depth was around 15-foot deep on my estimate. The team has a couple GoPro Hero 7 that were used took our videos and photos. Don’t worry as it was free. They were shared to us via ShareIt after.
Third Day – Enjoying Station 1 and Hotel
The sun was already up as we open our eyes. It was our last day in Boracay and we must not waste more time. We ate our sumptuous breakfast at the hotel and fixed our things after.
Our third day was allotted for a morning walk on the beach, particularly Station 1. From my beach bumming experiences, I have concluded that a beach has a different view and aura on different time of the day specially in the morning and afternoon. These golden hours, as photographers call it, will give you the best lighting condition to get your perfect shots.
Boracay Station 1 has indeed the whitest and finest sand in the island. It is where the famous landmark, the small rock where a statue of the Virgin Mary is located. During our visit, many of the establishments here were still under construction. But that doesn’t hinder the beauty the shore offered.
Pooling at Soffia Hotel
After having the final look at the marvelous beach of Boracay, we then enjoyed the swimming pool at our accommodation. The infinity pool looks cool but not suited for large group.
We availed a 3-hour extension for our stay in Hotel Soffia. Unlike the early check-in, overstaying has a P150 per hour fee. It was a Saturday afternoon and viola, it was a huge hassle as it’s the worst time to travel due to many tourists and locals equally wanting to travel back to the main land of Malay.
After hours of waiting at the port, we board the 11 PM 2GO ship and slept as we travel back to our hometown, Batangas City.
How to Go?
You can fly to either Kalibo or Caticlan via local airlines. Kalibo route is more affordable while Caticlan has more expensive fares. There are plenty of airport to hotel transfer, but if you want to DIY, you can also haggle to tricycle drivers around.
Second option, as what we did, was to travel via RoRo. We found out that two shipping companies offer the transporation service, 2Go and Starlite. Visit our post for a more detailed explanation why we chose to go by sea.
Where to Eat?
From fastfoods, snack bars and posh restaurants, Boracay has lots to offer. But on our budget trip, we looked for those who offers delicious food but won’t put a hole on our pockets.
Heading to D’ Mall is the way to go if you want a variety of options in one place. There were lots of restaurants to go to with high reviews from the internet. We tried I ♥ Backyard BBQ and loved the food. The price waa around P250 per meal. We also bought Sharetea nearby as we were craving for milk tea then.
We also dine at Island Chiken Inasal and were greeted with Filipino-style resto. The foods were also affordable for just around P250 per meal. Other notable restaurants in the area are Hobbit Tavern, Lemoni Cafe and Restaurant, Steampunk Boracay, Titos Boracay, and The Pig Out Bistro. Of course there are also fastfoods around but the price is higher than usual at around P30 to P50 more.
For tighter belts, there are carenderias near Station 2 like Jasper’s Tapsilog and Eateries around.
Where to Stay
Of all the short preparations I’ve done, the hardest part was choosing our accommodation. As I’ve mentioned above, it’s because we required one with free breakfast and has a swimming pool. Overall, we enjoyed our stay at Hotel Soffia specially with their delicious breakfast and free early check-in. But the next time we’ll come again, I want to experience other accommodations as I’ve seen lots of exciting and Instagrammable ones! By the way, I am using Agoda app as it offers very low prices. See it for yourself.
1. Try going there via 2GO. Avail the cabin room at its discounted price. It’s very convenient and a must try experience.
2. Avoid peak season. We went there at June which was a median of peak and off-peak. There were few tourist but we experience long queues on some activities. What more during the peak season?
3. Refrain going home on Saturdays! It’s so crowded. If there are no locals to help you, then you’ll have a hard time figuring out how to go out.
4. Search for activities near D’Mall. That’s how we got our P1000 per person deal including Island Hopping and Helmet Diving.
5. Hair braid starts at P150 for locals. Haha!
6. Don’t leave your valuables unattended. We learned it the hard way.
Expenses per person 3D2N :
Total = P5600 per person