Pure white shores, coconut palms and seas painted aquamarine… Yes, it’s Boracay, one of the most beautiful islands of the Philippines and my current new love affair! In my last post I gave you an overview of the island for backpackers but here I’m going to get into the nuts and bolts – where to lay your head and where to eat and drink. Enjoy!
Getting the drinks in
Every day is happy hour in Boracay! As a girl that only drinks beer when she has to (i.e. when it is the only affordable drink on the menu in Asia), I was in seventh heaven when I saw the drink prices and options in Boracay. Seriously, cheapest place in Asia for boozing but without the lager louts and idiots that often accompany those prices. Bliss!
Sunsets were spent reclining in the comfy beach chairs at Station 3 where Shantal’s Resto Bar brings you cheap cocktails and beers right on the sand. With roughly 66 pesos to the British pound (or 40 to the US dollar), you can expect to find happy hour cocktails and beers here for around 40 pesos. Just next door is Bei Kurt Und Magz with their 2pm-8pm happy hour (yep, it’s a dream) and truly epic fruit shakes – try the banana shake with added rum. It’s a meal in itself but oh-so delicious!
Over on Station 2, my favourites were Bom Bom Bar where happy hour was from 12-7pm (yes, you read that correctly – a SEVEN HOUR HAPPY HOUR) and there was live music throughout the day and evening.
Finally, my favourite hidden treasure was right down past Diniwid Beach. Keep to the cliff path and you will come to a stone doorway with the sign ‘Spider’s House’ above it. This leads to Spider’s Resort, a gorgeously rustic bar with mind-blowing sea views, chilled tunes, comfy seating for whiling away the day and a ladder leading down into the sea – perfect spot for swimming and snorkelling.
Food is more expensive in the Philippines than in other parts of Asia such as Indonesia or Thailand. However, Boracay on a budget is certainly possible if you stick to local fare and as we are big fans of Asian food, this was music to our ears!
At Station 3, we loved Coco Loco where you can sit by candlelight with your toes in the sand, far from the madding crowds and with a nice bit of reggae in the background. The prices may look steep so flick to the tiny Filipino section where 200 pesos will pick you up one of the staple, pancit (noodle) dishes of the region.
Another name to look out for is Smoke Resto. There are a few, small branches on the island (one in D’Mall) with a wide selection of cheap and authentic Filipino dishes. The chicken adobo, marinated in soy sauce, vinegar and garlic, is a highlight.
However, my favourite cheap eats tip for Boracay is one for the seafood lovers out there. Visit the huge fish market D’Talipapa (right next to D’Mall) to check out the fresh-off-the-boat offerings. Choose your dinner and haggle, haggle, haggle – we picked up two ridiculously huge blue marlin steaks for 350 pesos – before popping into one of the various cooking station restaurants surrounding the square. Choose how you want your meal cooked from the menu as well as vegetable sides, rice and a drink and enjoy! Definitely one of my favourite eating out experiences – not to be missed!
Where to lay your head
There are hotels and guesthouses all over Boracy – from five star, pimping palaces to budget-friendly rooms. Turn off the beach, up the lane next to Shantal’s Resto Bar, to find a number of affordable guesthouses tucked away. We picked Orchid’s Resort and had a wonderful stay. You can choose from cheaper, fan rooms in the main building or pick a cottage with your own private porch and hammock, set in a pretty garden, filled with colourful (you guessed it) orchids. The staff are friendly and professional, there’s free coffee and tea all day and a satisfying breakfast (freshly cut breads and spreads or one of several cooked options) is included in the room rates. The all-important Wifi works well too!
A side-note on sunsets
One of the ultimate highlights of Boracay has to be the glorious sunsets. In all my travels I have never seen sunsets like them (and I consider myself to be quite the connoisseur). The skies were cloudless, allowing a perfect view of the fat, orange sun slipping into the sea. This is the time of day when the paraw boats take to the water and the silhouettes of their sails against a backdrop bursting with colour is simply stunning.
There was just one day when clouds made an appearance… but all it did was take the scene up to a whole new level of gorgeous. Red, pink and orange fire streaked the sky – a sunset swim when the water’s still warm was one of my top Boracay experiences, hands down.
And with this final image, the sun has set on my round up of the best of Boracay for backpackers. Stay tuned for more Philippines adventures!