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Boracay 101

Just one of the stunning sunsets you can catch on Boracay Island

It's the Holy Week and people have headed to Bora once more. As I warm up to my working vacation in this island paradise, I can't help but feel like I'm better off holed up in a hotel room in my home city, soaking up the airconditioning, instead of jostling along with the rest of the country, who have all decided to turn up in Boracay during the Holy Week, just as I have.

But that's over now. I'm here, and I might as well enjoy what I can and make the most of what I can.

That being said, here's a Boracay newbie's guide to Bora.

1. The locals prefer to call the place the "Isla" or "Boracay." It's the tourists who give the place's name a "collegiala English" or "conyotic" slant. In fact, this moniker so annoyed the locals that an ordinance has been passed, banning all new businesses from using "Bora" in its business names and promotional materials.

2. There are at least three beaches in Boracay. One is that stretch of beach where the tourists are led, which is called the White Beach or the Front Beach. The second is the stretch of beach where the kite surfers have their fun. Sadly, it is also where the island's wastes are dumped: Bolabog Beach a.k.a. the Back Beach. Today, since most of the water goes through treatment before going out into the seas, the beach is cleaner. But there are some business establishments that try to avoid the fees and dump their waste water directly to the sea via "illegally tapping" on the main sewage pipe. A very sad reality. As a tourist, the only thing you can do is to respect the island by being careful that you throw your trash in the trash cans provided in the area. Then if you're on Bolabog Beach, don't swim in the waters.

The last, most pristine beach is Puka Beach. There are no establishments there, so you'd have to bring your own food and drinks. All you have to do is to pack your stuff, charter a tricycle for Php 40 a person, and go off to Puka Beach. Again, please respect the island by cleaning up after enjoying.

3. Boracay would always leave you wanting more time on the island. So if I were you, book at least a week. And try to book during off-peak seasons, which run from June to October. There are boarding houses where you can rent a room for about a month or so. This scheme would enable you to save, as well as maximize your time on the island.

4. Food and goods are a good 5 to 20 pesos more expensive on the island. So either bring supplies and stocks with you or bring a truckload of cash. As a rule, things are always cheaper in the areas closer to Cagban Port. So if you want to save, stay on Station 3.

5. Sunrises can be enjoyed on Bolabog/Back Beach, while sunsets can be enjoyed on the White Beach. So if you want to catch nature's most dramatic offering, go to Bolabog Beach at around 5AM and wait for the sunrise, then to the White Beach at around 5PM to catch the sunset.

There are so many things to discover on Boracay Island, and this is just the start. The key is to explore, ask, and be on the lookout for affordable options. The next time you come to the island, you'll be able to locate the best places to go to for your goods.

Enjoy planning the rest of your summer!

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