Many families are choosing to live a few weeks or months away from home after being locked down for two years. Boracay is one of the many places where you can do this, as our family recently discovered.
Most of the eateries and restaurants have been converted into open dining areas. You have several beaches to choose from if you want to avoid the crowd. You can also adjust your budget according to your needs.
My husband and I would be working remotely, so when we booked our plane tickets, we upgraded our seats for more baggage allowance, for our work-from-home needs and our daughter’s online class essentials.
Here’s what you can expect to spend.
We booked round-trip airport transfers for P850 per head from an accredited tourism guide. Kid’s rate is P500. The cost included the convenience of skipping the lines. We also paid porters to carry our bags.
One of the first things that you should consider for your long-haul stay is the accommodation. Most hotels offer weekly and monthly rates, some have slashed their prices down to half. These deals are found on their websites, but not all the time. I found that it was easier to get the room rates if you inquire directly through via email or their Facebook pages.
Find your perfect spot
The key is in the planning.
Residencia Boracay, for example, offers their superior room for P1,800/night, down from P4,000, for those who would stay for a week. It further goes down to P1,200/night if you stay for a month. The rate includes plated breakfast for two and Wi-Fi. They have flexible booking and they allow guests to rebook for up to a year.
It is a beachfront hotel, but the rooms do not face the sea. You have to pay more for that. They do not have a pool. But it is located in Station 1. You just have to step out of your room, walk for a minute and your feet will be touching the finest white sand that Boracay has to offer.
It is also a stone’s throw from luxe resorts such as Two Seasons, Discovery Shores and The Lind. The staff are also lovely. They only have a few rooms so they treat you like family.
Location is also something you have to consider. Do you want to completely avoid the crowd, stay in a quiet property with a beachfront that is hard to access for the public? If that’s your thing, stay in Punta Bunga Beach where Crimson, Shangri-La and Movenpick are located. You can also opt for Fairways and Bluewater and Newcoast Boracay if you want a cheaper option, but crave the peace and quiet.
Some choose to stay in the “white beach” area where the cost of an e-trike ride between Stations 1 to 3 is P15 per head.
For Boracay newbies, Station 1 has the most pristine white sand. It is less crowded but a bit far from the popular restaurants. Station 2 is where most of the restaurants can be found, while Station 3 has the most affordable accommodations.
If your accommodation does not have a pool, there are hotels that offer day passes. One of them is Hue Hotels and Resorts Boracay. It offers a day pass for P699 which includes food and beverage credits. For a more upscale experience, Mövenpick Boracay also offers a day pass for P2,000 per head, of which P1,600 can be used for food. The price includes access to the hotel’s chocolate hour or chocolate tasting experience.
Wherever you choose to stay, check if the place is accredited by the Department of Tourism (DOT). All tourists are required to register ahead of time with the local government to receive QR codes for entry.
You will not receive a QR code if the place is not accredited. There are also individual homeowners who rent out units. You will not find them on DOT’s online listing. But you can always check with the local tourism office (tel. 036-2883689).
Food can eat up a good part of your budget. The average price per meal is P300. This can quickly add up when you multiply it for each member of your family and the number of days that you are staying.
Andok’s is a popular stop for travelers who want to save on food. They have more viands to offer on the island, but they are not the only ones offering affordable meals.
There are restaurants in D’Mall that offer rice bowls and food for sharing for P150 or less. There are also places you can find on Highway Central that offer more affordable options.
Deliveries can also be cheaper but you need to order them ahead of time. Boracay has no Grab Food or Food Panda. You also have to give some lead time to your delivery person, in case they are making multiple deliveries.
Wings X Ribs has P300 bilao of chicken wings. It is good for two people or more. There are also multiple seafood bilao offers with a standard price. The set meals avoid confusion that often happens to tourists who think that they are being given the price of the entire dish, instead of the price per gram of the fish.
Check with your hotel first if they allow outside food to be brought into their property.
Rent a kitchen
When you get tired of restaurant food and miss your own cooking, ask your hotel if they rent out their kitchen. I discovered that the locals are more than happy to help out. They will let you use their kitchen if you need one. Start by asking from your tour guides.
You can shop for fresh ingredients at the D’Mall Talipapa. But if you want to go to the market where most of the locals go, ask the e-trike to drop you off at Talipapa Bukid. Ask the vendor to clean the fish or chop them for you. Boracay market has Bisaya ingredients available including kadios, batuan and Pato Sotanghon.
Just a few meters from Talipapa Bukid is the Boracay Mini Mart. Don’t let the name fool you as they carry different types of cheese (real ones, not processed), baking ingredients, different coffee brands and chips. The price of the products are almost the same as in NCR.
There are laundromats on the island, but we went to Waszann Wash, located below Lime Hotel. I discovered that they do not weigh the clothes despite what they post outside their shop. As long as the clothes can fit inside the washer, it’s P277. Add P20 if you want it picked up from your place. The rates are cheaper if you want to wash it yourself.
Hotels will also print a few documents for free. Hennan Garden printed five pages that our daughter needed for her online class at no extra charge. But there are also computer shops on the island where you can have documents photocopied and printed.
Gcash is the most accepted cashless mode of payment here. Taho vendors, souvenir peddlers, restaurants, and groceries all have Gcash options.
Activities wherein young children are accepted are the island tour, land tour, banana boat, parasailing, paraw sailing, jet ski, ATV and helicopter rides. They do not give discounts based on age. You have to pay full price for your kids.
These activities are just add-ons. Kids will be just as happy if you get them beach toys, which are available everywhere, and leave them on the sand to play.