Boracay Island Philippines
Boracay, an Island Tropical Paradise in the Country of the Philippines
Boracay Island is in Southeast Asia, about 316 kms or two hundred nautical miles south from the capital of the country, called Manila and part of the Panay Island group in the Western Visayan region of the country. The island of Boracay is the Philippine’s most well known tourism attraction and the island itself is composed of three main ‘barangays’ or small districts which are called Manoc-Manoc, Balabag and Yapak.
These are actually three of the 17 small districts which comprise the town of Malay in which Boracay belongs to. The island is governed in by both the provincial government of Aklan and the Philippine Department of Tourism or DOT. Local and international visitors and vacationers go to Boracay to experience what the powdery white sands and crystal clear waters of the beach are all about.
Etymology of the name “Boracay”
Bo-ra-cay as said in three syllables, is attributed to the Aklanese or local dialect’s word “Borac” which, when translated to English means Cotton. This is in connection to the colour and texture of the world famous sand of the island.
There are over a dozen big and small places on the island which have been classified as beaches, some of the most well known are of course White Beach, Diniwid Beach, Punta Bunga Beach, Balinghai Beach, Bulabog Beach, Lagutan Beach, Tambisaan Beach, Manoc Manoc Beach, Cagban Beach, Puka Beach or Yapak Beach, Ilig Iligan Beach, Tulubhan Beach and also Lapus Lapus Beach.
See Boracay Beaches
Boracay’s Geographical Qualities
Boracay Island’s shape is somewhat similar to a butterfly, which is appropriate for its beauty. The whole island is about 7 kilometers in length and 1 kilometer wide at its narrowest point. In terms of governance, Boracay is a portion of the town of Malay, Aklan Province within the Panay island group. This is just one island collection of islands which comprise the middle region of the Philippine’s island chains.
Now Yapak Beach is one of the beaches which is found over some of the island’s hills and is located a few meters distant from the primary tourist areas. Although it is composed of gorgeous, unspoiled sands away from the crowds such as the Puka and Balinghai Beaches. It is also the location of the sole 72-par golf course on the island called the Fairways and Bluewaters golf and country club. Getting there takes only 3-5 minutes by tricycle from White Beach and the heart of Boracay.
Languages and Dialects Spoken in Boracay
The official language of the country is called Pilipino and is a mixture of Tagalog. But many local dialects are used in Boracay, along with English. Aklanon or Aklanese is mainly used in the whole province where Boracay is located. The main portion of the province is about 20-30 minutes away by boat. Guests coming from Manila to Boracay Island will find it very easy since most Filipinos are well versed in the English language.
Boracay Island’s Climate and Weather
The Amihan and Habagat Winds
The weather of Boracay Island is commonly divided into 2 seasonal weather phenomena which are locally called the Amihan and Habagat. The Pilipino language describes Amihan as the cool wind which comes from the northeast and the Habagat is the wind which comes from the southwest and brings the south to west monsoons.
These two seasons are usually associated with the La Nina and El Nino weather phenomena which affect the whole world. Amihan seasons are usually those which are hot, with very minimal rainfall and a constant wind coming from an eastern direction. And Habagat is usually the cold with hot and humid climates, maximum rainfall with hurricane like storms called typhoons and a constant wind coming from a western direction.
On Boracay Beach, locals can always tell the transition from the Amihan and Habagat weather when there is a change in the direction of the wind. Usually, this switch is very fast and may even happen after just a day. Other times, there is a longer transition where the winds will go from Amihan to Habagat many times prior to becoming stable and entering the new weather pattern. Generally, Boracay Island experiences the Amihan climate during the months starting from September or October all the way to the months of May or even June. The other months usually take after the Habagat season, although the months may be different in some years.
Temperatures and climates on Boracay Island usually go from 77-90 degrees Fahrenheit or 25-32 degrees Celsius at the start of the Amihan season up to March or late February. It will then go up to about 82-100 degrees Fahrenheit or 28-38 centigrade for the summer season up to the start of the Habagat pattern and slowly go back down again to the 77-90 degree range. When the Tropical Storm periods begin, it can go down to about 68 degrees Fahrenheit or 20 degrees centigrade. Some storms can affect Boracay Island at any time during the year, although they are generally experienced in the Habagat weather pattern.
The island’s own seasons can usually be seen in the low and high room rates of the beach hotels and resorts of Boracay. Amihan season is generally the low or slow time of the year from June to the end of October. Habagat would be the peak season where rates are high. This usually starts on November 1 all the way to the end of May. December 15 to January 15 are considered the Super Peak seasons along with the Chinese New Year and Holy Week when most people go on vacation. Room rates, transportation, food and drinks are generally high during this time.
How To Get To Boracay Island
After arriving from an international flight, visitors to Boracay Island can go to Manila’s domestic terminal which is about 40 minutes away from the island and get another flight all the way to Kalibo to Boracay. That usually means a hour trip by land and then a boat ride to the island which lasts about 20-30 minutes. This is actually not the best route to take since there’s more travel time involved. From the Kalibo airport, vans and buses with air-conditioning will take travellers to the Caticlan Jetty Port where medium sized boats are waiting to take them to Boracay Island directly. Those who take the plane to Caticlan directly can hire motorcycles with covered sidecars to the same Caticlan Jetty Port which is just a few minutes travel time.
See Boracay Flights
Most package tours utilize a transfer service option which meets travellers right at the Caticlan Airport or Kalibo Airport Terminal and transports them directly to the jetty for a private boat ride to whichever boat station they prefer to be transported, whether one, two or three. From there, guests can either walk to the resort of their choice or take another motorcycle with sidecar ride to their reserved rooms. This is a much easier option.
All travel agencies and even people who’ve been there will suggest the direct to Caticlan option since normal flight time to the air terminal is just thirty five minutes on SeAir planes and about an hour for the Air Philippines planes. These 2 airlines have about ten flights to the island each day and there are additional airlines which is convenient for getting the best flight time. Travellers who miss their flights can always get another plane to the island. The best part about it is getting to the boats which are only about three minutes away compared to the two hours over land from the Kalibo Airport. That route and the lack of successive flights will lead some travellers to lose a full day just for travel. Being on a bus all day and ending the first day of a holiday with an additional boat ride will spoil any vacation.
Both the Manila to Caticlan and the Manila to Kalibo routes are serviced by all the major domestic carriers of the country. Namely; Seair – south East Asian airlines, Zest Airways, Cebu Pacific Airlines, Philippines Airlines (PAL) and Air Philippines (airphillexpress).
And the Cebu to Kalibo route if you’re coming from much further south, takes about the same time. It is serviced by the following airlines; Cebu Pacific Airlines, Philippines airlines and Seair or South East Asian airlines.
Getting To Boracay Island By Land
All forms of land transport can go from Manila and even further up north and into the south with the use of the Nautical Highway which was promoted by the government in the year 2000. There are even public buses which leave Manila everyday such as the Cubao and Pasay City terminals of Philtranco. The trip takes about half a day and more, not including the boat ride. Caticlan is the fourth stop that the boats go to and when travellers arrive at the Caticlan Boat Jetty, they can usually find a boat to transfer them to the island. Generally, cheaper rates mean cheaper and slower means of transport and more waiting times. Vacationers will have to hone their bargaining skills.
Getting To Boracay Island Directly By Boat
There are many ferries which ply the Manila to Caticlan route. Usually, this takes about 14 to 18 nautical hours travel time, and some trips can be made overnight. This is perhaps the cheapest route to take.
Some of the ferries which go to Caticlan directly are MBRS Lines, Negros Navigation and SuperFerry which is the most popular on the islands.
Transportation within Boracay Island
On Boracay, the majority of people use motorized pedi-cabs or motorcycles with covered sidecars which are very abundant on the island. All of those which travellers can hire have set-fees which are tacked on tariff cards for riders to see what they need to pay. First timers would do well to heed this piece of advice; always get on a tricycle which is passing by as opposed to one that is waiting at a corner or a stop. Those that are waiting generally charge higher than those who are already on the road.
There are of course, alternative means such as renting a mountain bike for a day or four-wheeled all terrain vehicle or a motorcycle. Although all motorized vehicles are not allowed on the beach areas and any beach paths.
If you want to go around the island, to the other side, there are local outrigger canoes which are called “Paraws” that can also be rented as well. These are small boats with narrow hulls with passengers and rowers often seated on some webbing or a small plank of wood placed in the middle of the structure. They can go really fast on the water when handled expertly, although they can be quite challenging as well. Getting to other parts of the island can be an adventure in itself.