Boracay is Boracay no matter what people say. We can critique and pit it with other destinations all we want but there is no denying the unrivaled charm that this island has. Sure, there are other islands out there that can easily compare and are cheaper like Calaguas but the fact that Boracay has so much more to offer remains. It has luxurious hotels and budget-friendly ones. The culinary scene on the island is one of the most diverse too. There are also many things to do so it doesn’t get boring. On top of that, one can always venture into untouched parts of the island to discover some of its most hidden secrets. It’s a matter of preference sometimes and we don’t often have to agree but this island will always be one of the most beautiful and people will always long for a visit. Hence, I wrote this Boracay 2021 Travel Guide.
The first time I was in Boracay was in 2016 ➡️ The Boracay Budget-Friendly Guide and I have been meaning to go back especially after its rehab. After carefully thinking about it, considering the pandemic and the additional costs involved, I finally made up my mind to go for a visit on my birthday week. The weather during the 4 days I was there went from days with some showers and sun to windy and rainy majority of the time. I guess my luck with the weather has not really improved despite not traveling constantly for more than half a good year. It did little to spoil my trip though since I’m used to adjusting according to each situation. So here’s how my days in Boracay went by.
My Boracay Birthday Itinerary
—Day 1 – Arriving at a Gloomy Boracay Island
I arrived in Caticlan at 8:30 AM aboard a 2GO vessel. If you’re curious to know what happened before that, here’s a detailed recounting of my whole experience ➡️ I Traveled With 2GO To Boracay & I Think You Should Too!. Since the monsoon winds were causing the seas in Caticlan to be wild, boat transfers to Boracay were being done in Tabon Port which is 10-15 minutes away via a tricycle. At the port, I was asked to present a valid ID and the QR code issued by their LGU. Once my information was validated, I then paid the fees and was ushered to where the boats were. Along the way, I was asked to present an ID again for the manifest and was given my seat number after.
The boat ride to Boracay was pretty smooth. I arrived on the island at 9 AM and checked in at AJ Travelers Inn 10 minutes later. You’re probably wondering why I didn’t choose to stay in Henann despite them being on sale. Simple. I have a set budget for this trip and I’d rather spend it on food than on a hotel room I would rarely stay at. On this day, I spent most of my time at the beach looking for good eats. Lunch was gyoza and a good bowl of ramen. I skipped dinner since it rained the whole time after sundown and I was forced to sleep on an unhappy tummy.
|Day 1 Expenses||Tricyle To Tabon Port – P100
Terminal Fee – P100
Environmental Fee – P150
Boat – P40
Tricycle Cagban Port – Hotel – P50
Lunch (Tsukiji Ken) – P660
Total – P1100
—Day 2 – Good Breakfast, Getting Braids, & The Grotto
I scoured stations 1-3 for a good breakfast not only because I haven’t had dinner the night before but also because I wanted it to be special. It’s my birthday after all. I ended up choosing Cafe Del Sol, ordering the cheesy omelet for P290 and their best-selling mango cheesecake for P120. I didn’t expect the cheesy omelet to be so filling that I had to give the mango cheesecake a pass. I felt bad for canceling it since I thought I deserve a good slice of cake as a birthday present but my tummy could no longer handle it. After resting a bit, I went back to my hotel for a quick shower. I then grabbed my camera and my boyfriend’s iPod and walked my way to the Grotto.
I stopped to get my hair braided along the way. I opted for a simple design that costed P100. The rain began pouring down as I made my way to the Grotto. Twenty minutes later, the rain stopped, and finally, I arrived at my spot. I took as many photos as I could. When I had enough, I just lied down with my earphones on as TS sang songs of heartbreaks and getting even. 😄 A few hours later came the downpour that forced me to walk back to my hotel room and stayed there until dark. By this time, I was at the brink of resentment of not choosing a better hotel with a fine restaurant so I can at least have a good meal while the rain reigns down. I couldn’t go another night without dinner so I settled for the A & J restaurant which I promised the owner I’d give a try.
|Day 2 Expenses||Brunch (Cafe Del Sol) – P290
Braids – P100
Dinner (A&J Restaurant) – P140
Total – P530
—Day 3 – Beach Hopping, Playing Mermaid & A Buffet At Dinner
On the 3rd day, the wind blew stronger but the skies were clearer. Still with clouds and a little bit of rain from time to time but better than the first two days. Since most of the restaurants open at 9 AM, I opted for The Real Coffee for this day’s breakfast as they open at 7 AM. I had eggs and toast, a calamansi muffin, and brewed coffee that set me back P420. I thought it was expensive considering I could get something better somewhere else at less than P350. The calamansi muffin is pretty darn good, but everything else is just not that remarkable to warrant such a price.
I actually had to struggle with choosing what to do for this day, whether I would have a day tour at Henann Palm Beach until 7 PM for P1000 or go on a land tour and beach hopping. I’m a cheapskate so the latter prevailed eventually. I hired Kuya Ar Jay for this tour for P1000 that includes taking me to different spots and beaches on the island, snapping photos, and a mermaid tail rental. It’s for the same price as staying at Henann Palm Beach but I thought I got more value with it. After having a blast beach hopping, playing mermaid, and seeing most of Boracay, I ended this day with a buffet dinner at Henann Regency for P799 which I think was the best thing I have ever had while on the island.
|Day 3 Expenses||Breakfast (The Real Coffee) – P420
Land Tour – P1000
Buffet Dinner (Sea Breeze Restaurant at Henann Regency) – P799
Total – P2219
—Day 4 – Goodbye Boracay. Until We Meet Again!
So the day when I contemplate about extending or not finally came. It’s not like staying a little bit longer will be a problem since I can work from anywhere but then I had promised someone I’ll come home. On this day the sun was actually out but the beach was wilder and the wind blew stronger than ever. It didn’t prevent me from going for a morning swim though. I caught me several waves before finally looking for a place to eat. There’s plenty of good restaurants to choose from but my mind was set on trying Jasper’s Tapsilogan hence brunch was over tapa, sunny eggs, and fried rice. Not so fancy but very affordable. I then went to Mcdo for my morning coffee fix.
I spent an hour back in my room packing my stuff. At noon, I thought I’d have snacks so I went for a tall cup of milk tea. It’s funny when I realized how I didn’t have lunch on most days while I was on the island. I could have tried many more restaurants but I just couldn’t force myself to eat when I’m not hungry, which I am after brunch until dinner time. I walked along the beach some more and observed how everything is just the same and a bit different from the last time I was on the island. I felt bad about what the pandemic has done to some businesses there and prayed for everything to be better soon. Few more walks, I decided that it was time for my last island meal and chose to go to Kolai Mangyan. That Budbud and Bulasing were definitely a must-try. At 5 PM, I found myself on a boat sailing away from Boracay and back to Caticlan to catch my evening voyage with 2GO.
|Day 4 Expenses||Brunch (Jasper’s Tapsilogan) – P70
Coffee (Mcdo) – P50
Milk Tea (Taiwan Milktea) – P130
Dinner (Kolai Mangyan – P190
E-tric to Cagban Port – P30
Boat – P50
Tric to Caticlan Port – P30
Total – P550
My Observation/Thoughts About Boracay Island
- The beach is a lot more spacious and less intimidating. I remembered the last time I was on the island, I would get intimidated to sit in areas in front of expensive resorts because they would often charge. Now, the beach is more accessible to the public. No more benches and more sands to frolic at.
- There are still many locals that would offer tours and whatnot as I walk at the beach. The truth is they’re limited to offer their services in designated areas and they’ll be fined when caught offering services somewhere else along White Beach which actually made staying at the beach more peaceful and less annoying.
- Plenty of establishments are still closed. I could sense some ghost town vibes whenever I would pass along them but I guess it couldn’t be helped due to the pandemic. Remnants of the rehab from two years ago are also still very evident. The posh and polished Boracay Island I remember now looks a bit run down in some areas.
- Prices are definitely cheaper now but the peak and off-peak rules still apply. This could go back to the way it was when things got better though.
- A lot of activities were no longer available but the popular ones like parasailing, helmet diving, and island hopping remained. My favorite which is the flyfish was replaced by the UFO. Paddleboarding and surfing are now very much a thing too.
- Boracay Island definitely looks cleaner and more healthy now. There’s also a lot of spots that have been opened to the public that first-time and frequent visitors can look forward to.
Tips In Planning A Trip To Boracay
- Planning a trip to Boracay can be unnerving given the current situation. The possibility of the trip being canceled is far from zero so it is best to be prepared. As usual, the best time to go to the island is from January-June when there is more sun than rain. Prices are a bit steep but you’re guaranteed satisfaction with what you pay for.
- Always on the lookout for new updates from the Malay Tourism Office regarding requirements and acceptance of tourists in different situations. Take note of the requirements and prepare for them in advance especially the cost they may come with.
- A negative RT-PCR Test valid for 72 hours is currently required even for fully vaccinated visitors so accounting for its cost is a must. The Department of Tourism offers subsidized RT-PCR Testing so might as well apply for it at least several weeks in advance. Another affordable option is Red Cross Saliva RT-PCR. I would also recommend Safeguard DNA Diagnostics, Inc for affordable testing and fast result.
- If you find flights to Boracay expensive, a rather good alternative is going there via 2GO Travel.
- Book your accommodation in advance. Booking directly with the hotel is good but you might miss out on good deals offered in Agoda with rates going up to 70% off on some days.
- Apply for the Health Declaration Card first at touristboracay.com. Next is to apply for S-Pass at https://s-pass.ph/when you already have your RT-PCR Test result. Once all your requirements are ready, send an e-mail to email@example.com attaching the requirements with the subject OHDC – LAST NAME, FIRST NAME. Note that the S-Pass is not necessary at the airport but is very important when traveling by sea and must be “Approved”.
- Allot a sizable budget on food. Boracay is best enjoyed on a happy tummy so might as well have the money for it. Next on the list are the activities.
- Always be prepared for last-minute changes. In these times, unexpected circumstances are inevitable so might as well have the heart that could take disappointments.
Budget & Other Essentials
|CONTACTS||Malay Tourism Office
|TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS||❗️OHDC (Health Declaration Card) which can be obtained from Touristboracay.com. Have a screenshot of the confirmation page.
❗️Round Trip Plane or Ship tickets
❗️Hotel Booking confirmation
❗️Negative RT PCR – must be valid within 72 hours. Note that 72 hours should cover the date of extraction and your flight or departure/arrival time.
❗️SPass through https://s-pass.ph/ – once you have your negative RT PCR result, get an SPass. This should be approved if you’re traveling by sea but not necessary if you’re taking the plane.
❗️QR code from Aklan LGU – send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org containing all the requirements. Subject should be OHDC – LAST NAME, FIRST NAME
|WHAT ARE THE FEES||❗️Terminal Fee – P100
❗️Environmental Fee – P150
❗️Boat Fee – P40
|TOTAL EXPENSES||Day 1-4 – P3959
Accommodation Booked from Agoda – P2000
RT-PCR Swab Test – P2500
Ride Mla-Btg Port – P230
Van Btg Port-Mla – P500
Total – 9,189
There you have it, lovelies! Now is definitely the best time to go to Boracay. Not much crowd and prices are at an all-time low. It’s not 100% smooth sailing but it’s worth it so plan that trip now. Share this to your friends. For any questions, just drop them in the comments. Until the next time. Ciao!
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