SURVIVING BORACAY ALONE
In March of 2012, I was nearly finished with a 3-week journey moving west through the Visayas region of The Philippines. Visayas is famous for beach and diving destinations. I have never been very interested in beaches, so I was focused on the cities of Cebu, Dumaguete, Bacolod, Iloilo and Kalibo. I did, however, have a beach destination as my final stop before flying out of the country. That beach was the most famous beach in all of The Philippines- Boracay. I was all by my sad self during these weeks in the Philippines. I’d met people here and there along the way, but I didn’t join a backpacker caravan or fall in love. So, how is it traveling to Boracay alone, anyway?
Often beach destinations entice travelers of impossibly clear turquoise waters bookended by eternal sunrises and sunsets. So often, beaches disappoint with inflated prices, substandard quality food and services along with unpredictable weather.
I’d had my expectations of Boracay, and Boracay met all of them.
When I arrived, I put the bags down under the thatched-roof of my guesthouse and immediately hit the beach in time for a romantic sunset stroll. Alone.
Traveling alone can be very rewarding. You can set your own schedule, eat when and what you’d like, meet others easily, sleep as early or late as you please and feel more brave and adventurous than you may when in a group. However, solo travel is best suited for cities. Something like mountain climbing or relaxing on the beach is almost always better with a partner or a group.
In a place like Boracay, a few days alone watching silhouetted couples hand-in-hand along the beach at sunset can be a bit frustrating. Fortunately, there are plenty of fallen coconuts that can be hurled at lovers.
Boracay is one of those destinations, like Bali, that international travelers often hop to and hop away without exploring the rest of the country.
There is no airport on the island of Boracay. There is a tiny airport at Cataclan (just a 10 minute walk south of the ferry to Boracay) and a larger airport in Kalibo 90 minutes to the east. I flew out of Kalibo because flights to Manila were much cheaper.
Travelers may also arrive by boat, directly from Batangas 2 hours south of Manila. There are various other routes that can get you down to Boracay if you are feeling adventurous. Check online for updated schedule and information. Beware that ferries, though cheaper than air travel, has had its share of disasters in The Philippines.
The White Beach is the center of activity and by far the most famous beach on the island of Boracay. You won’t miss it. The water is clear and warm, the sand white (obviously) and with plenty of bars and restaurants to keep you happy.
However, for a more relaxed and intimate experience, go north to Puka Beach- the best-kept secret on the island. Puka Beach is a 15-minute drive north of White Beach. For $15, you can go by Paraw (little sailboat). A motorbike taxi should cost around $3.
If you’re alone and looking for a cheap place to stay, Boracay is not cheap. Like other places in “the Phils” Boracay does not have many dorms or hostels.
Frendz Resort, near the white sand beach, is one exception, which dorms starting around $12usd. It’s not luxury, but it has a fun atmosphere.
0063 (036) 2883803
Boracay’s nightlife, like other beach resorts around the world, can be obnoxious. If you’ve got a big, dumb group of friends, that’s fun. If you’re alone, and find it difficult to strike up a conversation over “Party Rock”, you may want to make your sad, lonely walk to the northern part of White Beach. There, you can find plenty of tikiesque bars with an older crowd. It’ll be easier to converse there. Great happy hours in the area as well.
Unlike other Southeast Asian beach towns, good cheap food in Boracay is not a given. Seafood is available and is, by default, always overcooked. I do remember having some good Mexican/Pinoy fusion at a restaurant called Manana for about $10usd.