With white sand beaches, warm ocean waters, and some of the best sunsets in the Philippines, this island paradise has been re-opened to tourists (after a 6-month shutdown) and is cleaner and less crowded than in years past. Whether you want to snorkel with tropical fish, try your kiteboarding skills, or simple relax on a day in the sun, there are plenty of things to do in Boracay for all travelers!
Boracay has won a “genetic lottery” of sorts. Let’s just say that if there was a beauty pageant for beaches, this tiny island in the Philippines would take the crown.
And I suppose in some ways, Boracay has won a “pageant”. For several years, the combination of powdery white sand and turquoise waters has landed Boracay at the top of countless lists, proclaiming it the world’s best beach.
Often times when places are so highly regarded, they can be a letdown in person. When you don’t have the perfect lighting or Photoshop to enhance the colors, it can leave one wondering what all the hype is about. Let me tell you though, Boracay is just as beautiful in person as it is on postcards. We certainly fell head-over-flip-flops for this island paradise.
However, being named among the best beaches in the world comes at a price. Boracay is far from undiscovered, and we were hardly the only foreigners.
Unlike the beaches in Miami or Hawaii though, it never felt *too* crowded. There was plenty of space to lay out without having to share my towel with that token leathery-tan guy sporting a Speedo…
Is Boracay touristy?
There’s no way around this question other than to say, Yes.
Tourism has brought McDonald’s to town *cue groan*. Oh, and you see those beautiful sailboats in the picture above? Well, what you can’t see in their silhouettes are the giant advertisements for Pizza Hut on the sails. Tourism has both a good and bad side.
And the bad side eventually won in Boracay. Pollution and overcrowding left the government with no choice but to close the island to tourism completely in April of 2018. This closure was a big public move that showed the world the Philippines is starting to take sustainable tourism seriously.
Boracay is one of the most visited places in the Philippines, so the 6-month closure certainly left some businesses hurting. However, this time was spent rebuilding infrastructure and creating new tourism guidelines and restrictions so that this fragile paradise is cleaner, less crowded, and stays beautiful for decades to come.
The government and local authorities worked together to create new rules for Boracay, including a limit on the number of daily visitors allowed on this island and the banning of alcohol on the beach. Read up on Boracay’s new tourism rules so you’re prepared and understand why the guidelines are in place.
Touristy? Yes. But getting better than it has been in the last several years.
Things to do in Boracay
With beachside bars selling fruity cocktails and white sand stretching as far as the eye can see, you could spend your days lazying away beneath the sun. But there is more to this island that simply laying on the beach.
There are plenty of things to do on the island of Boracay. Here are just a few!
Have a beach day. Duh.
Go snorkeling or scuba diving. Note: Scuba diving is temporarily banned due to the new tourism rules.
Try out kitesurfing if you are craving some heat-pumping adventure. You can find a handful of kitesurfing schools on the east side of the island. But if you’re looking to go surfing you won’t find much on Boracay, but fear not. The Philippines has tons of fantastic surf spots you can add to your island-hopping itinerary!
Go paddle boarding!
Get a full body massage (for cheap!) on the beach. ‘Nuff said.
Drink fresh fruit smoothies all day every day.*
Drink a fresh coconut* while laying in a hammock and reading a book. Is this paradise or what?!
You can eat at a new restaurant every day of the week, and with local options to fancy-schmancy options, you certainly won’t get bored.
Enjoy the sunset with cocktails. There are tons of bars to choose from.
Exploring the island by foot or by scooter is a great way to get out of the tourist zones.
Play on the floating raft at Spider Bar. (More info below!)
Go bar hopping. The nightlife in Boracay is quite good, and if you’re looking for a fun night on the town (or beach!) you won’t have to go far!
Responsible Travel Tip: pack your own reusable straw so you can enjoy smoothies and fresh coconuts without creating unnecessary plastic waste. This article has more sustainable packing list ideas!
Our Story of Finding Bliss in Boracay
After nearly 24 hours of traveling, a sleepless night spent in the airport, taking an early morning flight from Manila to Boracay, we were more than excited when our feet finally touched the sand.
Our time in Boracay can be summed up in two words.
Beach and Drinks.
We traveled to the Philippines with our friend Alex, another English teacher. Together we’d escaped the frigid winter temps in South Korea, and felt no need to do anything besides relax and soak up the sun (after several applications of sunscreen for Ben, of course).
We spent our days sipping fruity rum drinks on the beach and wandering through what seemed to be a life-sized screen saver.
We even pampered ourselves with a full-body massage on the beach. And the price for one hour of utter bliss, you ask? A measly $8 USD. I’m only bummed we didn’t have more than one!
Sounds pretty perfect, doesn’t it? Well, I haven’t yet divulged the most beautiful part…
The sunsets in Boracay are a sight that cannot be rivaled. Mind-boggling combinations of yellows and purples filled the sky as sailboats floated past us.
They were without a doubt the most stunning sunsets we have ever seen. And I imagine they will be hard to top.
Epic sunset in Boracay, Philippines
Wanna get a glimpse of those gorgeous sunsets we’re speaking of? Watch this time lapse video for a sneak peek at the beauty!
Funny story while we were filming the sunset in Boracay
One night, we set up our GoPro to capture a time lapse, and got some pretty cool footage.
Oh, and two adorable kids put on a little dance performance for the camera that you can only see in their silhouettes.
Where to stay in Boracay
MNL Beach Hostel Boracay
This modern hostel is well-located, just a short walk from D’Mall (the main shopping and eating area) and the beach. We stayed in both the dorm and a private room during our time there and were dazzled by both.
Check out our full review of MNL Beach Hostel.
Where to Eat on Boracay Island
We had the best meals of our trip in the Philippines on the island of Boracay.
This was by far my favorite place to spend the day in Boracay. This establishment is sort of a tree house, bar, restaurant, and resort, all rolled up into one unforgettable place.
We spent our last day at Spider Bar drinking Red Horse, a local beer, and talking until sunset. After the sun went down, we jumped into the water and gazed at the stars overhead from the floating raft. It was the kind of day I daydream about while sitting at my work computer. Absolute perfection.
How to get there: Spider Bar is located near Diniwid Beach. It’s quite a walk from downtown, but when you are living on beach time, who cares?! Walk North along White Beach past Station 1, until the beach turns into a foot path. Walk the path through a hole in the rocks and you’ll find a smaller, secluded beach without all the tourists.. Keep on the path until you see signs for Spider Bar.
This small restaurant serves up quite an assortment of local fare all for a reasonable price. We ate there twice and had delicious food both times. My favorite was Chicken Kaopad – a rice bowl dish with chicken, egg and fresh mango slices. At just 140 Philippine pesos (about $3 USD), it was a steal!
How to get there: It is only a minute or two from White Beach. With your back facing White Beach, take the D’Mall street that is to your left. Go up the street and take your first left into this semi-circle street, full of souvenir shops. Smoke Resto will be on your left, tucked in between these shops.
Mayas Filippino and Mexican Cuisine
We happened upon this restaurant by chance. But as with most discoveries while traveling, it turned out to be the good kind of accident. The food was incredible. They have a large menu, and you can choose from Filipino food and Mexican favorites. The three of us shared some local specialties – Sinigang Stew and Pork Adobo as well as Fresh Fish Tacos. The fruit shakes, though slightly more expensive than average, were delicious too!
How to get there: This oceanside restaurant is a short walk from D’Mall along White Beach. Head toward Station 1, and you’ll be sure to find it. It is attached to Jony’s Beach Resort.
Los Indios Bravos
The small, yet eclectic menu at this gastropub features pub fare from all over the world. Everything we ordered – from Oysters Rockefeller to the Chicken Tikka Masala and the Beef and Mushroom Pie were in.cred.i.ble. We were also impressed that they have their own handcrafted beers on tap and serve pitchers of homemade sangria. With friendly staff, a handsomely decorated interior, plenty of outdoor seating, and reasonable prices, there is not one thing we could complain about.
How to get there: This fabulous restaurant is actually on the ground floor of MNL Hostel (see direction above).
Vilu’s Place: The Barefoot Restaurant
Just as the name implies, shed your shoes before entering this tree house-inspired restaurant. The smiling man who takes your order is the same person who cooks it up for you. And coincidentally, he just happens to be the owner as well. He was so kind to go next store to get us a beer since there wasn’t any on the menu. The food was fresh and we had the whole upper level of the restaurant to ourselves to ogle at the surrounding jungle. Try the Vegetable Curry and the Chicken Adobo.
How to get there: This one’s a bit out of the way, but I promise it’s worth it. It’s near Spider Bar on Diniwid Beach, so make a day of going to both! From the beach, take Diniwid Beach Street near the beachside bar with the colorful umbrellas into the town. It’s a fun little venture to see a local area where you will likely be one of a handful of tourists. This restaurant is a few blocks down on the main street and is on the left-hand side, you can spot it by the second level woodwork.
UPDATE: We have recently been informed that this restaurant may no longer be open, which is such a shame. Let us know if you have any further information!
Where else should I travel in the Philippines?
With 7,000 islands, there’s no way you can see it all in this stunning country. Depending on your travel style, here are some ideas of places to visit in the Philippines:
For off-the-beaten-path adventure, visit the jungle of Bohol.
For epic diving and island-hopping, look no further than the island of Palawan. The small town of El Nido is pretty darn charming!
For a totally different side of the Philippines, visit the Banaue Rice Terraces in the north of the country.
2 Weeks in the Philippines: Best Itinerary
If you have been convinced to travel to this island nation, this ultimate 2-week Philippines itinerary is everything you’ll ever need!
Still not convinced?
Read more about how we fell in love with this country and why you should visit the Philippines!
And if you are a visual person, we’ve put together an action-packed video of our Philippines adventure!
Is traveling in the Philippines expensive?
We’ve got all your budget questions answered in the post that details how much it costs to travel in the Philippines!
Are you planning a trip to the Philippines?
We have TONS of resources on travel in the Philippines and destinations throughout the country. Check out our Ultimate Philippines Travel Guide for all the answers to your most burning questions, or read some of our favorite travel articles below.
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We want to hear from you!
Have you been to Boracay? What did you think? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
Comments (26) on “Top Things to Do in Boracay: Travel Guide to Paradise”
Thanks for the information! I’m currently studying in South Korea and thinking about spending a few days in the Philippines before I fly home in December. I was thinking about going to Boracay it look absolutely stunning! Amazing pictures 🙂
Hey Becky! It is stunning, I want to go back so badly. Have fun planning, and have a great semester!
We are planning our trip to Philippines and I read entire your blog about them. Thanks, that’s amazing.
We will be in Philippines for two weeks. First 5 days we are planning to spend in Palawan, then we can’t to decide – travel from Palawan to Boracay and then to Cebu or travel from Palawan straight to Cebu. We like adventures not just sleep on the beach.
I just wanted to ask you, if we have been in Palawan and have seen beautiful beaches there, in Boracay we will see something new nad completely different?
Thanks in advance!
We honestly can’t speak about Cebu and how much time to devote to it since we haven’t been there. And Boracay has some of the best beaches we have ever seen.
With that being said, Palawan has some stunning beaches too and if you’re looking to cut some time, I think you could skip Boracay.
Boracay is more about relaxing at beaches, dining at cool restaurants and kite surfing. If none of those things are up your alley, then I think it would be okay to just go to Cebu. Hope that is helpful!
This place is truly a paradise! Hoping to visit again soon
Us too! Can’t wait!
so sweet of you two in boracay!
visit http://www.book2wheel.com if you want to rent motorbike the next time you travel in the philippines 🙂
Hey Sahrie, thanks for the tip! We hope to make it back to Boracay someday ☺
Wow! I just loved the images and every messages they convey. I have to visit this place in the near future and look for an affordable tour packages in Boracay.
Thanks so much, Jhon, the Philippines is a truly special place! You really wouldn’t need to go with a tour – it is so easy (and cheaper!) to travel around on your own! Check out our Philippines itinerary for some ideas of places to go, how to get there, and what to do!
Best of luck!
awwww!… my land the philippines!… nice reading thumbs up yo!…
Thanks Armando! We love the Philippines!
Oh how I love Philippine beaches!! Thanks for sharing!
We agree, Rizza, the beaches in the Philippines are amazing. It’s hard to beat them 🙂
I live on Diniwid right now and Barefoot closed down.
Oh no, that’s a shame to hear. The owner was so lovely and the food was delicious. Thanks for the info though – we will update it in this article. I hope you’re loving life in Diniwid. Have a Red Horse for us 😉
Love your page. The Phillippines is paradise on earth we never wanted to leave.
Hey Beth and Sam, Great site! We loved the Philippines too! Such a beautiful country 🙂
Nice shot! Try The Orient Beach Boracay, it is a high end hotel with a good quality of service. Experience difference because they made a difference in hospitality industry. I myself have experience their service and I swear, it feels like I’m at home. This hotel offers a wide variety of promos. I enjoyed their honeymoon package . It was a great experience.
Thanks for the tip, Angelou! There are so many great accommodations to choose from in Boracay. We loved our stay at MNL hostel, and there were several more we heard great things about other places as well. Cheers!
Hi there! your post is really stunning and the boracay Island is really a paradise. :)Thanks for sharing! So excited to try the Island activities! See you also The Orient Beach Boracay! very cozy and peaceful place to stay! Heard that was only 5 mins ride away from the world famous white Beach! Got a great deal with the cost! thank you so much. Cant wait to see you! 😉
Thanks so much for the nice comment! Boracay is certainly a beautiful place! Enjoy your time there – soak up some rays and have a mojito for me 🙂
Hi! Love your post. Boracay really is a stunning place. I see we’ve done a lot of the same things haha. Check out my blogpost about this beautiful island! 🙂
Sorry for the delay in response! Great article 🙂 We fell in love with the Philippines and I can see that you did too! Definitely a very special place!
Your photos are breathtaking!!!
Thanks, Kaylyn! The don’t even do the Philippines justice – every place we went was seriously stunning!