Puka Shell Beach

The rain lashed down, the wind shrieking eerily like a ghost. Slogging back to our hotel through deserted streets, Boracay seemed a million miles away from the vibrant island I’d dreamt of.

But the next day, we woke up to sunshine, and Boracay transformed into a dazzling display of turquoise waters and endless stretches of white sand. Was this the party paradise or a haven for relaxation?

Join me as I explore Boracay’s contrasting charms on a budget-friendly adventure.

How We Got There

Predictably, our flight joined the afternoon delay club. Travel tip #1: aim for mornings if you can. Sometimes, though, you can’t control things, especially with a tour package.

Our trip was arranged by Air You Go Travels in a neat package. It’s super convenient, with just a few downsides: you can’t pick your flights or where you’ll stay.

They put us in Wald’s Place (located near La Carmela de Boracay Hotel). For the price of the package, of course, it wasn’t a beachfront property, but just a hop, skip, and (unfortunately, during a downpour) a flooded path away from the White Beach. The check-in area was a bit of a maze, tucked amongst other guesthouses. While not luxurious, the location was perfect, and the rooms offered options for couples, families, or groups.

Of course, there are also advantages of booking through Air You Go (closed now). For a group of at least four (we’re 5!), the cost was only P2,988 per person for three days and two nights, including airfare! Boracay, after all, doesn’t have to break the bank.

Boracay for the Broke

Three months before Boracay, a job change meant finances were tight. Luckily, Neil and some freelance work kept me afloat. But Boracay on a shoestring? Absolutely possible, especially with friends who share your love for travel!

So, along came my work friends: Jewel, Rob, and Cybil (with bestie Jen in tow). Neil, of course, was my non-negotiable plus one. Flights and lodging sorted, we just needed to figure out food and tours.

If you come to Boracay to discover its idyllic parts (skipping the rowdy parties), you don’t have to spend so much money.

Boracay’s beauty is for everyone, not just party-goers! Don’t worry if loud music and pricey drinks aren’t your thing. Here’s where Boracay truly shines. Imagine this: crystal-clear turquoise water lapping gently at your toes, powdery white sand whispering secrets between your fingers, and the only soundtrack the calming sigh of the ocean breeze. This, my friends, is the Boracay that leaves you breathless, without leaving your wallet empty.

A Side Trip to Jeepney Hostel and Kite Resort

Outing with OB Team in Boracay

Weaving through the vibrant D’Mall, dodging the ever-present tricycles, we finally found Drix‘s haven. It was an oasis of calm amidst the bustling energy. Drix led us inside, where a unique lounge awaited – comfy surfboards leaned against the walls, inviting relaxation, and hammocks swayed gently, promising a blissful siesta. Starving after our adventures, we devoured their best-sellers. But a special shoutout has to go to the freshly made pizza (seriously, you need to try it!).

As we caught up with Drix, we learned we’d struck gold! The sun was out, chasing away any worries of rain, and Boracay, at least in my opinion, wasn’t too crowded – even though it was July, supposedly the low season! (Seriously, could you imagine the high season?!) For a confirmed coffee addict like me, the ultimate perk was the hostel’s freshly brewed French Press coffee. Drix even sweetened the deal with a discount (score!).

Open Malls, Familiar Fare, and Island Hopping Bliss

I’ve been toΒ Bantayan Island, Camotes Island, El Nido, Bohol, and Camiguin, but none of them had an open mall like D’Mall in Boracay. D’Mall teemed with activity, offering a vibrant mix of souvenir shops, fast food restaurants, food stalls selling local delicacies, and stores catering to beach essentials.

While on a breakfast hunt, we stumbled upon a Subway – a revelation for me! It seemed Boracay had a surprising variety of restaurants and cafes to keep your taste buds happy.

Island Hopping Trip in Boracay

The long stretch of White Beach is impressive, but wait till you see Ilig-Iligan and Puka Beach! Unlike the crowds on the main island, these public beaches offered serenity, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and the brightest sunshine I’d seen the entire trip.

Reaching them via a scenic boat ride, it was midday when we arrived. Perhaps the tourists were hiding from the heat, making Ilig-Iligan feel like a deserted paradise. My trusty iPhone 5S, a recent upgrade after years of deliberation, transformed from a communication device to a full-time camera. Scrolling through my photos now, I see that Boracay adventures dominate the screen, with these island gems taking center stage.

Ilig Iligan Beach_Boracay


Puka Beach was surreal. We practically had the whole place to ourselves, no photobombers in sight. Everywhere I pointed the camera, it captured just us against the breathtaking backdrop. Right there, on that pristine beach, any doubt about choosing Boracay vanished.

Puka Beach Boracay

The Boracay Dilemma: Party Paradise or Hidden Oasis?

This trip exposed a not-so-surprising difference of opinion between Neil and me. He wasn’t too keen on returning, feeling we hadn’t experienced the “real” Boracay, the party scene it’s famous for. If you’re looking for that, you can find plenty of those stories on YouTube.

Personally, while I can appreciate the vibrant nightlife, it’s not my travel style. There’s more to Boracay than just parties. However, I can’t deny the island needs to prioritize its beauty. Drainage, especially in Station 2’s larger resorts, was a major issue.

Would I love to travel back in time and see Boracay before the development boom? Absolutely! The pristine White Beach of yesteryear must have been breathtaking.

Despite these concerns, Boracay still charms. There’s a whole world of water activities waiting to be explored, activities everyone raved about. Maybe next time?

Leaving with a Smile: Share Your Boracay Stories!

Issa in Boracay

One thing’s for sure: I left Boracay with a giant grin plastered across my face. The contrasting experiences, the unexpected adventures with friends, and the undeniable beauty of the island – it all came together for a truly unforgettable trip.

So, tell me, what’s your Boracay story? Have you experienced its contrasting sides? Share your adventures in the comments below!

By Issa

4 thoughts on “How We Spent Our Time in Boracay”
  1. Oh, your post makes me remind of my trip to Boracay three years ago. Although we just have 4 days there, we have lots of fun and unforgettable memories. It’s a pity that now the tropical paradise is closed for preservation; so I don’t know when I can come back there. Anyways, thanks for your sharing!

  2. Hi Paula! It was okay. Everything went according to plan. πŸ™‚ Next time, we’ll choose a more expensive package so we can get a better room.

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