World’s Best Trip: Boracay, Philippines
How to take a World’s Best trip to Boracay, the Philippines.
Now that even tiny islands such as Koh Samui are becoming mainstream, Boracay, in the Philippines, may be one of the last undiscovered Asian beach getaways. The sandy-shored speck is accessible via a frequent hour-long flight from Manila to Caticlan, followed by a 10-minute ferry ride. Once you arrive, head to the talcum-soft White Beach, which is divided into three stations. Settle into a chaise longue at Station One’s Discovery Shores, where butlers will keep you supplied with ice-cold San Miguel Pilsen. Station Three is the departure spot for Red Pirates, a group of ragamuffin sailors who offer around-the-island tours on Philippine paraws, then grill up prawns and chicken skewers for a barbecue on the sand. More intent on relaxation? Hail a tuk-tuk for a short ride to the Mandala Spa & Villas, a jungle retreat where you can have a traditional hilot treatment—a massage incorporating virgin coconut oil—in a private hut; eco-friendly villas host overnight guests. The best sunset perch, with a mango cocktail in hand, is on the island’s northwestern tip: a cliff-top daybed at Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort & Spa. For dinner it’s back to the barefoot scene at White Beach, where Kasbah restaurant offers up dishes with distinctly Moroccan flavors.
Boracay Affordable Tip: Boracay is known as an affordable destination, but if you travel from June to mid-October (when rain showers are more frequent but usually short in duration), average hotel rates are lower than usual—and package deals can get you up to 30 percent off standard peak rates.
Boracay Active Tip: Calypso Diving on White Beach is one of the biggest PADI-certified dive centers on Boracay. The staff of multilingual dive masters will lead travelers on excursions ranging from shallow reef dives to wreck explorations—and even night dives off the beach. White Beach Path Manggayad, Manoc-Manoc; 63-36/288-3206; from $37 per dive (including equipment rental).
Boracay, Philippines: World’s Best Scorecard
No. 4 island overall
No. 2 island in Asia
Discovery Shores 92.93
Discovery Shores White Beach Station One; 63-36/288-4500; discoveryshoresboracay.com; doubles from $400.
Kasbah White Beach Station One; 63-36/288-4790; kasbahboracay.com; dinner for two $46.
Great Value Mandala Spa & Villas White Beach; 63-36/288-5858; mandalaspa.com; doubles from $240; hilot massage $89.
Red Pirates White Beach Station Three; 63-36/288-5767; red-pirates.blogspot.com; tours from $14 per hour.
Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort & Spa Barangay Yapak; 866/565-5050 or 63-36/288-4988; shangri-la.com; doubles from $397; drinks for two $15.
Discovery Shores Boracay
Barefoot elegance is the prevailing vibe on this tiny island, where the 2 ½-mile stretch known as White Beach is often singled out for having the softest sand in the world. The 88 spacious suites feature large glass walls that look towards a scenic rock garden, but chances are you'll spend more time by the water. Take a dip in the pool, or jet-ski on the crystalline sea. For people-watching, head to the Sandbar, where they stir up delicious mojitos, infused with local flavors like lychee and mango. Sing your heart out with the recreation lounge’s selection of 1,000+ (mostly English-language) karaoke tunes.