1. Island Hopping
One of the very first water activities offered to tourists of the island, this is an old favorite that even many locals will have enjoyed at least once (and more often than not, several times) during their residency in Boracay. The concept is simple but timeless—jump on a boat and explore around the island!
You can customize your trip in any number of ways: choose what type of boat you want, which beaches you want to stop at, which spots you want to snorkel in, decide if you want to pack a picnic or discover a new eatery on shore, take the trip alone or bring everyone along, start your trip early in the morning or time it to finish during sunset. Island hopping is a must-try for all.
2. Banana Boat
The banana boat is one of the few water activities that you can experience simultaneously with a group of friends or family. Up to eight people canride on this giant banana-shaped inflatable as it skims the surface of the sea, tugged by a speedboat. People of all ages and water comfort levels can enjoy this thrill; the only operating “skill” required of the rider is to hang on.
3. Fly Fish
If the surface-bound skimming of the banana boat proves too tame for your tastes, try the inflatable fly fish. This ride requires its riders to hang on a little tighter, as the aerodynamic design of the fly fish inflatable allows the raft to pitch vertical when pulled at high speeds. Also a good group activity, the fly fish is an alternative for those seeking a bigger thrill.
One of the few water activities that is purely self-directed (or in the case of tandem kayaks, yourself and your partner), kayaking can be a great workout or a leisurely paddle or a mix of both. A big bottle of high SPF sunscreen and a good pair of polarized sunglasses are useful on a kayaking trip as UV rays reflect off the water’s surface, increasing your chances for sunburn and eye strain. If you’re planning an extended exploration, taking the time to familiarize yourself with the island’s geography and tide patterns can ensure that you are well prepared for your adventure.
A reasonable amount of balance and a healthy disregard for the fear of falling are all you need to get you started on skimboarding—that, and a proper skimboard, of course. These flat, thin, sturdy boards are oval or elliptical in shape and sized to your height. Once you have your board, take it out to the shore and prepare yourself for one of the most exhilarating beachside activities in Boracay, best suited to the flat sands of White Beach Station 1. Sprint along the edge of the water until you gather enough momentum to be able to drop the board, hop on, and “skim” the surface until you come to a stop.
Enjoyed by many since the 1980s, windsurfing is arguably the pioneer watersport of Bulabog Beach. A combination of surfing and sailing, windsurfing allows you to stand on a board while wind catching on the attached sail launches you across the water’s surface. The windsurfer manipulates the board and the sail to be propelled with the force of the wind. An internationally attended competition is held annually on Bulabog Beach, and provides both participants and spectators a good opportunity to celebrate this long-beloved extreme sport.
Easily seen as windsurfing’s wilder cousin, kiteboarding is a combination of surfing and flying a kite. Similar to windsurfing, the rider stands on—or more expressly, strapped on to—a board that resembles a larger, flatter skateboard deck, while holding on to an inflatable kite that catches overhead gusts and launches you across and sometimes above the sea. Sound too difficult and dangerous to try on your own? A slew of establishments on Bulabog Beach are available to help you get started on this exuberant watersport.
If you revel in the rush of heights, this is the activity for you. Enjoy the feeling from being towed by a speedboat and the weightlessness of being suspended mid-air by a giant colorful parachute. Parasailing is a relatively new ride activity on the island that attracts a good number of participants each year. The ride begins far off the coast of White Beach, takes the riders high above the sea, and ends with a relaxed descent and then another speedboat ride back to the island.
9. Scuba Diving
Scuba diving is an incredible experience that opens your eyes to a whole new world, a world that so few get to see, an aquatic world where marine life are the dominant species and humans are mere observers. Enter any one of the dozens of the PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certified dive shops around the island and enroll in a two-week beginner’s “Open Water” course that teaches you the skills and provides you with the necessary equipment to dive and discover the beauty that lies beneath the surface and beyond the shores of Boracay.
10. Helmet Diving
Offering an easy option that combines snorkeling and scuba diving, helmet diving allows you to get a few feet below the surface without having to learn the technicalities of operating scuba equipment. Oxygen is funneled through a tube that is attached to a special watertight helmet, letting you breathe underwater and look like an astronaut to boot. Swimming skills are not particularly essential to helmet diving, as movement is limited by the length of the oxygen tube connected to the boat.
Without a doubt the easiest and most affordable way to begin exploring the ocean, snorkeling is how many scuba divers or helmet divers first develop their interest in marine life. Bring your own mask and snorkel (the rigid plastic tube that allows you to breathe with your face submerged) or rent a pair on the island, then swim out to wherever you like and see what’s underneath the surface. Swimming fins and lifejackets can also be helpful but are not necessary.
Consisting of a pulley mechanism on a metal wire stretched across two points, ziplining uses gravity and a slight descent to propel the rider across a space at an adrenaline-inducing height and speed. Start your zipline adventure at the top of a hill located near the Fairways and Bluewater golf course and finish your ride at the beach below; with the wind in your hair and the ground far below you, this activity is the closest you can get to flying over Boracay. There is another zipline located on Mt. Luho, the highest point in the island.
Few activities can be as psychologically rewarding and personally beneficial as enjoying a good read on the beach. Be it a novel, a magazine, a newspaper, an e-book, or a blog, reading allows you to momentarily put your self-awareness to rest and simply enjoy relating to and being transported by your chosen author’s words and ideas. The relaxed island atmosphere of Boracay offers an ideal setting to absorb new material; whether you bring your own publications from home or pick one up locally, whether you stretch out on a sarong under the sun or crouch comfortably under the shade of a coconut tree, reading is a great way to expand your mind while on the island.
Since time immemorial, humans have been captivated by the heavenly bodies that we call stars. Providing the stuff of poetry for many, and the harbingers of destiny for others, stars illuminate the night skies and set ablaze the imagination. The low levels of light pollution on Boracay, and of the Aklan region in general, give you the opportunity to see stars that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to see with the naked eye. To add to your appreciation, check the web for constellations currently in view. You might even be able to spot a shooting star, or a planet or two.
15. Night Swimming
Swimming in the ocean of Boracay during the day is fun, but swimming during the night has a mystique all of its own. The lack of light to see by night limits your vision but it also heightens your other senses to the smell of salt in the fresh ocean breeze, the touch of the fine sand beneath your feet, the layers of temperature in the sea, and the sound of music reverberating from the nightclubs on shore. Whether you decide to go night swimming alone or together with a group, this activity proves to be a pleasure not expressly limited to those wishing to avoid a tan.
16. Build Sandcastles
Too often dismissed as child’s play, building sandcastles can be fun for all ages. For inspiration, take a look at the sand castles and sand art around Station 1. Tap into your creativity and shape castles, mountains, animals, words, flowers, or even people. Boracay’s fine white sand is the perfect medium for your construction, and shells, seaweed, or other miscellaneous flotsam make for good decorations to your sand creation.
17. Bar Hopping
Defined as “to go to a series of bars or nightclubs, with a brief stay at each,” there is no better way to quickly familiarize yourself with the island’s vibrant nightlife. There are many bars and clubs on the island, each with a different atmosphere owing to its decorative theme, staff, location, furnishings, and of course, menu. The small size of Boracay and the concentration of these places along White Beach makes it particularly easy to patronize multiple establishments in a single evening, allowing you to “get a taste” for what’s available before picking a favorite haunt.
18. Massage & Spa Services
One need only take note of the number of massage and spa establishments on offer to understand the high demand for this wonderfully indulgent activity. And with excellent reason! There’s nothing quite like surrendering your body to the care and concentration of another person’s expert hands. A good massage can subdue mental stress, relieve muscle tension, promote blood circulation, boost endorphins, increase flexibility, and more. These benefits are heightened by the laid-back ambience of Boracay, making massage one of the most sought after activities on the island.
19. Yoga & Meditation
Thought to have originated in ancient India, yoga is an activity that utilizes an assembly of body postures and breathing techniques to improve overall mental and physical health. Used by many ancient cultures, meditation practices the power of the mind to achieve an altered state of consciousness. Similar to other body relaxation-based activities, many spas offer courses or sessions to help you get started. Both yoga and meditation lend themselves perfectly to the search for peace and relaxation on the beach, as well as facilitating a person’s holistic well-being.
20. Beach Games
You are never too old to play, and the beaches in Boracay offer the perfect setting to remind you of this. From conventional games of volleyball,
football, soccer, and frisbee, to the tug-of-war, patintero, red rover, limbo, and slacklining, beach games are a wonderful way to have fun and unwind. For adults, playing these games on the beach offers a direct access to the inner child, and a way to stay young at heart. For children, playing games on the beach is simply one of the best activities, and the memories of games played are sure to be treasured well into adulthood.
With so many stunning views in Boracay, it’s hard to find a reason not to delve into the artful activity of photography. Using the camera on your phone or a fully equipped high-tech piece of equipment, you can take photos of just about anything—the food you’re about to eat, friends and family, landscape scenery—and you’re sure to come away with a collection of images you’ll cherish. An added benefit of photography is the images you keep make an excellent souvenir that you can show off to friends or use to remind yourself of the good times you’ve had and things you loved on the island.
22. Climb Mount Luho
The highest point on the island at 100 meters above sea level, the peak of Mount Luho offers an unobstructed panoramic 360-degree view of the island. Be one of the few who come here to witness the awe-inspiring sunrise over Bulabog Beach, or join the afternoon crowds who flock here to enjoy a different view of the magnificent sunset on White Beach.
These are only some examples in the abundance of activities that residents and visitors can enjoy in Boracay. Regardless of which activities you find yourself participating in, it’s important to remember that what really matters is that you have a good time when you’re here. The modern world may be driven by the “experience economy” but the fact of the matter is that, at the end of the day, nobody can have fun for you. So take it upon yourself to follow your fancy, and to fully embrace the experiences that Boracay and its people have to offer.
The island’s natural physical beauty abounds, yet it’s the people who have come to Boracay that have made it what it is today. It’s people who follow or avoid the island’s amihan or habagat weather, who have named and developed each of the island’s beaches, who have forged added means of transportation to get to and around the island, who proliferate and amalgamate languages and accents, who build symbols of faith and wear clothing of their religion, who create the demand for goods and services, who generate the island economy, who participate in the island activities. It’s these different contributions that render the visitors’ and residents’ collective perspectives of this paradise, making Boracay a uniquely alluring and altogether resilient island destination.
So go ahead, see for yourself what it’s all about. Because it really doesn’t matter how you get there or how long you stay. If you end up spending all your savings or keep to a tight budget. You can spend the whole time that you’re here alone or go out and meet a dozen people a day. You can prepare your own meals or try every restaurant on the White Beach strip. You can try every activity on the list above or customize your own activities. Just have fun. Be happy. After all, Boracay can only be what it has always been and continues to be: a tiny tropical island in the south pacific that is a paradise to all who see it as such and make it so.
This Boracay Guest Guide is authored by Camilla Collings for Boracay Magazine, copyright 2014. All rights reserved. No part of this section may be copied-and-pasted into any Boracay promotional material, or altered to hide traces of plagiarism, without permission from the copyright owner. This article may be shared as long as links kept intact, and proper acknowledgements made.