I have wanted to come to Boracay since I first read about it.
Although not widely publicised in Australia, Boracay is a teeny island in the Philippines, off the coast of Panay, which is very popular and well known as having one of the best beaches in Asia. It sounded like a great place for us to visit except for one thing. It wasn’t that straight forward for us to get there. This is why it didn’t make the list when our plan was to go away for just two weeks. It seemed like too much travel for the four of us.
When our trip was extended, it was one of the first places I thought about again. I read and read and read, and it seemed doable, although a bit exhausting. It would take two flights from KL, a bus/van ride, a boat and then a pedicab. It sounded worth it though, so we booked the flights.
We ended up breaking up the journey in Kalibo (where we flew into), as otherwise it was just too long a travel day for us. This worked well, but it would also be very easy to get to Boracay from Kalibo airport. There were tons of vans waiting to pick up people when we landed and I think we were very much in the minority on our flight when we didn’t hop in one.
I was confident the four of us could handle the journey, but also very apprehensive. This would be our first overland journey via public transport.
The van from Sampaguita Gardens Resort dropped us off at Kalibo bus station (which is just a small car park – and car park is perhaps too strong a name for it), and there was already a bus there headed to Caticlan which is the port town where you have to go to catch a ferry to Boracay. The driver helped us load our suitcases into the bus storage compartment, and we hopped on board. Tickets are purchased on the bus, once it leaves the station.
The bus was great. There are also vans which are meant to be slightly faster, but they have barely any luggage storage so the bus was definitely way to go for us. They are also more comfortable. I really can’t complain about the bus or the journey to Caticlan, except for something minor – when we got on the bus, it was far from full but there was someone sitting on every lot of seats, so we couldn’t sit together. J sat behind me with Z, and S sat across the aisle. It felt weird putting her by myself, but I was not having a big, 20kg toddler on my lap for an hour and a half. I have found people in Asia are generally very welcoming and helpful with kids, far more so than at home – that is until it comes to long distance travel and then it’s every person for themselves!!
The bus was excellent quality, very cheap, had tv screens showing a kids movie in english (S was very entertained) and even free wifi. It was a scenic journey as well, lots of little villages with picturesque farms in between. The latter part of the journey was along the stunning coastline. The time went very fast.
We were soon at Caticlan. The bus dropped us off right by the ticket stand for the ferry. It was very straight forward. Three booths in a row where we could buy the ferry ticket, environmental fee and terminal fee. The ferry ticket was only 25 pesos for an adult, but the other fees added up to 175 pesos!! Still, very cheap overall and another time where having both our kids under 3 saved us from paying anything for them.
The terminal is small and straight forward. All the luggage needs to be scanned though which was a major pain for us, mainly because S threw a tantrum over putting her Dora bag through. This was just after I put my backpack through which contained my valuables, so I had to go through and leave poor J with the two kids and the rest of the luggage. We got through eventually though, thanks to the fact (yet again) that the locals are so helpful with kids.
We were soon on the boat. This was a bit of a pain as well as it only had a gangplank to get onboard. Try that with our luggage and two little ones. Thankfully, there are lots of people to help for a tip, and they just took our luggage off as and put it on board. Another passenger said 20 pesos was the amount to pay them and this kept them happy and was well and truly worth it.
I also saw signs for a “fast boat”. Everyone hopped on the regular boat that we got on, so perhaps this was a farce. Either way, doubt it would actually be faster as we were over to Boracay very quick, and taking another boat would have meant a wait, so I can’t see anyway it would have been faster overall.
The boat ride over was super fast (Boracay is very close to Panay), scenic and fun. We all enjoyed it. The boat itself was a reasonable size, big enough to feel safe, had a roof and lots of life jackets.
Porters took our luggage off the boat here for us too, and we were soon at the jetty walking towards the tricycles.
Tricycles are a motorbike with a side compartment. They can sit about 6. It fit us and our luggage by strapping some of it on top. It was a fun ride to our hotel of maybe about 10 minutes. It was along the main road of the island (the only one that runs down the length of it, Boracay is small), and there was plenty of traffic, shops and scenery to keep us interested along the way. S loved it.
And then we were at out hotel!! It was less than 3 hours door to door, very straight forward and surprisingly enjoyable, considering all the different forms of transport we had to take. Don’t let this journey turn you off visiting what is turning out to be a fantastic place!!
Bus Kalibo – Caticlan, 1.5 hours, 107 pesos for an adult, 87 for a child (although S could have been free if we sat her on our lap when they came around for tickets then put her on an empty seat
Ferry Catcilan – Boracay, 10 minutes, 200 pesos per adult for ticket and all fees. Kids were free, but would have been some cost for 3+ year olds. We paid people who helped with the luggage 20 pesos each. Make sure you have change for this.
Tricycle to Station 2 cost us 100 pesos