The island of Boracay in the Philippines is a true tropical idyl with turquoise seas and sand so brilliantly white it literally dazzles you. It’s a tiny island, just 8 km long and 1 km wide at its narrowest, only accessible by boat. In recent years, however, Boracay has become one of the most visited destinations in The Philippines, which is pretty impressive given that there are over 7,000 islands to choose from!
This wasn’t the case 20 years ago when cheap beach huts lined White Beach and a handful of dive shops catered to the few visiting tourists. There were no roads, no cars, few visitors and not much electricity either.
Today there are chain hotels and more than 500 restaurants (including a McDonalds!), nightclubs, shops and a golf course.
But despite the crowds this is still a great destination for families. Visit during the low season (June – early October) and you’ll see why Boracay really is a special destination.
Top 10 things for families to do on the island of Boracay:
1. Kite Surfing
If you fancy a go at kite surfing book a lesson as early in the morning as possible on Bulabog Beach. The beach becomes packed with kite surfers during the day, but if you can drag yourself out of bed you will be able to experience the solitude of surfing almost entirely alone. Some of the kitesurfing schools such as The FunBoard Centre offer ultra-light rigs for children and women as well as wind surfing lessons for kids. This is best for older kids from about 12+.
2. Escape the crowds
Take a tricycle to Diniwind Beach, this is a big hit with kids! From here you can take the bamboo elevator to Nami which has some of the best views of White Beach and some rather delicious food too. The bamboo elevator is guaranteed to please the children, it even has a lift attendant! From Nami you can walk to the Spider House which is a chilled resto with a little bamboo ladder into the sea. Here you can take a quiet dip to cool off. There is also a floating ocean station accessible from the Spider House, which is really fun for the kids to play on. My daughter Maya loved climbing on and jumping off into the ocean. Access to the ocean is down a rustic bamboo ladder which makes the plunge into Boracay’s crystal clear water a real adventure.
3. Eat oysters
Try fresh Rockerfeller Oysters. Los Indios Bravos at the road onto Bulabog beach has great ones. If shellfish are not your kids’ thing (unfortunately my daughter’s pallet does not venture to oysters!), there’s plenty of kid-friendly fare here including bangers and mash, macaroni cheese, chicken goujons, schnitzels, shepherd pie, nachos and cottage pie amongst other yummy dishes which the kids love. Happy Tummies!
4. Go paddling
Hire a paddleboard at sunset and paddle around Willies Rock. You can pop your kids on the front of the board while working out your abs or let them have a go themselves. Paddle boarding is great for kids of all ages; older children can paddle solo but younger children will need accompaniment. The sea in Boracay is great for learners as the water stays shallow for about 100m out and the waves are tiny. If you stay close to the shore you will be able to touch the bottom if you fall in.
5. Enjoy White Beach
Go for a tranquil early morning stroll on White Beach before the crowds arrive. White Beach is one of Boracay’s two primary beaches (the other one is Bulabog Beach). The two beaches are located on opposite sides of the island’s narrow central strip; White Beach faces westwards and Bulabog faces eastwards. Stop off for a fresh fruit shake at Jonah’s Fruit Shakes, which has an extensive list of mouth-watering shakes that our kids loved.
6. Zip along the ocean
Hire a jet ski or go Banana Boating and get your adrenalin rush zooming over the ocean. A speedboat transports passengers out to the floating platform about 10min from White Beach and from here you can choose from a range of water sports. The kids will love pretending to be action hero’s as the boat zooms out to sea! Jet skiing is not really suitable for kids but the whole family can enjoy the rush of banana boating.
7. Eat Local
Try a 50php Chori burger, BBQ chicken intestine or steamed corn from one of the dozens of local stalls dotted along White Beach. The steamed corn makes a great cheap healthy snack for the kids.
8. Make the most of Happy Hour
Go to one of the many bars for Happy Hour. We liked Aplaya, a new Italian place with bean bags, frozen margaritas and sumptuous Italian appetisers. Happy hour starts about 5pm and kids are welcome. Our two kids loved playing on the bean bags and making sandcastles while we enjoyed the ambiance (and the drinks!).
9. Watch the Fire Dancers
Fire dancers perform every evening at Astoria and The District and you can book a table on the beach at either of these resort restaurants. Astoria offers a large buffet for 500php per person while The District has a lovely Italian restaurant. Our kids were mesmerised by the fire dancers’ energetic routines to a sound track of “Let it Go” and “Gangnam style”.
10. Visit Shangri-La
Take a tricycle ride up to Pukka Beach in the North of the island, our kids loved this! This tranquil beach is best visited in the late afternoon when its not too hot (since there is limited shade). From Pukka Beach take a short trip to the Shangri-La Boracay Resort & Spa and dine at one of their elegant restaurants (you will need to book). If you book an early table the kids can come too and be treated to a golf buggy ride from the reception area to one of the three restaurants. If you don’t fancy taking a tricycle back then the Shang can organise a shuttle.