Enter Boracay

By on August 30, 2010

Mission: to look for a a seaside getaway that offers most water sports activities, has a tropical climate, wide choice of food,  short flight hours, where shopping is easy on the pocket, and English is widely spoken.  After days of researching on the Internet and asking friends for travel suggestions, Boracay was the closest to what we were looking for.

Flight Hours

Our travel agent had advised us to pack lightly for a stress-free travel, as everything we needed – from beach sandals, goggles, to swimsuits and hats – can all be bought in Manila at decent prices. The travel to Manila is a direct four-hour flight from Narita Airport, with one in-flight meal included.  We left Japan at 10 in the morning and were at NAIA, Manila’s international airport, by 1pm local time.  (Japan is ahead by one hour.)

Shopping in Manila

We chose to arrive three hours earlier than our scheduled connecting flight to Boracay Island to allow us some time to do our last-minute shopping in the city before we set off to the island.  On arrival, we hopped in a cab that took us to the Pasay district, where the SM Mall of Asia is.  The air-conditioned cab ride was around 30 minutes due to the city traffic, and the fare for some 10 km distance was around 100 Philippine pesos (approximately ¥190), the local currency.  The SM Mall of Asia (www.smmallofasia.com),  the newest and closest shopping area to the airport,  is also the second largest shopping mall in the Philippines and the fourth in the world.  It has thirty-screen cinemas, IMAX 3D screens, an Olympic-sized ice skating rink, a number of shopping stores, and a hypermarket where all the items on our shopping list surprisingly cost three times cheaper than what we would have paid in Tokyo.  The SM Mall has an in-house foreign currency exchange counter that accepts any major currency although major credit cards can be used in most establishments.

Manila Restaurants

The SM Mall of Asia alone has over 150 outdoor cafés, bars, and restaurants, from Asian cuisine to European or American. Tipping is a customary practice, so have loose change ready at all times.  50-100 Philippine pesos is an average tip if dining in an ordinary restaurant.

Domestic Flight

The airplane ride from Manila’s domestic airport to Boracay is approximately an hour and forty-five minutes.  Although there are other land transfer options that are cheaper, they take hours;  flying is the least stressful mode of transport to the island.


There are tons of hotels with five-star review ratings on the Internet, but what we wanted was some privacy, so we opted for a family-style boutique type of beachfront accommodation at the Zuzuni Hotel (www.zuzuni.net).  Unlike the system of hotels in Japan, the hotel room rate in the Philippines is not on a per-person basis but includes two people.  An extra person is charged a minimal fee depending on the type of room selected.  The hotel stay for a family of four like us cost 4,500 Philippine pesos per night (approximately ¥8,500) for two people and an extra charge of 1,200 pesos per additional person a night (about ¥2,300).

Night Scene

Very often the Boracay nightlife scene varies according to the time of the year.  In the kite-boarding season from December to March, young European wind-riders descend, and the music leans more towards the electronic side.  From March to May, the Filipinos are out in force, and you get more of the hip-hop crowd.  The Philippines’ spring break is in April, and also the high season for the locals.


Boracay has everything prepared for everyone’s amusement: diving, fishing, waterskiing, banana-boat riding for 200 pesos (¥400 per 15 minutes), glass-bottom boating, windsurfing, helmet-diving (700 pesos, around ¥1,300), and parasailing.  Parasailing is the most popular water sport among the tourists, as well as the locals.  There is so much fun to be had viewing the island from the sky.  The cost of the adventure was 1,300 pesos (¥2,500) and highly recommended for people who are not afraid of heights. Fancy an adventure to a sandy, pearl-white paradise? Boracay beckons! 

About Michael Sig