Getting to Boracay Island

54e792f02a4d5228054908I often have people say to me when I get home or when I’m on my way to Boracay: “WOW! That’s a long way!” or “Isn’t that half way around the world?” Then they ask me how I get there. I think everyone secretly wants to go …. Here are my tips on how to get to Boracay. Feel free to add to them. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my experiences; yours may differ, and that’s very okay.

If you’re flying out of LAX then you can just check for the cheapest flights that will take you to Japan’s Narita airport and then connect there to Manila. This route tends to have the cheapest flights.

You can also fly Hawaiian Airlines to Manila, but the downside is that you’ll have to stay overnight in Hawaii because of the connection times. The stay there isn’t horrible but it is an extra cost and it’s kind of a pain to get your luggage, go to the hotel and then return the next day around 10 am to get the next flight.

If you fly with Hawaiian Airlines, then on your return leg you’ll fly from Manila to Hawaii, have a short layover, and then connect to LAX. The flight from Manila to Hawaii is often late, making the connection to LAX very chancy. Even without flight delays, it’s a long way from the international flight terminal to the domestic terminal and signage is poor. I ran like a crazy woman one time to catch my flight and barely made it; they’d already given my 1st class seat away because they were told there was no way anyone from our flight would make it …LOL yes I was sweating and they booted the guy from my seat and gave it to me. That was the last time I flew with them. My fiancé had a very similar experience on another trip…The Hawaiian Airlines experience is a bit rough: they fly an older plane with no entertainment on it unless you buy a player and the players don’t have very good battery life. Not fun on a long trip.

In terms of “local” airlines, I’ve heard that both Cathy Pacific and Philippine Air are good but I usually fly Delta just to get the miles. They are all about the same price at any given time. China Air and Korea Air are sometimes cheaper but you get what you pay for. I have not heard good things about either airline.

Before you leave it is a good idea to go online and buy your ticket to Kalibo or Caticlan from Manila. The tickets cost more if you wait until you get there to buy them. Also bear in mind when traveling in Asia that you tend to be charged extra for anything over (I think) 15 kilos. If you have heavy luggage will have to pay for it and it can get expensive! It does not matter if you book though an American airline to take you all the way through; once they see your luggage you’re going to pay extra anywhere in Asia. You can buy prepaid luggage allowances when you purchase your ticket online but anything over the allowance will still be an excess weight charge. Consider traveling light. Also remember the laws about bringing cash into and out of any country there is a 10,000 usd limit going out of the country to the US and there are different limits coming into the Philippines so check the current limits before you bring currency into the country.

If you decide not to bring your own equipment, be assured that New Wave has plenty of new equipment at the shop available for you to use. Keeping it updated and in-service is a high priority for us. If you feel like you’d like to bring some of your own equipment, then I suggest bringing your regulator alone and using our gear for the balance.

Fun fact #1: It rains now and then in Boracay, but don’t bring an umbrella in your carry-on luggage: they will take it at the airport.

Fun Fact #2: Hand Baggage allowed on board must not exceed the dimension 56cm x 36cm x 23 cm for Airbus flights and 56cm x 35cm x 20cm for ATR flights, and must not weigh more than seven (7) kilograms for Airbus flights (A319 and A320) and five (5) kilograms for selected ATR flights.

Fun Fact #3: There are terminal fees at every airport in the Philippines (before you go through security). The Manila international airport fee is 550 PHP and for other domestic is 200 PHP.

A few airlines handle intra-Philippine air travel, including Seaair, Airphil express and Philippine Air. I usually use Cebu Pacific. They charge around US $40 each way, and fly into Caticlan every day on an almost hourly basis, starting around 530 am.

If you fly Delta into Manila you will arrive at the international terminal (number 1) late in the evening: usually around 10pm -12 am. I usually go right to the domestic terminal (number 3) upon arrival and catch up on my emails and things till my 530 am flight. The check-in counters open around 3:30 am and, once you get inside to the Cebu Pacific area, there are coffee shops with Wi-Fi. There are also cheap massages!

I usually fly into Caticlan from Manila. I tried to fly into Cebu once but found it to be much more expensive from the US to get there. Kalibo is a little cheaper to fly into but the hour bus ride is just a pain I would advise against this unless you have to.

Fun Fact #4: You cannot walk from one terminal in Manila to the next: they are very far apart and in no way are they connected! There are airport shuttles that are very cheap (maybe 20 PHP per person), but they don’t run on a regular schedule (lots of waiting). A cab can be a good option if you’re impatient. Anyone can direct you to the shuttle and cab line.

When you return to Manila at the end of your holiday, you can reverse this process (going from Terminal 3 to Terminal 1. Alternatively, you can bypass the intra-terminal shuffle and long wait by getting a hotel near the airport (like the Marriott neat Terminal 3) and stay overnight after catching a later flight from Caticlan. The taxi to the Marriott from Terminal 1 costs about 140 PHP and the Marriott costs about US $150 US $200 including all taxes and charges). There are cheaper hotels in the area but the Marriott is convenient and very nice, with a bunch of high-end stores right outside.

I recommend that you use a pick-up service once you arrive at either Caticlan or Kalibo because they will be looking for you and will make the transfer to Boracay seamless. The transfer costs around 800 PHP or less (US $20) per person, not including the jetty port fees. (See below for information on those fees.)

The airports can get confusing: everyone is running around, asking you please allow them to take you to Boracay (or beyond). That being said, for all their salesman ship the people tend to be very polite and never pushy or rude. There are just a lot of people around and they all want to help you … for a fee of course. J You can bargain it down but I think everyone finds it easier to just set it up and go. If you hire someone then they’ll assist you in getting through the jetty. Accept their help: there are two tickets you will have to get to get on the boat to get across to the island, and it’s a good idea to make sure you get them both.

Fun Fact #5: Tips are not mandatory for the luggage guys that carry your luggage on and off the boats. Even so, I typically give them 100 PHP per bag or US $2 per bag same as in the US at the airport for their help. Tips are not mandatory or expected anywhere on the island but are greatly appreciated because of that fact. I think it is a good thing to tip since everything on Boracay is really inexpensive compared to other places.

Upon arriving at the jetty port, you will pay a terminal fee of 50 PHP, a boat fee of 30 PHP, and an environmental fee of 75 PHP. Yes, you would think you could buy them at one counter but you can’t. There are separate counters for each and they are right next to one another.

If you have chosen to use a pickup/transfer service to take you from the airport, then once you get to the island they will usually take you all the way to your hotel. If that doesn’t happen for some reason, then have no fear: you can hire a tricycle for about 50 PHP per person to get you there (or anywhere else). The rates are sometimes higher during the peak season. Note when your traveling about the island via tricycle it is only 10 php a person. If you hear the word “special” and agree to it then you will have to pay 50 php not the regular 10php. Look for the green electric tricycles and use these if you can.

After all that: welcome to Boracay! Start relaxing on White Beach. It would be our pleasure to take you diving and to provide whatever advice we can concerning places to chill around the island. It’s a beautiful place.

I am headed there next week. I just added a blog to our new website and I will be blogging while I am there.

Thanks again for choosing New Wave Divers !!! Have a great day. 🙂