One of the hardest part of planning a trip to Boracay is choosing a place to stay. It’s true, but not because there are no decent hotel options. On the contrary, what makes it a difficult task is the sheer number of choices you’ll be bombarded with when you start searching for one. Choice paralysis realness.
Where is the best area to stay in Boracay? There is no short-and-sweet answer to this. But no worries, in this article, we’ll break down the key areas in Boracay and highlight the pros and cons for each, so you could make a more informed decision. We’re also including a list of the properties we have tried ourselves and the top options as ranked by online users.
WHAT’S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
Geography of Boracay
Before you go looking for accommodations, it is important to be familiar with the geography of Boracay, or at least the very basic of it. Boracay is quite small — much smaller than Bali or Phuket or Palawan. But it is bursting at the seams with possible lodging options.
Take a look at this map:
The landmass protruding from the lower right corner is Caticlan, part of mainland Aklan. Caticlan serves as the primary gateway to Boracay. Here, you’ll find both the Caticlan International Airport (aka Boracay Airport) and the Caticlan Jetty Port (sea port). Every tourist in Boracay passes through Caticlan.
Naturally, the passenger ports in Boracay — Cagban Port and Tambisaan Port — are along the edge closest to Caticlan.
You’ll also notice that Boracay is divided into three barangays (villages): Yapak, Bulabog, and Manoc-Manoc. You’ll encounter these barangay names when checking out hotel and resort addresses. But for tourists, it’s more practical to divide the island not by barangay but by beach. If you notice, Boracay’s shoreline is glazed with over a dozen beaches, the most famous of which are White Beach along the southwestern coast, Bulabog Beach on the east, and Puka Beach on the northernmost tip.
The most noteworthy here is White Beach, which harbors the greatest concentration of hotels and restaurants because it is the most stunning beach in Boracay. When you Google photos of Boracay, chances are you’ll be presented with images of White Beach, thanks to its powdery white sand glistening under the sun and crystal waters swaying in various shades of blue.
White Beach is further divided intro three boat stations — Station 1, Station 2, and Station 3 — spanning two barangays. But all three share just one beach. There is no physical border between them. Meaning, you can walk along the shore from one station to another without any problem. And if you do, you’ll quickly realize that each station has a distinct character and set of advantages and disadvantages.
STATION 1 (White Beach)
Best for: accessible peace and quiet
Station 1 is the most beautiful part of White Beach. It’s here that you’ll find the iconic Willy’s Rock (grotto) and the row of blue-sailed paraw boats that have become synonymous with the island.
But Station 1’s biggest pro is its quietness. Take another look at the map above. Station 1 is on the northern end of White Beach. Just next to it is Station 2, the busiest area in Boracay. The farther you move from Station 2, the calmer it gets. Hence, the southern end of Station 1 can still get a bit loud at times, especially in the morning. Station 1 is home to one of the two jumping off points for island hopping tours. (The other one is in Station 1.)
But the northernmost tip, near the so-called Lambros Point, is so silent, it’s almost sedating.
The catch is, it’s also the posh side of White Beach. Most of the properties here are on the higher end of the price spectrum. But there are a few exceptions, especially the hostels near the border with Station 2.
We were able to try the following:
- The Lind Boracay, an upscale resort that combines the proximity to White Beach and the amenities of luxury properties. Check Rates & Availability!
- Henann Crystal Sands Resort, the best of all the Henann resorts in Boracay. The rooms are standard Henann, but its infinity pool is perched on the second floor, overlooking the White Beach and allowing a glorious view of the sunset. Check Rates & Availability!
Unfortunately, most of the budget places we have tried here have closed down after the clearing operations done in 2018. We’ve also tried Frendz Hostel, which is technically in Station 2 but near the Station 1 border, so it’s not as hectic.
Top Hotels in Station 1
STATION 2 (White Beach)
Best for: Nightlife, easy access to restaurants and shops, and overall convenience
Station 2 is the epicenter of all the action in Boracay. It has the largest number of hotels, resorts, bars, restaurants, and shops. Why? If you take another glance at the map, you’ll find that in this part of the island, the distance between the shoreline and the main road widens, accommodating much more establishments closer to the beach. If you walk from the main road to the coast, you’ll probably pass by or through at least four resorts.
In fact, it’s here in Station 2 that you’ll find D’Mall, which is probably the single busiest area in the entire island. It’s also the most accessible as most transportation services pick up, drop off, or terminate around here. If you stay in Station 2, almost every main point of interest is within walking distance.
But this accessibility and busyness are also its main cons. It can get loud and noisy here, and it’s hard to find a spot or moment of tranquility. Try walking along the beach and you’ll be approached by touts countless times, offering a whole range of services from crystal kayak to henna tattoo to massage.
In Station 2, we have stayed at the following resorts and hotels, and we recommend all of them:
- Henann Park Resort, the latest Henann property to open to the public, so everything still looks, feels, and smells fresh and brand new. It’s not beachfront but along the main road so it’s accessible.Check Rates & Availability!
- Le Soleil de Boracay, fantastic location — beachfront and close to D’Mall — but surprisingly quiet inside the rooms. It also stands along an alley, making it accessible by e-trike or other vehicle from the main road. Check Rates & Availability!
- 8Colors Beach House, a small boutique lodge easily accessible from the main road and from the beach. It’s not beachfront but it’s literally a stone’s throw from it. It’s also very budget-friendly. Check Rates & Availability!
Top Hotels in Station 2
STATION 3 (White Beach)
Best for: Budget travelers who want to stay close to the beach
Often overlooked, Station 3 occupies the southernmost end of White Beach. Station 3’s beach is narrower and slightly steeper.
Like Station 1, it is also relatively calm. Fewer shops and restaurants line the beach and the streets, so the crowd also thins out. As I always say, if you follow the crowd, you’ll never reach Station 3. That’s because those coming from Station 1 get exhausted by the time they make it to Station 2. And those coming from Station 2 usually turn right, to Station 1.
While shops and restaurants are sparser in Station 3, it harbors most of White Beach’s budget accommodations, from smaller inns, backpacker’s hostels, and independent guesthouses. Years ago, one could find a room for only PHP 500 a night, but I’m not sure if that’s still possible these days.
In Station 3, you’ll also spot a floating jetty, one of the two boarding spots for island hopping tours. (The other one is in Station 1.)
Top Hotels in Station 3
Best for: Luxury travelers looking for a more private experience
Yes, Station Zero is a thing. But it’s not an official name. It’s just a nickname bestowed upon because it’s technically on the same side as White Beach’s three stations. But in actuality, it refers to a completely separate cove.
Confused? Okay, hold on. I’ll try to explain it. Beyond Station 1 on the same side of the island, you’ll find a series of smaller coves including the famed Diniwid Beach immediately after it. On the far end lies Banyugan Beach, which serves as the private beach for guests of Shangri-La Boracay. In between these two coves is Punta Bunga Beach, also known as Station 0, a strip of sand shared by three luxury resorts: Shangri-La Boracay (yes, it sits between two coves), Crimson Resort and Spa, and Movenpick Resort and Spa.
These are all high-end resorts, so only a few people get to access this beach. Room rates here play within the five-digit range, starting at PHP 11,000 per night. And that’s just the standard room. Suites can cost higher than PHP 30,000 per night. Super posh villas can set you back up to PHP 70,000 per night. Yes, these are mostly for the rich and famous, but most of the people I know who have stayed at any of these say that they’re worth it, especially if you’re really after luxury, privacy, and impeccable service. It’s also great for those who wish to celebrate a special or romantic occasion like honeymoon or anniversary.
Top Resorts in Station 0
Best for: Budget travelers and water sport enthusiasts looking for an accessible beachfront place to stay
While White Beach glazes the western edge of Boracay, Bulabog Beach takes up much of its eastern coast. But unlike its more popular counterpart, the sand here isn’t something to write home about. It’s mostly rocky and covered in sea grass, which isn’t ideal for swimming and sun bathing. Regardless, it is still incredibly scenic, thanks to its picturesque row of coconut trees that have been attracting Instagrammers left and right.
Bulabog Beach is easily accessible from the main road or even from White Beach. From D’Mall, you should be able to reach Bulabog Beach ON FOOT in around 5 minutes, supposing you don’t have mobility issues. The terrain is mostly flat. While some properties entail a bit of walking, e-trikes and multi-cabs can conveniently drop you off or pick you up in the area.
It’s also the main playground for water sport enthusiasts. The beach is lined by kitesurfing and parasailing offices. Yet, despite the extreme activities and proximity to D’Mall, it remains quiet and fosters an atmosphere that is a far cry from the chaos in Station 2.
The best part, properties along Bulabog Beach charge much lower rates, often half than those along White Beach.
Top Hotels along Bulabog Beach
Best for: Budget travelers who don’t mind staying away from the beach
It’s hard to delineate what can be considered “inland”, for the purpose of this article, we’re only including properties that are located in the area between Bulabog Beach and the main street. Meaning, if you’re coming from the port, it’s the area to the right of the road.
And yep, this area, although far from the beach, also hosts numerous hotels, resorts and apartments that won’t break the bank.
I’m the type of traveler that doesn’t mind staying at non-beachfront properties, especially in Boracay. The truth is, you don’t need to stay near White Beach to be able to access it. The main road stems into several alleys that lead to the beach. One can simply waltz and sashay to the beach.
In fact, I have stayed multiple times in an inland area near Station 2. I don’t know exactly what this zone is called but it can be reached by turning onto a steep street. It’s where these two properties stand:
Villa D’enghien, a residential complex with a separate apartment building the rooms of which are being rented out to tourists. Some of the rooms are equipped with stove, kitchenware and utensils. Yes, cooking is allowed (in some rooms). On our last trip, we booked a 1-bedroom apartment for only PHP 1400 per night.
Dakong Amihan Home, a Spanish colonial-style guesthouse that offers affordable bed-and-breakfast accommodations. It sits just next to Villa D’enghien. It’s been years since I stayed here, but I still remember how warm the staff, especially the owner was.
Top Inland Hotels and Guesthouses
Best for: Travelers who wish a more quiet stay away from the crowd
Boracay Newcoast is the newest tourism and resort development project by Megaworld. Spanning 150 hectares of hilly landcape, it is tucked in the northeastern coast of the island. Think of it as a township detached from all the hustle and bustle of the island’s main tourist spots.
Newcoast encompasses a three smaller now-private coves south of Ilig-Iligan Beach and north of Lapuz-Lapuz Beach. It also owns the land that serves as the main access point to the Cujo Keyhole, a postcard-worthy natural arch that has become a major tourist attraction. All these coves face east, providing a front-row seat to the spectacular Boracay sunrise. Guests can also join a FREE sunrise tour that will take you to two of their private beaches.
More establishments have also been sprouting along its lanes, the most prominent of which are Savoy Hotel and Belmont Hotel. Both Savoy and Belmont are well-appointed 4-star properties that can make your stay more comfortable, more relaxing, and more special. For a standard room at either, you’ll have to shell out PHP 4000-6000 a night.
Boracay Newcoast also has a food market and a huge tent that can be a venue for conferences, corporate events, and even personal ones like weddings.
Hotels at Boracay Newcoast
What’s the best area to stay?
The best area depends on your budget and preferences. We have tried staying at all of the areas mentioned above, and each has its own strengths.
- If you’re rolling in money and would love a more peaceful, more private stay, choose the luxury resorts at Station Zero.
- If you wish to stay somewhere secluded but you can only afford something mid-range, Boracay Newcoast is a good alternative.
- If you’re after accessibility and proximity to everything, choose Station 1 or 2. These two boat stations are the most convenient, location-wise. They’re also the best pick if you’re in Boracay for nightlife.
- If budget is a main concern, consider staying at a place in Station 3, Bulabog Beach, or somewhere further inland. You can easily find affordable hotels, inns, apartments and guesthouses in these areas. Don’t worry about your hotel not being beachfront. It’s easy to get around Boracay and most beaches are open to the public. You don’t need to stay in White Beach to get access to it.
As for me, my personal pick is Station 1 or Station 2 — beachfront or not — primarily because of convenience.
2023 • 7 • 26: First up