When our plane was just about to land in Caticlan Airport, we already knew we wanted to meticulously document as much of our journey to Boracay as possible. But why do you need this detailed account of our “road to Boracay”? Well, there are two things that prompted us to create this article to help you learn how to get from Caticlan Airport to Boracay to get a chance to see this freshened up heaven on earth in the year 2023.
For starters, Google Maps won’t be much help to you here — the app simply doesn’t know the way to get you to Boracay. Besides, the whole process is so unbelievably bureaucratic that you might want to learn a few tricks to keep track of all the papers and fees needed to get to your destination. Without further ado, let’s look into the best ways to get from Caticlan to Boracay in 2023!
- A tad of our own experience
- 4 steps to get to Boracay:
● A tricycle or a minibus ride
● Paying all the fees
● A boat to Cagban Port
● A tricycle to your hotel
- How many days are enough for Boracay?
- A few tips you should know before your trip
How we transferred from Caticlan to Boracay?
Boracay is located in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines and doesn’t have its own airport (meaning there are no direct flights to Boracay island). There are two airports nearby — Kalibo International Airport and Godofredo P. Ramos Airport, commonly referred to as Caticlan Airport. The latter is closer to Boracay, that’s why we chose it as our starting point of our journey between the Caticlan mainland and Boracay island.
As seasoned tourists, we have lots of travel tips for first-time Boracay visitors (you might want to check out this article to learn all of them), but just to name a few main ones:
- Updated requirements you should know before going to Boracay in 2023 include the confirmed hotel booking voucher and a valid ID. Tourists are no longer obligated to have a vaccine card/QR Code to enter the island.
- Remember the mandatory environmental fee that lets you enter the island and enjoy its restored glory.
- Follow our tried-and-tested guide on how to travel to Boracay in Philippines.
Erring on the side of budget-friendly travels, we chose the cheapest option to get from Caticlan airport to Boracay. It still cost us 1350 ₱ (Philippine pesos) one way for two people. For this short and seemingly simple trip, we bought three separate tickets, paid lots of fees and switched between land and water types of transportation.
There is, of course, a more comfortable and sure-fire way to get to Boracay island — one that requires you to buy only one ticket for a full trip — and that is choosing a private airport transfer. The price of the transfer is around 1000 pesos per person, but the whole process is so well-thought-out and easy to follow, that it is well worth it. Sometimes, after a long flight, the last thing you need is schlepping with your suitcases in tow in search of the right transportation.
Your journey back to Caticlan airport will be cheaper than your trip from it. The budget-friendly option will cost you just 350 pesos per person, and the “premium” version will be 750 pesos. Keep reading to find out why!
Here’s our take on how to get from Caticlan airport to Boracay, we hope you find this guide helpful:
Take a tricycle from the airport to Caticlan Jetty Port
After finally landing on the Caticlan island, collect your luggage and get ready to start your exciting vacation on Boracay! Upon leaving Caticlan airport (that sometimes people refer to as Boracay airport, for its closeness to the island), head straight to the stands near the exit.
Here you are met with two options:
- You either take a tricycle ride to the Jetty Port — 50 pesos if there are two of you, and 100 pesos if you’re alone (very single-phobic in our opinion)
- Or you take a full transfer to the hotel — 1000–1050 pesos for a luxurious experience of a minibus and a fancy boat
If you’re a solo traveler, join another tourist so as not to pay more for a tricycle ride and split the cost after. If you have lots of suitcases, we recommend you settling on the more expensive option, just for the sake of saving yourself the sweat and tears of lugging your bags around.
There’s an ATM right near the stands, so load up on cash if you need to. Also, there is a possibility for you to buy a SIM-card at the airport — it costs around 500 pesos for a 24 GB plan. However, if you wait a little until you get to Boracay, you can find the one with an 8 GB plan that costs 125 pesos for seven days.
Then, after getting a sticker stuck on your shirt by a sales person (no ticket and no paying yet, plus, you can’t tap out of the sticker sticking either, for some reason), follow the instructions on finding the motor tricycles area, where you finally pay your 50 pesos and try to cram yourself and your luggage into a tiny cabin space of the vehicle.
The tricycle ride is short (5–7 minutes), but incredibly bumpy. Hold on to something so as not to hit your head.
Go through registration in Jetty Port — shell out some cash for all the fees
Upon getting out of the tricycle (which is no easy feat, let us tell you), get ready to dodge the local hustlers who will swear on their life that the fees at the port are outrageously high and the only way for you to save money is to pay for their services (“Just 800 pesos for one, that’s a steal!”). Keep pushing towards the port’s gate with the big “TOURISTS” sign.
- Get ready to provide your valid booking information. Otherwise, they won’t let you past the entrance, that’s the rule.
Hopefully, you already booked a place on the island beforehand. Our recommendation is Ferra Hotel — it has a rooftop pool bar, need we say more?
After you’ve proven your eligibility to enter the island, the “fun” part begins. Read this part thoroughly, to better understand the process:
- To begin the process, you go and fill out your Tourist Arrival Form.
- Then the bureaucratic entertainment starts, where you go to the stand with three people behind it, wait in line for each of them, buy a ferry ticket to Cagban Port in Boracay and pay two separate fees each to a different person. The whole process could’ve easily been simplified by merging the responsibilities of three workers to just one, but that’s the Philippines for you. Nothing is simple here (mostly in a good way though).
- The fees are following: Environmental fee (in Boracay in 2023 the fee is 300 pesos), terminal fee, or Boracay entrance fee as it is sometimes called (150 pesos), and the ferry ticket also known as the pump boat ticket (50 pesos).
- Once you have all the papers, go towards the boats (there’s a sign “To Boracay” for easy navigation), follow through another round of filling out the forms, checking your documents and receipts, and handing your papers from one employee to the next. Once this whole debacle is over, your tickets are exchanged for tokens, which are coordinated with the number of seats on the boat that will take you from Caticlan Port to Boracay.
Be very attentive after purchasing everything, and keep all of the receipts. On our way to the boat three separate people tried to make us pay the environmental fee (600 pesos for two people) again. Of course, we’re hoping that it was a simple misunderstanding and not a ploy to shake a tired tourist for their money. Our advice: Don’t let your guard down and be vigilant about keeping every piece of paper that comes your way.
Next part of your journey is tied to the questions of how to take the Caticlan to Boracay ferry, and we’re more than happy to guide you!
Boat or ferry to Cagban Port in Boracay
Making your way to the ferries is quite easy — you just follow the crowd of other travelers. If you’re skeptical about the mob mentality, you can check in with a port employee (which we did, prompting a small turmoil amidst the workers, we still have no idea what it was about), and they will guide you in the right direction towards the boats.
The boat itself, as we mentioned before, is a pump boat which is prone to being less stable than its more modern counterparts. If you get seasick easily, we suggest taking some medication to help you with that beforehand. However, if you were blessed with good “sailor” genes, pick any seat on the boat (giving up your token beforehand) and enjoy the next 15 minutes of looking at turquoise waters and Eden-like landscapes of the islands.
How much is the ferry from Caticlan to Boracay? The usual ticket price of the boat ride to Boracay is 50 pesos. The ferries run every hour on the hour from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., but we recommend checking the ferry schedule in advance, because it is subject to change under different conditions (weather and others).
As a rule of thumb, the boat captain waits for all the seats to fill up before departing, so if you are in a terrible hurry or if you want to get to the island after hours, there’s always the option of chartering a pump boat. It costs way more than the normal ticket, around 1000 pesos during the day and 2000-2500 pesos during the night, but sometimes it is exactly what you need.
Last step — a tricycle or a bus to your hotel
Once your little voyage is over, follow the other passengers to your now-familiar tricycle parking space, where you can also find little minibus convertibles option of getting to your hotel.
Fun fact: The tricycles on Boracay are all electric, this is where part of the environmental fees you pay goes, which is nice — to see the money put to good use.
- Do not get overwhelmed with people trying to pull you in to use their transportation only. Walk around a little and weigh your options.
Our hotel was near the Station 2, and at first, we were offered to take a motorbike ride (that’s right, motorbike, with all of our bags and suitcases) for 150 pesos. Then, we were declined the seats on the public bus (to be fair, our hotel was further out then the rest). Finally, we decided to stop our search on renting a small car for 250 pesos — the price seemed reasonable and we didn’t have the energy to look for anything else.
- If we were to take the bus, the rates per person are 40 pesos to the hotels in our chosen area.
And that is it, the total Caticlan to Boracay travel time is about an hour one way. If you know all the Boracay tourist information we’ve provided so far, the journey might take you even less — around 40–45 minutes.
The “premium” private transfers from Caticlan to Boracay take about 30 minutes, which is great if you simply cannot wait another second to explore the best beaches in the Philippines!
From Boracay to Caticlan airport — is there any difference?
The whole process of leaving Boracay for a tourist is slightly different than arriving to this “paradise reborn”. As always, you have to have cash ready to go.
The steps to getting back to the Caticlan airport look something like this:
- Catch a tricycle to get to the Cagban Port (there’s usually plenty of them near McDonald’s; the ticket is 40 pesos per person).
- Once in the port, pay the already familiar terminal fee of 150 pesos (no environmental fee needed, since you’re leaving the island) and buy the return ticket. It’s more expensive than the one you bought to get to Boracay, but this time the price of a tricycle to the airport is included in the ticket (and how can we forget, you get your favorite sticker placed on your shirt, yay!). The cost of the ticket is now 160 pesos per person, not 100.
- Get on the boat, you know the ordeal — exchange your ticket for a token, and then give the token back. Boracay to Caticlan airport ferry schedule is pretty much the same, so you won’t miss the boat (hopefully).
- After a quick voyage, you arrive to the Jetty Port and get whisked away on a tricycle to the departures zone (but not before peeling off your sticker…) The ride is short — four minutes at most — because the arrivals and departures areas of the airport are located in different zones, and this one is closer to the port. This is it, time to make your flight!
Now that you’ve read our guide on how to go from Caticlan airport to Boracay island and back, we hope that this stretch of your trip will go as smooth as it possibly can.
How many days are enough for Boracay?
The question of how many days are enough for Boracay is an important one when you are planning your vacation itinerary.
- For us, personally, five days was more than enough to get a well-rounded experience of the island.
We’re just not the people who can lie in the sun and do nothing for long periods of time (not that there’s anything wrong with that either). All we’re saying is, the island is incredibly beautiful and a 100% worth visiting, with its long stretches of white sand beaches, tropical flora and fauna, and the warm turquoise waters.
The type of relaxation you get in this place is out of this world, it’s so serene that the travelers rarely wonder what to do on Boracay island, besides swimming and tanning. If you want to change positions at least once every couple of hours, you can build your timetable around going to the beach, swimming, and reading (White Lotus-style, to spice it up maybe?).
You can also pop in to visit the island just for one day to see the world-famous White Beach (the thing that always comes up when you google “What is Boracay known for”). Remember about the mandatory hotel booking though, not to get turned away at the port.
Don’t forget that the Philippines have other things to offer other than Boracay island, so if you get sick of lounging on the beach, get out there and explore a different part of the country.
Which station is the best in Boracay?
The aforementioned White Beach in Boracay is divided into three stations, as a remnant of the time when island guests were dropped off at different parts of the beach and not in one port.
- Station 1 is the widest stretch of the beach, and the most luxurious one. The hotels here start at $80 a night, and the whitest sand of Boracay here called our name the entire duration of our trip. This is where you can vacation in style!
- We chose Station 2 as our home for our stay on the island, particularly the Ferra Hotel ($50 a night). This station is the most happening place of Boracay: This is where the mall, all the cafes, restaurants, and other forms of entertainment can be found. Due to the fact, Station 2 is also the most crowded, so don’t expect tranquility and calm when staying here.
If you can’t choose Boracay Station 1 vs Station 2 for an area to stay at, let the noise levels be your deciding factor – Station 1 is a lot less loud that Station 2, so you can get an undisturbed night’s rest every night.
- Station 3 is the most budget-friendly part of the beach, and that shows a little in the quality and cleanliness of the waterfront area. Local hostels and guesthouses provide rooms for $20–$30 a night, which is a steal in these parts! The vibe of the area is very cool and hippie-like, where most of the laid-back crowd gathers to hang out on a sunny day (which is practically every day).
If you’re imagining rigid divisions between the three stations of the White Beach, you cannot be more wrong. The truth is, the areas are not separated at all, it’s all just one long stretch of the beach, with every part having a slightly unique quality to it. The beach has free entrance too, and that’s what’s so great about it!
What should you know before traveling to Boracay?
Planning a trip could be hard when you don’t know a single thing about your destination. To help you combat your fears and lessen the pressure on your part, here are some things to know before visiting Boracay:
- According to TIME magazine’s list of “World’s Greatest Places” of 2022, Boracay island is a “paradise reborn”. Why this title? As you probably heard, the island first shut its doors in 2018 in an effort to undo the environmental damage sustained from thousands of tourists of the prior decades. The pandemic didn’t let Boracay to fully open to its visitors until the beginning of 2022. The island, that was once called a “cesspool” due to tons of trash crowding the beaches, is now a completely revamped space. The break was just the thing needed to bring Boracay back to its “paradise” status.
- There are other places on the island besides the White Beach — like Bulabog Beach which is the windiest place on Boracay (perfect for flying a kite, that’s why the airspace here is usually quite crowded), or Diniwid Beach, hidden by the cliffs from the sights of curious tourists and locals alike, being among others.
- Best time to visit Boracay is obviously during its high (and dry) season, which starts in November and ends in late April. We spent a week in Boracay at the end of November, and the weather was great. The wettest month on the island is October, so booking a trip during this time wouldn’t be our first option.
- If you’re used to the all-inclusive experience in, let’s say, Mexico or Turkey resorts, you will definitely experience a slight degree of cognitive dissonance when you see the White Beach for the first time. Don’t get us wrong, the white and blue of the waterfront is spectacular, but there are no amenities here that make the stay a little more pleasurable — like chairs, umbrellas, changing rooms, showers, or even restrooms! Not to say anything about a beach club, which is nowhere to be found on the White Beach. All of these things are prohibited here, plus some more: There are no vendors, fire dancers, and smoking (you can read more on this in our article here).
- Before we forget, you cannot drink alcohol on the beach either, but if you’re in the mood for a cocktail, pop into a local bar or a café.
- Most locals here can understand and speak some English, so you won’t be completely stranded without any help if the problem arises.
- If your most burning question is “How can I save money in Boracay”, we have the most useful answer — bargain! All the locals providing the services respect a person who knows what they want, so usually 10–20% of the price can be shaved off. Don’t get too cocky though, it’s a road you don’t want to take, not here.
- A huge chunk of the most popular things to do in Boracay is closely linked to the water aspect of the destination. You can find the water activity you like on the spot, but if you want to plan ahead a little, here are some of the experiences we recommend:
● Island and Beach-Hopping Boat Tour with Snorkeling
● Sunset Cruise with Water Activities
● Plus, parasailing, jet ski, and SUP boards!
Boracay Island is a sough-after destination among travelers who can appreciate both the budget and the luxurious types of vacations. We believe that learning all the tips and tricks we provided here can make your trip to Boracay in 2023 the highlight of the year!
If you follow our guide of getting to and from the island, let us know which part was the easiest for you and which process you found most absurd (it was definitely the stickers part for us).