Boracay Island is a double-edged sword. This Philippine island is undeniably gorgeous and a dreamy tropical paradise. It has sparkling turquoise waters, powdery white beaches, and rugged coastlines.
It has won “Best Beach in the World” and “Best Island in the World” multiple times from multiple publications. But it also gets lots of bad press for being overcrowded and touristy. We were torn when debating a visit.
We wanted to experience Boracay Island’s famous natural beauty, but we wanted to avoid its infamous crowds. We compromised by visiting in the low season (October). There was a small risk of bad weather, but at least the crowds and prices would be low.
We hit the vacation jackpot, as luck would have it. We had a fun, affordable holiday in paradise and didn’t see a drop of rain. By visiting in the “shoulder season,” we found bliss, beauty, and elbow room on Boracay Island.
Elbow Room on Boracay Island
The low season crowds were thin all over the island, but staying on Station 1 ensured lots of extra elbow room. We stayed at the Boracay Terraces Resort, which is on the northernmost tip of White Beach.
If you don’t know, Boracay Island is synonymous with White Beach. White Beach is 2.5 miles of glorious blonde sand.
There are about a dozen beaches on Boracay, but White Beach is the food, accommodation, and activity hub of the island. White beach is divided into 3 Stations.
In the north is Station 1. It’s the most spacious part of the beach and home to high-end hotels. Station 2 is home to D’Mall, and countless bars, restaurants, and vendors. In the south, Station 3 is home to budget and backpacker accommodations.
We were semi-secluded at Boracay Terraces Resort. We had a huge, gorgeous beach practically to ourselves, at Station 1. But the lively fun and activities of Station 2 were only a short walk away.
Station 1 is definitely the place to stay if you want more space and tranquility.
The largest crowds were at Station 2 beach and D’Mall, but the crowds were light and manageable even there. In fact, it would have been creepy if there were less people.
Station 2 beach is home to most of the watersports and boat tours. At night, Station 2 is also party central, although during low season the parties are much more tame.
Beauty On Boracay Island
The beauty of Boracay Island was magical for us. It was tranquil and soothing. It was vibrant and energizing. And it was incredibly romantic.
There were postcard views in every direction. Pick any random spot, and you’ll likely be overwhelmed with the natural beauty. Here are a few of our favorite scenic locations.
The northern end of White Beach. This was the location of our resort, but you don’t have to stay there to enjoy it. The beach here is nestled in a cove and next to a headland cliff.
In front of you, the hypnotic turquoise water spreads out to infinity. On one side are miles of white sand. On the other is a rocky cliff.
The paved walkway between White Beach and Diwindi Beach. We strolled the path to Diwindi Beach every morning after breakfast. It takes you along the cove and around the cliff.
Mount Luho Observation Tower. The panoramic views here were stunning. We should have brought our DSLR, but we only had our phones. The photo gives some idea, but in person, the views were simply breathtaking.
Bliss On Boracay Island
Bliss was easy to find on Boracay Island in the low season. Boracay is a highly developed and commercialized island, by the touristy vibe is muted when the crowds are sparse.
We spent a lot of time relaxing on the beach, sipping inexpensive drinks and enjoying the stunning scenery. We mixed in a bit of adventure too.
We’ll write a full post about all our favorite things to do on Boracay Island, but here are few highlights.
We did some scuba diving around the island. October is not the best time for diving, but the glossy blue waters were irresistible. We had decent visibility and saw some coral and colorful fish.
We took ATV’s up Mount Luho. As mentioned, the 360 views from Mount Luho are amazing.
We rode the Zipline and Cable Car. This zipline was surprisingly fun. It was a tandem, so we could ride together. It’s not the most extreme one in the world, but we were shocked by how exhilarating it was.
Worth the Low Season Risk?
We think visiting Boracay Island in October is definitely worth the risk of rainy weather if avoiding crowds is important to you. October is toward the end of rainy season, so the chances of good weather are relatively higher than in May – September.
A shoulder season visit worked out great for us. We would do it again, but it is still a risk. The reward is enjoying some world-class natural beauty without the “sardine experience” of peak season travel.
(Of course, we’re assuming that you’ll have a few destinations on your Asian itinerary. If you’re flying across the world to see only Boracay, come during peak season for predictably nice weather. Or go to Palawan Island instead for a really remote and tranquil island getaway.)
Low Season Travel Tips
* Fly through Kalibo International Airport – Caticlan Airport is closer but smaller and more prone to delays and cancellations in the low season. Kalibo also offers more and much better low season airfare deals.
* Book a round trip airport transfer from Kalibo to Boracay – Getting to Boracay from the airport is not as hard as it sounds, but there are a few steps. First, there’s a 2-hour bus ride to the port. Second, there’s a ferry boat from Panay Island to Boracay Island. Third, a taxi or trike ride to your hotel. You could do it all yourself and save a few bucks. But for about $20, Southwest Tours offers a round trip “Door to Door” transfer service. We used them and were very happy. They took great care of us every step of the way. And they were there on time to pick us up for our return trip too.
* Haggle like Crazy – In the low season, you have some serious negotiating leverage. Vendors and even hotels are willing to come way down on prices, so haggle, haggle, haggle. No special tactics needed when there are so few other customers around. We saved a fortune on everything simply by politely asking for lower and lower prices.
* Stay at a Station 1 Hotel – Station 1 is the best part of White Beach. It is gorgeous, spacious, and relaxing. Hotels here are more expensive than on Station 2 or 3, but they’re extremely affordable in the low season. We stayed at the Boracay Terraces Resort and were very happy. It’s a mid-range resort, but it has the best spot on the beach. For only $30 per night, it was an unbelievable deal for such a prime location. Check out the latest rates for Boracay Terraces here.
Have you traveled in the low season? Where did you go? How was your experience?