Tourist Spots

The World’s Best Island is on a Break – Visit These Boracay Alternatives Instead!

The world’s best island is taking a break, but don’t let that stop you from going on an adventure! If you feel like you’ll be pining for Boracay’s white sand, chill vibe and more – then check out this list of Boracay alternatives that you have to see. After all, there are over 7,000 islands in the Philippines for you to explore. So, start planning your trip now!

1. Cagwait White Beach, Surigao del Sur

Now known as the “Boracay of Caraga”, this c-shaped slice of tropical paradise was originally dubbed the “Waikiki Beach of the Philippines” by famous American aviator and explorer, Charles Lindbergh. With its white sand, azure waters and surrounding rainforest, it’s no surprise that this spot is slowly becoming a go-to for city dwellers who simply want to disconnect and be one with nature.  

  • Location: Cagwait, Surigao del Sur
  • Hours from Manila: Inclusive of land and flight travel time, 17 hours
  • Budget: No entrance fee
  • Activity tip: Swimming, snorkeling, boating and partake in other activities such as picnics, camping and more.
  • Nearby must-sees: Enchanted River, Laswitan Lagoon, Cagwait Beach, and Magkawas Falls

2. Bantayan Island, Cebu

One of the things you may find yourself missing the next few months are the food stalls and shake stands that have popped up all over Boracay. No need to fret though, if you want good food, drinks and the chill beach vibe – then head over to Bantayan Island! Thanks in large part to the island’s growing expat community, visitors can taste authentic Greek, Mexican, Italian food and more without having to leave the country.

  • Location: MJ Square and Poblacion, Santa Fe, Cebu
  • Hours from Manila: Via flight and chartered plane, 3 hours.
  • Budget: More or less P300 – P500 for a fairly heavy meal with drink
  • Activity tip: At Bantayan Burrito Company, order “The Notorious P.I.G.”, which is a pulled pork, chorizo and bacon chimichangga topped with chili, cheese bacon and salsa (P245).  You should also order a strawberry and jackfruit shake (up tp P110) at Shake Me. Last but not the least, try ordering Hellas Seafood Platter (P390) from Hella’s Taverna. It has fish, calamares, scallops, crabs, shrimp and fries.
  • Nearby must-sees: Virgin Island, Hilantagaan Island, Obo-ob Mangrove Park, Kota Beach and Sandbar

3. San Fernando, La Union

El Union Facade

As the country’s “Surfing Capital of the North”, La Union has quickly become the go-to place for local and foreign tourists alike who want to party, surf and have a good time. There are several hostels that hold events, concerts and gatherings where visitors can mingle and meet new people. The music is good, the company even better – especially when forged over good conversation, food and drinks.

  • Location: San Fernando, La Union
  • Hours from Manila: 5 hours by car
  • Budget: P500
  • Activity tip: When you have good music and good company, it’s easy to take in one drink after another. Be responsible though – all bottles or plastic cups go in the trash, don’t leave them on the beach.
  • Nearby must-sees: Tagandan Falls, Ma-cho Temple, Tuddingan Falls, and Poro Point Lighthouse

4. Magpupungko Rock Pools, Siargao

Thanks to Ariel’s Point, cliff diving in Boracay has become a must-do. If you’ve been itching to take a leap of faith and can’t wait until October, then why not head over to Siargao? The Magpupungko Rock Pool has been a local favorite due to its unusual rock formation – a much bigger rock sitting atop a small rock. In fact, the “Magpupungko” comes from the Bisaya term, “pungko” which means “to sit”.

At the base of the formation are several pools of clear blue water that are only revealed during low tide. On the other hand, when the tide rushes back in, they fill the rock pools with seawater thus forming the “tide pools”. You can go cliff diving here though not as high, the view is just as spectacular.

  • Location: Pilar, Surigao del Norte
  • Hours from Manila: Flight time from Manila to Siargao is 2 hours.
  • Budget: P50 entrance fee to the rock pools and Magpupungko beach. There is also a P20 parking fee in case you drove yourself to the area.
  • Activity tip: When cliff diving, be sure to check how deep the water is first – the deepest rock pool can go for 18 feet. It is also advisable that you wear rock shoes and the proper swim wear, as getting to the jump points entail climbing very jagged rocks.
  • Nearby must-sees: Guyam Island, Taktak Falls, Tayangban Cave Pool, and Magic Island

5. Anilao, Batangas

When in Boracay, there are several dive sites to choose from: Crocodile Island, Camia II Shipwreck, Diniwid and more. But whether or not you’re a pro, there are so many other dive sites in the Philippines that you can explore – most especially in Batangas! For local and foreign divers alike, Anilao, Batangas is the best diving spot to go to when you only have an hour or two to spare on the road.

If you’re looking to enjoy a wide variety of marine life, soft corals and reef formations then head over to Sombrero Island, Merriel’s Rock, Layag-layag Reef and Ligpo Island.

  • Location: Anilao, Mabini, Batangas
  • Hours from Manila: 2 hour drive via car
  • Budget: Depending on whether or not you need rental gear, a day trip to some of the 30 diving sites in Anilao can set you back around P10,000.
  • Activity tip: The best time to go diving in Anilao November, December, April and May. Though October to June is the main diving season. You can expect a bigger crowd during this time, especially during the weekend.
  • Nearby must-sees: Nasugbu, Calatagan, Taal Volcano, Balete and Lobo

6. Subic Bay, Zambales

If you and your friends love riding jet ski’s, the flying fish, the banana boat, love going parasailing and helmet diving – then make the two to three hour drive to Subic Bay! No need to make the trip over to Boracay for fun watersports – because there’s ton to do over here. That and island hopping, which is always great as you discover one new place after another.

  • Location: Waterfront Road, Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Zambales
  • Hours from Manila: Travel time via car is 2 hours and 30 minutes.
  • Budget: Island hopping for 2 hours can cost P4,500. On the other hand, parasailing and helmet diving can cost a maximum of P1,800 per person. Riding the banana boat or UFO couch can cost P350 per person for 15 minutes.
  • Activity tip: When enjoying water sports, make sure that you wear the necessary safety gear (life vests). You should also make reservations ahead of time to avoid lining up for your turn of the activity.

7. Balicasag Island, Bohol

Like Anilao, Balicasag is well-known for its dive spots as well. You have “Black Forest” which is 40 meters deep and is home to a variety of sea creatures and corals. There’s also Turtle Point which can go 75 meters deep and is where you can see sea turtles roaming freely. If you don’t want to go underwater though, you can simply go snorkeling and enjoy the view from the top.

  • Location: Near Panglao Island, Bohol
  • Hours from Manila: Flight from Manila to Tagbilaran is 1 hour and 25 minutes. From Tagbilaran, it’s a 38 minute ride via car or bus to Alona Beach. You can take a short bus ride from Alona Beach to Balicasag Island.
  • Budget: There are several island hopping tours of varying prices. If you want to go snorkeling, best to bring your own gear. Or you can rent some gear for P150 at nearby shops. You can also rent underwater cameras and memory cards for P1,300 to P1,500.
  • Activity tip: If you want to go snorkeling, make sure you bring comfortable swimwear and to go before noon as it tends to get very hot. Wear protective gear and sunblock to avoid sunburn. Be a responsible diver and/or snorkeler, do not touch the corals or bring any of them home.
  • Nearby must-sees: Alona Beach, Bagobo Beach, Bolod Beach, Danao Beach and Doljo Beach

8. Puerto Galera

Not a lot of people know, but just a quick drive away from Boracay are Nagata Falls and Agnaga Mini Falls. Located in the municipality of Malay, the waterfalls showcase a beautiful downpour of cool and refreshing water, which makes it the perfect backdrop for a relaxing swim or picnic.

If you feel like you’ve missed out on the falls, then head over to Puerto Galera that’s home to the Tamaraw, Tukuran, Talipanan and Aninuan Falls.

  • Location: Oriental Mindoro, Philippines
  • Hours from Manila: A bus or car ride to Puerto Galera is 4 hours long.
  • Budget: Minimal entrance fee and/or tip for guide, if you hire one.
  • Activity tip: Though some people feel more comfortable with a guide, it is fairly easy to trek from the start point to any of the four waterfalls. Be sure to bring extra clothes if you plan on swimming and food and water as there are no vendors nearby.
  • Nearby must-sees: White Beach, Haligi Beach, Bayanan Beach, and Talipanan Beach

9. Cotivas Island, Camarines Sur

Not all of Boracay’s beaches are dotted with restaurants, hotels and beach chairs, some of them have remained fairly untouched – free of tourists and commercialism. The same can be said about Cotivas Island, which is why it was chosen as the shooting location for the hit reality tv series, Survivor: Caramoan (Fans vs Favorites).

Albeit some wooden structures left behind by the shooting, the island has remain untouched and is perfect for beach bums who simply want to stroll along or to laze around. When the high tide recedes, you may find several starfish scattered along the beach and/or sea creatures caught in the rockier part of the beach.

  • Location: Caramoan Peninsula, Camarines Sur
  • Hours from Manila: Including land and flight travel time, it can take a total of four hours from Manila to Cotivas Island.
  • Budget: One way to get to Cotivas Island is to rent out a boat which costs up to P3500 (good for 10 people). Bring an extra P400 for entrance and environmental fees.
  • Activity tip: If you see starfish on the sand, please refrain from picking them up and keeping them as souvenirs. The tide will eventually return to high tide and they will be lifted up and returned to the ocean.
  • Nearby must-sees: Visit nearby Lahos, Matukad, and Sabitang Laya islands

10. White Island, Camiguin

If you miss strolling along Boracay’s white sand and enjoying the sunset over the blue waters, then head over to Camiguin. Slowly and surely, the island has been amassing a following of travelers who’ve fallen in love with its azure waters, white sand and gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. Though fairly popular, White Island has a handful of visitors when it isn’t summer – so when visiting off-season, you might have the whole place to yourselves!

  • Location: Mambajao, Camiguin
  • Hours from Manila: Flight from Manila to Camiguin is 3 hours.
  • Budget: P800 (inclusive of bus and boat transport, environmental fee and entrance fee)
  • Activity tip: Visit the island when it isn’t summer as to avoid a crowd. Also, be weary of the sunscreen that you wear while snorkeling – this is to avoid coral bleaching.
  • Nearby must-sees: Katibawasan Falls, Mount Hibok-hibok, Ardent Hot Spring and Tinago Falls

Ready to check out these Boracary alternatives? Make sure you book your flight and hotel with Traveloka!


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