How to get to Boracay (Philippines)

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Sunset at Station 1, White Beach, Boracay (Philippines) @Sep2017
Sunset at Station 1, White Beach, Boracay (Philippines) @Sep2017

Boracay is a small island (10km²) within the Western Visayas region of the Philippines. It is a stone throw (~2km) off the northwestern tip of the much larger Panay Island. With its stunning beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters and bustling nightlife, Boracay is one of the biggest tourist draws in the Philippines.

However, for visitors getting to Boracay from outside of the Philippines, the journey is not as straightforward as one would imagine. For a location as established and popular as Boracay, one would expect uncomplicated and speedy land/sea transfers after arriving at the destination airport. However in reality, most visitors would have to navigate 2-3 hours of land-sea-land transfer after landing at their destination airport.

In this blog, we’ll share with you how to get to Boracay. Don’t let the time-consuming journey put you off from visiting it. The spectacular beauty and laid-back ambiance of Boracay more than make up for it! Let’s go!

 

Note: The information in this blog is accurate as of Sep-2017.


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Puka Beach, Boracay (Philippines) @Sep2017
Puka Beach, Boracay (Philippines) @Sep2017

How to get to Boracay

Being a small island, Boracay does not have its own airport. Thus, most visitors have to fly into neighboring Panay Island. Once at Panay Island, visitors need to make their way to Caticlan Jetty Port and take a short ferry to Boracay.

There are two airports on Panay Island that are suitable for travellers to Boracay; Caticlan Airport (MPH) and Kalibo International Airport (KLO).

 

Caticlan Airport or Kalibo International Airport?

Location wise, Caticlan Airport is located next to Caticlan Jetty Port. While Kalibo International Airport is a whopping 70km (1.5 hours drive) away.

All visitors need to get to Caticlan Jetty Port for their ferry to Boracay. Thus, it makes sense to fly into Caticlan Airport, which is right next to Caticlan Jetty Port. However, this is where things get complicated.

 

Caticlan Airport (MPH)

Caticlan Airport (aka Godofredo P. Ramos Airport or Boracay Airport) is a domestic airport. It only serves a few airlines. As far as international visitors are concerned, Caticlan Airport only connects to Cebu and Manila. Therefore, all international visitors to Caticlan Airport have to transit either at Cebu or Manila.

As of Sep-2017, below are the airlines serving Caticlan Airport:

  • MPH to Cebu Airport (CEB) : Cebu Pacific, Cebgo, Philippines Airline.
  • MPH to Manila Airport (MNL) : Cebu Pacific, Cebgo, Philippines Airline, AirAsia

 

Kalibo International Airport (KLO)

In contrast, Kalibo International Airport connects directly to several major Asian cities in addition to a few domestic ones (i.e. Manila, Cebu, Clark). Its Asian routes include Singapore (SilkAir, Scoot, Cebu Pacific), China, Hong Kong, Malaysia (AirAsia), Korea and Taiwan.

Kalibo Airport (Philippines) @Sep2017
Kalibo Airport (Philippines) @Sep2017

 

Cost is the problem

The biggest difference for travellers choosing between flying into Caticlan Airport or Kalibo International Airport is the cost. Flights to Caticlan Airport almost always cost a lot more than flights to Kalibo International Airport.

Even after factoring in the land transport cost from Kalibo International Airport to Caticlan Jetty Port, the overall cost of travelling via Kalibo International Airport is still significantly lower than using Caticlan Airport. This advantage towards Kalibo International Airport is more pronounced by the fact that more airlines fly into it than to Caticlan Airport.

Unsurprisingly, the result is that most visitors arriving from international routes would be landing at Kalibo International Airport.

 

Getting from Kalibo International Airport to Boracay

For those flying into Kalibo International Airport, a lengthy land-sea-land transfer (2-3 hours) is required to reach their accommodations on Boracay. Below are the details.

Step#1: Land transfer from Kalibo International Airport to Caticlan Jetty Port.
(via coach or taxi. 70km. 1.5 hours. Non-stop journey)

Step#2: Sea transfer from Caticlan Jetty Port to Cagban Jetty Port (Boracay).
(via small ferries. 10-15 minutes)

Step#3: Land transfer from Cagban Jetty Port to respective accommodation on Boracay.
(via mini-taxi. 10-20 minutes)

Note: If you’re flying into Caticlan Airport, simply take a local transport for the short ride to Caticlan Jetty Port.

 

Terminal Fee and Environmental Fee when taking ferry

Take note that all visitors to Boracay have to pay a terminal fee of 100PHP per way (per pax) at the jetty. That means each visitor has to pay the 100PHP terminal fee twice. Once during the incoming ferry to Boracay, and the second during the outgoing ferry back to Caticlan Jetty Port.

In addition, visitors have to pay a one-time environmental fee of 75PHP (per pax) at Caticlan Jetty Port before entering Boracay. Hence, the total miscellaneous fee payable for all visitors is 275PHP per pax (100 + 100 + 75 = 275PHP).

Interesting, there is even a night navigation fee of 5PHP (per pax) if your ferry leaves Caticlan Jetty Port after 5.30pm. We were quite surprised by this during our trip, as this fee wasn’t mentioned in most websites/blogs. But we promptly paid it since its nothing expensive.

 

Travel Tips:

  • Get ready some food/water for the land-sea-land transfer. During the incoming journey, you might not have time to buy them at Kalibo International Airport (KLO) before boarding the bus.
  • Visitors leaving from Kalibo International Airport need to get ready 200PHP for the airport terminal fee. Pay as you enter the departure hall (after checking-in) when flying out from Kalibo International Airport. This terminal fee is usually not included in your airline ticket price. (We’re not sure if Caticlan Airport require similar fee)
  • Similarly, visitors transiting at Manila International Airport (MNL) need to pay a terminal fee of 550PHP. However, your airline should have collected this fee when you’re purchasing the flight tickets.
Kalibo Airport departure hall (Philippines) @Sep2017
Kalibo Airport departure hall (Philippines) @Sep2017

 

Engaging the service of a transport company

As seen above, the land-sea-land transfer from Kalibo International Airport is lengthy and requires multiple transport modes. If a visitor is not booked on a point-to-point transfer service (from a local transport company), he/she would have to navigate their way thru the multiple transport modes and deal with separate operators independently. The hassle is exacerbated by the fact that most visitors are worn out from their incoming flight.

If you’re on an extremely tight budget and/or prefer the adventures of setting up your own transfer to Boracay, you’re most welcome to navigate the transfer on your own.

However, most visitors would prefer to pay slightly more to engage the point-to-point transfer service of a transport company. The obvious advantage is that someone would be at the airport to pick you up and guide you thru all the transport modes till you reach your accommodation on Boracay.

When engaging a transport company, remember to find out if the quoted prices include the 275PHP for environmental fee and 2-way terminal fee. In addition, ask the same about the 5PHP night navigation fee if you predict to reach Boracay after 5.30pm.

For the outgoing journey, note that it is normal for transport companies to pick-up travelers from their accommodation (on Boracay) 4-hours prior to their departure flight at Kalibo International Airport.

 

Review of Island Star Express*

For our trip in Sep-2017, we searched online for a reputable transport company and found “Island Star Express” via TripAdvisor. We found their transfer to be average priced. More importantly, it is one of the few transport companies that are reviewed online by other travelers.

Having used their service, we’re glad to feedback that the company is professional, punctual and hassle-free. Their bus (Kalibo International Airport to/from Caticlan Jetty Port) and mini-shuttle van (on Boracay) is clean and in good condition. Administrative wise, they even accommodated to our itinerary changes (without any errors) and facilitated the speedy full refund for someone in our travel group who had to cancel his trip. Thus, do check them out when you’re planning your trip. Island Star Express website (click here)

 

*Note: We are not in any way affiliated nor have any agreement, financial or otherwise, with the companies/organizations mentioned in this post. All comments herein are based on our genuine opinion.

 


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