It’s shocking that the world’s best island lies a short distance from your comfortable home or monotonous office cubicle – and worse, you have yet to check it out.


Named as the world’s best island by international travel magazine Travel + Leisure in 2012, Boracay is a tiny island in Philippines known for its famous white sand beaches.

Singaporean travelers are perhaps more familiar with regional beach-friendly spots like Phuket, Koh Samui and Langkawi but of late, more low-cost carriers and commercial flights are flying to Boracay and helping seasoned travelers uncover this natural beauty practically unheard of a decade ago.


I had the privilege of flying on SilkAir’s newly minted flight to Kalibo, trading my office menswear and putting my work aside (Editor’s Note: Yes, you deserved it) for some delightful sun and a golden-brown tan – and of course to find out if the world’s best island is for real.

Winding Road

As SilkAir’s A320 narrow-body airliner crested through rays of vermillion en route to Kalibo, I was comfortably ensconced in the wide seats, which had plenty of legroom for the short 3-hour flight and entertained myself with the in-flight wireless streaming of movies and music.

Located about 300 km south of Manila, Kalibo is the capital of the Aklan province, and serves as both a commercial center and gateway to the nearby islands and coastal cities.


Upon touchdown in Kalibo, I set off by van to Caticlan Port to connect to Boracay.  It costs about 200 to 300 Philippine Peso (PhP) or about SGD$6 to $9 for a 2-hour ride down the winding coast to the port.

The road trip alternated between flurries of verdant greenery to expanses of clear blue skies and startling seas or open fields, interspersed with clusters of quaint, squat shops.


Interestingly, the shops are often themed. I’d look out the window of the van and see similar shops flash past. One time, carpentry shops dominated. Another, funeral parlors and casket stores were the vogue. SIM card shops were common throughout and available in Boracay for 65 PhP, but you’ll have to pay load in addition.

The 10-minute boat ride to Boracay costs 205 PhP, inclusive of environmental and terminal fees. Be careful of hidden charges, so make sure you negotiate a final price before embarking. Such add-ons are a sure sign of a thriving tourism industry capitalizing on well-heeled tourists arriving by the plane loads in the past few years.

Another Day in Paradise


I sheathed my toes in the silky white sand after getting off the boat. It was warm, pristine and perfect.

The amazing sight of the famous porcelain-white beach was accompanied with a boundless, intensely blue sky that stretched far beyond even the periphery of my vision. The stark skies bordered the green-tinged, almost transparent waters and formed a gently arcing horizon. Here, tourists indulged in snorkeling, fly-fishing or just strolling along the beaches.

I know I’ve just arrived in paradise.

Top of the World


We caught a boat the next morning to one of the outer-lying islands that ringed Boracay, traipsing between water sports and other activities clad in swimwear for the entire day.

Alongside other writers on the trip, we sat in awe and reverential silence for 1.5 hours in a bangka [Tagalog for an outrigger canoe] to Ariel’s Point, where they offered a one-stop shop for kayaking, cliff diving and snorkeling.

The morning sea was docile; almost akin to emerald glass as we skidded lightly towards the cliffs. You can see the seas had been kept in pristine condition thanks to the environmental fee at work despite the onslaught of hundreds of thousands of tourists year round.


Snorkeling around the rocky outcropping of Ariel’s Point revealed vibrant corals in turquoise waters teeming with fish. A more popular snorkeling point was some distance further from the Point, amidst a deceptively strong undercurrent and corals of various outlandish shapes.

In that particular spot, tourists vie for the attention of the tropical colorful fishes, so don’t be surprised if your guide whipped out a loaf of bread for a good sport. I wonder if this sort of excessive feeding would do any good to the fishes in the long run.


Kayaking was a simple affair around Ariel’s Point, and while there was not much to be seen, luxuriating in warm rays and lapping waves was a treat. Paddling about resulted in a small, finger-sized fish flopping frantically in my canoe – it had swum into the embrace of my thighs and was obviously regretting it.


Try also cliff jumping or diving, the thrilling sport of simply plunging oneself into the waters from as high as 10 meters. Start with the lower ones, I was told, and slowly work your way upwards if you’re in the mood for plummeting into the waters with your hands flailing like a flying bird.

Much Ado About Nothing


We hauled our already sunburnt bodies back into the bangka as we set off for the Crystal Cove, a popular attraction famed for its “hidden coves”, but soon found that those coves were a lot more trouble than they were worth.

Trekking all over the island was not in any way fun when the sun was blistering its way past my epidermis, and the route was long and snaking. My vice-like grip on my camera increased in intensity along the walk, but also served two purposes – stopping the device from swinging pendulously as I navigated up the slopes of the hills, and to help it safely dodge the fat globes of sweat percolating from my chin.

Both coves featured body-twisting yoga-pose navigation skills: one down a stumpy, slippery staircase hazardous to tall people, and another with a specially carved, claustrophobia-inducing tunnel that you’d have to crawl-walk through.


And the reward was not sweet. The coves were lackluster, boasting an unrivalled, carpel tunnel version view of the wide sea and more slippery rock and a treacherous walk. We spied a few tourists enjoying the stillness in the cove but decided otherwise.

We took a respite, and backed out of there as fast as we could.

Fishing for a Tumble

Fly fishing, originally a method of fishing using artificial flies, means an entirely different thing in Boracay – and the butterflies floating in my stomach told me that it was too late for regrets as I clambered aboard the inflatable float and gripped the plastic handle.

Forget images of swinging rods and long, idyllic waits. Instead, you get a variation of the banana boat, the only difference that you now sit in 2 rows of 3 instead of a single file. The ride costs around 800 PhP per person, with a minimum of 3 and maximum of 6 passengers. It lasted a total of 15 minutes with the motorboat starting and stopping in short bursts to pick up any fallen thrill-seekers, including myself.

Adventure lovers will adore this ride, and in case you’re getting on only to avoid being a wet blanket, pick the middle seats first. A travel writer in our group triumphantly survived the violent 5 minutes without so much as a tumble.

Riding into the Sunset

A tired, sopping wet group of writers later boarded a van to the foot of Mount Luho, and there, we rode an ATV to an observatory at the top of the hill, with an accompanying view of the entire island.

The ATV ride on the way up was nondescript unlike the ones you’ve rode on rugged terrain.


Despite this, the view was a sweet ending to an eventful day. An uninterrupted view of the island stretched as the wind caressed the tower, so we snapped as many Instagram-worthy shots as possible before night fell where we made our descent.

If the view was an ending, then our last cruise was a memorable bonus and encore to a fittingly finale of the short 3-day trip. We set off on a modified outrigger canoe towards Boracay into the golden sunset, the rays falling on our burnt faces and the light filling our tired bodies with satisfying warmth and vigor.


I simply put down my camera, laid down on the canoe, listened to the gentle waves, and enjoyed the unadulterated, picturesque view of the world’s best island indeed.

Additional Information:

Here are some tips to enjoy your time in Boracay


As a warning to the camera-totters amongst us, you’ll either have to put your sense of balance to the test or bring a waterproof camera (perhaps the perfect excuse to get a Go Pro) because you will be getting on and off the rocking boats a lot.


Accommodation on the island range from as low as 50 PhP a night in a residency in-land, to 14,000 PhP for a deluxe room in the Shangri-La Resort. Trafalgar Cottages are recommended for value, but scouring the Internet for deals is your best bet.


Boracay undergoes a startling Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde transformation at 5PM daily. Plastic seats and tables are set up outside resorts and restaurants to prepare for the enormous dinner crowds, as well as take advantage of the cloudless, starlit skies. Fire-dancing is also a regular occurrence. Pubs and clubs are in abundance – you’ll be spoilt for choice when selecting your watering holes.


Boracay comes with its own police, and purportedly patrol the island every half an hour. Tim, a grizzled Boracay Tourism Board veteran says that belongings left unattended on the beach do tend to disappear, so always keep an eye out for straying hands.


This trip is made possible by SilkAir. SilkAir flies to Kalibo 3 times a week. Fares start from $319.