Asia with kids

Philippines With Kids: Off-the-Beaten-Track Family Adventures in Boracay

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The dazzling tropical island of Boracay is no longer the hidden gem it once was – thanks to its photogenic beaches and picture-perfect landscapes, it’s become one of the most visited destinations in the Philippines. But while a flurry of interest from chic travel mags has made it a favorite destination among honeymooners and the fashion set, there’s a whole lot of fun to be had for families in Boracay. At just 4.5 miles long, the island punches above its weight when it comes to attractions and activities, and there’s a lot more to Boracay than the famous White Beach, golf and luxury resorts.  

Active families in Boracay will be in their element here, and it’s surprisingly easy to give crowds the slip and indulge a sense of adventure with activities and attractions that still feel refreshingly off the beaten track…at least for now.

Set the Alarm Early for Crowd-Free Kite Surfing

The aptly-named White Beach is without a doubt the most famous of Boracay’s strands, and the 3-mile long strip of soft white sand is the first port of call for visitors looking for long, lazy days swimming, shopping and sipping cocktails. Those who like their beach vacays a little more active tend to flock to Bulabog Beach, which has become the main hub for water sports adventures on Boracay. Once the sun is high in the sky the beach and the water get packed with kite surfers and wind surfers, but early risers will be rewarded with blissfully crowd-free waters and a stunning sunrise. There are any number of kite surfing schools along the water’s edge, and families in Boracay with not-so-little kids can rent equipment and get pro tips whatever their level of experience and expertise. (toddlers and kids too young to ride the wind can have immense amounts of fun paddling and watching parents and siblings splash around…) There are simple accommodations on the beachfront too, aimed squarely at the kitesurfing crowd, so visitors can just prep their own breakfast and head straight to the beach. Once the crowds arrive you can head back for a nap – or refuel and head off for adventures elsewhere.

Hire Bikes or Trikes

Bicycle hire is a good way to get off Boracay’s main thoroughfare (there’s essentially one main road on the island, full of honking horns and speeding scooters). There are several bicycle hire companies on White Beach, and kids whose little legs are not up to cycling can take it easy on the back of a tandem bike and let their parents or older brothers and sisters do the legwork. Families in Boracay can cycle through coconut palm-lined trails up to to some of the highest peaks on the island for glorious views – at around 100 meters above sea level, Mount Luho is the island’s loftiest vantage point, and families who brave the tough(ish) trails to reach the top will likely be rewarded with glimpses of 🐒 monkeys and colorful birds. A small viewing platform at the top is a good spot to rest and have a picnic. If that sounds too strenuous, families in Boracay can rent a manned ‘Trike’ – an adapted ‘taxi-bike’ with space to carry more passengers and luggage than most people would think possible (or safe). For peace of mind, families can hire the entire trike and driver for a few hours (agree a price in advance), and head off to hidden beaches and other beauty spots.

Enjoy Island-Hopping Adventures…Minus the Crowds

There are any number of companies offering beach-hopping boat trips around Boracay, ranging from boozy party boats to luxury ‘sail and dine’ options. But for only a little more than the price of a tour, families in Boracay can hire paraw sailboats (make sure you ask for life vests, and hire a skipper too if you’re not experienced in life on the open waves). Bring food and snacks, and set your own agenda – enjoy dazzling sunsets, head off to hidden beaches, escape to tiny, deserted islets…it’s your call. Ask for word of mouth recommendations about reputable operators, and be prepared to haggle for the best prices.

Get to Know the Taho Man

For cheap eats with real local flavor during your family trip to Boracay, you need to get to know Taho. Listen out for the call of ‘Tahoooo’ and you’ll soon spot a vendor strolling the sands (they are almost always on the sands), with metal pails slung over his shoulders. Catering mainly to the locals, they’re selling an energy-rich mix of silken tofu with tapioca pearls and a sweet, syrupy mix called arnibul (essentially a caramelized sugar syrup). Imagine a cross between custard and bubble tea, and you’re somewhere close, but this is way tastier than the sum of its parts, and the soft texture and sweet taste makes it an easy way to get protein into little ones.  Locals love it for breakfast, and as it costs mere cents, it’s an affordable way to fuel up for a day’s adventure.
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Here’s a list of family friendly hotels in Boracay
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