Boracay may be small, but it is packed with attractions that tourists of all ages can enjoy. But not all visitors have enough time or money to experience them all. Sometimes, you’ll have to make a choice. One of the most common dilemma is picking between a Boracay island hopping tour (by boat) and a Boracay land tour (by e-trike).
Let me preface this by saying that if you have sufficient funds and days, please join both tours. While they share one or two stops, these are two distinct experiences, presenting different sides of the island. That said, each has its own pros and cons.
If you have just enough time and budget for just one, which should you take: the island hopping tour or the land tour? In this article, we’ll get down to the nitty-gritty of each activity, so you could make a better, more informed decision.
WHAT’S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
BORACAY ISLAND HOPPING TOUR Itinerary & Prices
Although it is possible to charter a private boat for island hopping, the prices are steep. Hence, most island hopping packages are group tours, which means you’ll be sharing the boat with other tourists. Along with the rest of the group, you’ll be following a set itinerary and you must respect the schedule.
Island hopping in Boracay takes an entire day. In our case, we boarded the boat at around 8:00 AM and was back at White Beach at 4:00 PM. The jumping off point is either at Station 1 (near Astoria) or Station 3.
It usually costs PHP 800-900 (USD 14.30-16.10) per person, inclusive of buffet lunch and use of swim mask (without the snorkel) but exclusive of entrance fees. Yes, some of the stops collect an entrance fee, which is not covered by the basic tour fee.
Here’s a summary of the details:
- Duration: Full Day, around 8 hours
- Price: P800-900 (inclusive of buffet lunch)
- Jump-off point: Station 1 or 3
There are many ways to book an island hopping tour. It’s offered by tour operators and touts at White Beach. But if you feel more comfortable transacting online or you don’t want to deal with touts at the beach, you may book with Klook, too!
Either way, you’ll be joining a group with other tourists and the itineraries are very similar. But the lunch and snorkeling stops vary depending on the operator.
Below was our itinerary followed by our most recent island hopping tour, which we booked with a tout at Station 2.
Stop 1: Puka Beach
Puka Beach glazes the northern tip of Boracay. This used to be a serene scene, but now a bit crowded, too, mostly because it’s much more accessible these days. Nevertheless, it’s still a lot more peaceful than Station 2 of White Beach.
We were given only 40 minutes to stay here. One of the activities that you may enjoy here is crystal kayaking, but I discourage you from doing it when on this tour. It takes 15-20 minutes, which will burn half of your time at Puka Beach. If you really want to try a crystal kayak, do it on another occasion. Use your limited time exploring the beach instead.
In terms of composition, Puka is a mixed beach. Some parts are strewn with fine sand, but others have shells, which is probably why it’s called Puka. It features a wide berm, which slopes dramatically into the waves, which can get pretty rough at times, so be careful when swimming.
Stop 2: Snorkeling Site
Every island hopping tour also makes a stop at a snorkeling site, which varies depending on the tour operator. Some boats moor off the coast of Crocodile Island, Tambisaan Beach, or in our case Balinghai Beach, near the so-called Station Zero.
You don’t have to go snorkeling; it’s optional. But if you choose to do it, you’ll have to pay PHP 45 (USD 0.80) snorkeling fee. No need to pay this if you’re staying on the boat.
Don’t forget to wear a life jacket. The current can be a bit extra at times. Better safe than sorry.
Stop 3: Lunch
The lunch stop varies from operator to operator, but it’s usually buffet-style (unlimited). We were brought to Shingley Piknikan restaurant, close to Tabon Port in mainland Caticlan. It was okay. Typical Pinoy fare, mostly grilled and fried. But don’t expect anything above average in terms of flavor or presentation.
Stop 4: Crystal Cove
Entrance Fee: P300
Also known as Laurel Island or Tiguatian Island, Crystal Cove is a 2-hectare resort best known for its lookouts and caves. The site is also dotted with several photo spots, some more Instagram-worthy than others. There’s also a swimming spot.
By the way, Crystal Cove charges a P300 entrance fee. If you opt not to enter, you can spend the allotted hour just chilling at the beach. A small store sells coconuts for PHP 100 a piece and banana que (skewered deep fried bananas) for PHP 35 per stick.
From Crystal Cove, you could also spot Magic Island.
Stop 5: Magic Island*
Entrance Fee: P250
Yes, with asterisk because to this day, I’m still not sure if tours normally make a stop here. The touts selling island hopping packages usually include it in the list of sites to be visited, but we didn’t set foot here. We only got to see it from Crystal Cove. I’m not sure if it wasn’t really a part of our itinerary or our boat just skipped it because we ran out of time.
Anyway, Magic Island is best-known for its cliff jumping platforms. If your group stops here, an entrance fee of PHP 250 must be settled per person.
That’s about it. After over an hour at Crystal Cove, we were ferried back to White Beach. You may opt to get off at Station 3 or Station 1.
Breakdown of Expenses
An island hopping tour would normally cost you PHP 1245 (USD 22.30) per person. That’s assuming you’re entering Crystal Cove and skipping Magic Island like we did. Here’s the breakdown:
- Basic island hopping tour with lunch: PHP 900 (USD 16.10)
- Snorkeling fee: PHP 45 (USD 0.80)
- Crystal Cove entrance fee: PHP 300 (USD 5.40)
- TOTAL: PHP 1245 (USD 22.30)
Obviously, this doesn’t include any additional food expenses.
LAND TOUR Itinerary & Prices (E-Trike or Multi-Cab)
A Boracay land tour entails chartering an e-trike or a multi-cab to take you around the island. It’s sometimes called “Island Tour” but in this article, to avoid confusing it with island hopping, let’s just call it “land tour”.
Unlike island hopping tours which follow a fixed itinerary, land tours give you complete control of your time. Drivers have a suggested itinerary but ultimately it’s still up to you. If you want to skip a stop or you wish to stay longer at another, it’s your call. After all, you’re paying by the hour. Yes, by the hour.
Here are the Boracay land tour rates. These prices are PER VEHICLE, NOT PER PERSON.
- E-Trike Tour
P500 per hour
Maximum of 4 passengers
- Multi-cab Tour
P700 per hour
Maximum of 10 passengers
As you can see, if you’re part of a big group, you’ll end up saving a lot if you arrange a multi-cab tour instead of an e-trike. That’s what we did. We were a group of nine (9), and the multi-cab could accommodate up to 10 pax. The best part, we’re all together in just one vehicle.
Most drivers offer a land tour service. You may simply hail an e-trike or multi-cab in the streets. But if you want referrals, these are the drivers that we hired and their corresponding contact numbers:
- E-TRIKE: Kuya Ambro
+63 943 1304164
- MULTI-CAB: Kuya Bong
+63 939 823 8198
I’m not affiliated to them in any way. We just enjoyed their service.
Below is Kuya Bong’s suggested itinerary, which we followed on our last Boracay trip.
Stop 1: Lugutan Mangrove Park
Sometimes called Boracay Mangroves, the Lugutan Mangrove Park covers an hectare of shallow waters in Barangay Manoc-manoc, south of Bulabog Beach. It was opened to the public in 2012 with 2000 mangroves. I’m sure the number has grown a lot since.
A wooden boardwalk loops through and around the mangroves, making it a fantastic photo spot. It’s also a great breather from the usual beach attractions.
Entrance Fee: FREE. But registration is required. One representative can register for the rest of the group at the table across the road from the mangroves.
Stop 2: Bulabog Beach
Entrance Fee: FREE.
Not too far away from the mangroves lies Bulabog Beach. Unlike White Beach, Bulabog isn’t blanketed with fine white sand. Its bed is much coarser, rockier, and mostly covered in seagrass. But it is still quite scenic. Tourists drop by for IG-worthy snaps, especially around the coconut trees. One tree in particular has been a favorite among visitors.
A giant BORACAY signage now stands at the entrance to the beach, which is also a great photo spot.
Stop 3: Sinagpa Beach, Lambros Point and Diniwid Beach
Entrance Fee: FREE.
Yes, three in one.
Sinagpa Beach refers to the narrow stretch separating White Beach from Diniwid Beach. It was also my first time hearing the name Sinagpa. According to Kuya Bong, the term is used mostly by locals.
Follow the concrete walkway and it will lead you to a rocky cliff with a natural opening. This is what most tourists are more familiar with. It’s called Lambros Point. Behind it is an image of the Virgin Mary, a cliff-jumping site, and the gorgeous Diniwid Beach!
Stop 4: Keyhole
Entrance Fee: FREE.
The Keyhole, also called Cujo’s Keyhole, is a natural arch located near Boracay newcoast in Barangay Yapak. Although the roads that lead to it are within private property, tourists on e-trike or multi-cab tour are allowed access.
You might have to queue up here, but use the waiting time to admire the adjacent beaches: Lapus-Lapus Beach and Ilig-Iligan Beach. Some of the smaller coves now serve as private beaches of Newcoast.
A guard is in charge in keeping things in order. Visitors are only allowed up to a certain line. Some parts are cordoned off for safety reasons.
There’s not much to do here other than taking a pic with the iconic arch in the background. If you’re not into selfies and photos, this might not be your cup of tea. But since it was close to our next stop, we chose to drop by anyway.
Stop 5: Puka Beach
Entrance Fee: FREE.
Yes, Puka Beach is part of mainland Boracay, so it is also accessible by land. If anything, getting here by land is much better. Unlike on island hopping tours with a strict time limit, if you visit by e-trike or multi-cab, you can stay for as long as you want. And we recommend staying for at least an hour here!
If you feel like you’ll be spending A LOT of time at Puka Beach, you can end the tour right here. Just take public transportation (shared e-trike) on your way back to your hotel. But if you’re in for just a quick visit, you can ask the driver to wait for you and then take you back to your hotel after.
While it is no longer the tranquil space it used to be, it’s still a great place to chill. You can laze on a mat that you can “borrow” from enterprising locals. I say borrow in quotation marks because they place the mats in the shade and let you use them for free, but you’re expected to order drinks from them. You can order from their menu of juices, shakes, and cocktails. Some also offer crystal kayak services at a much lower rate, PHP 150 per 15-20 minutes. At White Beach, it usually costs PHP 250 for the same duration.
Souvenirs and trinkets are also much cheaper here than the stores at White Beach! And if your tummy is grumbling at this point, you’ll be glad to know that its entrance is flanked by eateries and street food kiosks.
Breakdown of Expenses
We spent five (5) hours doing the land tour, more than an hour of which was spent at Puka Beach. At PHP 700 per hour, the total cost was PHP 3500. We were a group of nine, so we paid PHP 388.89 per person. (Although I actually paid for everything because this was my treat to my family.)
It could still go lower if you’re a party of 10 because the per-person rate would fall to only PHP 350.
- Land Tour for 10 pax (5 hours): PHP 3500 (USD 62.70)
- Entrance Fees: NONE
- Crystal kayak at Puka Beach: PHP 150 for 15-20 minutes (USD 2.70)
- Drinks at Puka beach: Around PHP 200 (USD 3.60)
Which is better?
The land tour is a much better deal than the island hopping tour for three primary reasons:
- Affordability. Land tour is much cheaper, at only PHP 125 per person if using e-trike, much much lower than the PHP 900 basic fee for an island hopping tour. The land tour stops are also accessible for FREE, while most stops on the boat tour charges an entrance fee.
- Flexibility. On land tour, you have complete control of your itinerary and time, as opposed to island hopping tours that implement a strict schedule and limited time per stop.
- Comfort and accessibility. The island hopping tour is much more exhausting and challenging for seniors and PWDs. It’s quite difficult to board the boat especially when the waves are strong. Multicabs and e-trikes are much friendlier to travelers with mobility issues.
So yes, if you have time and budget for just one activity, I recommend doing the land tour. But otherwise, try to experience both tours!
And again, if you decide to book an island hopping tour, you could support this blog by booking it using the Klook link below!
Top Boracay Hotels for Groups/Family
Traveling with family or barkada? Here’s a list of properties in Boracay that have rooms that can accommodate groups of four or more.
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2023 11 9 – First up