Boracay has always been and will remain as one of the most sought-after destinations for families in the Philippines. Especially now that the island is newly improved (after 6 months of rehabilitation), the beaches of Boracay are once again poised to be among the best in the country. The natural and effortless beauty of a Boracay beach still stands out above the rest with its powdery white sands and turquoise waters…with the emphasis on “powdery and white”. In addition to the spectacular Boracay beaches there are plenty of other things to do in Boracay Philippines, Spending time on Boracay with kids is a perfect family vacation option similar to Palawan, the other favoured family destination in the Philippines. In fact, why not make it a two center holiday? It’s easy to get from Boracay to Palawan on a short flight from Busuanga Island.
What to do in Boracay For Beach Lovers
Families who love the beach and take comfort in nature, will not be disappointed with Boracay beaches. Although the main option to just laze on the sand and get the perfect tan on a Boracay beach, there are other Boracay attractions that families can all do and enjoy together for that one ultimate island getaway you will always talk about at every family gathering.
Boracay Beach and island-hopping
Boracay White Beach is the most famous but it is one of many Boracay beaches. There are other beautiful and much quieter Boracay beaches on the island. Other great beaches include Puka beach in Boracay, Ilig-iligan beach and Bulabog beach (famous for its watersports).
Some of the beaches of Boracay have limited access points:
Punta Bunga (accessible through Movenpick Resort),
Banyugan (only accessible via Shangri-La) ,
lapus-lapus (only accessible to guests of Fairways and Bluewater Newcoast Resort).
If the island becomes too crowded and busy for the kids’ liking, hop on a boat and take your whole family to another island more exotic but equally as beautiful as Boracay. You can book private tours in Boracay online quite easily. Some of the islands you can visit are: Magic Island (cliff-jumping is a must-try) and Crocodile Island (for swimming and snorkelling).
Boracay White Beach may be the most famous of the beaches of Boracay but not the only Boracay beach
Explore the 3 stations of Boracay White Beach
On a lazy day, what you can do as a family is just explore the entire stretch of Boracay White Beach. There are 3 stations to explore on Boracay White Beach.
Boracay Station 1 is where most of the high-end resorts are situated. The beach front is wider and less busy.
Boracay Station 2 is basically the busiest part of Boracay White Beach. You can find the biggest mall on the island here (D’ Mall) and the highest concentration of bars and restaurants.
Boracay Station 3 is for budget travellers because most of the hostels and budget accommodations are located on this side. The beach here is very beautiful but slopes steeply in some part.
Play beach sports together and then have a bonfire
Kids can spend hours building sand castles together but adults can have their own Boracay activities. There is a wide array of beach sports on Boracay beaches to enjoy together, like Frisbee, beach volleyball, or soccer. After the sun has set, you can arrange for a bonfire pit to warm yourself by, while exchanging stories with your family and grilling marshmallows.
Water sports are among the things to do in Boracay Philippines
Get a massage on the beach, henna tattoo and braids
A massage on the beach is always a treat and everyone in the family deserves this after a long day of fun activities. A lot of beach resorts in Boracay offer pampering spa treatments.
Top Tip! You can score big discounts on beach massages with a large group.
Henna tattoos on a Boracay beach are fun and nice (unless you are allergic to ink). They don’t last that long (perfect for teenagers). You just need to go to one of the stalls and choose the design that you want or you can think of your own design and let the artist create it for you.
Finally, a braid is always well-liked by kids and young adults and it puts some people to sleep (like a soft head massage).
A Boracay beach is the perfect place for a snooze in the sunshine
Non-Beach Boracay Activities
There are plenty of things to do in Boracay Philippines when you tire of the beach. When you visit Boracay with kids you can enjoy both land and sea-based Boracay activities.
Sail on a glass-bottom boat
Kids will have a great time checking out the underwater life in the waters in the sea which is one of the most amazing Boracay attractions. With a glass bottom boat kids can look into the water without getting wet. which is great for less-adventurous or non-confident swimmers.
An aerial view shows off a wide stretch of famous Boracay beach
Go on a thrilling banana boat ride
Kids love banana boat rides. Banana boatss are inflatables shaped like a banana and you will have to hold on for your dear life as the boat is pulled by a speed motorboat. This activity is done with life vests and helmets so kids are safe while still having a thrilling ride.
Ride a Paraw and sail onto the sunset
One of the best things to do in Boracay Philippines is watching the spectacular sunset which luckily is a regular occurrence. Instead of just waiting for the sunset at one of the beach resorts in Boracay, try to watch it on-board a Paraw. Quite and environmentally friendly, Paraw sailboats use the wind and no motor to navigate. Families might prefer to book this attraction in advance, since the availability is limited.
A sunset sail is one of the great Boracay activities available to you on vacation
There won’t be enough space for a big group because Paraw sailboats are usually small and can only fit 4-5 people including the captain. You can hire 2 or more Paraw though to accommodate your whole family if you have more people.
Get a taste of the local seafood local-style
Western cuisines are great but when you are on the island, local seafood is still the best option. The best way to eat your seafood is to pick them from the market and bring them to one of the restaurants and ask them to cook it for you. One restaurant that is happy to cook your seafood for you is D’ Talipapa.
Indulge in local and fresh fruits
The Philippine mango is considered the best in the world. An island getaway with the family is not complete without drinking fresh coconut juice straight from the coconut shell.
Other local fruits to try are pomelo, lanzones (cream-colored clustered fruit with a bitter seed), watermelon, melon and avocado. There are numerous fruit stands in Boracay and you can also try different flavours of fruit shakes and juices.
A Boracay beach bar at Puka beach in Boracay
Be adventurous and explore other Boracay attractions
If you want Boracay activities that take in action and adventure, head out to the bat cave at dusk and watch numerous fruit bats go on their usual journey every night. Or jump from a cliff at Ariel’s Point located on the mainland. Kids can also try helmet diving (otherwise known as the marine walk), “mermaiding” (swimming with mermaid tails) and if you have money to splurge, rent a helicopter and go for that ride of a lifetime.
TripAdvisor Boracay : Check out what others have said about the beaches of Boracay and what to do in Boracay on TripAdvisor.
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What To Do in Boracay With Kids (+ Great Family-Friendly Boracay beaches)
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First question, I know you are thinking – Where is Palawan? I pretty much had that reaction when my friend Sheryl told me she took her family there for vacation. I had stopped by her home to catch up and found her cooking Chicken Adobo a traditional Filipino dish which reminded her of her holidays. So she tells me all about Palawan while we are eating and I learn all these great reasons to take a family trip to Palawan.
Where is Palawan?
Palawan is a province in The Philippines nicknamed its last frontier. It is a UNESCO biosphere reserve consisting of 1,780 islands. Located on the Western side of The Philippines, the islands are sandwiched between the South China Sea and the Sulu Sea. So expect lots of water.
Sheryl took her family to the north of Palawan. She stayed on Busuanga Island (a direct 45 minute flight from Manila via Cebu Pacific or Philippines Airlines) at the Busuanga Bay Lodge.
Why Take A Family Trip to Palawan?
My second question was “Why Take A Family Trip to Palawan?” I’ve been to Boracay years ago and I’ve heard of Cebu as a major tourist destination. I had never heard of Palawan, never mind considered it as a place for a family holiday.
Clearly, I am behind in my reading. In 2014, Conde Nast Traveller voted it the best island in the world in its Readers Choice Awards. I am a big fan of the CN Traveler Readers Choice Awards for providing great optionsCN Traveler Readers Choice Awards for providing great options not pushed by the big names in the travel industry. In 2013, Travel + Leisure, Palawan made its debut on the World’s Best Islands list. These islands came out of nowhere to snatch the coveted top slots. I bet Maui (Hawaii) and Santorini (Greece) were mightily upset.
The reasons I found out to visit Palawan are very cool! Here are 10 extraordinary reasons to venture out to visit this area of The Philippines. No need to leave the kids behind – take your family trip to Palawan!
1. You can go island-hopping on the local bangka boats. Unleash your inner Robinson Crusoe on these sparsely populated islands. With 1,780 islands to choose from, you really can tell your co-workers that you are not reachable by mobile!
2. There is great snorkelling easily accessible everywhere. The Philippines is located in the Coral Triangle with great diversity of marine species. There are hundreds of types of coral and thousands of different varieties of reef fish. It is a roughly triangular area located between The Philippines, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
3. If you are feeling more adventurous, the island of Coron is great for scuba diving. Lots of Japanese navy vessels lie sunk of the coast of these islands. It’s been listed in Forbes Traveler Magazine as one of the world’s Top 10 diving locations. (Tip: my diving friends tell me that diving with your own computer is always preferred, a dive watch computer is small enough to bring with you while traveling).
4. The natural beauty is astounding – clear water, white sand beaches, limestone cliffs – you get the picture!
5. The El Nido Resorts are an internationally known group of eco-resorts in Palawan. The El Nido Marine Preserve is the largest in The Philippines. There are rain forests, beaches, limestone cliffs, marine life as well as wildlife.
6. The Puerto Princesa underground river is the world’s longest navigable underground river. The 8.2 mile river winds its way through caves before emptying into the South China Sea. It is a UNESCO world heritage site.
7. Calauit is an island located northwest of Busuanga. Off the coast of Calauit you may find sea cows, dugong, an endangered species because it has been hunted for hundreds of years for meat and oil. Related to the manatees, they live off sea grasses in the shallow water. It is the only completely herbivorous marine mammal.
8. Calauit island is home to the Calauit Game Preserve and Wildlife National Park. This park hosts a collection of wildlife rescued from Kenya by the Marcos’ regime in the 1970’s when Kenya was going through a drought. As well as the local animals, the preserve also has groups of African wildlife – giraffes, gazelles, zebras, impalas etc.
A less charitable motive is that one of the Marcos’ kids wanted to go hunting without journeying too far from home. There was also rumours that Marcos got ivory from Kenya to make statues in exchange for housing the wildlife.
9. Visit pristine white sand beaches that inspired Alex Garland to write the famous book that was turned into a Leonardo DiCaprio movie, The Beach. Well, according to local folklore anyway. In the book and the movie, Garland claimed the beach was Koh Phi Phi in Thailand.
10. There’s lot of entertainment to ward off boredom on both land and water. Have fun in the water with such activities as paddle-boarding, kayaking or fishing. Spend your days on land with pursuits such as beach-combing, rock-climbing, hiking and, my personal favourite, general lazing on a beach with a good book.
To see how gorgeous this province is, check out this short video of Sheryl’s trip to Busuanga and its island neighbours.
The video is an excerpt of a podcast I have recently done asking her about the trip. I created the video because know you like your photos. This place is exceptionally photogenic.
To learn more details about Sheryl’s trip, including her opinion on Busuanga Bay Lodge and her daughter’s encounter with fire coral, you can listen to the full podcast on iTunes under Just Go Places Podcast.
If you are visiting Palawan and want to see more of the Philippines, check out this comprehensive guide to Philippines travel.
As I entered my friend Sheryl’s home, the smell of garlic and bacon wafted from the kitchen. I am a lover of both and so I walked like a zombie straight to her stove.
“What are you making?” I asked, trying not to salivate. My dog who had accompanied me on this visit had no such inhibitions. He wagged his tail hopefully at the scent of fried chicken but was rewarded only with a bowl of water.
“Chicken Adobo,” she replied. “It’s Filipino comfort food.”
Watching her as she finished cooking, we chatted about the dish she is making. I also managed to get her recipe which I have shared below.
A Family Trip to Busuanga in The Philippines
Sheryl had just returned to London from visiting her widowed mother in Manila. She had gone with her Israeli mother-in-law and her husband and children to the Philippines for about 10 days. They had spent a few days with her extended family in Manila. They also had a few days of rest and relaxation at Busuanga Bay Lodge on the island of Busuanga in the Philippine archipelago which is famous for great snorkelling and diving.
I will write about Sheryl’s beach adventures on the island of Busuanga in a later post. It sounded idyllic – white beaches, island-hopping and great snorkelling. Of course, there were the usual family (mis)adventures too. The children got to drink coconut milk straight from coconuts. Her daughter stood on fire coral accidentally which really stung. Her mother-in-law tried to pet a ‘cute’ puffer fish which promptly sank its front teeth into her hand. Other than the minor mishaps, everyone loved the trip and came back happy.
Clearly, Sheryl was missing her Philippines sojourn and cooking up a sensory feast to compensate.
Frankly, I’d be missing this kind of beach holiday too!
Sheryl’s Chicken Adobo
Although it seemed exotic to me, Sheryl explained that Chicken Adobo is a fairly standard dish in The Philippines. For example, if you are interviewing a cook for your home, you will get her to make a Chicken Adobo. If you like her version of that dish, then she’s probably a good fit for your family.
Every family has their own variation of Chicken Adobo. The base for this dish is always chicken legs, thighs and wings (no breasts). The chicken is cooked with soy, vinegar, onion, garlic and ginger. If you travel to the south of The Philippines, the Chicken Adobo gets spicier. It is commonly served over rice.
Sheryl’s version of Chicken Adobo is not spicy so it’s perfect for children. Having tasted Sheryl’s Chicken Adobe, the flavours were a combination of sweet and sour with a hint of salt. I know my children who are fans of sweet and sour would love it!
Chicken, browned and ready
Sauteed onions bacon and garlic
All the ingredients ready for the addition of ginger and coconut
10 pieces of chicken thighs and legs
2 whole red onions diced
10 cloves of sliced garlic
2 slices of diced Spanish panceta (similar to Italian pancetta)
1/3 of a can of Stella Artois
1/4 cup of palm vinegar
5 tablespoons of soy sauce
Sprinkle of rock salt
1 tablespoon of sugar
8-10 whole peppercorns
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons of crushed ginger
1 carton (1cup/250 ml) of coconut milk mixed with hot water to create a pint (570 ml) of coconut liquid
Fry the chicken on high heat until it is lightly browned on both sides and transfer to a dish. Lightly pat the chicken to remove excess oil. Transfer the chicken to a pot. Fry the onions, bacon and garlic on high heat in a separate pan and then transfer to the pot with the chicken. Combine the rest of the ingredients. Cover the pot and simmer. Stir once during the cooking process. Cook for 35-45 minutes until the chicken is tender and falls of the bone. Serve with steamed rice. Serves 8.
So, of course, I asked her about the inclusion of beer. When did Stella Artois become a Filipino cooking ingredient?! Sheryl laughed. Traditionally, Filipinos use apple cider vinegar. She prefers Stella because it’s pretty flat and when cooked, all that is left is the sugar. (Doesn’t say much about drinking Stella does it?!). She also uses a small amount of palm vinegar for the vinegar taste without the sourness.
A quick look on the internet showed me that Chicken Adobo is the national dish. Although the term adobo is Spanish for cooking with a marinade, Filipinos were already cooking with vinegar and salt. Vinegar acts as a preservative. With the advent of the trade with the Chinese, the Filipinos used soy sauce as an addition to the dish or a substitution for the salt.
Adobo refers to a way of cooking a stew with vinegar and salt. It’s commonly made with chicken or chicken and pork. Muslim Filipinos make beef adobo instead of pork. You can also the adobo method to cook vegetables (e.g., okra or bamboo shoots) fish and seafood (e.g., shrimp, squid, cuttlefish). For the truly adventurous, there are adobo versions cooked with frog and snake. I think I might just have to skip those last ones!
Hope you enjoyed this little foray into cooking traditional Filipino food for the modern family with Westernised tastes. Sheryl is an amazing and creative cook who shares her recipes online at the Facebook page for her artisanal Asian condiments, Hot Chiu. The set of sauces, sold under the brand name of Hot Chiu, is sold online and selected stores in England. They are my children’s favourite stir fry sauce.
Welcome! My family and I love to travel, to learn more about different countries and to experience new cultures. We also like our nice hotels, good food and other comforts. Join us on our adventures!