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The definitive guide to Boracay by an islander: Top 10 things to do, eat, see

By Shria Florencio Published Jul 16, 2021 6:29 pm

Living in Boracay for the past five years, I’ve come to realize the island is full of surprises—for locals and tourists alike. Just when you thought you had done it all, there’s still lots more to be discovered.

Here’s a list of 10 things to do, places to visit, and food to taste that locals love.

1. Trek Mt. Luho and stop by Lazy Dog for breakfast

Been over-indulging on your vacation or want to take in the sites? Get your steps in by completing the Mt. Luho walk from start to end while taking in a side of Boracay that tourists rarely see.

Situated 100 meters above sea level, make sure to wear comfortable trainers and bring your camera as you will find a few clearings at the top of the hill that offer you remarkable panoramic views of the island.

Pass through the local village and you will be sure to come across a number of friendly residents along the way, most getting their daily cardio in or walking their dogs. You can start either at the entrance just past City Mall, across from the soon to open Station B Mall, and walk downwards Bulabog Beach or you can start at the bottom of Mt. Luho in front of Ralph’s Place and trek up towards Yapak.

Whichever way you start, make sure to end your walk with a well deserved and hearty breakfast at Lazy Dog. A perfect place to chill after a long walk, Lazy Dog has a relaxed island vibe complete with hammocks, beanbag seating and two lazy dogs named Chilli and Miele. 

Serving up a tasty and great value all-day breakfast and Filipino menu created by chef June, their must-tries are their Tinapa Flakes Bowl, Spanish Omelet and their Ilonggo-inspired Molo Soup. And don’t forget to try their Vietnamese coffee served with condensed milk, or their deliciously gooey baked brownies to finish your meal, you worked hard for it!

Location: Lazy Dog—1 Sesame Street, Bulabog

Hours: Recommend early morning or late afternoon for more shade. Bring a hat and water.

Visit their Facebook here. Call 0920 945 4845.

 2. Lanterna: Authentic Italian cuisine in Bulabog

Tucked away in Bulabog is a hidden gem in Boracay loved by island locals for years, Lanterna Hotel and Home Kitchen is one of the most well-guarded secrets on the island. Conveniently located just a stone’s throw from Bulabog beach, the boutique hotel is a perfect location for those wanting to take up kite surfing during the season or those simply seeking a serene hideaway, away from the crowds. 

But what really keeps us locals coming back is Lanterna’s Kitchen, known for its authentic, homemade Italian cuisine served up by chef Luigi. Entering the restaurant, you are immediately drawn in by the warm and cozy atmosphere of the home kitchen, which holds only three to four tables (reservations are highly recommended).

Home to chef Luigi, his wife Gladys, and their chocolate lab Lucy, Lanterna  boasts a menu that is a beautiful representation of simple homemade Italian dishes such as Pasta Vongole with homemade pasta and fresh Aklan clams, and their silky smooth Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with Sage Butter (one of their best sellers). They also have a variety of vibrant carpaccios, which are perfect for sharing, including their Beetroot and Orange Carpaccio with Goat’s Cheese, and their Octopus Carpaccio served with their freshly baked focaccia. If you’re lucky you may also get served a warm glass of grappa to finish off your delicious meal by the charming Gladys herself. One can’t help but feel like they have just spent the evening in the company of old friends after a meal at Lanterna.

Location: 0491 Bulabog Street.

Visit their Facebook here. Call 0908 578 6742.

3. Sign up for DJ camp at Everich Resort

This is a great way to start your journey towards becoming a superstar DJ!  Headed up by well known Boracay-based DJ WRMX (Coach Wends), who is known for playing to large audiences at clubs and events around the Philippines and  is also a regular headliner at most of Boracay’s hottest night spots including Summer Place, LaBoracay festival and Coach Wends have created a one-of-a-kind island DJ Boot Camp that takes his years of experience coupled with effective and proven coaching techniques (he also has coached National Ultimate Frisbee teams in PH) to take his students on the journey of discovering the foundations of music, creative mixing, and discovering your very own  DJ style.

Perfect for students of all levels and experience with music, the camp includes 2.5-week course of theory based lectures on the fundamentals, practical mixing sessions, live jamming weekly events exclusively for students and if you’re lucky (and restrictions ease) the possible opportunity to play at some of Boracay’s hottest spots under the mentorship of WRMX.

The highlight of the course, however, is the sense of community that will make Boracay truly feel like home and a whole new barkada of music enthusiasts. Accommodation packages are also available should you want to truly immerse in the experience. Next intake is Aug 7, 2021, but if you miss this no stress as intake happens once a month.  So don’t be surprised if you come across an unusually large number of DJs on the island, as lot of locals have successfully graduated from Coach Wends course, so you may just find your waiter at the your favorite restaurant is also a DJ, or perhaps the GM of the hotel you are staying at or even your  doctor at the local clinic may know how to spin. Better start thinking of that DJ name. 

Location: Everich Resort, Station 3 (behind Hey Jude) 

Price: P10,000 PHP per person for DJ Mixing Fundamentals course, 2.5 weeks (7 days Fundamental lessons and 7-10 days practical lessons ). 

Check their Facebook page here. Call (036) 288-50-90.

 4. Villa Caemilla at sunset: 50% off on craft cocktails and buy-1-take-1 pizza 

There are many places vying for the top spot of sunset locations but the locals know that Villa Caemilla in Station 3 cannot be beat for their stunning view, their craft cocktail selection, and their insanely good value Sunset Happy hour special from 2 to 6 p.m. where they serve up arguably the best cocktails on the island at 50% off. Their craft cocktails are made with premium ingredients including homemade syrups, smoked elements and good quality spirits (no Ginebra Bl here, sir!) and their creative bartenders have entered many cocktail competitions around the Philippines including bartender Marjun Perez who has just entered the Patron Perfectionists 2022 challenge (he mixes s a mean margarita). 

With a luxury feel at affordable prices, including an unbeatable deal of Buy 1 Take 1 pizza available daily from 3-5 p.m., Villa Camellia is the perfect option for those wanting something extra special for their next sunset session at a great price. Headed up by the young and innovative GM Wesley Van Der Voort, Villa Caemilla is one of the few places left in Boracay with true beach side seating, so you can kick off your sandals, dig your toes into the sand and enjoy their famous Moscow Mule or snack on a Margherita Pizza while taking in the famous Boracay sunset. 

Must-trys include their Moscow Mule, Clover Club, 4-Cheese Pizza and Vegetarian Flatbread

Location: Station 3, Angol Beach

Check their Facebook page here. Call (036) 288 3354.

 5.  Little Taj: Indian restaurant within a restaurant

Famous for their curry and street food, it was started by the same couple behind Nonie’s (the healthy, vegan friendly restaurant at Station X). Little Taj is their newest concept that was initially created out of necessity during the pandemic. What started as a side business selling samosas from home by Shria (of Indian descent) quickly expanded into a full-blown Indian menu specializing in curries, chaat (street food) and chai all made from scratch with authentic ingredients. 

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Currently Little Taj exists as a cloud kitchen within Nonie’s restaurant. To try their authentic Indian cuisines, make sure to ask for the Indian menu when you sit down to dine, and browse their selection of homemade curries and street snacks.

Highly recommended are the Chicken Tikka Masala, Papdi Chaat, Stuffed Parataha with curry sauce and the Beef Keema Samosas. With no signage or physical location (yet), Little Taj is a truly hidden spot for those in the know. 

Location: Inside Nonie’s restaurant, Station X

Check their Facebook page here. Call 0912 394 8948.

6. Play Bocce at Levantin on a Sunday 

Join the local crowd every Sunday at 12 p.m. outside Levantin for a rousing game of Bocce and an icy cold beer (once COVID restrictions are lifted, of course).

Started by founder Finn Ronn and a few of his good friends, all of whom have made Boracay their home for the last 10+ years , Bocce (also known as Italian lawn bowling) is a game that originates in Europe and can best be described as a mix between British bowls and French pétanque.

Traditionally played on natural soil and asphalt courts up to 27.5 meters (90 ft.) in length, this doesn’t stop Finn and his teammates from transforming the beachfront of Levantin into a temporary Bocce field once a week and partaking in some good humored and competitive gameplay.

Mingle with locals and listen to them swap stories about the old Boracay, watch the game go down, take in the sunset  and if you are feeling adventurous, join in! Either way, the company is great, the beer is cold and you may even find yourself with a new hobby. 

Location: End of Bulabog Beach

Hours: 12pm onwards

Check their Facebook page here.

7. Authentic Thai food at Congas, followed by a drink or fish taco at 2 Brown Boys 

One of the newest spots that has popped up during the pandemic, Congas has an old Boracay charm about it with its driftwood interiors, throw cushions and native materials that have been creatively upcycled as decor. A cozy spot located on Bulabog Road, Congas specializes in traditional Thai cuisine and is a crowd favorite due to their bold and authentic flavors and great prices. Great for dine in or delivery, our must try recommendations are the Thai Green  Curry, the Thai Basil Shrimp and the Springrolls! 

Top tip: if you are looking for a spot place to imbibe some great drinks (COVID restrictions permitting) after your fiery Thai Green Curry, we highly recommend to make a stop next door to 2 Brown Boys, a very well loved local bar that serves up great drinks and perfect late-night fare (their fish taco is insanely good). Say hi to the bar mascot, Jlee, a pomchi who regularly sits at the bar usually in fancy dress.  Must-order include any of their burgers, their fish tacos and their gin selection.

Location: Bulabog Road 

Check Congas’ Facebook page here; 2 Brown Boys here.

 8. Experience Sound Healing under the full moon 

Thanks to the talented practitioners who have made the island their home, it’s a must-do experience here. “Sound healing is an ancient meditative practice that uses different musical implements to create healing vibrations around the body in a meditative state. Singing Bowl Therapists, for example, use Quartz crystal bowls and Gongs tuned at strategic frequencies for healing different parts of the body and mind.”

Boracay boasts a range of practitioners who specialize in a variety of techniques from Quartz Crystal Bowls to the Gongs to Tuning Fork experts. If you are looking for a calming or meditative experience, and want to let go of the pandemic stress if just for an hour, the best time to book in for a sound healing is during the Full moon, when the healing vibrations are believed to be at their most powerful.

However, there are frequent sound healing sessions being held at Le Soleil with Qi Gong and Sound Healing specialist Robyn  (she is also available to conduct private sessions and couples sessions). If you are looking for more of a spa experience, you can also book in with Sound Healing with specialist En, who conducts her sessions at Tirta Spa, which she owns.

Whether you are buy the philosophy or not, the full moon rising is something special to behold in Boracay, thanks to the clear skies and beautiful landscape. The best place to view the full moon is in Bulabog, which is the side where the moon rises. 

Location: Le Soleil Resort or Tirta Spa 

Check Robyn’s Facebook page here; En’s here.

 9. Yurin’s Kitchen: Japanese dining in your own home 

What started simply as a home-based, food delivery service during the height of the pandemic, Yurin’s Kitchen based in Angol has quickly grown to gather a loyal following of Boracay locals, thanks to her carefully curated selection of unique Osaka-inspired dishes and well known Japanese classics, all made with authentic ingredients.

Owned and operated by dive shop owner and Osaka native Yurin, whose larger than life personality and  passion for cooking are both impossible to miss, she initially started it due to the restrictions in diving and water sports on the island, forcing her to close her dive shop and leaving her with time on her hands.

Yurin has successfully hosted multiple pop ups at Hue Hotel and Pinjalo Market, and is also available for private dining packages and home delivery. Her dishes offer something unique to the food landscape here in Boracay and are not commonly found on the menus of other similar restaurants.  Must-trys are her Cold Ramen Soup, a refreshing and subtle citrus-based broth with fresh ramen noodles, the perfect meal to end a long day spent out in the sun (best seller). Her Katsu Don, Beef Rib and Japanese Potato Salad are also not to be missed, and her Bento Boxes are the perfect lunch time meal. She also happily takes special orders and requests, so if there is something you are craving from your last trip to Japan, just ask Yurin. 

Location: Home delivery or private dining 

Check her Facebook page here. Call 0917 328 6123 

10. Hire a bike and ride to the Keyhole for sunrise

Thanks to the newly widened and renovated roads in Boracay, there has been a strong surge of interest in biking, with many local groups biking together in packs usually in vibrant or fluorescent matching shirts.

The DOT has quickly recognized the passion for biking on the island and is currently working to make Boracay more bike friendly for both tourists and locals alike, with organized bike tours in the works, more bike racks around the island for parking, water stops and bike friendly signage coming soon. You can easily hire a variety of bikes, including Isola E Bikes which specializes in e-bikes and owned by Riccardos (an Italian native, now Boracay resident) 

Located in front of Freestyle Academy in Bulabog, their battery powered e-bikes will allow you to paddle less and see more of the island. We highly recommend biking to the Keyhole for sunrise, usually around 5.30 a.m.

The famous Keyhole is located within Newcoast development and is open to the public, but do ensure you wear your helmet as you will be denied entry otherwise. The view from the Keyhole at dawn is spectacular so make sure to pack your camera. Not a beginner ride as the hills are somewhat challenging, but most definitely worth it once you see the view. 

Isola E Bikes: 0917 639 2058 / 0939 412 2122 (no Facebook page).