After a six-month hiatus for renovations, the island of Boracay is once again open to the public – equipped with a cleaner shoreline and new set of guidelines for visitors to follow to help maintain its beauty.
Known for sandy beaches and perfect views, it is also the Philippines’ top tourist draw. After the island’s glorious sunsets, Boracay comes to life: offering solid nightlife including laid-back bars and beachside nightclubs that will keep you dancing ‘til sunrise.
This relaxed watering hole is a popular choice among locals and expats. Its thatched roof and bamboo bar are reminiscent of some of the very first bars on the island before overdevelopment changed things forever. Arrive early as it gets crowded by midnight, with people seeing live rock music and guest DJ sets. If you’d like to learn a new sport, Exit also serves as the home base for the island’s kitesurfing crowd.
Plan your trip to Boracay to coincide with the next full moon and attend an underground party at the (brilliantly named) Area 51 Secret Party Facility. To find it is an adventure in itself, secluded along Bulabog Beach. While not an actual bunker, the no-frills venue is reminiscent of the old style of partying on the island. Doors open at 11pm, where the minimal entrance fee includes a free drink. Its legendary full moon parties host local and visiting DJ’s, who spin tunes until sunrise. Area 51 also hosts an epic New Year’s party in case you’re on the island for the holidays.
To get away from the crowded beach bars, The Manic Monkey Crew organizes unforgettable bi-weekly yacht parties that take you to secluded locations in Boracay for beach and jungle BBQs, snorkelling, cliff jumping and a sunset cruise fitted all in one day. The 44ft catamaran sailing yacht is loaded with a highly experienced and organized crew, a funky DJ, all-you-can-drink cocktails and beer, and hors d’oeuvres to keep you fuelled for the rest of the afternoon. Email in advance for dates and availability. They also organize special private parties if you plan to celebrate your birthday or bachelorette party in the Philippine sun.
Nigi Nigi’s is an established bar with a very loyal following on Boracay. As a beachfront resort hotel, the in-house bar has one of the nicest sunset views on the whole island, packed with a good amount of people trying to catch the event. It provides an eclectic selection of music and live bands, and is the right place to catch up on your sports – live matches are aired regularly across TV screens in the bar. Staff are friendly and courteous, and the manager might give you a free drink if you come back the second night. During happy hour (5pm to 7pm) try the local Weng Weng (meaning ‘intoxicated’ in Tagalog): a lethal cocktail served in a hip mason jar filled with a jigger of rum, gin, tequila, whiskey, and Cointreau mixed with orange and pineapple juice to jumpstart the evening.
One of the longest-running pubs on the island, Red Pirates is the best-known bar along Station 3. Mellow and quaint, its driftwood furniture is laid out on fine Boracay sand, and the bar offers cheap drinks with musicians playing live. During the day, owner Captain Joey operates a small Paraw boat that can take you and a small group around the island for snorkelling and island hopping. BBQ is cooked by the crew when you stop at one of the islands for lunch. The boat comes complete with a pirate’s flag to complete your holiday picture.
Aptly named, this classy bar-grill offers a lasting happy ‘hour’ that runs from noon until 10pm daily. It is known for quality food, which makes up for the sometimes slow service. Epic rests in front of the beach along Station 2, and next to the D’mall. By night, tables are turned over to make space for a dancefloor. Epic transforms into a glitzy club with top-notch DJs, making it one of the most popular beach discos on the island. Ask for a Frooze, Epic’s build your own drink where a base liquor of gin, vodka, whiskey or rum can be chosen mixed with your favorite fresh fruit.
Aplaya is a straightforward Italian-inspired venue specifically marketed to people who want to relax after a long day of island tours. Dinner is a bit pricey, but portions are big and good for sharing. Aplaya is armed with oversized bean bags, hookahs, tasty pizzas, focaccia bread, risotto, and fruity drinks and cocktails. Its signature gin-based cocktail (named after itself) and sweet Mango Mojito’s are always a sure hit.
If you are looking for a classic Boracay experience, this is the place to go. Established in 1987, it is infamous for its deadly ‘15 shots and still standing challenge’ (which speaks for itself). The shot names are a laugh, from the Screaming Orgasm to the Boracay B-52. The bartender can supply you with a drink card to explain the ingredients and ideas behind each concoction. If you complete a round of mystery shots, your name will be engraved on their wall and added to the score of your country. The Philippines currently holds the top position.
Cool off and take a dip in Prisma’s refreshing pool bar. Attached to the posh Hue Hotel, this modern venue provides a chilled and pleasant respite from the noise of White Beach. Prisma is stocked with one of the largest rum collections in Boracay and equipped with highly qualified bartenders to mix thoughtfully-crafted cocktails. It is headed by the same group from Manila’s speakeasy ABV (Alcohol by Volume) bar – which was voted one of the top bars in Asia in 2016.
Reserve some energy and dedicate a full night to this famous bar-hopping organization. If you can’t decide which bar to visit, book a ticket with them and be treated to fun games, your own shot glass, discounted drink rates and free entrance fees into Boracay’s top bars such as Epic, Gypsea Shack, and Club Paraw. The crawl rotates between nine-to-five bars each night. Remember not to plan any flights the next day! Their aim is to bring people from different countries together and make new friends on the island. The group size varies from a minimum of 40 to the highest of 200 – who are all fashioned in complementary yellow t-shirts.