With its pure white sand and waters so clear you can see straight to the bottom, it’s no wonder Boracay’s White Beach is often ranked as one of the top beaches in the world. But it doesn’t stop there – not only is White Beach beautiful, it’s also loads of fun. (I’m pretty sure this exact beach is what the Philippines tourism board had in mind when they created their catchy slogan, It’s more fun in the Philippines!)
Stretching over four kilometers down the west coast of the island, in addition to being Boracay’s most popular beach, White Beach is also the island’s largest. It’s where you’ll find the vast majority of hotels and resorts, restaurants, and shopping districts on the island, as well as activities to keep you busy in between naps on the beach. To make it easier to navigate, White Beach has been broken down into three general sections known as “stations”. Each station has its own personality distinct from the others. Given how long it can take to walk from one end of the beach to the other, where you decide to stay on White Beach will probably influence which area you spend the most time in, so it’s important to choose wisely!
To help you decide which of White Beach’s stations is right for you, I’ve created this handy guide that breaks down their differences and offers tips for where to stay and things to do. If it’s your first time in Boracay, be sure to check out our complete guide to the island in the link below, too!
WHITE BEACH STATION 1
Located at the northern end of White Beach, Station 1 offers the widest beach and softest sand of all three stations. The water is also quite shallow here, making it perfect for wading. Personally, I find this to be the prettiest portion of White Beach, and I don’t think I’m alone there. Most postcards and advertisements you’ll see of Boracay feature images from this section of the beach.
The far northern end of Station 1 is the quietest and where you’ll find the majority of the beach’s upscale resorts, like the ultra-luxurious Discovery Shores. The further south you walk in Station 1, the busier the beach gets. Towards the middle of Station 1 you’ll start seeing several restaurants and bars pop up, as well as more affordable accommodations. We stayed in this section at One Crescent Place, a quiet hotel just a 3-minute walk from the beach.
Station 1 can almost be split into two sections itself. The section furthest north has few bars or restaurants outside of the resorts, so the beach here is sublimely peaceful and feels more private. The second half of Station 1 furthest south is much more lively. Here, you’ll often find people playing volleyball on the sand and the bright beachside bars stay busy, but thanks to the wide beach, it doesn’t usually feel overcrowded.
WHO’S IT FOR?
Station 1 is best for travelers who enjoy their holidays with a touch of luxury, families, and those who want the convenience of Station 2 without all the crowds.
THINGS TO DO IN STATION 1
Willy’s Rock, Boracay’s most famous landmark, is located near the middle of Station 1. If you’re willing to wade 100 meters out into the water to get to it, you can climb the steps for free and pay your respects to the Virgin Mary statue at the top. There is also a small viewing area that provides an interesting vantage point of White Beach from the sea.
Sunsets in Boracay are an event you won’t want to miss, and the best place to watch them from is the beach in Station 1. White Beach gets busy at sunset, but there’s enough room for everybody in Station 1, so you won’t have to worry so much about people interrupting your sunset shots. My favorite spot to watch the sunset (and photograph it) was from a ledge along the beach just to the south of Willy’s Rock. The rock helps add a little context to photos, as do the paraw sailboats that head out to sea this time of day!
WHITE BEACH STATION 2
Just south of Station 1, located at the center of White Beach (both literally and figuratively) is Station 2. This is the heart of White Beach. Here you’ll find restaurants and bars galore, ATMs and convenience shops, several nightclubs, as well as Boracay’s very best shopping streets. This station is also where to come if you’re wanting to book any special activities (water sports, boat tours, etc) for the day.
The beach becomes a lot narrower in Station 2 due to the addition of a path, parallel to the beach, that separates the shopping streets from the beachfront bars and restaurants. The narrower beach combined with a greater amount of people make this the most crowded section of White Beach. Accommodations in Station 2 come in a variety of budgets, but the majority of what you’ll find here are mid-range resorts, hotels, and private cottages like those at the popular Nigi Nigi Nu Noos.
Station 2 is where all the action is. This section of the beach buzzes with activity from just before noon to midnight every day of the week. During the day you’ll find it cheerfully busy with people shopping and having drinks by the water, boats coming and going, and beach vendors selling their services to everyone who walks by. At evening, Station 2 becomes a prime spot to come and experience Boracay’s vibrant nightlife.
WHO’S IT FOR?
Station 2 is best for travelers who like being in the middle of all the action and want the convenience of having absolutely everything you could possibly need only steps away, and those who are in Boracay to meet other people and party.
THINGS TO DO IN STATION 2
If you’re looking to do a little shopping in Boracay, look no further than D’Mall, the island’s best shopping district located at the center of Station 2. All kinds of shops line the streets in D’Mall and you’ll find everything from clothing and souvenirs to convenience products sold here.
If you’re up for an interesting meal, don’t miss the seafood mecca that is D’Talipapa. At D’Talipapa you can purchase whatever fresh fish or seafood you like from the wet market, and then you bring it to one of the restaurants in the area and they’ll cook and prepare it for you on the spot.
From a photography standpoint, Station 1 is where you want to be at sunset, but if you’re not worried about perfect photos, Station 2 is an excellent spot to watch the sun go down. Especially if you get there early and grab a table (or beanbag chair) at one of the bars and restaurants lining the beach. You’ll have a front row seat for the show…until the crowds gather directly in front of you, that is.
WHITE BEACH STATION 3
Located at the southern end of White Beach is Station 3, the least built-up station among the three. (But don’t worry, there are still plenty of places to eat and hang out.) While the exact cut-off between Station 2 et 3 is hard to pinpoint, you’ll know you’re officially in Station 3 when the greenery gets a little thicker and the sand a little less soft. (FYI: If you’re looking for shade on the beach, this is pretty much the only place you’ll find it.) The water also gets deeper in Station 3, making it great for swimming and snorkeling further down away from the boats.
This section of White Beach is where you’ll find the most options for budget accommodations as well as several more mid-range hotels, so if you were priced out of beachfront resorts in Station 1, Station 3 will be your best bet. You’ll have several options in this category, just make sure you pick one from the southern end of Station 3 if you like it quiet. We loved the food and relaxed atmosphere at Hey Jude in this area, and while we didn’t get the chance to visit, la Cocoloco Beach Resort looked like fun!
The northern end of Station 3 has the same sort of vibe as Station 2, but as you move further south in Station 3 the atmosphere gets noticeably more chill and laid-back, and the bars take on a distinct hippie-vibe. At the end of Station 3, you’ll hit the most quiet and serene section on all of White Beach. This portion of the beach has remained largely undeveloped and is so far from the center that it’s almost completely people-free.
WHO’S IT FOR?
Station 3 is best for backpackers and travelers on a budget, families, and anyone looking for a quieter Boracay experience.
THINGS TO DO IN STATION 3
Besides a few restaurants and bars with live music, there isn’t all that much to do in Station 3, but that’s what keeps it so peaceful and quiet. If you’re looking for a place to eat and hang out, the Tree House Restaurant (part of the resort of the same name) with its quirky interior and acoustic live music was our favorite in Station 3.
You’ll find the closest thing to a private beach that White Beach has to offer by walking all the way down to the far southern end of Station 3. The beach gets rocky here creating lots of little coves with privacy. Hardly anyone ever walks down this far so you’re almost guaranteed to be left alone by beach vendors, too!
A NOTE ON ALGAE SEASON
Chances are, you’ve seen the pictures of Boracay featuring pure white sand beaches meeting a sparkling, crystal clear ocean, and it’s probably what convinced you to visit. But you need to know the beach doesn’t always look like that. During the later half of the dry season, large algae blooms are common along White Beach creating piles of thick algae all up and down the beach and floating quite a ways out into the water. It’s not a big deal if you don’t mind swimming out a bit to get to the clear water, but if photography is a big part of your vacation or you just want to see Boracay at its best, I recommend booking your trip sometime during the early months of dry season. (Usually November through January would be safe.)
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