The Truth About Traveling to Boracay During the Low Season

The Truth About Traveling to Boracay During the Low Season - Travel Lush

I love Boracay.  Ever since my first visit to the Philippines’ most popular beach in November 2013, I’ve dreamed about frolicking in its turquoise waters on oh so many occasions.  I mean, look at it.  It’s no wonder White Beach is my second favorite beach in Southeast Asia.  It’s perfect!

The Truth About Traveling to Boracay During the Low Season - Travel Lush
White Beach during my visit in November 2013.

Or is it?

For those who don’t know, Boracay is a tiny 7 kilometer-long island.  The Philippine isle is dotted with sleepy beaches and hidden coves.  But the main attraction is the world-famous White Beach, which takes up a whopping 4 kilometers of the island.  This beach really is as pretty as they come.  Sometimes…

Let’s just say she can be a bit temperamental.

What to expect when traveling to Boracay during the low season…

What a lot of people don’t know is that Boracay isn’t always so picture perfect.  And before I traveled there for the second time earlier this month (in July 2015) I wasn’t really aware of this.  Maybe I was just in denial.  I mean I had heard that White Beach bears the brunt of Habagat.

Haba-what you ask?

Habagat is an annual wind that blows from June to October and the westerly-facing White Beach bears the brunt of these vicious winds.

Like most places in Southeast Asia, the Philippines’ Habagat season (or the low season) has heavy rainfall, skyrocketing temperatures and high humidity.  As a seasoned traveler, these are all things I’m very familiar with.  I am actually a big fan of traveling during the offseason.  Most of my Southeast Asian travels have occurred during the summer months.  And I am very familiar with the monsoon season and the heat and humidity that come with it.

But Habagat was a special kind of beast.

The Truth About Traveling to Boracay During the Low Season - Travel Lush

The Truth About Traveling to Boracay During the Low Season - Travel Lush

I came to Boracay expecting the placid turquoise waters and the powdery white sand I had fallen so in love with during my previous visit.  But what I found instead was a tumultuous sea and an endless barrage of 2-5 foot waves.  White Beach, which I remember to be a wide swath of white sand, was under water for most of the day, reduced to nothing more than a narrow ribbon of sand.

The Truth About Traveling to Boracay During the Low Season - Travel Lush

Walking on the main beach drag was like walking through a wind tunnel.  People were leaning forward fighting to forge ahead, sun hats were blowing off women’s heads, the fine sand was pelting bare faces and legs.  On my first day in Boracay, I realized perhaps a little sundress wasn’t the best attire after my, very ungraceful, Marilyn Monroe moment.

What I found out during my week-long visit to the island is that Habagat is kind of brutal.  Boracay’s businesses try their best to keep customers comfortable and happy by lining White Beach with two-story wind guards, which shield visitors from the lashing winds and tiny sand missiles.  The wind guards are kind of a life saver but they also detract from the beauty of White Beach.  During this time of year there are no candlelit dinners on the beach, no sunset cocktails lounging on beanbag chairs, no restaurants with an ocean view.

The Truth About Traveling to Boracay During the Low Season - Travel Lush

The winds get so bad at this time of year that many hotels have Habagat specials, offering major discounts to travelers in an effort to drum up business.

I spent a total of 6 days in Boracay in the month of July and while I did my best to enjoy my time there, I can’t say I would choose to travel to Boracay in July again.  The beach I saw, while still ruggedly beautiful, didn’t resemble the beach I visited in November 2013.  That being said, it’s always possible that I had really bad luck (something that seems to plague my travels these days).  In the future I’d probably avoid the months of June and July, but I have a feeling that August-October might be pretty ideal.

The perks of traveling to Boracay during the low season:

I will say that there are some great reasons to travel to Boracay in the low season.  One of the main reasons I decided to visit Boracay in July was because I read quite a few blog posts about the perks of traveling to Boracay during the low season months.  And while Habagat kind of ravaged White Beach and the weather didn’t cooperate, when the sun did come out it was still beautiful.  In my opinion, the low season still has a lot going for it.

The Truth About Traveling to Boracay During the Low Season - Travel Lush
When the sun comes out it’s still pretty gorgeous!

Discounted Hotels

I did get a substantial discount on my hotel.  Just to give you an idea I stayed at Alice’s Boracay in the semi-budget area between piers 2 and 3.  I ended up paying 1280 pesos ($28 US) for a double room per night at Alice’s Resort, which was about a 30% discount off the high season rate.

Seriously, just go onto Agoda and you’ll find that hotels are heavily discounted at this time of year.  Also, feel free to negotiate.  There are so many hotels in Boracay that you can easily get a 20-50% discount and get breakfast included during this time of year, especially if you agree to stay a week or longer.

Fewer Tourists

The number one issue travelers have with Boracay is that it’s too touristy.  In fact, this nearly deterred me from ever even visiting.  And it’s true, the tons and tons of visitors who flood White Beach year in and year out can take away from the experience.  That’s where the low season comes in.

A lot of people make it sound like if you travel to Boracay during the low season, you’re going to have the place all to yourself.  If you are expecting this you’ll be sorely disappointed.  Boracay is still touristy during the low season.  But the number of tourists is much more manageable during these months.

The Truth About Traveling to Boracay During the Low Season - Travel Lush

Cheaper Flights

The low season is also a great time to snag cheap tickets to and around the Philippines.  I flew from Kuala Lumpur to Kalibo for $45 US.  Not too shabby for a 4 hour flight.  Check out out Philippine Air and AirAsia for cheap tickets.

boracay water (1 of 1)

I wouldn’t say that my trip to Boracay was a total bust.  Like I said before, I love Boracay.  But I really do wish that I’d known just how different White Beach would be in the low season.  There is always a chance that I just had really bad luck with weather during my visit.  So please, please do your own research before altering your travel plans.  Boracay is a wonderful place.  It is seriously paradise and I know I’ll be back many, many times in the future.

Do you have experience traveling to Boracay in the low season.  I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!  I’m curious to see if I had back luck or if this is the norm at this time of year.

You can also keep up with me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!

About Justine

Justine Lopez is a California native who always seems to take the unconventional route in life. She also suffers from a serious case of wanderlust. In 2013, she set out on a yearlong round-the-world journey and never looked back. Since then she's lived the expat life in both Jakarta and Phnom Penh. She's now living and working as a freelance writer in Beijing. As she meanders her way through Asia she's always seeking out great vegetarian food, budget travel deals and amazing new travel destinations.

32 thoughts on “The Truth About Traveling to Boracay During the Low Season

    1. Oh no! I had a similar experience in Greece. I visited the Greek isles at the end of October (the low season) and some of the islands kind of felt like ghost towns!

  1. I’m also a big fan of low-season travel in Southeast Asia and I think most of my Thailand island visits have been during the summer months. I can handle monsoon and humid afternoons, but I must admit that the Habagat sounds like quite a mouthful. Beautiful pictures though.:)
    Mitzie Mee recently posted…Dubai: Shake Shack and Dinosaurs

    1. Me too! Up until a couple of years ago the only time I was ever able to visit SE Asia was during the summer months. So I am very familiar with the monsoon season and all of that. Habagat was a beast … the weather was comically bad! Ah well, what can you do? 😉

    1. Right! I remember reading about your experience with the winds there. Ha, la brisa loca indeed! This wind was pretty nuts. Sitting on the beach (or even walking around for that matter) wasn’t the most pleasant thing but at least the water was still warm and beautiful 🙂 And yes, cheaper is most definitely better!

  2. Hi Justine, good article. I’m an expat living in Boracay Island and it differs from year to year. This year Habagat started really late at the end of Juni. I heard it had something to do with El Nido.

    On thing that’s consistent when Habagat starts though is that it’s cloudy a lot – not much sun during the rainy season (wind and rain amount has varied a lot over the years in my experience).

    I actually enjoy the off season side of Boracay also, because it feels so rugged and wild, and there are few tourists… But yeah, sometimes I do wish there would be a bit more sun 🙂
    Paul Voorberg recently posted…10 Reasons To Make Boracay Island Your Next Holiday Destination

    1. It’s so nice to hear from you Paul. I was really hoping to get the perspective of someone who really knows Boracay well. So thanks 🙂 I had a feeling conditions were worse than usual when I was there a couple of weeks ago. But like you said, this time of year is pretty stormy and sunless in general. I will say that It was nice not having so many people though! And I definitely agree that Boracay is beautiful rain, shine or wind 🙂

      1. Hi Justine,

        Great post….I have lived in Boracay in 2013-2014, welcoming guests and tourists…and it was always stressful to wake up and see what weather we had…LOL .. coz most of the clients even blamed us for the bad weather…LOL …. It would have been interesting if you would have talked about Bulabog beach during rainy season….Sometimes, when rains and winds were heavy, we went to Bulabog…Peaceful and Sunny 🙂 Amazing for such a small island… 🙂 hope you will be back , maybe we meet …take care

    1. It’s funny. The first time I visited Boracay was a few days after that crazy typhoon in 2013. Because so many people fled Boracay and canceled their trips, there were VERY few people there during my trip. I don’t think I realized just how lucky I was to see it at such a weird, low key time until now. I’ve definitely never experienced Boracay when it’s full force touristy. And I’m not sure I would want to! I think next time I would go in September. Fewer tourists, better weather 😉

    1. Thanks! I think there are a lot of perks to traveling to Boracay in the low season, as long as you know what to expect weather-wise. And yes, $28 wasn’t bad. There are so many good deals to be had in Boracay!

  3. Yeah, there are some destinations that I think are perfectly fine (if not preferable!) to visit during low season, but beachy ones haven’t been great for us. In part it’s because we love to dive and when there’s a ton of wind and rain, the ocean gets murky and visibility is poor, but also bad weather means less fun in the sun! I guess it probably was a bit of a thrill seeing Boracay without the crowds, but I guess it also was a great example of why it has a high & low season to begin with!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted…Driving the Tequila Trail

    1. Yeah, I imagine it can be a bit of a bummer to dive in murky water. Aaron and I have pretty much always traveled in the low season because we’ve always been at the whim of an academic schedule. The low season doesn’t bother us and I do like that it allows us to avoid the crowds and generally pay less on accommodation. But Boracay was a bit of a beast in July! It was nice that there were less people though 🙂

    1. Camille, It depends on which beach you go to on the other side. Bulabog beach for example becomes the parking spot for the boats on Boracay during off season, since it’s sheltered from the wind…

      This makes Bulabog look more like a jetty port then a relaxing beach, but that is only the left side. The right side doesn’t have many boats so you have the benefit of little wind there and the quiet to be able to enjoy the beach.

      Another beach on that side is Tambisaan. It’s the best beach on Boracay for snorkeling and during off season on not so windy and sunny days it can great for snorkeling there with far visibility.

      It’s not always so windy during off season by the way. Last year for example had relatively little wind, but the year before that we had 30 knots regularly.
      Paul Voorberg recently posted…The 9 Beautiful Beaches of Boracay

      1. Thanks for giving this advice Paul! I wish I would have wandered down to the right when I visited Bulabog Beach. But the tide was so high I just walked to my left! It really is amazing how much less windy Bulabog was in July versus when I visited in November 2013. It was like an entirely different beach!

    2. The wind on White Beach was nuts. But like Paul says it’s only the western-facing beaches that experience Habagat. Other beaches like Bulabog and Ili-Iligan aren’t windy. We did visit both but because it was rainy and super cloudy those beaches weren’t looking their best either. But had it been sunny we just would have spent most of our time there 🙂

  4. I absolutely loved Boracay (and the Philippines in general)! Unfortunately I didn’t do much research before I went, and when I got there it was raining like crazy! I had also picked a rather unfortunate date… The island was full with Chinese tourists since it was a national holiday in China at that time. Not saying I don’t like Chinese, but it was a little too crowded for my taste.
    I could still see Boracay’s charme and I’m hoping to go back soon.
    Sarah at Nomad Capitalist recently posted…What If Being An Expat Is Wrong For You?

    1. I’m guessing you visited during Chinese New Year? I’ve heard Boracay is absolutely nuts during that time of year. Even during the low season there were a surprising amount of package tourists! I think I got really lucky the first time I visited, since I was there right after a major typhoon. So many people canceled their trips to the Philippines and there were so few people in Boracay! I don’t think I’ve ever seen it at its most touristy, but I imagine it’s really unpleasant 🙁

  5. Hi! I was thinking about going to boracay in October and your post kind of scared me haha, do you think it will be as bad in October? I don’t really mind the rain but the wind… I can’t really handle wind haha, what do you think?:)

    1. Hi Emma. I think October is actually a good month to visit Boracay. Definitely look it up but from what I’ve seen October isn’t habagat season and it’s the tail end of the low season, which means you might get great weather and less crowds! Yeah, you can never predict rain and storms. That’s just the Philippines for you. As far as the winds go one reader did point out that the winds were extremely bad during the week I was there. I was also there in July, during the height of habagat season. Oops! The first time I visited Boracay in November it was absolute paradise. Good luck 🙂

      1. Ah okay thanks! Yeah you’ll never know what the weather will be like, I guess I’ll just be hoping for the best. I’ve read so many good things about boracay and i just have to go there! Thank you for your help:)

  6. Im thinking of going there on this mid-september. I know the period still fall under the low peak season in boracay. But hopefully things are not as bad as what i imagine since october is just around the corner. Any advise for me? 😅

    1. That should be a decent time since it’s the tail end of Habigat…I think! I think the weather varies from year to year. It was really bad when I was there but I think I just had bad luck. I hope you have some nice weather because it is a beautiful place 🙂

  7. Thanks for this! 🙂 now I know what to expect.. Still hoping for good weather by November, must enjoy the place for solo traveler like me. 🙂

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