Digital Nomad Philippines
I have just spent one-month on a digital nomad Philippines trip spending my time on a small island with big character.
The island in question is Boracay, a popular holiday destination that is often referred to as paradise. Its golden sandy beaches make Boracay one of the most photographed destinations in the Philippines.
It’s also a place I have wanted to visit for some time.
The island features a 4 km sandy stretch that is listed amongst the world’s best beaches. Rather than staying in a busy city such as Manila or Cebu, I ended up selecting Boracay Island as my base for my month-long Digital Nomad Philippines trip.
Overnight train journeys, countless coaches, flights, and all the strains of long-term travel have taken their toll on me recently. Time to sit back and relax under a tropical palm tree for a few weeks…
Getting to Boracay
My 3+ hour Air Asia flight from Kuala Lumpur landed at Kalibo Airport. Flights tend to be a little cheaper to Kalibo as it’s situated a bit further away from the island than nearby Caticlan Airport. Taking around 2 hours by taxi, minivan or bus to Caticlan port.
Once you arrive at the port, there’s a small charge to pay to enter the island, and then it’s a short 10-minute boat ride across to Boracay.
Boracay Accommodation & Airbnb
Although you may have seen images of couples romantically relaxing on secluded beaches while flicking through Instagram, remember the Boracay Island is one of the primary tourist destination in the Philippines.
If you’re looking for action, then Station 2 is the main hub. As an unofficial rule, the further away from station 2 you the quieter it will be.
During my online search, the bulk of accommodation I came across advertised on the island was either hotel, resorts, or small apartments.
I found that low budget accommodation options were hard to find online. Basic studio apartment mostly started at 15,000 Pesos (£242.25) a week.
It during my second search on Airbnb that I found the following advertisement:
“Nice apartment for rent. 1 min. from the white beach on Boracay island.
Restaurants, small pubs, and stores a minute or 2 to walk from the apartment.
The apartment has a double bed, air-con, small kitchen with fridge, cable tv, & small veranda. No wi-fi, but internet cafe around the corner. Bathroom w/o hot water.
Enjoy the white beach for swimming, sunbathing, any kind of watersports or just relax or watch the beautiful sunset with a nice cocktail.
277 pounds (GBP) a month”
The apartment wasn’t exactly luxury but the price offered was lower than anything else I’d found. After staying in Cambodia, I had become accustomed to showering without hot water, but the lack of Wi-Fi could have been an issue.
Luckily Boracay has many cafes that offer free internet.
When I arrived the apartment setup was a studio style with a double sized bed in the main living area, along with a side table and wardrobe. Also included was a TV and a standalone fan to complement the air-conditioning. Apart from having a kitchen fitted, another major bonus was the location of the apartment.
Located about 30 seconds walk from back from the beach at Station 1, the apartment offered quick access to the stunning blue ocean.
Most of the time my apartment served only as a place to sleep and rest and I probably spent more time on the beach.
The only downside was there were a few power cuts during my stay and a couple of times the juice was off all night. Good job I packed my Fenix LD12 flashlight or I could have been stuck in the dark.
Boracay is a small island and most popular attractions are situated within an easy walking distance of Station 1.
Although renting a scooter would be handy option to explore the quieter parts of the island, I found it’s not necessary.
Taxi trikes are a common site, and it’s convenient to flag one down or pay a local passer-by a few Pesos to take you to the destination.
The island is host to countless cafes and bars, and the good news is nearly all of them offer Wi-Fi. As my Airbnb apartment didn’t have Wi-Fi, I spent a lot of time hanging around in the various establishments.
My local hangouts included:
Nagisa – Some items on the menu could be pricey, but I liked it here. Customers are offered free water + peanut as soon as they arrive. Staff are friendly and provide excellent service.
357 – Wi-Fi speeds were perfect for Skype calling. I typically headed here for breakfast and ordered the omelette, brown bread + tea for 140 Pesos. The downside is staff wouldn’t let me charge my laptop and prices advertised don’t include a 10% service charge.
Zest – Positioned across the road from the gym I trained at, Zest offered reasonable internet speeds but due to outside seating could be noisy.
Hey Jude – Had a chilled out atmosphere with a beach view. The internet was ok however cut out twice on a Skype call. Happy hour is from 3-7pm offering 20 Peso discounts from beers.
Coco Loco – Another great place with a sea view. Set up in a bar style, Coco Loco plays uplifting reggae beats. Wi-Fi was a bit up and down but if you sit in the right spot its possible to log into the free Wi-Fi from next door. John, who runs the bar, is a top bloke.
Survivor 168 – Located a street back from the beach, Survivor 168 is more of a local’s café than the others I visited. The great thing besides the free Wi-Fi is the pricing, coffee for 23 Pesos, mango shake cost 55 Pesos, and ham + egg sandwich is a bargain at 38 Pesos.
Boracay Gym & Fitness
What healthier way to shake off that jet lag by getting outdoors for some exercise. Take in the fresh sea air, all while being surrounded by Boracay’s stunning backdrop.
One great thing about the beach, apart from the magnificent views, is the firm sand is perfect for running at an advanced tempo.
The island has plenty on offer to the active traveller, with water sports like windsurfing, sailing, kite surfing, snorkelling, diving, and jet skiing available. Along the beach, you will find people running, swimming playing football, Frisbee and performing yoga.
The white beach is an ideal location those who want to exercise in a spectacular location.
To mix the beach runs I also trained at Iron Throne Gym.
All I had to go one was a couple of old blog posts and not much else when I went for a wander looking for a Boracay gym to train at.
Iron Throne Gym is tucked away inside a little tourist market a few minutes walk from the beach.
Being located near a couple of small cafes it’s not the easiest to find, so keep looking for the gym sign hanging up outside. Once inside you will be greeted to a small, but well-equipped setup offering a weights workout during your digital nomad Philippines trip.
There are two pricing options for those who wish to work out here, a walk rate of 60 Pesos (£0.87/ $1.33USD), or a monthly rate of 800 Pesos (£11.16/$17.76USD).
Tip: Unlimited cold filtered water is available for an extra 10 Pesos. Totally worth it because you WILL be working up at sweat.
Iron Throne gym is separated into two parts. One with a range of different weighted dumbbells, benches, pull down machines and sit up benches furnishing it, with the second section being mainly dedicated to leg workouts with a power rack, leg press, curl and a calf machines.
Outside there are a couple of spin cycles and an old punch bag separating the two areas.
For the price paid, I wasn’t expecting much, but the gym atmosphere had me come back here again and again. They also have a decent sound system which will either be pumping out the latest dance tracks, or heavy metal.
If that’s isn’t enough, the guys training there are keen to mix it up and have a chat, probably as there doesn’t seem to be so many foreigners training here. I guess it’s too hard for most to leave the beach!
The location is a tricky one when trying to find the gym for the first time.
It’s not listed on any maps so the best bet is to head for the Zest Café, the Iron Throne Gym is located across the street in the market area.
Things to Do
Like me, I’m sure you plan on getting plenty of work done during your stay, but all work and no play on your digital nomad Philippines trip makes John a dull boy.
Depending on what grabs your attention, one of the below could be worth visiting:
Ariel’s Point – Five cliff-diving platforms (ranging in height from 3 meters to 13 meters) and ample opportunities for swimming, snorkelling, kayaking, and canoeing.
Yapak Beach – The second largest beach on Boracay.
Mount Luho – Climb to the top of Mount Luho and be rewarded with stunning panoramic views.
Talipapa Market – Anything can be bought, and all prices haggled.
The weather was perfect during my month-long stay on the island and the digital nomad Philippines trip.
The January climate was nowhere near the humidity I experienced in Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok and was more on par to the Goad Coast. During the day, there was hardly a drop of rain and any downpours were limited to the night only.
Yes, the downside is the island can be a little touristy, pricey, and I’m not sure I would want to stay any longer than one month. Yet Boracay met all my expectations and offered a scenic location that allowed me to get creative.
I would certainly recommend it as the perfect Digital Nomad Philippines location….even though my phone was smashed during my stay.
You may like: A short guide for traveling to the Philippines
Digital Nomad Philippines: My Boracay Experience Working Remotely images created by Tools of Travel.