Digital Nomad Philippines
I have just spent one-month on a digital nomad Philippines trip which saw me 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 planned on visiting for some time.
Boracay 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. Now it was 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.
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 main tourist destinations in the Philippines.
There are a lot of tourists on the island and 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 majority of accommodation advertised fell into the hotel, resort, or small apartment category. I found that low budget accommodation options were hard to find online. With basic studio apartment mostly started at 15,000 Pesos (£242.25) a week.
It was 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 online. 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.
The setup was a studio style with a double sized bed in the main living area. Included were the usuals like a TV and a standalone fan to complement the air-conditioning. Apart from having a kitchen fitted, the next best thing 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 I probably spent more time on the beach than at home.
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 of the popular attractions were situated within an easy walking distance of my Airbnb.
Although renting a scooter would have been a handy option to explore the quieter parts of the island, it wasn’t necessary.
Taxi trikes are a common site and it’s convenient to flag one down. Sometimes I justed paid a local passer-by a few Pesos to take me.
Boracay 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 Nagisa. 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. Also, 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 the 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 cost 23 Pesos and mango shakes cost 55 Pesos. Ham + egg sandwiches are a bargain at 38 Pesos.
What healthier way is there to shake off that jet lag than exercising outdoors. One great thing about the beach at Boracay, apart from the magnificent views, is the firm sand is perfect for running at an advanced tempo.
The island has plenty to offer 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 great location.
To mix it up 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 gym.
Iron Throne Gym is tucked away inside a little tourist market a few minutes walk from the beach.
There are two pricing options for those who wish to work out here. A walk in 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. Its worth every penny because you WILL be working up a sweat.
Iron Throne gym is separated into two parts. One side has a range of different weighted dumbbells, benches, pull down machines and sit up benches. The other side is dedicated to leg workouts and has a power rack, leg press, curl and a calf machine.
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. Being located near a couple of small cafes it’s not the easiest to find. You basically keep looking for the gym sign hanging up outside. Once inside you will be greeted to a small, but well-equipped setup.
It’s not listed on any maps so the best bet is to head for the Zest Café. Iron Throne Gym is then located across the street in the market area.
Things to Do
I’m sure you plan on getting plenty of work done during your stay just like I did. But just remember – 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.
During my month-long stay on the island and digital nomad Philippines trip, the weather was perfect.
The January climate was nowhere near the humidity I experienced in Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok and was more on par to say the Gold Coast. There was hardly a drop of rain during the day and any downpours were limited to the night time only.
Yes, there are some downsides – the island can be a little touristy, pricey, and I’m not sure I would want to stay any longer than a month. If I came to the Philippines again I would probably choose somewhere like El Nido, Palawan. But Boracay did meet all my expectations and offered a great location that allowed me to get work done.
So is Boracay a good Digital Nomad Philippines location? Absolutely it is. So good that I smashed my phone – gutted!
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.