One of the first things Western tourists look forward to is shopping. There is always that thrill of purchasing and taking home something unique and exciting when you know it cannot be bought anywhere else in the world. Shopping in Boracay will not disappoint where that thrill is concerned. While most travel sites in the world showcase only their beaches and Earth’s natural formations, shopping in Boracay is part of the experience. It is something you cannot do without while there.
The main island attraction is the 4-km White Beach, also called Long Beach. This is where tourists and travelers are treated to magnificent sunsets, relaxing swims, and a once-in-a-lifetime stroll on powdery talcum sands found only in Boracay. At the other side of the path is a 4-km row of kiosks, shops and boutiques selling shirts (JollyPrints, one of our good friends, have stalls there), trinkets, foods, sunglasses, hats, floaters, and other fun stuff for the beach.
White Beach is divided into three boat stations, Stations 1, 2 and 3. (Fortunately, no boats are allowed to dock anymore over the blinding white sands of Boracay.) The focus of shoppers’ attentions is Station 2. This is where D’Mall is located, the shopping Mecca of Boracay.
It is not your typical air-conditioned mall but an al fresco area with an almost-confusing maze of restaurants and stores. You can end up walking and shopping in circles if you are not careful. There are high-end stores selling imported goods and cheap kiosks selling handmade trinkets of shells and beads. Haggling is often done (and enjoyed) at smaller shops, and prices can go very low if you know how to properly stroke the vendors. Western tourists, however, will find it difficult negotiating for lower prices since vendors know that foreigners come in with extra money for shopping. Westerners will find their Filipino friends very helpful in getting discounts and finding the best deals.
D’Mall is always crowded with shoppers and tourists drying themselves from the beach, checking out the shops while still in their swim suits. What most tourists don’t know, however, is that there are also local shops away from the beach, and along the main Boracay road where there is heavy motorcycle traffic. The polluted road may be dangerous to travelers who are not used to aggressive tricycle drivers and practically non-existent traffic rules. But brave the dangers and the treasures – the cheap shops – are there.
In most cases, though, Boracay travelers would not need to look for the stores. Vendors approach them while strolling along White Beach, sunbathing on the sand, or taking a snack in one of the restaurants by the beach. Vendors approach selling sunglasses, jewelry, ice cream, tattoo, religious items, souvenirs, and even massages. Hawkers will also try to convince you to go on an island-hopping trip, scuba diving, jet-skiing and so on.
Perhaps one of the best souvenirs to purchase when you shop are pieces of shell jewelry. Nothing can better convince your friends back home that you’ve been to Asia and done some shopping than a piece of shell jewelry around your neck, wrist or ankle.
There are handy ATM machines available and several foreign exchange counters. There are eight ATM machines in the island located inside or near D’Mall. Since this is an island, the machines often go empty and would be refilled with cash a day (or more) after being emptied, which is most convenient. Take note that shopping in Boracay is best done from November to March.