Philippines / Visayas / Aklan
While Boracay can indeed be a luxury travel getaway, not everyone has the budget, or the desire, to see the island this way. Shopping and food are the top reasons people go to the market on Boracay, but not all experiences are created equal.
A growing number of people travel to catch some of the local flavors, but without many local Filipino restaurants on the island, it can be frustrating to find traditional Filipino food and even seafood, at a reasonable price.
Street Food over Fast Food
I will take pork barbecue skewers or (maybe) even isaw (grilled chicken intestines, also on a stick) over Jollibee for any meal, on any day. Fast food is the same, by principal, everywhere on earth. It is cheap, it is easy, it is for the masses; but it is also heavily processed and prepared in a warehouse far away from where its cooked, or perhaps even just warmed up, to be served to you.
Street food on the other hand, is the opposite of fast food. It is locally sourced, prepared, and cooked right in front of you. You can actually make a determination on the cleanliness of it by watching the cook. There are no secrets there! Though aside from maybe the lack of running water, being served clean food is rarely a concern about street vendors in Boracay because they want you to come back. They don't want you to get sick. They want to keep a good reputation and sell out their stock of food every day and every night. In many ways, they have far more of a reputation to upkeep than the big chains because sales are life for a street food vendor.
Be kind, ask questions, and maybe even ask for a sample! Street food vendors in Boracay want to sell to you and they will work to earn your business.
Fresh Seafood Prepared for You
Boracay is covered in restaurants. There are endless options of unique places to eat like Spider House in Din-Iwid,
An alternative to street food for cheap (or rather, less expensive) eats in Boracay is the local wet market or Talipapa.
Boracay's largest wet market is named DTalipapa and is located in between The beach and that national road, in between Station One and Station Two. It is quite the maze of souvenir vendors, restaurants, and miscellaneous shops, but the heart of DTalipapa is the wet market located right in the center of it all.
Start by telling a tricycle driver to take you to D*Talipapa, that’s the simplest way to find it. Just wander back as all paths lead to the wet market. Its a bit overwhelming at first, but its not really as large as it appears, albeit a bit maze-like.
You are going to be able to find dried fish, a limited amount of produce, and an abundance of fresh seafood, much of it still alive in tanks when you order. From the mild to the exotic, sea urchin to prawns the size of lobsters, you will be able to find something for all seafood lovers here at Talipapa.
While the prices here wont blow you away like the sea scallops for 1 peso each in Islas de Gigantes, prices are significantly less expensive at D Talipapa than what you will find on the beach, or at any of the restaurants at the resorts. As always, negotiation is expected, so those who are more skilled at the art of bargaining will eat for less. It is the way of the world. The best haggling advice I received from a local was to cut the initial offering in half, and work your way up from there!
With fresh seafood in hand, you can now locate one of the restaurants situated along the wet market that offer to cook up your fresh catch (for a fee) and serve it with rice and side dishes of their own.
Fair Warning: Talipapa Wet Market is not open late, so this is not a great place to find late night food, but rather a lunchtime, or mid afternoon meal. Just keep in mind that quantities are limited and the food is fresher earlier in the day!