Even the most seasoned vegan traveller may feel a little bit of despair after their first day or two in Boracay.
For what seems like an endless beach with an endless line of restaurants there is a depressing shortage of variety on display. One grasps to understand how such a small place with a population of just 12,000 needs so many Grill places. But there they are, lining up along the beach – it seems at first as though if you don’t want grilled meat, you don’t belong on Boracay.
Then there are the usual suspects; Italian, Japanese and Thai; you look at the menu outdoor and often there isn’t a vegetarian section; and if there is finding an option without eggs or dairy seems impossible. And then there are those that list seafood or dishes laden with shrimp paste under the vegetarian section (I’m looking at you Thai restaurant).
The first day is always the toughest; the plane ride, the boat ride, the heat, the tricycles, and then that famed single vegetarian place on the Island that you read about has either changed or closed – It can be a familiar story for vegans travelling to small Islands.
But get through that first day, eat a cliff bar or two and regroup. Because if you start asking the right people the right questions; you will find some hidden gems of vegan delights in Boracay. It’s just a shame that they keep them secret.
So you’ve just had a nice long sleep in after that first arduous day. You’re going to need two things – Coffee and Food. For a nice mediterranean brunch with a strong cup of coffee head to Kasbah. This Moroccan joint sits right alongside the shore so you can bask in the sun and listen to the waves roll in while you slowly pick yourself up for the day ahead. Kasbah don’t open until 11am, but if you make it there a little early and the staff are around they will probably let you rest up on their loungers until it comes time to order, or just take a morning dip in the sea!
Like many of the restaurants in Boracay, Kasbah don’t denote what is vegan on their menu; a massive oversight we think, but not one that needs to stop you enjoying some quality vegan eats.
Moroccan Cigars filled with zucchini and eggplant; hummus and baba ganoush with fresh pita, tabouleh and falafel are all available at Kasbah. The hummus and baba ganoush are both house made, and were beyond excellent. The smokey eggplant flavour gave the baba ganoush real kick.
Great coffee is hard to come by in small or remote places; so we were pleased that the coffee here was nice, dark and strong. A great way to energise for a day walking down the island. Social Media is your friend in this case; if you contact Chef Felipe via the Kasbah Facebook Page, he will gladly let you know what vegan dishes he can offer.
Nothing compliments the sun and beach like Ice Cream; so when we chanced upon Coco Mama we were obviously delighted. Coco Mama is (as far as we could tell) they only exclusively vegan place on the island. These guys have a great, soft, coconut ice-cream served inside a coconut shell, topped with mango, sticky rice and crunchy flakes. If I didn’t know any better; I would have tried to live off of this stuff.
Also in D’Mall are two standard small-town supermarkets; Crafts and BudgetMart. Like the rest of the island; they’re not abundant with vegan options; but if you fancy cooking a meal at home you will find some basics here; rice noodles, tamarind paste, soy sauce and some mixed veg will only set you back a couple hundred peso and with that done you will be ready to cook up a poor-mans Pad Thai.
You will also find some produce around the markets in the D’Mall and Talipapa area. Plenty of fruit and veg to choose from, just be mindful of the quality, as some of it has made the same lengthy journey to get to the Island that you just did!
As the sun sets and the burn settles in, you’ll start thinking about dinner, and night time dining is really where Boracay shines. As the air cools, the lights come on and various parties begin, there is no better way to soak up the atmosphere than Spider House. Located just past Diniwid beach, through a cave and up some stairs, the Spider House resort entrances you with a well lit, casual and chilled dining environment. With seating perched alongside the sea with the beach rolling on into the distance it’s a great place to unwind, have a drink and some decent vegan eats.
Spider House is one of only two places on Boracay we found with the word “vegan” actually on its menu, and it gets points for that. Aside from a vegan pasta they also have other customisable options like sushi rolls and build-your-own pizza.
On the occasion we went we tried the sushi rolls and a veg pizza sans cheese. Our waitress Carrey was great, friendly and knowledgable of vegan requirements. It still doesn’t hurt to be specific though; as if the chef doesn’t get the message you could still end up with a blob of roe atop your sushi.
The sushi was fairly standard, cucumber and mango wrapped with rice and nori. I’ve had better, but if you’re like me and sometimes you just crave some fresh veggies wrapped with that seaweed taste; this will still satisfy.
The pizza was a good filling addition. The base was excellent, thin in the right places and doughy in the crust. Although the lack of cheese made it a little dry; it was nothing a generous swirl of tobasco sauce couldn’t remedy!
Paired with a fresh watermelon juice, the decent food, a great environment, and great service, the dining experience at Spider House gets a solid thumbs up.
Last, but certainly not least is another great option for lunch or dinner; Prana Cafe at the Mandala Spa & Resort. Tucked away up a small hill, and nestled amongst foliage and trees, this is the perfect place for a romantic date or just to get away from the hustle and bustle on the rest of the island.
Chef Peter at Prana clearly takes a great deal of pride in his work and is always happy to try something new if you have any special requests. The standard menu has a large selection of vegetarian dishes; many of which can be made vegan on request.
Coming to Prana is one of those rare chances you get to see a chef really be creative; with unique dishes like Tofu Tartar and Banana Heart Ragout popping with unique flavours and textures, alongside perfectly executed classics like Tofu Fried Rice and Roast Pumpkin Risotto you will surely be wanting to return to this tranquil spot.
Peter and the staff at Prana are all incredibly friendly, vegan-aware and passionate about what they do. Dining here was easily our best vegan experience in Boracay. On top of that, our dinners at Prana were also the most affordable; coming in about 20% cheaper than dining beachfront.
Vegans visiting boracay needn’t worry too much, a google search for “vegan boracay” may leave you wondering how many cliff bars to pack but hopefully, this article will help remedy that!
These places were the best places we dined at while in Boracay, but if you’re staying a little longer; perhaps over a week, you might also like to try these places out.
A cafe in D’Mall with a few vegetarian options that can be made vegan. Some are listed as ‘Lactose free’ but oddly still contain Mayonnaise or Feta Cheese; just ask them to omit mayo and cheese and you should be OK.
An Indian restaurant that we had heard some good things about. A fairly large vegetarian section on the menu, however we didn’t get a chance to try the Indian food. They do offer a falafel pita and we did try this but were not impressed.
HOW TO GET THERE?
ADDRESS: Station 1 Boracay, Tambisaan Jetty Port Rd, Aklan, Philippines
PHONE: +63 36 288 4790
HOURS: Monday to Thursday 11:00 am – 10:00 pm ; Friday to Sunday 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
ADDRESS: Station 2, D’Mall de Boracay, Boracay Island
HOURS: Monday to Sunday 24 Hours
ADDRESS: Station 2, Between Boracay Main Road and White Beach
HOURS: Monday to Sunday 8:00 am – 9:00 pm
ADDRESS: Staion 2, Main Rd, Boracay – 5 minutes north from Budget Mart
PHONE: +63 36 288 6857
HOURS: Monday to Sunday 7:00 am -11:00 pm