So, finally I made it to the one country that I was quite keen on wandering to but subconsciously stayed away from.
A country that somehow feels isolated from the South East Asia family, at least in my mind, perhaps due to its geographical location, or simply because of my perception all this while. I was completely humbled and stunned to be ‘taught’ that Philippines is not just about Manila, Christianity, and sadly, prostitution. Philippines is truly a blessed country being the abode to countless gorgeous islands and as a country deeply rooted to amazing cultural heritage. It took me a mere single visit to Boracay to grasp this quickly and now, I’m already looking forward to visit this gorgeous country again. Palawan and Camiguin is now firmly noted and highlighted in my wanderlust list.
So where did I wander to and what did I do in my last wanderlust to Boracay a fortnight ago? A shorter post on the ‘To Do’s’ is here.
Here goes… Another impromptu decision led by heart ended in me booking for the tickets and accommodation, as ever so frequent but only this time to a truly ‘foreign’ land. My Boracay Guide is a life-saver for providing me the instant answer to my very desperate search. I would really recommend this guys to everyone going to Boracay. All I had to do was book for my shuttle to and fro the airport to my hostel and the rest was smoothly taken care by them. You guys rock!
Nearly two hours of bus ride to the Cagban Jetty from Kalibo airport in the comfortable and clean coach bus followed by a 10-15 minutes boat ride to Boracay.
Once in Boracay, the best option is to get the tricycle or trike to bring you to your accommodation. I don’t think I paid more than 150 pesos for any of my tricycle rides.
Boracay is divided by Stations, with Station 1 being the part that has the best and finest stretch of white sand in the entire island. It’s also where most of the luxury resorts are. Compared to Station 2, this has to be the quieter section. Station 2, on the other hand, is the most famous one being the busy area of the lots. This is where most tourists are and where an assortment of shops and restaurants are available and also where the ‘D’mall’ is. Finally, there’s Station 3, a less crowded area but where cheaper resorts and backpackers hostels can be found.
We stayed in MNL Beach Hostel which is located at Bulabog Road along Station 2. It’s about 5 minutes by foot to D’Mall and 3 to Bulabog Beach. I really found the location convenient as it was easy to find food and marts nearby. Trikes were also easy to hail! Staffs were really friendly and helpful. Big shout out to the super nice Freida.
Honestly, just traveling and getting in Boracay took up almost a day (there was even some traffic along the tiny Boracay road!!!). So just like that my first day in Boracay was coming to an end. Had to go to sleep with a heavy heart not being able to walk to the beach… just yet.
Oh btw, it gets dark here pretty quickly, say around 5.30pm, and that upsets me every single time! It means lesser time marveling at the mesmerizing beach and lazying around being a beach bum.
Some of my fave shots from day 1:
Day 2 was welcomed with eagerness despite not getting much sleep, thanks to my ever present ‘best friend’, Insomnia. There was a bigger challenge for me to actually doze off as it turns out our room was just beside someplace with lots of Roosters! Ya ya, Roosters does what Roosters do right. So maybe light sleepers should stay away from rooms nearer to the reception or definitely put in those ear plugs.
I skipped breakfast provided by the hostel, waking up late around 10 and immediately got ready to hit the beach. I simply could not wait any longer. Within few minutes walk we were at D’Mall and we had to keep our focus to not wander to the shops but we did make a quick stop for brunch. We had a difficult time just to pick a restaurant as you are simply spoilt for choices. We settled for ‘Breakfast from around the World’. I decided that today would be the ‘be the lazy beach bum day’ and that’s exactly what me and my friend did.
The White Beach did not disappoint. There it was waiting to spellbound all beings. Chilled beer every now and then and some good feet message, surrounded by the stunningly captivating beach, pure bliss! Need I say more:
The only bummer is of course the crowd and constant disruption of being asked if you would buy this or do that but really if you can isolate yourself from all of that and come to understand how this is all the locals do for their livelihood, you do feel like you are in a beautiful masterpiece painting. I won’t lie, it was overwhelming when I first got into Boracay… all the crowd, noise and commercialization was at one point upsetting and deafening but Boracay’s charm slowly worked its magic and I really fell in love with it. I would definitely run back to its arms, make an exception to my policy of not wandering to the same place twice.
We then decided to stroll along the beach to the other Stations. We got our local snacks and some interesting souvenirs along the beach. We reluctantly welcomed the nightfall and decided to indulge on buffet seafood dinner. We realized that we didn’t enjoy it as much as others there. Soon, it was ‘massage time’ again and this time we went for a nice foot massage in a reasonably priced & nice spa. Massage lovers gotta love this island. Its just everywhere.
More strolling later we realized we were quite far away from our hostel, so we decided to take the rickshaw-like-cycle back, being the only mode of transportation allowed on the beach side, and it turned out to be really awesome. I really admired the strength and grit of these guys who work so hard for long hours.
Day 3 is the adventure day! We were all hyped for the must-do island hopping. Just remember that you won’t be getting into the bangka boats from a pier. You have to walk in to the sea a few meters before getting into the boat. So be prepared to get wet and a water proof bag is a must. You can easily get one there at the beach for as cheap as 100 peso. Also something I learnt is that do not agree to the touts along the beach for the island hopping charges without haggling as they tend to raise it high before finally slashing the price to the actual charges. I think the cheapest I came across was about 400 peso per person for the main 4 islands plus lunch. You will have to pay separate entrance fee to Crystal Cove island which is 200 peso per pax and of course there’s additional charges for snorkeling gears and there’s also entrance fee to Magic Island for the cliff jump. It was a great adventure except for a few minuses that me and my friend experienced. First off, the boat waits for all the seats to fill in and this can easily take between 1 to 2 hours. If you do not want to wait, its advisable to get a boat all to yourself or your group. The getting in the boat part is definitely not fun for many as I see screaming ladies and struggling men, yes men. Some of the guys from the boat tend to help and some just do nothing and watch and, I would add, somewhat amused with the struggles and challenges. I kid not, the struggle can be real for some. So please do go prepared for all this and you will be just fine.
First stop was at the serene and less crowded Yapak Beach at Puka Shell island. It only turns noisy once a island hopping group comes in. I really liked this gorgeous beach but we were only allowed 20 minutes here! Me and my friend decided to go for some fruit juice and rest on the beach seats with parasol. Then it was snorkeling time at the popular snorkeling spot adjacent to Crocodile Island. The operator allows around 45 minutes for snorkeling before we were brought for lunch. The snorkeling seems really splendid with the clear water. I didn’t do it but I saw many who truly enjoyed it. Following lunch, it was the private island, Crystal Cove, that was waiting for us. There’s a 200 peso entrance fee to be paid. This island offers a different feel and view to its visitors. It’s a high rocky island where the best attractions are the coves. One particular popular cove is accessible where you can go down a stairs to the waters and swim to a plank to enjoy the crystal clear blue water or opt for snorkeling. Other attraction is the mini gallery which consist of 3D paintings and optical illusions. This place needs a bad lift up though as some section is closed and others lack maintenance. There’s also restaurants here if you need some food and drinks after all the swimming and snorkeling. After about an hour here we went to Magic Island where you can do the cliff jumping. Not many people opted for this from the group I went with but we got to see others jumping off the cliff and having fun. So after nearly 5 hours, the exciting island hopping was coming to an end. It was truly a different kind of island hopping experience for me and I did have some good fun. I think in a scale of 5, I would give it a 2.5.
Some shots from the day:
It was a tiring day but that’s not going to stop us from continuing to enjoy the rest of the day. We quickly refreshed and got ready for another round out. After strolling around the beach, we went for a nice dinner at Obama Grill where I thoroughly enjoyed the food, the amazing service, the bedazzling beach surrounding with chilly winds and some good music with live solo performance. It was soon massage time again and we decided to go for full body massage at the same spa we went the night before.
Exhausted from the long day and aided by the relaxing body massage, I slept better than the night before but I was woken up around 4am with a strange noise that kept repeating. The room was pitch black. I got curious more than scared and ended up walking to the reception area with my phone light to find out what was happening. I was informed that there’s a typhoon happening that caused the black out on the entire island. I was quite worried thinking was there any alert made by the island authority and how bad is the typhoon but soon my worry was gone as I googled to discover that typhoons in Boracay is quite common. About an hour and half later, the electricity was back to my relieve.
Everything was just the same the next morning so I started to understand that the locals are used to this. I noted that the sea was rougher with the waves wilder than the day before so I was really thankful that we went for island hopping the day earlier. So with a note of gratitude, I started day 4 with a different agenda for the day. It was shopping day! We got into a trike to get to City Mall after breakfast and didn’t spend long there as there’s nothing much to see and do there. It’s a one story little shopping mall. We then made our way to E-mall which definitely offered the same things in D-mall at a cheaper price. Usually, my kinda shopping is the light shopping for souvenirs but I ended up spending more for myself buying some good accessories including pearls that islands of Philippines are famous for. We only stopped for tea-time where we tried some local snacks like the Bitchakoy and Banana-Q. After some good hours of shopping it was soon dark again and we decided to get back to keep our things and get out again for massage. I never get tired of massage! Since it was our last night in Boracay, how can we miss the clubbing experience! My masseur, Gilbert, strongly recommended Club Paraw and we were immediately content with his choice upon getting in the club. Since we went just in time before the happy hours were over, we placed our orders quickly and settled down to the ambiance. This has to be the best clubbing and drinking experience for me, I must admit. Why not with the good music selection by the DJ, affordable drinks, happy hours, relaxing ambiance and most importantly, facing God’s masterpiece creation. The chilly strong winds brought the satisfaction a notch higher without a doubt. The near to empty club was soon crowded with a huge pub-crawling young group. They left in an hour or so after rocking the dance floor. Me and my friend left shortly after and was thankful to find motorcycles waiting outside to drop club-goers back at the place.
My last day in Boracay came too soon and I was having some serious denial issues. Denial of the reality of an amazing wanderlusting coming to an end and the burden of thinking of getting back to the daily routine life. With a heavy heart I got ready to leave in the pre-booked transportation arranged by MyBoracayGuide. Soon we were back at the jetty and boarded the bus to the airport. At the airport we were fairly annoyed to find out that we still had to pay the airport terminal fees of 700 peso per person. Many tourists are unaware of this and it was evident with some voicing out their dissatisfaction at the counter while paying for it.
Bye bye Boracay!
So just like that another enthralling vacation came to an end but as always, the wanderlust never ends!