I hated the beach. I despised the sun, the rosy tan that would later turn into dirty brown, the icky feeling of the saltwater on my skin and the viscid sunblock on my face.
All these changed in 2008, when I first set foot in Boracay. It was love at first sight. I couldn’t take my eyes off the kaleidoscopic sunset, which enveloped the colorful sailboats on the tranquil sea. Cathartic. My feet found home in the soft and very fine white sand. That moment I vowed to come back every year. And I make sure I do, no matter what.
The majestic Boracay Island is located in Aklan, Western Visayas. White Beach, the main tourism beach in the island, is about four kilometers long and has many resorts, bars, restaurants, and shops. One can easily enjoy the best things in life: good food, beer or some cocktails after taking a dip in the clear turquoise water. Any vacationer can’t help but fall madly in love with the breezy lifestyle.
Things To Do in Boracay:
When I’m in Boracay, I could just sit all day and admire the breathtaking panorama from the beach lounge. I can let hours pass by, and not fret about it.
With no care in the world, I’d forget about my daily stressors and come to this paradise once or twice each year so I could lie on the white and oh so powdery sand, bask under the sun, read a good book, laugh with my friends about the most senseless things, take a dip on the crystalline waters and watch the breathtaking sunset with a happy hour cocktail or an ice-cold San Mig Light in hand.
One might easily think that Boracay has ultraexpensive food and accommodation since the island is a top tourist destination in the country, but you’d be surprised to know that there are plenty of affordable resorts and restaurants.
And please! For goodness sake, drop the diet and enjoy a gastronomic vacation. You stressed yourself for months to have those chiseled abs. Now its time to relax and taste the delectable food the island has to offer. Many travelers from all over the world have come to Boracay, were mesmerized by the island’s beauty, settled and opened resorts and restaurants featuring their respective cuisines. This explains the wide range of flavors that would please any discriminating palate.
I’d always look forward to the nightly beachfront buffets, oblivious of my calorie-intake which I am always wary about prior to a trip. After a long day of swimming, snorkeling and island hopping, who wouldn’t want to dine like an aristocrat? Most resorts offer reasonably priced buffets for as low as Php 250 and have plenty of freshly-cooked dishes to choose from.
One good buffet I had was in La Carmela de Boracay. The mouthwatering menu includes grilled seafoods, chicken and pork barbeque, beef dishes, desserts and a Mongolian section, for only Php 270++, inclusive of the refillable iced tea. The candlelit setup by the beach is perfect for the sumptuous meal. The food attendants are also pleasant. Satisfactory.
If you don’t mind spending a few extra hundreds for a more upscale buffet experience, you may want to try Astoria. The items on the table include a wide variety of salads, pasta, bread and pastries, kebabs, pork and chicken barbeque, grilled seafoods and refillable drinks. I particularly loved the barbeque. It is grilled right before your eyes so you can sink your teeth on a smoking piece of flavorful meat. Whether devouring the scrumptious meal or chilling over a few bottles of beer, diners can always enjoy the live band and the astounding firedance performances. The meal is around Php500++, not bad considering the better ambience and wider selection of food.
If you’ve had enough of the nightly buffets, try heading to D’Talipapa. “Talipapa” means small wet market. There, you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables, seafoods and meat and have the restaurants in the marketplace cook them for you at a minimal charge.
If you are carnivorous like me, then you’ll be delighted at the beer-and-ribs-all-you-can every Friday at Nigi Nigi Noo Noo for only Php 680. Not bad! A slab of ribs ala carte would cost the same in other restaurants, or even more. The ice-cold beer is just perfect to wash down the tender, fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs, which are basted with sweet barbeque sauce. The distinctive aroma of these ribs is enough to make you go ravenous, so wear something dark, because it can get messy.
The fresh and wood fire brick-oven pizza in Don Vito Ristorante Italiano would make a superb lunch. Unlike the popular fastfood pizzas, theirs has a subtle taste, has evidently high quality ingredients, is less oily and yummy. The pastas are comforting and friendly to a Filipino tongue. On a hot day, their gelato would make a grand finale to a hearty meal. So if you’re up for some carbo-loading, you now know where to go.
Many vacationers say that you haven’t truly experienced Boracay unless you have tried Jonah’s Fruitshakes, the best shakes in the island. Their bestseller and my favorite is the Choco-Banana-Peanut Shake. It is thick, rich and creamy. It’s just so good you’ll come back for more. No wonder the place is always packed.
3.) Party All Night
Gastronomy and revelry in paradise. Seriously, what else is better than this? At night, the tranquil beach metamorphoses into one big party. Colorful. Vibrant. Everything just lights up with amazing vibes. The good thing about this, you can dance all night barefoot and half-naked, with no care in the world.
Boracay has plenty of bars, pubs and dance clubs that would suit your partying mood. The parties can start as early as 5 in the afternoon, when you can enjoy happy hour cocktails in the beach lounges and pool bars. After sunset, prepare to be enthralled by the firedancer’s performances.
Reggae is synonymous with the beach, and you can enjoy some at the Bom Bom and Pat’s Creek over a few bottles of beer. What a perfect way to chillax. Ahhh, life! And if you’re in the mood for Rn’B and electronic music, some serious dancing and hobnobbing, then Juice Bar is your place. For me, they serve the perfect frozen margaritas. Sweet, innocent but can be quite deadly after a few glasses. If you’re up for some sophisticated unwinding, you can sip wine at Cork. I love the cozy ambience of this place, a perfect hangout for friends who take pleasure in a bottle or two of good wine and meaningful conversations.
You can also enjoy vibrant live music on the beach and on special occasions, fireworks. No matter what kind of music or unwinding you prefer, there’s always a great place for you to chill out.
On the 19th of May 2012, my friends and I experienced the best party of our lives. It was Blue Leaf Events Pavilion’s 4th anniversary sunset party dubbed as SOAKED. Not one of the hundreds of party animals left dry. True to its theme, everyone was showered, sprinkled and drenched with beer and champagne. Drinks were lavish and people were insanely dancing. Wet, wild and crazy, exactly my definition of a party. The party gods must have led us there since we were already heading back to our hotel when we passed by the shindig, so we decided to crash. Now, my friends and I are always looking forward to this hopefully annual event.
And did you know that Boracay has just eclipsed Ibiza in Spain and South Beach in Miami, Florida in a list of top party beaches? That’s right, it just did, according to the travel website Cheapflights.com and this was published on Huffington Post in August.
4.) Paraw Sail. Parasail. Go Island Hopping. Snorkle.
Sail on a Paraw or the native outrigger sailboat and enjoy the tranquility of the sea under the breathtaking sunset. Catharsis. It is poetry brought to life. A very special experience. I tell you, your Boracay vacation wouldn’t be complete without this.
If you don’t mind spending a few thousands for the cruise packages, then go ahead. Just imagine having the best view of the splendid sunset on a cruise ship while enjoying some wine and tapas or refillable beer. The experience is priceless.
Boracay is more than just a beach destination. There’s so much more around the island for your eyes and soul to feast on. Your resort can arrange a scenic and relaxing tour for you to discover some secluded beaches, coves and snorkel sites where you can go fish feeding. There are 12 beaches in Boracay. I haven’t been to all of them yet, but one that marked a spot in my soul is the Puka Shell Beach. This is an undeveloped, serene and beautiful white-sand beach in the northern part of White Beach. Just you, the sun, the azure water, the sound of the gentle waves and the puka shells on the sand. You won’t find resorts and establishments here. No water sports as well. Simplicity, peace and exquisite bliss.
Another activity that I have tried as well is the parasailing. If your knees easily tremble when you’re on top of a tall building, then this is a good challenge for you. I did this back in 2009. First I was harnessed to a parachute, then lifted to the air while being pulled by a speedboat. The first few seconds were just terrifying I almost peed in my pants, but once I was above the deep blue sea, I felt good, liberated, detached from all the worries in the world. Like what a friend always tells me, “Life is short, conquer your fears“.
Have you forgotten your thong at home? Did you not bring an extra swimwear so you’d have a variety of swimming attire in your hundreds of photos? Worry not, my camwhore friend! You’d find everything in D’Mall, a one-stop shopping place for anything you need. Clothes, vacation essentials, fastfood, travel agencies, optical and dental clinic, ATM, spa…everything.
When you are in Boracay, don’t forget to shop for souvenirs for your family and friends back home. There are plenty of vendors peddling pearls, miniature boats and sculptures. Some items are unbelievably cheap, especially if you shop at D’Talipapa. You can buy Boracay shirts on a buy one take one bargain. Refrigerator magnets and keychains can go as low as php 100 for 7 pieces. There are plenty of souvenir items to choose from, just go around and you’d find something nice to take home.
6.) Get a massage by the beach
What better way to conclude your grand vacation than a soothing beachside massage, while listening to the gentle waves slapping the white sandy shore. There are many licensed masseuses who would offer their services right on the sand for as low as Php 300. You’ll see plenty of massage tables lining the beach under the coconut trees so it is not hard to find these ladies. Make sure to approach only those who have their official badges.
7.) Respect this masterpiece of nature
Shame on you if you kill and bury your cigarette butts in the fine white sand, you do not have a place in this tropical paradise. Shame on you if you cant walk to the nearest trash bin, which can be located practically everywhere, to dispose your food wrappers. It is very frustrating to sometimes step on a soda can, a plastic bag or even a beer bottle in the crystalline waters. Good thing the local government has now a strict campaign that prohibits littering and smoking on the beaches of the island. There are still plenty of offenders though, especially when the authorities aren’t watching.
Sadly, Boracay has been experiencing few other environmental problems as well, like the fast deterioration of the coral reefs. I witnessed this when I had my fun dive in 2010. There were plenty of dull and lifeless corals on the seabed. Recently, the government has come up with a Php 60million artificial reef project to rehabilitate the island’s reefs.
According to locals, Boracay now is just half the beauty it was years ago, no thanks to the blatant extraction of the white sand in the island. The local government has implemented an ordinance, which bans visitors from collecting white sand, corals and pebbles from the island’s beaches. They have now imposed stricter penalties: Php 2500 or imprisonment for three months, or both for first time offenders, and three to six months of imprisonment for second-time offenders. Violators would also have to return the sand and pebbles to the beaches where they were taken.