Saturday, April 25, 2009

Boracay! Finally!

After going on trips to high-altitude areas, I promised Cay we would go to a beach, her preferred vacation spot. And also, there was the matter of my birthday gift for her, the first one I will be giving as a husband.

I had a bit of a budget to work with, so I decided we would go on a vacation to none other than the island that has the best beaches in the world, Boracay.

It's easy enough to get to Boracay. Most of the big local airlines travel to either Caticlan Airport, an airport located just beside the jetty port where one can take a motorized banca to the island, or Kalibo Airport, where one can take a bus to travel to the jetty port (travel is about a little over an hour). In my case, the cheapskate in me prevailed and I booked ZestAir flights, the least expensive local airline. I booked flights to Caticlan going there and flights to Kalibo going back to Manila, I thought I'd enjoy the bus ride and see the sights traveling through the province of Aklan. The trip to Caticlan was uncomfortable as we had to ride on propeller planes, the only kind of aircraft the airport there can handle, that reminded me of local jeepneys that would shake, rattle, and hum as it went. Thankfully, Kalibo Airport can handle the normal commercial airline jets.

Once we arrived in Station 1 of White Beach, where our resort was located, we couldn't believe our eyes. The beach was so beautiful, and the weather was sunnily perfect. Boracay was paradise on Earth. If I wasn't a believer of this place before, I saw the light then and there. And I couldn't wait to dive into the beach.

Walking around the beach, there was so much stuff one can do. Trying the food in the restaurants by the beach was priority one for us. There was also beach volleyball, frisbees, and sand sculpting to try. Also, try going to Willy's Rock for good picture opportunities.

Cay and I trekked to Diniwid Beach to try the waters there. The walk itself was rewarding, given the nice sights one will see in passing.

White Beach is located in the western side of the island and offers a stunning view of the sunset. Watching the sun set on Boracay is a must experience. It can be both spiritual and romantic.

We stayed at Jony's Resort, one of the oldest family-owned resorts in the island. The price was very reasonable while the facilities and services were excellent. The staff made sure you were well taken care of and they provided very useful local knowledge. Also, their restaurant served great Mexican food and the island's best fruit shakes. I had fruit shakes there everyday day of our stay while Cay had breakfast burrito every morning.

The street food being sold by the beach was really good. I couldn't have my fill of the Chori Burger (Chorizo) and the Longa Burger (Longaniza). As for the restaurants, there was a great variety of cuisine to choose from. There were Italian, Mexican, Spanish, and Greek restaurants, along with the fast food joints, coffee houses, and pizza places. And prices here won't really bleed your wallet dry at all.

D'Mall is one of the places where a lot of the eating establishments and souvenir stores are located. You can also try activities here like wall climbing, free throw shooting, and the ferris wheel.

In the mornings, Cay and I would walk through all three boat stations in White Beach as a form of exercise/ sightseeing. It's kind of nice just watching people go about their business and the boats come and go. One can also watch those who are going on banana boat rides and parasailing. Maybe I'll try those sometime.

We decided to go on a boat tour around the island. I learned that Allan Fun Tours had a good program that was relatively inexpensive. We tried it out and it turned out to be a wise decision on our part. The whole activity lasted about 6 hours.

First up was snorkeling. We went to a spot just off the coast of White Beach. I've never tried snorkeling so far off the beach, and man, the experience was fantastic. Just swimming around with schools of fishes beside me was awesome.

Next up was a visit to Crystal Cove Island, a private island near Boracay. This place had a good view of the surrounding islands and had two caves leading out from the island where people can swim in clear blue waters.

Part of the package was a lunch buffet in Tambisaan Beach. The food was okay. And after eating, Cay and I walked around the beach. The boat then departed again for another snorkeling site that was near the beach.

When the boat docked on the last stop, Puka Beach, I found the best beach I've ever seen. The water was crystal clear and it was very tranquil. Another great factor was that there were only a few people swimming there. If I knew beforehand how wonderful this place is, I would've headed to it as soon as I got to the island. I practically stayed in the water until it was time for the boat to leave.

The ride back to our station was exhilarating, as the scorching sun beat on our skin and the sea water splashed on us all throughout.

Our entire stay in Boracay was a magnificent experience. I've always heard about how great Boracay was, but this place has to be experienced personally for one to fully understand how it leaves visitors in awe. Now I truly understand why people from all over the world come here over and over again.

And in a way, this trip is also important to me in terms of my job. I meet people from different parts of the world, and I have to do my part in promoting tourism in the Philippines, among other things. I know personally that Boracay always comes up when the discussion focuses on the best places that foreigners can go to in the country. Now I can speak from experience about the wonder of this place.

How wonderful is this place? As Cay and I were about to leave the island, the main thought running through our minds was "So, when will we come back here?"

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