It has always been my dream to go to Boracay. Tell me, who wouldn’t want to go to the most talked about & the most popular island in the Philippines, and in the world? Yes, 2016’s Conde Nast Readers Choice Award holder followed by Palawan (topping my next summer bucket list). So what’s with Boracay, I have to find out.
The perfect time to visit the island in June, my birthday month plus its low season. Thus a month before, we booked our ticket to Boracay from Dumaguete via Cebu through Cebu Pacific. We were able to avail a one-way promo fare (the return ticket was extremely high at P5k something) and decided we’ll travel by land going home instead.
It was supposed to be just a family trip, me, hubby, and son but our family friends have hitched on thus we became a group of 6. Husband and I initially wanted to travel like backpackers and just look for a room with a fan or any cheap accommodation once we reach the island like we usually do when we travel, but our companions wanted us to book a hotel ahead so we can save time and rest straight from the airport. So we agreed, though it was really out of my plan as I really do not care about it as we are not into staycation but a vacation; thus what we really need is just a place to leave our stuff and a good bed to sleep. Suggestion – do not book a hotel ahead as there’s plenty of cheap accommodations in the island that you could choose from, & most importantly, personally check. Yes, it really does matter, unless you are booking in 4-5 star hotels whose facilities you are really sure of. Take our experience, for example, we book at this hotel which I will not name, which we solely based our decision on their enticing website pics and details for P3600 for 3D2N stay plus their promise of a beachfront access at Station 3. Only to find out when we arrived that they have an issue with the neighboring resort thus denying their customers access to the beach and this started like 6 months ago. So why not update their website rather than misled us? It was an old two-stories building, yes and there’s a bit of an old wooden smell in their rooms which I hated even a perfume in the air won’t remove. I mean, I don’t really mind if the room is small or has no tv or air con as long as it looks and SMELLS clean. Well other than that, the hotel’s fine. It’s old but maintained, especially their huge green lawn. The staffs are nice and helpful. And what I love most is it’s peaceful and quiet. Here’s a view of our room opposite the pool.
So let me tell you about our arrival in Boracay. We boarded a small plane from Mactan International Airport and arrived in Caticlan Airport after an hour. The passengers were mostly first-timers. What’s funny was, when we landed, the plane has to move again towards the other side of the airport and we thought we’ll have to fly back. Then, we have to board a shuttle bus to go back to the same place where we landed. It was really confusing but I guess that’s just how their airport was built. We then exited the airport and looked for a tricycle to bring us to Caticlan jetty port for PHP40. Paid PHP100 terminal fee and PHP75 environmental fee and a boat ticket to Boracay island for PHP25 (kids 5 years and below are free).
Reached the island via Tambisaan Jetty port and paid PHP100/- for a tricycle ride to our hotel in Station 3. Why Station 3? Because it’s far from the crowd, the most laid-back area. We didn’t waste time. After checking in the hotel, we just left our stuff and went out to buy food and toiletries for the rest of our stay. Fortunately, our hotel has a grilling area and there’s a wet market nearby so we had grilled fish and pork for dinner. A dinner feast half the price at D’Talipapa, and we still got left-over for breakfast. 😉 Right after dinner, off we went to Station 2. Strolled at D’mall straight to the beachside.
I was amazed by this island’s nightlife. You will never get bored here. Food, booze, party, name it, they have it. There’s a lot of establishment to choose from. We chose Bombom Bar to spend our night away. The ambiance’s chill and casual and the musicians have great music taste. Prices are reasonable and we got to do hookah like we’re in Dubai. A perfect way to end the night and welcome my 32nd.
On our 2nd day, we got to discover the natural side of Boracay. One of its popular beaches is the White Beach, which covers all stations. But the one at Station 3 is the cleanest and less crowded. You can enjoy the beach quietly.
We were approached by local agents for their water activities such as parasailing, helmet diving, banana boating, fly fishing, and island hopping. We opted to island hop. We were able to negotiate the price to PHP2500 (5 adults, 1 kid).
First stop, snorkeling at Tambisaan Beach. Paid PHP150 for a clean snorkeling gear which I and hubby shared (there’s actually a free gear but they discouraged you to use it as it was used by previous snorkelers) and a pack of bread to feed the fishes.
It’s my first time snorkeling, and swimming with the fishes was so satisfying, even just for 30 minutes. I would have spent more time if the tour has no time limit. We only got 5 hours and we have to make the most out of it. Unfortunately, while I was about to get my son out of the water back into the boat, my wedding ring slipped off my finger. Tried to search for it to no avail. It must be in one of the corals. I was so upset til this day. I’m still not used to not having a ring on my finger. I actually lost it 4 times, twice in a rice cooker (first, saw it while the rice is about to dry up and second, really did not expect it was in the rice cooker, have it not got mixed with the left-over rice I was about to eat, lol). But it gets back to me in one way or another. But this time, I don’t think so, even if we’ll get back to Boracay. Sigh.
Next stop, Crocodile Island, which resembles a crocodile head, thus the name. It’s also known as a great snorkeling spot but since we already had one earlier so we moved to the next spot – TheMagic Island, where you can go cliff diving for PHP150. Thanks but no thanks, I can go cliff diving elsewhere for free (like I will again after my near-death cliff diving experience at Camotes in 2009 – panic attack induced). Next is Crystal Cove – nothing fancy about it when we stopped thus we proceeded to the next place.
Then there’s Ilig-Iligan beach where the bat caves are. You can even see bats hanging in the trees while passing by.
And finally, Puka Beach!! The water’s crystal clear and sand’s so white. To be honest, since my bad experience at Camotes as mentioned above, I rarely swim on the beach. Last time I think was when I was at Jumeirah public beach in Dubai (Dubai’s blessed with white sand beaches and even public beaches are well maintained, I miss Dxb, sigh). But the moment the boat stopped at the island, I swam like a kid. The water’s just enticing.
We had our lunch at Puka Grande consists of fried chicken wings and sinigang na hipon. Boy, their food was expensive but we’re there already, lol.
After the tour, we went back to the hotel for a quick nap. At 4pm, we made our way again to Station 2 for a sunset view. They said it is one of the best and most romantic places to watch the sunset. And they were right.
To cap off the day, we had our massage. Their massages range from PHP200-PHP700. Sweddish massage is at PHP500.
And splurged for dinner on our last day on the island.
Souvenirs purchased were keychains – 5 for PHP100, ref magnets – 3 for PHP150 and shirts at PHP180 each.
Our last day was spent packing. Since we will be traveling back by land, we left the island at 10 am. Once at Caticlan port, we decided to ride a van to Iloilo instead of a Ceres bus. Not much fare difference (van’s at PHP400/person) and it’s faster than the bus with 2 stops only. Normally, the van stops at SM Iloilo but with an extra PHP50/head, the driver brought us straight to Iloilo port. We reached past 4 pm and managed to catch Weesam Express’ last trip to Bacolod at 5:15 pm. See their rates and schedule here.
We reached Bacolod past 7 pm and proceeded immediately to the Ceres Bus Terminal to catch our trip back to Dumaguete. Fare’s at PHP280/head.
It was a tiring yet memorable trip for me and for us as a family. Boracay has lived up to my expectations. I cannot say it’s the best island in the Philippines for me though, maybe because it’s highly commercialized. It’s like a home not away from home because despite being far from the cities, you can still feel the vibes and enjoy the comfort a city can offer. I think Boracay’s not for me, it’s for the millennials out there. I still prefer the simple island vibes, laid back, less crowded, limited to no wifi. But it’s still beautiful, and worthy to be on the list.
Will I come back to Boracay? Maybe yes, but not in the near future. The Philippines has many islands to explore. Unless someone finds my wedding ring, I’ll be there in a heartbeat.