“Waking up on an island and discovering the beach is a four-minute walk from the front door, really does feel like paradise!”
A swimsuit, shorts and a few T-shirts: the essential items for the island of Boracay, Philippines. Deciding on a whim that a vacation was in order, I found myself on a flight with not much more than a passport and a longing for the beach. Leaving the hair straightener at home was a tough choice but it paid off – my camera joined the pile instead. A flight delay in Manila due to heavy rains kept us grounded for a few extra hours. This seems to be quite normal; never expect anything in the Philippines to happen in a hurry or on time. Landing at Kalibo Airport well after midnight, it was time to sort out the next leg of the journey. There’s a hustle and bustle outside, everyone is keen to help and take you where they think you need to be. This can be confusing, especially if, like me, you are somewhat directionally-challenged. Fortunately, the resort had recommended a reputable company to steer me in the right direction and get me safely to my chosen spot.
Waking up on an island and discovering the beach is a four-minute walk from the front door, really does feel like paradise! Since I was traveling on my own, grabbing breakfast and meeting some fellow travelers was in order. There’s a wide choice of food as most Philippino menus offer local as well as Western cuisine (and the plentiful street stalls are great for a snack on the run).
I met a group of people from all over the world on a boat tour together for the day. Our chosen destination (from the listed options on the activity board at the resort) was Carabao Island, an hour and a half off-shore, and one of the “musts” of Boracay. Sunglasses were gathered, towels, hats and swimsuits scooped up and we were away. Sitting on the top of the boat with drinks (rum and coke is popular here) everyone had a great time. Jumping off the boat for frequent swims, singing along with the local music man who joined us for the day, napping on the loungers in the sun: life is hard! Heading back at sunset in high spirits, sunburnt and relaxed, we all felt as if we’d had a worthwhile day.
Day two brought more sunshine and a wander around town with a few friends from the resort. Souvenirs, lunch and cocktails can all be enjoyed along the beachfront, and we were soon settled down with a cold drink and a magical view of the clear blue water. There was ample time for swimming, reading, soaking up much-needed vitamin D and napping – the island lifestyle comes highly recommended. Ariel’s Point is a famous adventure spot, with good reason. The main attraction is cliff-jumping: these are set in levels so you can decide exactly how daring you’d like to be. The highest jump is 15 meters and is not for the faint-hearted. Aside from the cliffs there’s also a cave or two worth exploring as well as kayaks for some time of the water. The Point is another of the “musts” of Boracay, it’s a fun-filled day and totally worth it.
Boracay has a lively party scene and almost all of the resorts have bars where visitors tend to start their evening (or their day!). Later, tourists wander along the beachfront and find a place suited to their mood and style. We found ourselves at Exit Bar, with good music and a good atmosphere. They specialize in large groups so it was a winner for us, but there’s a wide choice. The Boracay Pub Crawl is one of the most popular evening events for the more outgoing, and a great way to meet new people. The evening includes socializing, bar hopping and in our case, rain. We didn’t let this dampen our spirits, after all we had chosen to visit in the typhoon season of July/August (the most popular time to visit the Philippines is from November to April).
There were many activities I didn’t have time to do, such as water paragliding and a trip down to Puka Beach. Those are definitely on my list for next time – more “musts”! The rest of my trip passed in a haze of beaches, swimming, slight sunburn and happy memories. The island really is made for adrenaline junkies as well as beach enthusiasts. I loved the Philippines and will be returning next month to see what Cebu has to offer. Watch this space!