Boracay in a Day!
Fun in the Sun – Philippines Style
We’ve arrived at the Philippines’ island of Boracay aboard the cruise ship Celebrity Constellation for a one day visit, so what can you do in a day?
We’d looked at the website Tourism Boracay to get some clues and were a bit taken aback with some of the extravagant claims. Butterfly shaped island? Not any butterfly I’ve ever encountered, talcum fine beach, well no, and the claim that White Beach is the “finest beach in the world.” It turns out the White Beach is indeed a very nice beach but we’ve seen better. The person who wrote the copy for the official website either needs to “get out more” or tone down the hyperbole.
It was interesting watching commercial flights landing and taking off from Kalibo Airport on the island just over from the port. This is the way most people arrive at Boracay, accessing the island via water taxi.
We were taken ashore via tender boat, only a very short trip and received a wonderful greeting with each passenger receiving a shell on a lanyard to welcome them to the island as well as a bespoke sign just for the Constellation. Well done guys, nice start.
Get through the “Killing Zone”
We moved past the numerous locals offering rides on the predominate form of transport which is basically a motorcycle with a large enclosed sidecar and past the “Killing Zone” which is where we assume they shoot any smokers. We had landed without any US dollars or the local Peso’s and were told at the 7 Eleven that the closest ATM was at White Beach. We prefer to walk anyway believing that you get to see a lot more of the local culture when you do, so we began the 30-minute trek to White Beach.
The backstreets of Boracay are full of shanties and motorcycle repair shops but the people seemed happy and very friendly. White Beach is indeed a very nice beach, fronted by resorts, cafe’s, souvenir shops and happily for me some ATM’s. The water along the beach was covered in algae or seaweed and we were told this happens at this time of year, but once you got through that the water looked very clear and inviting.
“New level of Relaxation”
As we walked along the promenade, we were approached by several touts selling everything from parasailing to massages but they weren’t too bothersome. One of the touts asked if we would like to take a trip on one of the outrigger type sailing canoes that were abundant along the beach. Well it was hot, we were sweaty after our walk and some time on and in the water sounded like a great idea so the negotiations began. He started at 1,200 Peso, we countered with 500 and eventually settled on 700 (US $14) for the both of us to go sailing for two hours including a 20-minute swim on a reef about 400 metres off the beach. This is a must do experience and Lea made the point that she had reached a new level of relaxation.
Back at the beach and time for lunch. Plenty of places to choose from, but we decided on the cafe outside Casa Pilar Beach Resort overlooking the beach. Average meals here were 250 Peso (US $5) and were very generous servings, certainly enough for Lea and I to share a main and be very satisfied.
We chatted to some Norwegian backpackers staying at Casa Pilar which has a range of accommodation options. Their tip – get a room with air-conditioning, it’s worth the extra expense.
We Will Return!
We wandered along the promenade visiting a couple of boutiques and being tempted by the idea of a massage on the beach, before deciding it was time to return to the ship. We just had to try out the local transport though, so jumped into a three wheeled motorised contraption and held on for dear life.
We’ve heard the criticism, yes Boracay Island is over populated, over commercialised, the sort of place you would have loved to discovered 20 years ago, but we loved it. The people are friendly, it’s very affordable, it does make you stop and relax, and it’s gone onto the list of places we would love to re-visit for a longer stay.
Closest airport Kalibo with flights daily.
Currency Philippine Peso but US Dollars also accepted.
Cost of transport from port to White Beach US $2
Wide range of accommodation options for example Casa Pilar Beach Resort, Deluxe Air-conditioned room in peak season (November 16 – June 15) 4,000 Peso’s (US $80) per night including breakfast.