This one's a pretty late post. I am attempting to catch up on writing about our trips. I feel like I'm racing against the next trip that we have ahead. It's not so easy, but I know it can be done.
So this trip happened on February 2010. We wanted to create a sort of a top ten thing for Boracay. Others might argue that there are better things to do in the island. But the following are based on what we actually tried and enjoyed - our own experiences, and are laid out in no particular order.
One last thing, pardon me in advance if I have outdated info. After all, this trip is 3 years old. Here goes...
1. Le Soleil de Boracay
Unless you're following a very strict and tight budget, book a room at the beachfront. There are several places to stay at in Boracay near the road which would offer a much lower price. But the experience of waking up ten steps away from the beach, and sipping warm coffee while listening to the morning waves is well worth the extra bucks you will spend if you go beachfront. Our choice was the Le Soleil at Station 2. Good breakfast that varies everyday, welcome drinks and necklaces, and perfect kingsize beds. There's also a dipping pool too in case the beach is getting old. Although I doubt that it would.
This place goes by the name of Sutukil in Cebu and Dampa in Manila. If you have been to those places, then this would be familiar. The concept is simple. Buy your preferred fresh seafood from the mini-market, then have them cooked at the restaurant across. They will take care of all the other ingredients. The market and the restaurant can might as well combine their businesses and just let the customer pick from a menu like all typical restaurants. But the whole point of the hassle for the customer is the experience. Just think of it as one of those cooking class tourist traps. You pay to cook your own food. Sounds slightly ridiculous, but people like it.
3. Watch the Nightlife...
...instead of joining it. Okay, before you put in that violent comment, let me explain. This is not just for people who dislike nightlife, but also for those nocturnals who have grown slightly tired of it. Now I'm not saying that I have. But on this particular trip we chose to skip the nightlife. Instead, we got ourselves a sweet spot on the beach, sat there and observed the bright lights and loud house music from afar. I wouldn't regret doing this because something funny happened on the beach that night, and it is now an inside joke between the wife and I.
4. Eat Foreign Food, Part 1 - Olé Restaurant
There are a lot of tourists in Boracay from all over the world. It is also home to many expats. Given that, several food establishments in the island offer cuisine from all over the world. The perfect cure for the homesick tourist, and the perfect lure for the hungry foodie. Olé serves Spanish, Mexican, and Cuban food as advertised in their logo. The Philippines was once a Spanish colony, making Pinoys capable of cooking fairly decent Spanish dishes. Top that with the abundance of seafood in the island, and you got yourself an almost authentic paella experience.
5. Hit the (Hidden) Beach
Okay, I have to admit it. There is one thing about Boracay that I don't like. It gets too congested. Yes, it has the finest sand and vast shores, but the amount of tourists who stay there leaves you with almost no space in the beach to lie down and have some me-time. Thankfully, there's Puka beach. Ask a local tricycle driver to take you there instead of falling for those expensive island hopping tours. Puka beach is in the same island and, with good negotiating techniques, you would only need around a hundred Pesos (~2.50 USD) per way to book a tricycle going there. The sand is not as fine as what you can get at the famous white beach, but the solace that this beach offers is incomparable.
6. See the Island From Another Perspective
Now this may cost you but trust me, it will be worth it. Go para-sailing in Boracay and see the island from an entirely different perspective. 3,000PHP (~70USD) for a fifteen-minute ride for two might sound a little expensive, but seeing the island from the skies is breath-taking! Tip: find someone who can book it for you on a package to save some money. Ours came with a buggy ride (self-driven) and a tour of the island.
7. See the Island From Another Perspective, One More Time
That buggy ride gave us a chance to see other places within the island. One thing that I particularly liked is being able to reach the highest point of Boracay, which is Mt. Luho. After the drive and the short hike, the view from the top is relaxing. Although, since we did this activity in the middle of the day, it sure made us hungry. Good thing lunch time is just around the corner.
8. Eat Foreign Food Part 2 - True Food
I'm no Indian food expert (yet). And, unlike Spanish food, Pinoys do not have enough good background on Indian cuisine. But I have to say, the food pictured above is delicious. The lamb stew served with couscous is succulent, and without the strong aftertaste of lamb. And, that deep red chicken right there is not a Pinoy barbecue smothered in ketchup. It's actually tandoori chicken, and it's pretty good as well. To top it off, the beachfront setting makes the whole experience exceptional.
9. Jonah's Fruitshake and Chorizo Sandwiches
This is the perfect snack after a long day at the beach. Jonah's offers not just typical fruit shakes, but also special blends and alcoholic shakes. After a sweaty day under the sun, it is perfect for quenching your thirst. Order it take out and you will not get it in the usual styro tumbler, but instead in a recycled water bottle. Talk about environment-friendly! Whatever shake you pick, make sure to order a chorizo sandwich at the stall just outside Jonah's.
10. Eat Pizza at the "Outskirts" of White Beach
The 4-kilometer White Beach of Boracay is known for its three stations. Station 3 for the budget travelers, Station 1 for the high-end vacationers, and Station 2 for the mid-range. Walk down beyond Station 3, and you will start seeing less hotels and bars, and more local residents. My wife and I call the area the unofficial Station 4. Don't think that there is nothing to see at this point and decide to walk back. Tucked in this secluded place is Floremar. The restaurant is owned by an Italian expat married to a Filipina. They serve delicious Italian dishes at a lower price compared to the restaurants on the 3 stations. We had Anchovy Pizza, Gnocchi, Risotto, and Veal. We only salvaged one good picture, because it was a candle-lit dinner. But I'm not complaining because it was the perfect romantic close to our trip.
Hay, Boracay. We miss you badly. It's been three years and I don't think we will see each other soon. There are more destinations in our bucket list. But I'm happy that the first (hopefully not last) time we stayed there was very memorable. Some things might have already changed by now. Some of those places might have already foreclosed. But whatever happens, I'm sure you will be just as enjoyable. 'Til we meet again