After NCCL and PGF Summer Assembly in Quezon City, some of us headed over to Boracay to catch some sun and sea. I can safely say that I haven’t had such an enjoyable beach holiday in AGES.
I didn’t take as many pictures as I wish I could have because there’s no one to look after your belongings when you’re floundering in the ocean. After the first day or two, we chanced bringing our phones out, but we only really brought our cameras with us when we went to Ariel’s point.
I can’t say the food is any better than in Quezon/Manila, the lack of selection is one of the few things about the trip that was unenjoyable.
Some quick tips before I begin, if you’re planning to visit Boracay –
1. Don’t bother with the other beaches other than white beach. Puka shell beach has coarse sand and strong currents, the boats also pass by very near. So it’s not suitable for paddling and floating around.
2. To enjoy white beach best, get a beach side apartment. But expect it to be noisy because all the partying happens there. At night.
3. Make sure your connecting flight is a LARGE number of hours after the landing time. Our flight from Boracay to Manila was delayed by about 2 hours.
4. Make sure you’re prepared to tip the porters on the boat, OR just don’t hand over your bags to them.
5. Don’t bring a suitcase, if possible. Best would be a backpacker’s bag. Also, we practically lived in our swim wear all day. So pack light!
Our flight tickets from Manila NAIA to Caticlan. We booked a later flight, but the counter allowed us to change it for a flight that was an hour earlier. Which was absolutely fantastic, cos that meant we didn’t need to hang around NAIA longer than we had to. Philippines Airlines also has check-in baggage included in the ticket price. We would have taken Cebu Pacific, but this was somehow cheaper. Look out for promo fares on Cebu Pacific though, I’ve heard they can go as low as 99Pesos.
The little propeller plane! This is your ticket to happiness and sunshine.
Trotting to the terminal from the tarmac. It’s a really small no frills airport.
From the airport, cross the street and get a tricycle. REMEMBER. TRICYCLES ARE YOUR BEST FRIEND FROM HERE ON. There will be people who will try to scam you into paying more than you should for transport to the ferry terminal + ferry ticket. Just do it yourself, you’ll save a lot.
3 things that you’ll need to pay for at the ferry terminal : the Boarding pass, Terminal Fee, and Envorinmental Fee.
It won’t cost much… a couple hundred pesos if I remember correctly.
By the way, you need to take the ferry from Caticlan airport to Boracay island, because there’s no airport that you can fly to on Boracay! (at least, none that I noticed)
Peeping out from the ferry terminal. That’s the boat we took to Boracay. They all have skiffs.
A RORO ferry. This one was going to Cebu I think. You can drive your vehicles onto it.
And that is my suitcase making it’s way across the gangplank to the top of the boat. This is why I said it’s better to just bring a backpack you can handle yourself. This means you don’t need to tip people to carry it for you. It’s also more convenient to carry it on your back than roll it around here.
And yes, we all trooped across that plank to the boat.
Hotel Soffia. It’s a really nice hotel, with a small pool out front. This is the reception where we were all presented with a necklace of shells and a drink. Clean and modern decor and furnishings. It’s a good, quiet hotel, if you’re ok with being about 10 minutes by tricycle to the beach. The do provide an hourly shuttle bus service to the department store and back, but if you miss it, you’ll have to wait for the next one. I think we only managed to catch one back from the department store… throughout the entire trip. Which is why tricycles are your best friend. They’re cheap and efficient. And they can take 7 passengers, if you’re not too large.
The room. Spacious and well lit. Also with parquet floor. Which i really liked. The king bed is actually 2 single beds shoved together, and there are 2 separate comforters.
The toilet has a bath tub as well as a shower stand, if anyone is interested in this detail.
The streets of Boracay, around Ariel’s House. Eliza and I were trotting around looking for sunblock to buy.
Willy’s Rock. I think. That’s what I was told. I wouldnt be surprised if I was being trolled. There’s a catholic (I think) altar of some sorts on it, with steps leading up from the water. We preferred to admire it from a distance, but you can trot around on it.
A typical day there. The reclining beach chairs belong to Obama’s, where we ate on the final day. They serve seafood, and shakes. In general, these beach front shops restrict the beachside seating to their customers. So, further down at Boat station 1(I think) we just bought some Haagen Daaz drinks and put all our towels, shirts, slippers etc at their chairs.
Ariel’s Point, a MUST go for all travellers to Boracay. Just tell the tricycle to go to Ariel’s House, and be there around 10-11 am. They don’t take advanced bookings, so you have to be there early to pay and register to ensure you have a slot. Registrations close around 1130-noon if I remember correctly, and everyone will then troop off to board a boat there. Ariel’s point is about an hour’s boat journey out.
That’s our boat!
And that’s us and everyone wading out to the boat, which is parked a way out from the beach because it can’t come in to shallow waters. The water goes about chest high for me, so whatever bag and stuff that you’re carrying (slippers too) has to be kept on your shoulder or on your head, unless it’s waterproofed. IF you slip… well I don’t know. We didn’t slip.
Our boat mates, ordering drinks from the boat guy. They offer free flow of drinks, lunch at Ariel’s point, and snacks. And yes, that’s my bag, and my pink slippers right in front of the camera.
Our first look at Ariel’s point from the sea.
And this is Ariel’s Point, once you’ve made it up from the landing cave. The cliff side has been carved into numerous little nooks and made to look really nice. Each clique settles into a nook of their choice, some forming larger ones as they socialise and get to know each other.
A one man cosy corner..
This is where we set up. There’s lots of insects and stuff around, so if you’re squeamish, I can’t help you. I spent my childhood catching creepy crawlies, so they didn’t bother me.
And this is the 6 metre plank (high, not long) which is right below our cosy corner. Very few poeple took this jump, because the hand rail is broken off, so you sorta just have to walk out into the blue without holding anything. Also, it’s a long way to swim to the stairs back up, or the kayaking station. About 40metres maybe? I was cheated into doing this jump… The person who cheated me chickened out and left me to swim to the kayak station on my own.
From here on, I didn’t take that many pictures of the jumping etc, because I was too busy jumping and I didn’t want to be laden with my camera etc.
Basically, there are a few platforms you can jump from, 15m, 8m, 6m, 5m and the stairs platforms which are about 2-3m and 4m. I did the 5, 6 and stairs platform jumps. Keeping the 15 and 8 for the next time I go there. =)
There will ALWAYS be someone who will walk to the edge then be too scared to take that final step down. The worst thing that could happen though, is that you get salt water into your nose. Which is quite unpleasant, but you’ll get a good nasal irrigation. There were quite a few people who went in flat on their stomach, on their backs, head first etc. And none of them were injured. They did sqwak and exclaim, but other than some discomfort, they were fine. There are life guards in the water as well as on the platforms to watch over you.
After I got cheated into the jump, I went to the kayak station and a lifeguard there came along with me for a short paddling session. We paddled round the other side of Ariel’s Point, where the water was about 2 metres deep, and so crystal clear I could count the number of Sea Urchins and Starfish on the ocean bed.
Another tip here, be friendly with the locals! Especially the lifeguards. I struck up a conversation with him and he offered to bring up some Sea Urchin for us to eat. FRESH. (and yes, RAW.) Sea Urchin roe is one of the Japanese dishes I enjoy, so I was only too pleased to accept.
He delivered me back to shore, and told me to return after lunch. They suspend all activities during lunch time.
And yet another tip : If you want to rent snorkeling gear, do it IMMEDIATELY upon arriving at Ariel’s point, or there will be none left for you. If you do rent it, make sure you don’t lose it, or you’ll be fined. I brought goggles, so I was ok without the gear, even though a breathing pipe would have been welcome.
So, we returned after lunch and he brought us to a secluded corner with a raffia gunny sack, a long pair of tongs and a spoon. He dove down and plucked the Sea Urchins up with the tongs and placed them all in the gunny sack. After he brought them up, we boated off to a platform where he proceeded to roll them around in the gunny sack. This made all their spines snap off to more manageable lengths, since the sharp points got stuck in the fabric and snapped off as they were forcibly rolled.
When they were satisfactorily de-spiked, he tumbled them onto the hull of the kayak and started sorta.. pressing them open with his fingers. Apprarently, you don’t need to press very hard. And if you do get poked, it’ll only hurt for… oh… about 2 weeks. After washing away the unwanted stuff, he scooped out the orange roe and portioned it out for us to eat. Yum.
We gave him a tip of about 10 USD for his efforts.
This was the other boat. It was full of ang mohs on alcohol, so they were dancing and singing on the roof merrily on the way back.
We passed by some para-sailers on our way back. They are launched from boats which have a flat open back. As the boat picks up speed and catches more wind, the parachute is let out to fly, with 2 people dangling at the end. It’s quite expensive though.
And… back to Manila on a delayed flight… with the same propeller plane.
Just some random pics which I took. None of the pictures here except the one of the 6m plank was edited at all.
This is a shot as we were walking through this cave tunnel to reach white beach
It was elections day when we arrived. So there was activity everywhere, and lots of traffic.
An island I saw enroute from Manila to Boracay. I WANT IT!!
Evening at White Beach. The activity picks up around 3pm in the afternoon. Before that, it’s pretty empty. There were passing showers when we were there, but nothing that spoilt an entire day.
Some cool looking drinks. The green one looks like Eliza’s swimming costume. Didn’t try them though…
Every day after swimming around in the sea for about 7 hours, we came back to the hotel and soaked the salt off in the pool and splashed around looking at the sun set for another few more hours. In total, we spent an average of 10 hours a day in water. My fingers were peeling when I got home. Also, this is where we spotted the Lizards. Capital L. The Lizards here are ginormous, they’re about the size of squirrels. NO KIDDING.
I think this hotel is called Friday’s. Looked pretty upmarket. I intend to reseach a little more, because the next time I visit, I intend to stay in an apartment along the beach!
The expanse of white sand, which is what gives the beach it’s name I guess. Thunder clouds passing by to reveal clear blue skies, much like what a good exfolliation does for your face.
All photos here were taken with my Panasonic Lumix LX 3 or LG Optimus G.