I am not dying to go to the beach. I don’t get the charm of sand on my hair (I don’t like sand, especially on my hair) and a sun-kissed skin. Still, I found myself in a couple of them for the past two years (after not being in one for 5 years) with Boracay as the creme de la creme. It was one of those spur of the moment things. I received a call from a friend last January and next thing I know, we were booked for the last week of April. It was also a lucky (or was it unlucky?) coincidence that my first time in the island would be during the Labor Day weekend, termed LaBoracay, which I just learned recently is actually a big deal.
Our flight was Manila-Kalibo so we still had to ride a van for two hours, a boat and a tricycle to reach the most famous shoreline in the country. There were environmental and terminal fees. I forgot how much but they really add up to the bulk of expenses.
This semi-waterproof case is a must. Especially if you’re too lazy to carry a bag around. They sell from as cheap as 50 pesos to as expensive as 150 pesos. And thus will start my rant about the price fluctuation and inflation, the bad service and the hoards of people in Boracay during LaBoracay which is heartbreaking.
During LaBoracay, don’t expect to get decent service on any restaurant because anywhere you go, there will be customers. ANY TIME OF THE DAY. Inevitably, even the quality of the food is sometimes wanting. On one meal, we had to wait for more than an hour and our orders arrive one at a time so some are already finished while others are still waiting for their mediocre food to arrive. And they charged us 30 pesos for a small bucket of freaking ice.
Real Coffee and Tea Cafe’s famous Calamansi Muffin which tastes exactly like Calamansi Muffin. I wanted to try their Ultimate Muffin, a combination of carrot, walnuts, banana, pineapple and raisins but alas, it was sold out. Another thing during LaBora, expect that more than a few items from the menu would be sold out.
Overpriced Omelet. This one’s called Jack’s Omelette with Pesto made of eggs, onions, tomatoes, cheese and pesto. It’s actually quite delicious but I ain’t paying 320 pesos for scrambled eggs and I don’t understand why it took more than an hour to serve it. Still, I appreciate the foreigner owner of the place for being apologetic and for entertaining us while our eyes turned white from waiting.
One time we found ourselves in a part of the island way past Station 3 only to know that it was actually a private resort where a room comes to a whooping 18,000 pesos a night. To be able to stay there we ordered from their menu of overpriced iced tea and soft drinks and a decent quesadilla.
Another place in Boracay that can be considered an institution is Jonah’s Fruit shakes in station 1. True to its fame, the shakes were creamy and one of the best I’ve tasted, especially Avocado flavor. Just bear with the crowd.
When you decide to hire a boat for island hopping, make sure you and the boatmen are on the same page. In Boracay, there are a lot of guys offering water sports and activities outside restaurants and along the walkways. They’re only middlemen and whatever they promise you will not necessarily be given. For example, a middlemen persuaded us to island hop because he said we can use the boat for four hours so we were surprised when our boatmen brought us back to Station 3 after visiting only Puka beach and snorkeling. We complained but they said they never agreed to four hours because there’s an additional charge. Ugh!
Despite that, I enjoyed snorkeling even though I was such a sissy at first. Thank you friends especially Papi and Dai for guiding me and for never letting go of my hands. You know I can’t survive if left alone in the water because I can’t swim! The secret is to breathe through your mouth.
Parasailing is the most expensive activity at 1,200 per person. Another thing during the peak season: you cannot haggle because even if you walk away, a million other tourists would be willing to take your place. In fact, the queue for water sports are too long they no longer accept people as early as 4 PM. It also causes a lot of confusion and unsatisfied customers. My friends even said, “Ano ba yan kuya, pareho naman tayong Pilipino naglolokohan pa tayo” after the middleman made us wait for an hour for nothing.
Sometimes the crowds and bad service get on my nerves but I tell myself I can either sulk or enjoy my stay. I gravitated towards the latter. Besides, I realized that maybe summer is the only time when the businesses and locals can make money because the rest of the year are slow months so they make the best out of it. Just like my parents’ humble carinderia back home. In the end I just enjoyed doing touristy things and let Boracay charm me.
Watched firebenders at night.
Boracay is divided into three boat stations. Station 1 is where the sand is finest and whitest, I’ve never seen anything better. It’s actually comparable to face powder. It’s also where the expensive hotels and restaurants are. Needless to say, the density of people is highest here. Station 2, where we stayed at, is for the middle class. This is where majority of establishments are located like D’Mall. In terms of the number of people, the density is not far from Station 1. My favorite is Station 3 and I sort of regret that I only explored the area on our last day. I will definitely stay here the next time I visit Boracay. The sand isn’t as fine but who cares about that?
Before going to Boracay, I read in forums that Station 3 is away from civilization where the main events are happening so I was expecting something rural. I looked at hostels here but was discouraged because some said it was too far we needed to hire a tricycle just to go home. If only I didn’t listen to those strangers. If you want to experience peace and quiet, stay in Station 3. There are a lot of hostels with nice interiors and pubs and restaurants with affordable menus.
I want to go back and drown in my own world. The beach is associated with socializing (maybe that’s why I am not fond of it) but I have my flaws, wanting to be left alone is one of them. Station 3 is the perfect place to nurture that.
Fly in your liquors because drinks can be expensive. In our case, we made our own Jack+Coke and put it in the Yard Glass from Beach Hut. I don’t know about you but I like the drink because I can taste a hint of cinnamon.
LaBoracay is not complete without parties. They happen every night and last till 5 in the morning. They don’t stop even if it rains, they become wilder instead. I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy because I had lots of laughs thanks to my cowboy friends but I still am not a fan of grinding with strangers no matter what. Sights of unconscious drunks being carried (or dragged) by their also drunk friends make me think twice about drinking alcohol again. It’s okay to have fun. Just make sure you won’t do anything you’ll regret when you’re sober.
Party goers at 5 AM. We hit the sack at 6 or 7, wake up in the afternoon around 2 or 3 and then go out again at 5 PM partly because we’re tired and sleepy and mostly because we don’t want to meet with Mr. Sun. That’s pretty much the cycle during our 4-day stay.