Boracay, a small island in the Philippines is said to be the “Maldives of South East Asia”. Year after year, it has been listed as one of the top destinations for beaches around the world. I’ve been wanting to visit the Philippines for the longest time and without hesitation, i bought a return ticket to Boracay for six days.
Getting to Boracay Island was quite an effort from Penang, Malaysia. From Penang, I had to take a 1 hour domestic flight to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). Air Asia flies directly from KLIA to Kalibo Airport and time of travel is approximately 3.5 hours. Prior to my travels, I have made bookings in advance with Islandstar Express. Their representative was waiting for me at the arrival hall and took care of everything precisely. I was pretty impressed. Kalibo Airport is about 2 hours away from Caticlan jetty and to get to the port, I hopped onto a bus. There were 3 couples and myself on the bus. I took the front seat and had a nice little chat with the local bus driver. At the port, the journey to Boracay Island is about 20 minutes via a small ferry. We were greeted by a truck-like transport and dropped off at our respective accommodation. I was the last to get off at Station 2.
Since it was solo backpacking escape, I booked myself a bed at Hostel Avenue located at Station 2. My first impression was certainly in tune with what i read online – this tropical island is a party island. The location of my hostel was perfect. It was right in front of White Beach, 100m away from D’Mall and right in the heart of all the bars, cafes and restaurants. The 20 bed mixed dorm was clean and definitely value-for-money. The only downside was there is no hot showers. I took a stroll along Station 2 and ended up at McDonald’s for dinner.
One of the main reasons that attracted me to Boracay was to take up the Open Water Diving (OWD) licence and also to visit Crossfit Boracay. Unfortunately, i ran out of luck and the crossfit box was only operating until the end of November 2016. Imagine working out with a beachfront view! Dimitry Klokov and Jackie Perez actually visited that box. I managed to get a snapshot of what’s left of Crossfit Boracay.
Crossfit aside, I could have easily obtain the OWD license in one of the beautiful islands here in Malaysia but i figured it would be fun to take it up a notch and explore a new place. I chose the Philippines because i knew there would not be any language barrier. I booked myself a slot for OWD with New Wave Divers and i was very pleased with the customer service and assistance that they have provided throughout the entire course. (Spot the Malaysian Flag!) I spent the next two days diving with my instructor Yann, watched the sun goes down and sipping San Miguel Light beers in the evening. I passed and was officially an OWD certified the next day. This called for a celebration and we decided to check out the local scenes at night with some new friends I’ve made at the dive shop.
That night, there was a ‘Zap Show’ event at Frenz Boracay Hostel and I was invited by Tamara and Yann for the show. The Zap Show is basically a group of three very talented individuals, who come together and perform tap dances, puppetry, sing and at the same time, throw in a couple of hilarious antics. I was very fortunate to be able to catch these talents, not once but twice. Quoted from their page ‘The Zap Show’,
“What do you get when you throw a washboard, megaphone, ukulele, rubber chicken, some tap shoes, a trumpet, 2 kangaroos and some tzatziki into a blender?”
We went for a couple rounds of drinks, played some pool before moving to Exit Bar for more drinks. I was told that Exit Bar is where all the expats at Boracay meet up and drink the night away. Plus point for me, Exit Bar was literally 10 steps from my hostel, I kid you not. Ended up having ‘Goto’ for supper – a local Filipino dish which in my opinion, is congee with some shredded chicken. It was tasty and heartwarming. Guaranteed to have no hangover the next morning.
My favourite breakfast spot has got to be Real Coffee at Station 2. It is situated right above Sea World and it has a distinctive hut-like structure. The breakfast menu was simple and good, consisting of a variety of omelettes, toasts, pancakes and of course, coffee. I like it so much that i went back there two mornings. One morning with Rocio, an Argentinian girl I met at the hostel and another morning, just on my own. It wasn’t too packed and we managed to get a bar-top seat with an amazing view of White Beach.
Time to get a little touristy now! Puka Beach was on my bucket list to visit. Coincidentally Rocio had more friends over at Mad Monkey Hostel, who were interested in checking out the beach too. We teamed up with Rob, Agustina, Mike and Maykel – haggled for a tricycle and made our way to the beach, which is about 25 minutes away. In all honesty, i still prefer White Beach compared to Puka Beach although Puka Beach was much quieter with less tourists hogging the beach. White Beach has soft sandy texture, whereas Puka Beach seemed shell based. Another downside is that alcohol was three times more expensive here compared to White Beach. Couldn’t resist it and resorted to a big bottle of Blue Eagle beer.
The fifth day was pretty productive. Woke up in the morning and did a 1.5km hike up to Mt. Luho via Bulabog Beach for the bird’s eye view of Boracay with Rocio and Maykel. It took us about 15-20 minutes walk from Bulabog Beach, which is famous for kite surfing. There will be vendors along the way that constantly offer you a ride or a mini tour at Mt Luho for 800 PHP. Entrance fee is a mere 120 PHP and you will thank yourself for an easy peasy morning workout. I visited the much talk about Munchies restaurant nearby Balabag Lake. It was recommended to me by the locals to try out the ‘pork sisig’ and it was proven to be bang for the bucks.
Right after lunch, I met up with the rest of the gang and we headed up to Spider House. In order to get there, you have got to walk towards the end of Station 1, make your way through the rocky pavements (it’s very safe) and arrive at Diniwid Beach. Spider House is at the far end of Diniwid Beach. It has a unique setting by the edge of the cliff, whereby you could just sit back, relax and watch the sunset; or take a leap of faith and dive into the ocean from the deck. Totally digging in the concept of Spider House. Since it was my last night in Boracay, I parted ways with the awesome bunch and decided to pamper myself for a bit. I popped by Hoy Panga for a good bowl of Mango Smoothie before getting a 1.5 hours full body massage by the beach.
On the last day, i treated myself to a scrumptious breakfast once again at Real Coffee. It was Christmas Eve. There was a typhoon warning in the Philippines and i was told that the boats might be cancelled for safety reasons. I was close to running out of pesos and it was a “keep calm and go-with-the-flow” moment. The locals were setting up bamboo shields by the beach in case of a storm. I soaked in the last glimpse of White Beach before making my way back to the hostel for my pick up, en route to Kalibo Airport.
Points of Interest
- Mt Luho, viewpoint of Boracay Island – 120 PHP / USD $ 2.4
- Willy’s Rock, Station 1
- Bulabog Beach for wind-surfing and kite-surfing
- Puka Beach, north of Boracay – 180 PHP / USD $ 3.6 for a whole tricycle for 6 pax
- Spider House, Diniwid Beach for sunset, food and drinks
- D’Mall, Station 2
Food and Drinks List
- Real Coffee, Station 2 – averagely 250 PHP / USD $ 5 (Opens 7am-7pm), Try their Calamansi muffins – a tangy twist.
- Munchies Restaurant, Balabag Lake – averagely 200 PHP / USD $4
- Aplaya Bar, Station 2 – 200 PHP / USD $4 for a cocktail
- Hoy Panga!, Station 2 – 220 PHP / USD $4 for a smoothie bowl
- Army Navy Burger & Burrito, Station 2 – averagely 200 PHP / USD $4 for tacos
- Exit Bar, Station 2 – 40-50 PHP / USD $1 for beers
- Lemoni Cafe, D’Mall – 400 PHP / USD $8 (Slightly pricey but awesome breakfast), Recommended to try the bacon & poached eggs on muffins with coffee.
- CocoMangas, Balabag Lake – cheap booze and comfy sofas
- Flights Penang/Kuala Lumpur/Kalibo – RM 780 / USD $175
- Accommodation – RM 257 / USD $48
- Airport Transfer via IslandStar – RM 106 / USD $24
- Terminal Fee upon Departure from Philippines – RM 78 / USD $18
- Expenditures, inclusive food and sourvenirs – RM 400 / USD $90
- Open Water Diving (OWD) License + PADI E-Learning Online – RM 2,162 / USD $487
All in Without Diving : RM 1,621 / USD $365