Boracay, Philippines

Trivia #1: In 2016, Boracay headed the magazine’s list of Top 10 destinations to watch by Conde Nast Traveler
Trivia #2: Boracay attributes its the name to local dialect “bora” meaning cotton in reference to its soft, white sand

 

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Nestled about 300km south of Manila, Boracay is a refreshing change from the numerous beach party islands throughout Southeast Asia. When I visited Boracay in 2010, I thought it was a nice break from overly-commercialised beach destinations. Fun and having something for everyone, this sun-kissed paradise is a must-go for any beach vacationers.

Dive spots? Parties? Quality family time? Or just felt like laying around in a tranquil private beach, doing nothing? Boracay’s got it.

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Best season to visit Boracay? That would be the dry season between November to May. Especially from March to May, the little beach island will be covered with lots of sunshine – be soothed by the warm, balmy sea breeze. Perfect for an idyllic getaway in the tropics with nary a care in the world.

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Travel instructions: Fly direct to Caticlan airpot if you can, otherwise you will have to take a domestic flight from Manila to Caticlan airport, then take a ferry to Boracay island and finally, take a tuk tuk to your hotel. Allocate about half a day for to reach this beach haven. Trust me, it will be worth it.

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Do note that there are a number of beaches in Boracay with slightly different characters – best to do a little research about where you will stay at as you’ll be spending most of your vacation time at the places you’ll feel most comfortable with, right?

Right. Out of the different beach spots, the White Beach, divided into Beach Stations 1, 2 and 3, are probably the main spots where most tourists hit. Besides these popular beach spots, there are numerous beaches in Boracay to meet your vacation objectives, from extreme sea sports to simply chilling out.

Here’s a useful map for your planning:

boracay_beach mapImage credit: www.boracaycompass.com/maps/
(There’s a free ebook download for ‘The Ultimate Guide To Boracay’ too)

Yapak beach, for instance, boasts of its famous Puka shells, which is well-known world wide for its elegance in natural jewellery. So, besides Hawaii, you now know where to go to collect those beautiful Puka shells. Head straight to Yapak beach if you would like a more serene spot and also if quiet, romantic sunsets are part of your check list.

On the other hand, if you would prefer a more adrenaline-packed holiday, well, look no further than Bulabog beach, the haven for sea sports, including kiteboarding and windsurfing.

Beach Station 1 is the most expensive stretch with all the high end spa resorts and restaurants. If you’re looking for private little enclaves and lots of pampering, this is the spot for you. You might not want to leave this place after a few days:)

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Beach Station 2 offers the best mix of quality restaurants and mid-range accommodation. Located in a centralised area, and yes, you might have guessed it – it is the party zone. Filled with an array of beach bars, restaurants and shopping outlets, Beach Station 2 has practically everything in place for you, if crowds don’t exactly bother you.

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Due to its northern most location, Beach Station 3 is also the quietest – perfect break from the people masses and noise. Laid back and less developed, it is relatively more peaceful than its counterparts. However, if you are planning to swim in the sea, be informed that Beach Station 3’s water depth is a lot deeper than the rest of the beaches.

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After 2 days of basking under the sun, we ventured out to the town centre for a little sightseeing. And guess what, our venture paid off – we discovered a sleepy village in the forest right in the middle of town! The lake is superbly tranquil, especially in this peaceful corner away from the hustle and bustle of the beach scene. Do check out the mirror images it made – stunning isn’t it?

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Love the amazing reflections!

Next, we hit back to the beach in the evening and we were in time to catch the wake surfers in action: First, he throws the board unto the incoming wave, then do a little sprint and jumps unto the board when the timing is right.

Sounds pretty simple, isn’t it? It is not. I had sore bums after a few attempts:)

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Beach revellers winding down at sunset (6pm)

The sunsets were gorgeous. Throw in a few bottles of beer (or their delicious mango milkshakes – it’s a MUST try!) and chips into the scene and you’re all set for an evening of live entertainment, be it water sports, fire performers or simply take a stroll along the beach, taking in the night scene among the festivities till late.

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The sunsets are amazing – I could just stare at it all evening, count those little sails bobbing up and down the sea and be enchanted by the colours. Splendid.

After another awesome dinner, we took a leisurely evening stroll – look what we’ve found! A beach fire performance! The choreography kept us entranced with its fire juggling, the coordinated twirls and the spins.These guys are obviously very good at what they do! Do tip, as this is their livelihood.

Wandering further along the beach, this immaculately-carved sand sculpture caught our attention:

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Like most good stuff, they are not free – you are highly encouraged to tip when you take photos

We ended our evening at D’Mall (situated right in the middle of Beach Station 2), an interesting array of little shops, restaurants, bars and spa parlours. Contrary to what many may confuse it for, D’Mall is actually not a shopping mall but a large outdoor market with a good mix of small scale shops and eating places, making it an eclectic way to end the day.

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The next morning, we had breakfast by the beach – sort of:) It’s always nice to wake up to something beautiful and cheery. With a sumptuous breakfast spread in front of us, great company of friends and an equally amazing treat from nature, what more could we possibly want?

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Over the next few days, we tried various outdoor activities and these include horse-riding (it was my first time on a horse!), snorkelling, lots of long beach walks and some random exploration around the area, poking our noses into little hidden corners – we hope that the villagers wouldn’t mind our harmless intrusion:)

More random pictures of our uncharted beach walks below:

Below: Another of my favourite shot. Ah, gorgeous sunsets. Sitting on the beach, sipping beer and quietly observing the activities of fellow beach revellers, I could live to see another sunset like this tomorrow – if only this is forever.

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Children running along the beach – thought that this encapsulates the free-spiritedness and charm of this beach paradise. We hope you like our post on Boracay. Do give this beach paradise a visit sometime soon – would love to hear your thoughts on your next beach holiday!

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Travel Story Contributor:
Daniel Chen
Singapore

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