Monday, May 26, 2014

Life is a Beach - Back in Boracay

Boracay - Looking northWe needed to take care of a personal business in Manila so we decided to spend a little over two weeks in the Philippines. While there, the whole family went to Boracay for a short island getaway.

Though the island has changed so much from the last time I visited, the white and powdery sands still remain unchanged.

We arrived in Manila during the peak of the local summer season so the budget flights going to Caticlan were already sold out. Kalibo airport is an alternative to Caticlan but it is a 2-hour bus ride away from Boracay. We didn't have a choice but to choose the latter.

Kalibo - airport 
While the rest of the family took a nap during the 2-hour Kalibo to Caticlan bus ride, I was wide awake. For some weird reasons, the bus ride was very relaxing for me. The idyllic countryside scenes allowed me to take my mind off deadlines and chores.
Kalibo - Countryside rice fields

I saw lots of patches of road sides used to dry rice grains. 
Kalibo - Countryside rice farmer

An hour later, we arrived at a pit stop for a bathroom break. There is a small store next to the stop. I got off the bus to look around and saw a couple of confections. I bought this milky fruity snack called Langka Pastel.
Kalibo - Confection langka pastel

Finally, we arrived at our destination - 
Caticlan. It looked like we have a hour of sun left to dip in the water. At this point, I was hoping that the boat and hotel transfer would go smooth. The hot orange sunset was an awesome sight. 
Boracay - Caticlan port

There was so much hustle and bustle as soon as we got on the island's main boat station. I was told by my brother Randy that there is now a single port of entry into Boracay. Though the names Stations 1 thru 3 still exist, they are no longer used by boats to pick up and drop off passengers. We told the driver the name of our hotel and off we went.
Boracay - Jeepney

Check in was a breeze. Our excitement may have a lot to do with that. I was shocked with the number of tourists and locals on the island. I don't remember this being like a zoo twelve years ago. It was like a mall by the sea. I am sure it is good for business but how about the environment? Can the island support this much people? Is this scene like this only because it is the peak of summer? Am I just over reacting? 
Boracay - Evening crowd

There were entertainment right across from our hotel. 
Boracay - Entertainment

Each restaurant has its own style of enticing customers. These dancing cooks is one my favorites.
Boracay - Singing and Dancing chefs

On our first night, my brothers Randy and Renier took the family to Paluto located at D'Talipapa. Paluto is a restaurant where you buy the seafood fresh at the wet market next to it and then Paluto will cook the seafood the way you want. We had lots of food but my favorite was this squid cooked in its own ink. It was delicious! 
Boracay - Paluto squid

Another favorite at Paluto was these huge prawns.
Boracay - Paluto shrimps

They are perfect with ice cold San Miguel Pale Pilsen.
Boracay - Paluto dinner

After our sumptuous seafood dinner, we were craving for something sweet. We all walked to D'Mall to go to ShareTea. I had a Mango ice blended and it was refreshing.
Boracay - Share Tea

The next morning, the whole family was up early and took a dip into the water first thing in the morning. I noticed this nice wall decor at the La Carmela de Boracay. The wall decor is opposite the entrance to the cafe during breakfast buffet.
Boracay - La Carmela Hotel decors

To burn off our breakfast, we planned to do a leisurely walk from near Station 3 through Station 1 but we ended up taking a tricycle ride to Station 1. The sand is white and powdery! Think of bleached white flour.
Boracay - White powdery sand

Boracay - Powdery white sand

Here's the view of Paddy's Rock from Station 1. You can wade through the water to get to the rock.  My brothers and sister and I went into the water and then I left them shortly to check out the Rock.
Boracay - Willy's Rock

There is an altar of the Virgin Mary on the Rock and a nice view of the beach.
Boracay - Willy's rock virgin mary

Here's a view of the beach looking southward. Since it was the peak of summer in the Philippines, there were a lot of commotion going on on the beach. There were contests, live radio broadcasts and maybe a TV telecasts.
Boracay - Looking south

We lingered in an area not as busy as near the D'Mall area. This is the view looking northward.
Boracay - Looking north

After a couple of hours of beach activities, we decided to break for a snack. We dropped by the nearest Jonah's Fruit Shake and Snackbar by the beach. It was packed but a large group was leaving so we took their place. We all ordered something cold to drink. Clearly, we were thirsty more than hungry. I sampled their Melon and Mango shake without the milk. It was refreshingly good!
Boracay - Jonah's Melon Mango

We spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach and watched the sunset.

For dinner, we wanted a sitdown restaurant. My sister-in-law Kaye suggested we try Smoke Resto by the main road. There was someone singing ballads and playing acoustic guitar that night. That was an added bonus because he was good. We ordered a lot that night but these are the ones that I really liked.

Boracay - Smoke Resto shrimps

Boracay - Smoke Resto kangkong

Boracay - Smoke Resto Bulalo

After dinner, we all went back to D'Mall for desserts. This time, we went to Lemoni Cafe.
Boracay - DMall

We did what we call cake tasting so that we can all taste the cakes without eating a lot. I liked the Mango cheesecake and the Lemon bar.
Boracay - Lemoni Cafe cake tasting

I also bought this Mango cookie since I never had one. They were good and chewy!
Boracay - Lemoni cookie

The next day, the same thing. The family was up early because we had arranged a boat to take us around the island early in the morning. So after the buffet breakfast, we all walked down to Station 3 for our boat operators and to arrange for a helmet diving. 
Boracay - Boating

Our first pit stop was near Crocodile Island. This was where we snorkelled for a little over an hour. This friendly coconut vendor greeted us. He knew that we will be thirsty after our snorkelling activity.
Boracay - floating coconut vendor

My nephew RJ and niece Erika were the first ones to go to the water. Next was my brother Renier and sister-in-law Leng and then my sister Renelee. I went next and then Randy stayed by the boat's ladder to assist my nephew so he can float near the boat. 

Our boat operators gave us something to feed the fish and then the fish feeding frenzy began.
Boracay - Swimming with fish

There were so many fish!
Boracay - Legs and fish

Boracay - fish galore

The next stop in our boat ride was Puka Beach. It is located on the northern tip of Boracay. The sand here is not as fine as the western part of the island but the sand is white. I can see the small broken shells and corals. If you want a more relaxing beach scene, this is the place.
Boracay - Puka beach

We stayed here for almost an hour.
Boracay - Puka beach lovers

After this, we were whisked to the Helmet Diving area on the sea. We all went except for Mijo, Randy, Kaye, Tuts and my Mom. We were dropped off on the diving area and the rest were brought back to the island.

There was a brief orientation about what to expect during the helmet dive, the hand signals to use when under water, and the do's and dont's. It was frightening at first because there were two Chinese tourists who had trouble coming out of the water where one of them took of the helmet a little too early. I was the first one to go. It was so much fun but kindof scary! You can a different perspective from under water.

After the fun filled morning, Mijo and I went to get lunch. This squid was so delicious! The rest of the Luistro's went to get fastfood.
Boracay - Grilled Squid

There was little breeze that day so Mijo found the weather a little too hot. My sister Renelee and I decided to spend the siesta hours by the beach front. We both got foot massages while hanging out.
Boracay - Umbrellas

I also snacked on corn on a cob while at the beach.
Boracay - Corn on cob

Mijo also brought us two McFlurry's. Thanks, Mijo!
Boracay - McFlurrys

After our afternoon siesta, we all went back to D'Talipapa for a quick souvenir shopping.
Boracay - D'Talipapa

Afterward, my sister Renelee, my nephew RJ and I went on a stroll back to Station 1 in search of the famous Boracay sand sculptures. The water has retreated back because of low tide so there were a lot more beach to walk on. Finally, we found the sculptures.
Boracay - Sand castle

I noticed there were posh bars and restaurants by the beach. A lot of people are starting to walk toward the Rock to watch the sunset.
Boracay - Guillys Island

I also noticed that this part of Station 1 seems to be the place to see and be seen. Aaah. The young and the beautiful!
Boracay - Station 1 low tide

Boracay - Crowd and Sails

And one of the most beautiful sunsets!
Boracay - Station 1 sunset

My sister also wanted to go to The Real Coffee to try their famous Calamansi muffin made famous by Corazon Aquino's daughter Kris. Real Coffee is near D'Mall. Renelee bought a box of muffins to bring back to Manila.
Boracay - Real Coffee Calamansi Muffin

Finally, our Boracay vacation is winding down. We spent the rest of the evening by the beach.
Boracay - Beach at night

Our bus ride back to Kalibo was uneventful except for these breathtaking views of the countryside.
Kalibo - Countryside rice field

Kalibo - Countryside coconuts

Ciao Boracay! Ciao Kalibo. Till we meet again. :)


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