Posts Tagged ‘boracay philippines

29
Oct
09

BORACAY SERIES : NATURE AT HER BEST

This is my 6th and last post in this series.

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Few meters and a tricycle ride from Boat Station 1, we found ourselves out of the beach and into another fascinating place where Mother Nature still reigns supreme…

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On one of our days in the island, my wife, Tina, our son, Gabby and I visited the small but interesting butterfly farm at Fairways and Bluewater in Boracay.  It only took us PhP 30 of tricycle ride, PhP 60 per adult entrance fee (Gabby’s free!) and a few minutes to appreciate these lovely winged creatures… 

IMG_4606 We kept our silence while in the vicinity so as not to disturbed the butterflies and…

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more butterflies and surprisingly, these nocturnals…IMG_4609

Who would have thought that those delicate butterflies can exist symbiotically in this farm with an owl and a few number of bats ?

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It was our first encounter with bats and man, the smell was not good!  But at least they remained  in deep sleep while we’re in their midst.

It was a sort of an impromptu educational field trip for our son :D

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Our Boracay break may have been too short but we enjoyed it, definitely. :D IMG_4645

Gabby got some shells, cut corals and a handful of powdery sand from the shore.  And before we left the island paradise, we spent our last morning at the beach as early as 6.  We had another dip and took a stroll once more.  

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It’s difficult not to miss Boracay, particularly Boat Station One where sand is finest and everything is surreal. 

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We can’t be thankful enough for the opportunity to visit one of the best beaches in the world.  We’re so glad that the weather was best  all throughout our days in Boracay and our flights went smoothly.   

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Life cannot be better than this. :D

23
Oct
09

BORACAY SERIES : THE BEACH FROM DAWN TO DUSK

This is my 3rd post in a series.

Boracay has its unique Filipino charm. It has the glorious sunrise and the most magnificent sunset.  And who can resist its turquoise crystal waters and sublime powdery sands?  My family and I are missing it already :D

Our first morning in this island paradise was truly unforgettable.  After a restful night, my wife, Tina, our 5-year-old son, Gabby and I made an effort to rise from our bed few minutes after 5AM to freshen up and hit the waters as early as 6AM.

Mother Nature has this scene to offer every sunny morning during off season at Boat Station 1…1Boracay beaches is divided into three boat stations – Boat Station 1 has the finest, pristine white sands comparable to talc.  As Boracay first-timers, we can’t help but to get few samples to bring home as a priceless souvenir :D

3finest sand in my hand

Since the area isn’t as busy and is less crowded than Station 2 and 3, the hotels here are too pricey than others but with best amenities and services.

We stayed at ESCONDIDO BEACH RESORT in Station 1; since it’s not a beach front hotel,  it’s budget-friendlier but nonetheless, relaxing, safe and with the warmest service too :D  Few steps from Escondido and after crossing the main street and passing through a sidewalk in between 2 beach front hotels, we’ve an access to the waters already…

2That second rectangular hole from the left served as our path to the beach.

Willy’s Rock, named after a beach front resort near it,  is one of the attractions in Boat Station 1.  It has impressive rock formation near the shores and a grotto of Our Lady.  4

It’s so amazing to see it on both high tide and low tide. 5

Breathtaking views of the white beach of Boracay can be best appreciated from the uppermost area of Willy’s Rock, all 360 degrees of it! :D7

I guess anyone can enjoy Boracay at its most quiet moments during off seasons and every sunrise when most tourists and backpackers are still asleep or intoxicated with alcohol from a nightout.

Here’s another view from the top most area of Willy’s Rock …8

For people like us who lives in urban areas, this rock formation is a sight to behold… 9

We just can’t hide the fact that we’re enjoying Willy’s Rock that morning…Wala kasing ganito sa Greenbelt o TriNoma, LOL…

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I found this signage very important that I wish everyone in Boracay, tourists or not, should always take into action. 6

When Tina and Gabby sat on the sand and played with it, I left them for a while to take a short walk from Willy’s Rock to the northern part of Boat Station 1…

Next are  my “NOT OUR HOTEL”  photos…LOL…

Seriously, you might be interested and consider these beach front hotels on your visit to the island.  But then again, you know now what I recommend. :DIMG_4502Sea Wind Boracay Island Resort

15Sur Boracay Resort

16Ambassador Hotel…

17Pearl of the Pacific Boracay

18Residencia Boracay

Other than those in my photos, the other notable upscale resorts in Boat Station 1  are Discovery Shores, Fridays and the newest addition to them – Shangri La Boracay :D  If you have the budget to splurge, go ahead, by all means indulge!  It’s your vacation anyway! :D

As I went back to Willy’s Rock, I noticed my family became too busy making sand patterns…IMG_4492

I tried making one, but I just left it with Tina and Gabby :D

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We ate breakfast at the hotel, took showers and headed again to the beach.  We walked and walked and walked from Boat Station 1 to 2 where most restaurants, establishments including ATM machines are located (I’ll post about D’mall and our eat outs next on this series).

In the afternoon, Boat station 2 has these sights to boast…19

PARAW or sail boats with two outrigger canoes (or for us Pinoys, katig) predominate the shores of Boat Station 2 when winds are present every afternoon… Paraw with boat men are all for rent with price starts from PhP 600 per hour.  Did we try it? No. Gabby, Tina (and I) preferred to pig out rather than to sail :D  20

Actually, my wife has vertigo making her too anxious of an attack during airplane and boat rides.  So we rather dip into the water, eat, savor the wind, sand, and sun than sail or take island hopping… Island hopping which usually takes more than 4 hours going to Puka Beach and Crystal Cove and other isles near Boracay costs about PhP 1,500 and up; some offer snorkeling gears and free snacks and buffet lunch too.

IMG_4346IMG_4351Seeing all these made me realize why Boracay is considered one of the best beaches in the world.  Tourism is alive regardless of season in this island. :D

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Other than riding the paraw or sail boats, island hopping or taking glass-bottom boat rides, parasailing and scuba-diving can also be enjoyed.  Most people we saw also have henna tattoos on their bodies which are so affordable from PhP 50 up and stays temporarily on the skin for 2 weeks.  We never tried it for 2 reasons - we fear of paying damages when sheets at the hotel are stained and it’s not just us to have tattoos, permanent or otherwise.   You can also ask and pay some women to braid your hair or get some relaxing massage by the beach or inside their facilities.  Other attractions or must-do in Boracay is riding an ATV/all terrain vehicles which costs roughly thousands of pesos depending on the duration of driving. We saw some of these on the main road with the local tricycles and other vehicles.  Since ATVs don’t have its own trail,  driving it puts anyone to an accident-prone area especially with reckless drivers.  For some, it’s part of the thrill.  To each his own. IMG_4345

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Fantastic is an understatement.  Despite the commercialism, we wish Boracay could be maintained as serene and as clean as this so more local and foreign tourists can enjoy Boracay for many years.

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It’s a common thing during weekends to spot marvelous sand castles  along the shores and in front of those beach front hotels.  Pictures may be taken for a voluntary donation of any amount.   Before dusk, these sand castles are illuminated by lighted bottles.IMG_4378

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Indeed, Boracay is such a fascinating island to explore.  It’s so gorgeous that one can easily be lured and seduced by its beauty. It’s too enticing to people who long to leave the busy life even temporarily.

We’re just glad to finally enjoyed it :D

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What’s your best memory of the beaches in Boracay?

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Up next : our Boracay food trip!

21
Oct
09

BORACAY SERIES : OUR HOME AWAY FROM HOME

This is my second post in a series…

Having been considered as one of the best beaches in the world, Boracay Island in Malay, Aklan, Philippines is barely a seven kilometer-stretch with a breadth of about a kilometer at its narrowest. Its land area, according to the latest issue of Getaways Boracay Tourist Map & Guide is slightly over 1,000 hectares with only about 16,000 people. The island’s best attraction are its mile-long powdery sand beaches, crystal clear waters and fantastic dive sites.

Boracay has 3 baranggays or local communities - Manoc-Manoc where the jetty ports are located, then Balababag and Yapak.  There are over 200 hotels with over 3,500 rooms to suit any range of budget.  The main road that connects the 3 baranggays seems to have everything at present.  Other than roadside hotels, it has medical clinics, lying-in, a hospital, convenient stores, a groceries, pharmacy and a lot more.  The mode of transport along the main road is basically via tricycles;  each ride costs PhP 7 per passenger.

Last Sunday, 18 October 2009, we found a temporary home for our short stay in this Island Paradise  in Baranggay Balabag, Boracay.  This is the street that leads to our hotel…

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It’s one of the branches of the main road; beside it is a basketball court, a stage, a multi-purpose hall and a Catholic church.  I can imagine myself and my family settling here, far from the busy areas of the metropolis; away from the hassles of daily living;  a place that can surely offer serenity and peace of mind.  But then again, a huge part of me also likes to consider it only as one of the nicest vacation places and just leave it at that. 

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One of the earliest activities that Tina, Gabby and I did after checking-in in our hotel room was to visit this church. IMG_4671

We felt we’re so blessed to have a short getaway, to have the best weather amidst the threat of a typhoon and a safe trip via air, land and water.    

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The Chuch was surprisingly big for a small community, perhaps it was really built also for the volume of tourists who visit Boracay regardless of season. It has a colorful mosaic of Christ Jesus with details of the beach at its facade and a rock and coral back drop at the main altar.  Masses are offered daily every mornings at 6 and as scheduled. 

The place was a good choice for being quiet and peaceful, away from the busy bars and restaurants near the white beach. It was perfect for families and friends who seek solace from a change of environment.

One can’t help but notice this sari-sari store along the street where the church is that sells probably everything but land titles, LOL :D7

As early as few days before September, I’ve been browsing the net and calling travel and tours offices for days, comparing packages, fees, amenities and other essentials before I consulted my wife’s opinion about my choices. (Yes, in our family, the husband provides and does the budgeting as well, but the wife still has an important say to everything).

The other hotel I considered was a beach front hotel that has a Greek-inspired restaurant at its first floor but they don’t have an office here in Manila and I wanted to transact and direct my questions to a representative of a Boracay hotel. 

Tina and I knew for a fact that we won’t be spending too much time inside the hotel room except during showers and sleep, so why bother choosing a pricey hotel when we’re only after for a decent and safe place to stay? (It’s a nicer way of putting words to practicality and the truth that we’re on a tight budget for this vacation, LOL).  

After reading several good reviews about a budget-friendly non-beach front hotel located at Boat Station 1, my wife and I came up with a mutual decision…  

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ESCONDIDO BEACH RESORT served as our temporary home during our brief vacation in the island. Although it’s not a beach front hotel, we like the fact that it’s tucked within a quiet street that’s truly relaxing. 

Upon arrival, the warm and friendly staffs of Escondido including the security guard on duty greeted us with the widest smiles. :D   And their courtesy and politeness never ended on our first day in Boracay but remained consistent. Even the guy who fetched us from the airport and accompanied us through land and water transfers was so accomodating.  What they showed us was a perfect example of Pinoy hospitality.

9At the right side of the gate is the reception area where we were offered cold glasses of orange juice as welcome drinks.

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At the first floor…  

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We were ushered to room 202 at the second floor…

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This is one of the simplest but most comfortable rooms we have checked in…

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I went to their office in Quezon City about a month ago to pay the reservation of fee of at least 30% of the package.  I got a receipt and a voucher after I paid an initial amount of PhP 2,000.   The friendly Escondido staff at the office, Ms. Cheng asked me to e-mail her our flight details.

The package we availed was a steal at  PhP 6,100 for two persons (Gabby was free);  inclusive of a 3 days 2 nights stay in an airconditioned deluxed room with a queen-sized bed and a single bed. The room also has a mini bar and fridge, a cable TV and hot-and-cold showers.  The package also included daily breakfast for two which can be upgraded for an additional minimal amount into Continental or Filipino breakfast.  Did I tell you that the package we paid also included the RTT/round trip transfers?

Gabby like it so much that he didn’t even miss our bed at home…

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We like Escondido that I’m recommending it to you on your next (or first) vacation in Boracay.  Thank you to the receptionists Anna and Gina (and the other lady when we left the hotel on our last day), thank you to our RTT guide, thank you to the security guards and the food servers of Escondido. You made our stay in Boracay more special. :D

After checking the place, sheets and all, we just freshen up a bit,  immediately locked the room, got the keys and headed to the beach…

Escondido Resort is only a minute-walk away from the waters… passing that sari-sari store, the church, and after crossing the street, we were instructed to walk through a sidewalk beside another hotel…

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After 4 hours at the waiting area at NAIA terminal 3; after 45 minute-plane ride; after 10 minute boat ride and  1 and 1/2 hours of land travel and a  few steps more…

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Voila!  Paradise….

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It took me few seconds of silence to realize we’re in Boracay.  I was mesmerized.  It was surreal.  

I was in great awe the moment I stepped bare foot on its pristine powdery sands.  Simply amazing.

Breathtaking, isn’t it?

Up next :  more of the white beach…

21
Oct
09

BORACAY SERIES : ON WAY TO PARADISE

GOD is truly THE GREATEST!  We’ve been praying for a good weather for our Boracay trip since we reserved tickets and room accommodation a month ago and  He didn’t only give us a good one but the best :D  

For the blessing of having an opportunity to enjoy one of the world’s best beaches safely with whole lot of family fun, we just cannot thank Him enough.

I’ll be sharing with you our family’s first adventure trip to Island Paradise in divided doses  posts :

1. Our TRIP from Manila – Kalibo – Boracay.

2. Our HOTEL and room accommodation.

3. Our days at THE BEACH!

4. Our Boracay-FOOD TRIP!

5. Our FUN ACTIVITIES at Boracay.

6. Our trip BACK TO MANILA.

My wife, Tina, our 5-year-old son, Gabby and I were up and about early last Sunday, 18 October 2009 and left the house at around 5:30 in the morning, to catch a plane ride to Kalibo at 9:05AM. 

It was too careless of me not to read (NOTE to SELF :  Yes, it pays to read instructions always!) the note at the e-ticket from Cebu Pacific that we have to go directly to the new NAIA terminal 3.  So I asked the cab driver to take us to the old(est) domestic airport and surprisingly, the guards directed us to the  proper departure area.  Unknowingly, NAIA 3 has been Cebu Pacific’s terminal  for more than a year now.  I was really clueless for my last domestic flight was 2006 when I went to Roxas City, Capiz for work-related travel.

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Man, we were soooo impressed!  OK, so it isn’t as huge as Hong Kong’s or Bangkok’s but it’s comparable in terms of space and facilities.  I guess with all of those brouhaha about its construction and what have you, at least proper credits should be given to the efforts of putting it all up.  It’s always refreshing to see changes (tons of it, hopefully) and improvement in a third world country such as ours, isn’t it?  

After paying the PhP 200 per pax terminal fees and while we’re still amazed with NAIA 3, we found ourselves munching these airport foods at 6AM. 2

We spent PhP 500 in all of these including 2 orders of drinks; although the price was affordable, sadly there was nothing special about it, sorry.  At least, we’re happy to soothe our hungry tummies with bola-bola siopao, pork asado rice, siomai, and wanton soup.

Our boarding passes stated that the gates of 116 would open for Cebu Pacific bound to Kalibo 30 minutes before 9:05AM but it didn’t happen.  Expectedly, there was inevitable delay in flight and unluckily, it affected ours.  With only verbal apologies, they announced that our trip will be at around 10:20AM, more than an hour later than its prior schedule.

We can’t do anyting but wait and amuse ourselves;  Tina and Gabby did some yoga for my cam :)

And after several trips to the toilet to pee,  finally we boarded an air bus to Kalibo.

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I don’t know about you  but I love plane rides. I’m no like my wife who’s so terrified during take-offs and descent; I even have no worries about air pockets; not that I enjoy them, LOL, but I simply trust my faith.  Weird as it gets, I also love foods served on planes!  Whether they’re only cold cuts from Lufthansa on way to Bangkok before, or the unforgettable too-much-food-to-handle frequent servings from Royal Brunei Airlines when we’re en route Manila-Brunei-Brisbane-Auckland, NZ  and those of PAL and China airlines food choices to name a few.

But since our recent trip was only 45 minute-domestic ride, nothing was served despite the late pick up.

It wasn’t the first time for our son to ride an air craft but he was still in a bassinet during his first and it has been 3 years since his second.  Last Sunday’s trip was his first local flight and at 5 years of age, he already appreciated the clouds better and had vivid recall of them after.

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Apparently, Mr. Sun was up and shining his brightest during our flight.  It felt like summer in October! Wind wasn’t that strong. It was smoothest flight from Manila to Kalibo. It even became almost perfect had it not for the delay.

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So Gabby and Mr. Spongebob Squarepants reached Kalibo airport for the first time.  As we were excited after being allowed to disembark, an imbecile who came from the rear end of the plane lighted a cigarette!  Didn’t he know that vehicles at the runway and the plane itself are flammable? Was it his first time to be at the tarmac?  Or some people are just plain stupid to be inconsiderate?

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From the airport, we were fetched by the hotel staff and via a 15-seater air conditioned van, we were transported to a jetty port in Caticlan from Kalibo exactly an hour and a half  land trip.  The trip was that long, owing to the suspension to use Caticlan airport after repeated runway accidents that happened few months ago.

According to our guide, the sea breeze and the waters were quite rough so we used TABON JETTY PORT in CATICLAN instead of the CAGBAN. 

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We were asked to sign two manifestos – one for Boracay Tourism Authority and the other one was for Marina’s.  We availed of the hotel’s RTT/ round trip transfers so everything was paid for us by our guide. The fees didn’t only include land transport but also environmental fees and the boat ride.

Gabby took a step after another so carefully as we get in one of these motor boats at Tabon Jetty Port, Caticlan.  Each motor boats has a maximum capacity of 3o. Marina mandates all sea aircraft passengers on open house decks  to wear life vest jackets that are provided per boat so my family was more than happy to oblidged.

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As local tourists and shutter bugs, I asked my family to smile before the boat sailed to the waters…

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The fifteen-minute boat ride from Caticlan to Boracay was nearly seamless until Raffy, our boat, caught up with Girly, the other boat.

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The mini-traffic lasted less than a minute. :D

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For people who can afford to spend several figures per night,  one of the high-end upscale hotels in Boracay is Discovery Shores.  Look how enticing it is to be with them from boat transfers to whatnot… It really proves that you get your money’s worth :D but I’m not sure if it’s as exciting as the boats we rode :D

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We reached the first of the three barangays comprising Boracay in Malay, Aklan and this is Manoc-Manoc (the other 2 are Balabag and Yapak).

As others were fetched by golf carts and some small hotel vans, our guide ushered us to a tricycle which was a lot bigger than what we have in Manila.  It can accommodate 9 to 10 people including the driver. However, at that time, the yellow tricycle was exclusively intended for the three of us :D Isn’t that great?

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Not too long, we were warmly received by the the resort staff who offered glasses of welcome drinks.

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