03.20.2006 - 03.22.2006 32 °C
Among the 7,107 islands of the Philippines, one island destination definitely stands out as the most famous and most visited by tourists local and foreign alike. It is none other than the beautiful island of Boracay, known for its sugary soft white sands, a wide coastline and a perfect beach destination. But little did know that this island has more to offer.
Boracay island is a small island off the northern tip of Panay island in the island group of Western Visayas in the Philippines. This island has an about 4 kilometer-long white sand beach on its southwest side where different hotels, resorts and commercial establishments line up the coastline. Each resort offer different water sport activities like para-sailing, jet skiing, and even scuba diving. On the north eastern part of the island is a bit rougher as it is lined with coral reefs, caves and strong waves. Within the island, there are golf courses and also waterfalls.
On March 20, 2006, my wife, myself and 4 other colleagues purchased a travel package to Boracay. We took advantage of the PALakbayan promo released by Philippine Airlines during that time. The package we got was for 3days/2nights stay at Sun Village Beachfront Resort.
To get there, we took the Philippine Airline flight to Boracay via the Kalibo Airport in the province of Aklan. The flight is about 1 hour long. On our arrival in Kalibo, we took a ride on a van to take us to the Caticlan Jetty Port. The van is included in our package and the drive to the jetty port is 2 hours long. On the Jetty Port, we take a ride on motorized bancas that drop tourists on their respective Boat Stations on the island.
There are actually two airports that serve as the gateways to Boracay. These are Kalibo Airport which is about 2 hours drive away from Caticlan Jetty Port and the Caticlan Airport which is just a few minutes away from the Jetty Port. The Kalibo Airport is serves bigger airplanes unlike Caticlan which only allow smaller planes to land. Kalibo Airport is served by Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific Air, Air Philippines, Asian Spirit, and Pacific Pearl Airways. While Caticlan Airport is served by South East Asian Airlines (SEAIR), Asian Spirit, Interisland Airlines, Cebu Pacific Air, and Asian Spirit. SEAIR provides the fastest way to fly to Caticlan from Manila for only 36 minutes.
From the Caticlan Jetty Port, aside from the fare on the jetty, the provincial government of Aklan also charges a Php20 (about US$0.50) for environmental fee. This fee is basically used for maintaining the marine environment around the island.
Now, Boracay has 3 boat stations, Stations 1, 2, and 3. Station 3 is nearest to Sun Village. The boat jetty ride from Caticlan to Station 3 took about 15 minutes. Station 3 is also the nearest boat station to Caticlan. And so, we were the first ones to alight the boat. The boat stations on Boracay does not have any port that connects to the land and so boats just dock on the beach side nearest to dry land. And so, one should be prepared to get wet as soon as they alight the boat on Boracay. From Boat Station 3, we walked about 5 more minutes to reach Sun Village.
At first sight of Boracay, I was amazed on how soft and how white the sand was. Though there were greenish stuff on the shoreline. Looking more closely, the green mossy stuff is seaweeds pushed by the waves. It's a common sight during summer months of March and April. The water is also crystal clear and cool.
On the island, tourists and locals alike are all around. It is quite a busy beach front. Unlike other beaches in the country, women in two-piece swimsuits is a common site, most are foreign tourists. Filipino women are a bit shy on showing off their body parts that a regular swimsuit is on shirts and shorts. And so seeing caucasian women in skimpy swimsuits is a sight to see ehehehhe.
Along the beach, people either enjoy the tropical sun, play beach volleyball, or take pictures on this massive sand castles scultured by local artists. The artists start on piling sand and carving them into castles in the afternoon and wait nearby for donations from tourists taking pictures in their work of art. At night, these sand castles are lit with gas lamps.
Boracay's beach front is 4 kilometers long and walking from one end to the other can be tiring for some. And so an option for people to get to the other side is by walking inland to the nearest road and hire a tricycle to bring them to the other end. Tricycles are motorcycles with sidecars that are common mode transport in the country. But of course, to enjoy the beauty of the sea, sand and sun, nothing beats walking along the pedestrian path along the beach.
On our second day in the island, we hired a boatman for a morning boat ride that will bring us to a snorkeling site and a crystal cave on the other side of the island. First we were brought in a coral garden on the northern tip of the island. Our boat stopped in the middle of the sea near other boats with tourists who are also snorkeling the site. The waves that morning was a bit strong that one of us did not take a dip, while some stayed near the boat and holding on the side rails of the boat. That site is a good site to visit with a beautiful coral area. The strong waves that day was just one thing that made it a bit scary. At least the boatman provided us with life jackets. Having snorkeled here in Boracay, I can say that I still love snorkeling in Puerto Galera more than here since its corals are nearer to the shore.
After a short snorkel, our boat man brought us a short stop on Puka Beach where took a short dip. Puka shells line the shoreline. And then after that he brought us to the Crystal Cave at the southeast point of the island. This part of the island is rouger and stony. It has a low cliff sides and the terrain looked like corals reefs that used to be sunken to the sea. This side of the island has strong winds and rough waves. We walked through a path that led to the entrance of the crystal cave. To get in, we walked down deep underground through crevices which led us to this opening underground that opens to the sea. It was very beautiful and scenic down there. I'm very glad I was able to bring my handy tripod with me. And above ground, it offered a great vista of the greenish blue see. It was one of the best sights for me.
I consider myself not being a beach person and so maybe that's why I don't appreciate the Boracay's beach much. Maybe seeing the island in the months of September to December would be better when there are less people there. But for a beach person, Boracay would definitely a great place to visit. This island visit of mine was made very much memorable by the great sea front of the crystal caves. For other beach destination in the Philippines, I'd recommend Puerto Galera. =)
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