5 days in Boracay

After my January-filled month of flying an ultralight plane, going to Siquijor, then an overnight in Club Balai and going up Taal Volcano, my February and March were relatively light, save for a weekend trip back to Tagaytay in February and a weekend stay in Movenpick Cebu that left a bad taste in my mouth. I really don’t care to reminisce about my experience in Movenpick, but you can read what happened in the review I left on Tripadvisor.

March was a really stressful month for me and that experience with Movenpick did not help at all. Thankfully, I had my 5-day trip to Boracay to look forward to, with my friend Aya, who visited from the States. This was my fourth time in Boracay (1995, 2009, 2011), and this was about the most fun I’ve had in the island! This was also the most expensive local trip I’ve spent on, but worth every penny.

Upgraded to a Premier Super Deluxe room in one of the Premier buildings
Upgraded to a Premier Super Deluxe room in one of the Premier buildings
Shower didn't have a separator from the toilet, resulting in a constantly flooded room.
The shower area didn’t have a separator from the toilet, resulting in a constantly flooded room.

We were able to score cheap accommodations in La Carmela de Boracay, thru Agoda. We were given a spacious room in one of their new wings, but we were out of the room pretty much the whole time. Our only complaint was that the air con was too hot for Aya, and we kept needing to change our towels because our room would get flooded whenever we took a bath. Thankfully, they had room clean-up service 24/7.

The rate also included a daily buffet breakfast, which wasn’t anything special and they didn’t serve bacon (le gasp!). However, it was free and was enough to keep us full until lunch time. We also had access to La Carmela’s pools, but we never swam there because we preferred the beach.

Another thing I love about La Carmela is that not only was it a beachfront resort hotel, they also had beach beds for their guests. Along the beach, you have to pay for a drink or two to be able to use their tables and chairs.

Aya and I decided to go all out for our vacation and try everything we wanted to do. The first part of our trip was the one I looked forward to the most: a trip to Carabao Island in Romblon. Unfortunately, the boat that was offering the only Carabao Island cruise needed repairs and maintenance the whole time we were in Boracay, so we couldn’t reschedule.

La Boracay!
La Boracay!

That left me and Aya with a whole day of just enjoying the beach. Boracay’s crystal clear water was cold and was a sweet respite from the Manila heat. While Aya got braids, I had several henna tattoos done. I haven’t had them done in years, and Boracay has some really good tattoo artists.

Kitty & birds
Kitty & birds
Pixie fairy
Pixie fairy
Khaleesi
Khaleesi
Swan princess
Swan princess
Three stars on both wrists, a flock of birds and a feather breaking off into birds
Three stars on both wrists, a flock of birds and a feather breaking off into birds
Aya and her braids
Aya and her braids

I received a lot of stares while walking around Boracay because I was just covered in tattoos. The tattoos faded quickly though, so I kept coming back to the artist for touch-ups. It was time-consuming but I wanted my tattoos to last as long as possible because I don’t know when I’ll get one again. (The touch-ups are free.)

I’m still trying to get the courage (and funds) to have a full back henna tattoo of a dragon ala Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Someday!

At the end of the first day, Aya and I went parasailing during sunset. It was a little disappointing because it was too short, and we ended up on the other side of the boat away from the sunset. I also wished we were out farther in the sea, but still, short of lying down on the boat, I had a good view of the famous Boracay sunset. Maybe you can talk to the bankero (boat man) prior to riding, to make sure you’re getting the ride you want.

Sunset in Boracay
Always chasing sunsets

Afterward, we had buffet dinner at Le Soleil, which has one of the most affordable buffets in Boracay if you’re not into seafood. Then Aya and I strolled along the beach straight towards the fire dancers, because Aya has never seen them perform. We then called it a night because we were both tired from the early flight and full day at the beach.

The next day was our adventure day! We booked several tours online because Aya was nervous that they might be fully booked. Tip: Just book when you get to Boracay. The rates are way cheaper. You don’t even have to find them because they will be walking around and approach you several times.

Our first activity for the day was underwater helmet diving.

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Everyone talks about how fun it was, but no one mentioned how difficult it was to stay down! Half of the time, I was just struggling to not drift away from the light. But it was fun to be surrounded by fish for about 15 minutes. I didn’t like feeding them bread so I mostly just stood there, waving my hands and trying to get them to come to me. The place we “dived” into also had a few sculptures, I think purposely put there for this experience.

It’s not recommended to do underwater helmet diving if you’re coming on and getting off a plane within 24 hours, because of the constant pressure to your ears, so make sure to schedule this activity accordingly.

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Grinning while struggling to pull our helmet down and not keep floating away!

 

The tour organizer had their own underwater camera, and they delivered the CD with our pictures and video straight to our hotel. But they were slightly disorganized, so it wasn’t until the last day when I found out the CD was delivered to the hotel. They didn’t ask us for our hotel room and didn’t bother putting the names. Aside from being expensive (about double the rate compared to if you book from the beach), I don’t want to book with that organizer again.

Next, we went parasailing. We weren’t supposed to do this until the next day, but the tour guide assured us that coming from the helmet diving to parasailing was safe, but we couldn’t do it the other way around or else we’ll end up vomiting. We gamely agreed as we had no concrete plans for the afternoon. We were so excited with an underlying thread of nervousness.

We rode the jet boat then drifted off farther into the sea where there were no other other tourists doing parasailing. We were so excited with an underlying thread of nervousness!

What a beautiful sensory experience! It was almost like flying!
What a beautiful sensory experience! It was almost like flying!

This time, the camera and videos were not part of the package, so it was a good thing I brought an action cam. They did take good pictures of us, but the pictures they took using my cam were sufficient.

Aya was feeling braver and let go of the harness quite a few times, while I could only wave with one hand and didn’t ease up on my death grip with the other. I was so afraid that I’ll topple backward and hang upside down! Aya didn’t share my fears — I wished I was as brave as she could have been at that point!

We were up in the air for quite some time, so it was a good thing I re-applied sunblock! I wasn’t worried about tan lines; I just wanted to protect my skin from the harmful rays of the sun.

The view was beautiful, but I wished I had a camera up there with me! And maybe it would have been more beautiful to do this during a Boracay sunset. Have you tried it?

Trying to make our way quicker by swimming!
Trying to make our way quicker by swimming!

After a quick lunch, Aya and I walked all the way to Diniwid Beach. They said we could take a tryk but it’s walkable. You really just have to walk up to the end of the beach! Aya and I underestimated the heat and the difficulty of walking in station 1’s soft white sand, and I think that took us about two hours of walking!

It was a good thing we both had waterproof bags, so there were times we’d just wade into the cool water. However, we couldn’t swim all the way because the waves kept dragging us into the sea.

I’ve never been to Diniwid Beach before. I didn’t even know it was accessible on foot. But we were going there primarily to meet up with the Manic Monkey Crew, as we were joining their yacht party the next day. Aya and I haven’t done a yacht party before, and we were just looking forward to meeting new people and cruising. The Manic Monkey Crew is the only yacht party provider in Boracay, so it was definitely a new experience for us! I’m unaware of any other place in the Philippines that provide it too. (And if you’re an airline crew member, you get a huge discount via Crew Cuts!)

Aya and I finally made it to the meeting point! It was so hot, she quickly ordered a soda, while I just drank cold water. Anne of the Manic Monkey Crew finally joined us, and she told us more details about the party after we paid. I think they’re trying to set up an online payment when I asked her about it. It was fascinating to hear about her leaving her life in Manila. A part of me was so envious!

Beautiful Dusk at Spider House
Watching the sunset at Spider House

After the meet-up, Aya and I went to the nearby Spider House to try their famous pizza. It was just a short walk from our meeting place by the beach. We went up some winding path, which opened up to a restaurant already filled with lounging foreigners. We were lucky to score the seats right beside the cliff. During high tide, guests usually jumped off from the Spider House restaurant. Since it was low tide, I simply went down the stairs to the water while Aya waited for our food because she didn’t feel like taking a dip.

The pizza was chewy and delicious, but nothing mind-blowing like I expected. However, the whole chill vibe, scenery, and dusk made up for a very intimate and relaxing environment. Even though the place was packed, it was as if collectively, everyone knew they should speak softly so as not to dispel the vibe. I can definitely see the appeal, and if I go back to Boracay, I’ll revisit Spider House. Hopefully, I can jump off next time!

Aya and I took a tryk from Spider House back to station 1. The tryk ride was expensive, but thankfully we were able to ride with two other tourists, who agreed to share the cost with us.

We quickly showered because our day wasn’t over yet. It was time for our Boracay PubCrawl experience! Aya had done a PubCrawl in Mexico and she had a lot of fun, so we pre-booked our slot. (Again, airline crew get a discount with Boracay PubCrawl thru Crew Cuts!)

My introversion came out, and I was initially so shy. Aya was way more open, talking to strangers here and there. It’s a good thing the Boracay PubCrawl people know how to party, and the initial shots they provided and their great energy immediately got us all hyped and excited for the night!

We were scheduled to go to five bars, with 10 free shots, as part of our payment. We rode a tryk to the first bar. It was quiet at first, although people started forming huge cliques, mostly based on nationality. (All Boracay PubCrawl pictures are from Boracay PubCrawl’s Facebook page.)

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With ten free shots and cocktails at only Php 50, a lot of people quickly got drunk! I made sure to stay lucid and not get drunk throughout the night. I didn’t want to pass out and I wanted to enjoy every minute. I didn’t want a hangover hampering my remaining days in Boracay. Also because I had to attend mass at 6am the next day and I wanted to make sure I’ll wake up!

The Boracay PubCrawl is one of my fondest moments of our trip. It delivered on the fun and clubbing experience I expected. I actually agreed to join the PubCrawl because I wanted to go dancing and meet other people, get out of my comfort zone. Boracay PubCrawl delivered on all three! If you’re looking for a fun activity and meet new people, I’d definitely recommend this one! You don’t have to drink if you don’t want to, or to even finish all the free shots. 🙂 And keep hydrated!

We started around 7pm, and by past 1am, Aya and I were ready to troop back to the hotel. Such titas! But we still had a long day planned the next day, and we wanted to be sober for it.

After I got back from the mass (it’s right behind Jonah’s milkshake, so I snuck in there for a quick mango shake before going back to the hotel), Aya and I had breakfast and enjoyed the beach in the morning. I loved how our planned schedule was a mix of relaxed and busy activities. It was the first time Aya and I went on vacation together, and hopefully we’ll get to fulfill our next vacation plan when she visits again. 🙂

Around 2pm, we went to McDo, where we were going to meet with Stacy, the co-owner of The Manic Monkey Crew. We were delighted to find that the other cruisers were people we met the previous night during the PubCrawl. However, I wasn’t feeling chatty, and Aya was talking to someone, so I mostly just relaxed on and off the boat.

There are net beds on the boat as well as paddleboards available. Our favorite is the swing. You can basically stay anywhere you want while we cruised.

We left from station 3, then cruised to Diniwid Beach where we stayed until sunset.

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We were anchored off Diniwid Beach, deep enough to snorkel (the equipment’s available). We also had a DJ who went on and off the boat, depending on her schedule, who was part of Boracay Bombshells, one of the rowing teams who competed in Boracay that weekend. Drinks and pica-pica were available from 4pm, so we were just relaxing, lulled to a contentment by the gentle waves and soft romantic hues of the setting sun.

Everyone’s voice was hushed, as if by some unspoken agreement, we all instinctively knew that this was not the place to be rambunctious. We respected the quiet moments even as we chatted among ourselves. As the only Filipina tourist who actually lives in the Philippines, their conversations were very interesting to me. The other guests were European, Canadians, Indians, and some expats, and I enjoyed listening to their view of Manila and their experiences with food. Sisig was a particular dish hailed by the Canadian guys as a must-try. I wholeheartedly agree!

2016_0423_184334_002_markedWhen the sun has set, we cruised back nearer to station 3 where we were going to dock for our dinner. I hadn’t been interacting as much as the others because I was feeling shy. I hadn’t realized I’m quite the introvert until then! But the swing was finally free, so I went to try it. One guy had too much to drink by this time (around 7pm) and he was *kidding* to push me off the swing until I fall into the dark water. I was slightly alarmed but playing it cool. He did push the swing, and I chuckled and said “stop that!” but he wouldn’t listen. Finally one of the foreigners saw us and she approached him and told him off until he went away. I was so grateful because I didn’t want to make a scene but I also didn’t want to fall into the water where I couldn’t see what lay beneath. I quickly thanked the girl and got off the swing, my heart pounding. I avoided the guy for the rest of the night. Aya came up to me later that night and told me the guy was getting really weird and hinting at borrowing money from her.

Panoramic view of stations 1 to 3 of Boracay at night
Panoramic view of stations 1 to 3 of Boracay at night

20160423_204603_markedWhen dinner was ready, everyone just dug in. We were ravenous! We had fish, pesto and grilled meat, as well as a lot of rice, and even more drinks. The Manic Monkey Crew know how to mix those drinks! The party breaking up after dinner. By this time we’ve already spent six hours on the boat. Aya was asking me if I wanted to disembark already, but the DJ came back and started playing some tunes, so Aya and I stayed for a while with two other girls. I was feeling more upbeat by this time and we had fun dancing in the dark.

But we called it a night before 9pm because we booked an island hopping tour the next day. We were only charged Php 600/pax, and it already included lunch and snorkel equipment. Since the jump-off point was very near our hotel, our tour guide fetched us and we walked to station 3. I’ve done an island hopping tour of Boracay before and I didn’t find it enjoyable, but Aya wanted to try it so I agreed. Surprisingly, we went to different islands. Aya and I didn’t want to pay any entrance fees so we just stayed on the beach and swam until it was time to travel to the next island.

2016_0424_105731_008_markedOur first stop was my favorite because there were a lot of fish, but the water was so choppy that it was difficult to swim. I’m not a particularly strong swimmer so I had to stay close to the boat. There were a lot of tourists who couldn’t swim, so it was crowded. I eventually took off my vest because I kept bobbing up and down and couldn’t swim properly.

 

But I’ll say it again: if you want to snorkel and see beautiful marine life, Boracay is not the place for it. Or maybe I’ve just seen so many beautiful places in the Philippines that this didn’t impress me anymore.

Still, I had a fun time with Aya so I didn’t mind. 🙂 We docked on one of the islands, where we were ushered to a restaurant. Apparently, our tour organizer had their own restaurant built. Since it was a buffet, we just kept coming back. Only one drink was free.

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Our island hopping lasted for about six hours. It was good enough for the price and inclusions. Our boat had trouble along the way, but the staff quickly fixed it. I quite pitied the other tourists who couldn’t understand Filipino, because they were getting nervous while they watched the captain fix the boat. We had to reassure them that everything was okay and that no, we didn’t have to jump off the boat, especially because they couldn’t swim.

We waited for this massage all week!
We waited for this massage all week!

When we got back to the shore, Aya and I went straight for the massage beds. As with the henna and braid industry, the massage industry along the beach has also been regulated by the government. Therefore the pricing is the same anywhere else along the beach, unless you go for one of the spas with an actual building/room.

I had a 1-hour full body massage and a 30-minute foot reflexology because my feet were just aching. Including the tip, I spent Php 600. Not bad, eh? I’d actually fallen asleep to the sound of the several massage therapists discussing the upcoming 2016 elections. I also requested that my view be of the sea, and they accommodated my request.

After our massage and shower, we went out again for dinner. We went to Le Soleil again. The funny thing was I was looking for their oysters because we wanted to try it. Apparently, it was their last stock so they served us all the oysters. I was so shy, and we didn’t even finish it! There are a lot of buffets along the beach, so pick the one that will best cater to your taste. For Php 450, including drinks and dessert, Aya and I were content with their selection of pasta, seafood, and meat. But if you’re looking to primarily eat seafood, I would recommend dining elsewhere.

This time, since we were already so full and already went drinking for three straight nights, we just walked around the beach and enjoyed our last night.

Our flight wasn’t due until the evening, and we had until 1pm to ourselves. Aya slept in and enjoyed the room, while I went to the beach again. I wasn’t planning on doing anything but swim, but I was soon enticed to try paddleboarding. During the day we went on a cruise, I was too nervous to stand up as it was my first time on a board. But this time, with the board’s owner slowly instructing me, I gained enough confidence to stand up and go deeper and deeper into the ocean. At the start, I kept falling off, but once I’d gotten the hang of it, I didn’t fall off until my confidence slipped, and I panicked and lost my balance.

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First time to paddleboard, as far out as my confidence can take it!

And because my paddleboard owner was cool, I left him with my money and phone, and he took pictures of me continuously.

I made sure to only go as deep as I can take it. I promised him I’ll swim after the board if I slip and it goes into the ocean, since I didn’t want to let him tie it around my ankle. I was afraid to slip and bang my head against it if it was tied to me. When I did slip, I was glad I hadn’t tied it, but I quickly resurfaced and swam after the board. It’s a good thing I wasn’t out so deep yet, but the owner was surprised too that I had made it that far and had been up on the board for quite some time. And I was particularly proud of myself too for trying something new and talking myself out of my fears. Overthinking, you are my foe.

Have you been to Boracay? What was your favorite activity? 🙂

Finally, it was time to go home. But my fun days weren’t over yet. I found my sister and my mom, who fetched me from the airport, with a funny surprise:

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All my images are unedited. Unless otherwise specified, all images are mine. Please don’t grab them.

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