Contributed by DONSTRAVELS
Boracay is a tiny island paradise in the Philippines and the No.1 beach destination of the country. Despite its small size, it manages to attract international and domestic tourists alike. The centre of the action is the dreamy White Beach, a 4km postcard-perfect stretch of sand lined with hotels, restaurants, bars and dive shops several blocks deep. The ocean is full of Paraws (outrigger sailboats) offering rides, while colourful parasails fill the air. After the sun goes down, life does not stop as live music breaks out and fire dancers twirl their batons. The party goes on all night.
On my third trip to the Philippines, I finally got to check out Boracay. The airport transfer from Kalibo to Boracay was not as complicated as I thought. It takes about two hours from the airport via minivan and ferry to reach the little island of Boracay.
Boracay has many activities to keep you occupied, from parasailing, paragliding, diving, snorkelling, helmet diving to lazing by the beach. It caters to everyone from all walks of life, gender and ages.
Personally, I did not like mixing with the touristy crowds, especially at the White Beach area. For a quieter place to relax by the beach, take a shared tricycle up to Puka Beach. It is more peaceful here and you still get to enjoy the sandy beach. Amid the raw verdant coast and coral sand, you shall have the sea almost for yourself, save for the few people sauntering by.
From Boracay, there are several daily tours to the nearby islands. The most common ones bring you on an island hopping tour to Crystal Cove and also to Magic Island where you can partake in cliff diving from heights as high as 10m. Such run-of-the-mill tours can easily be negotiated along the Boracay Beach, with sellers quoting you between P800-1500. Do take note that entrance fees and conservation fees are not included in the price mentioned, so you would have to top up extra.
Since I was not a fan of following the tourist crowds, I went with a group of domestic tourists to Carabao Island. We boarded a boat from Puka Beach to Carabao Island, which took about 30 minutes. Upon reaching Carabao Island, we were amazed by the serenity and tranquillity.
Our guide then brought us on a land tour around the island on motorbikes. First, we went to Tagaytay viewpoint which is located at the top of a hill. From the treehouse, we could view Boracay island in the distance. We busied ourselves with selfies since we had a picturesque view of the whole island from above.
Next, we proceeded to the beach on the other side of the island, at San Jose, Romblon. There we found the Instagram-famous coconut tree swaying by the beach. Its curved trunk made it a perfect photography prop and you can take photos while lying on it or standing on it. The beach in this area was also calm and largely empty, so it felt like our own private beach. We enjoyed taking many shots in all sorts of poses with this special coconut tree while enjoying the soothing splashes of the waves from the ocean.
Hearing the sound of some drums and cymbals nearby, we headed towards that area only to be surprised by a community dance event. A group of youthful dancers were putting up a performance with their energetic moves, dancing to the beat of the live music playing in the background. Their dance depicted the history of the village and showcased the livelihoods of the village people. The dance reminded me of those I had seen in Latin America because the Philippines share the same colonial history with the Spanish. Their rousing dance moves made us want to join them as well and we made merry with the locals despite not knowing the exact dance moves.
Next, we rode uphill again, this time to Kuding-Kuding Cave and Cliff. Similar to Magic island, this place is also suitable as a cliff diving site. After much coaxing from me, my friends decided to go ahead and dive. We enjoyed it so much that we repeated it several times. The water was crystal clear such that we could see the base of the ocean from the diving platform. Unfortunately, there were not many fishes to be seen when I was in the water as the waves were quite strong in the area. Seeing how the skies turned grey and an impending storm was approaching, we came out of the waters to head to a safe shelter.
After cliff diving, we returned to the house of our guide for lunch and quenched our thirst with freshly picked coconuts. They were huge and contained lots of coconut water. Finally, we headed back to Boracay and were dropped off at the beach area near Station 1.
To end off the day on a high note, we took a Paraw to admire the sunset. The sun in the Philippines sets really early, but we were so lucky to be able to witness it from the comfort of the Paraw. With the sea breeze on our faces and the sun dipping into the horizon, I smiled to myself as I enjoyed the simple pleasures of life, sharing this experience with my newfound friends.
“You never really travel alone. The world is full of friends waiting to get to know you.”
Even though I only met these people for a short one day island hopping trip to Carabao Island, I felt like I had known them for the longest time because we clicked so well with our similar interests. Their friendly and welcoming made my day trip to Carabao Island so enjoyable.
The total I paid for my day tour to Carabao Island including the Paraw sunset sailing? Only P750 – a real bargain compared to the rip-off tours being sold at Boracay beach!