Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Boracay Island, Malay - December 2011

Date of Travel : 15-18 December 2011
Disclaimer: A huge amount of resource has already been dedicated in finding ones way in Boracay. Being a Boracay virgin, I have listed those that I think will assist first timers, who would like to have a tip of the ice idea of what this place has to offer. 
We are coffee loving people who prefers spending vacations in a sound and quiet environment and here we list our sentiments and opinions about how Boracay appealed to us.

Boracay for Noobs.
Domestically , there are two ways to get to Boracay from Manila. Via Kalibo and Caticlan; the long and short route. Although the Caticlan route is preferable, ticket price restrictions during the season we went there is still viable above the latter.

The Kalibo Route.
If you know or have reviewed your Geographic’s or read user experiences through blogs,(which should be a requirement to anyone going places) you’ll see and know that the municipality of Kalibo in the province of Panay requires:

  • 1 and a half hour van/bus ride to the Caticlan Jetty Port
  • 15minute boat transfer to the Island of Boracay
  •  20minute tricycle/multicab ride to your preferred resort.
Make sure you alot extra leeway for ticket purchase and van/bus waiting time. This is important so as not to miss your schedule and flight going home.
The Caticlan route however, only requires a P50-5minute trike ride to get to the port then cross the island.

Some Observations about Boracay.
  • Crowd. One thing not to notice here is the huge number of people, be it Asians (Japs, Koreans, Chinese, Taiwanese-they all look mostly alike), Americans, Russians, Pinoys.. you get the point. Walking the White beach especially at night makes it look like a October 31 visit to the cemetery, elbow to elbow especially during peak seasons.
  • Establishments.  You will not miss the city. There are a lot of em commercial establishments here. Most of them without air-condition though.
  • Beachfront. There is no question that White beach holds awesome shorelines; powdery sand, enjoyable water, friendly waves and all. But it could have been broader, more to enjoy and less establishments that pollutes the area. 
  • Pricey Commodities. Since they had to transport commodities to the island, expect that price of things around here is steeper. I had cravings for peanuts and the usual P35 Sugo peanut cost P55 to P110 here.
  • Food. Huge selections averaging from P300 up. A bit steep than our usual meals, so dedicate time, efforts in scouting and do some readings about places that fit your allotted meal budget. This is fine the first time but when we got to spend P1200 for 2 pasta meals and a Pizza at ARIA, which is by the way average tasting, being practical backpackers, we opted to try out the less intimidating restos around the next time we needed to eat.
  • Manong/Manang agents. You’ll promptly decline the first few instances of them offering ATV, Helmet diving or Astoria eat all you cans, but after a while, it gets disgusting when after every few meters you thread White Beach, after every few minutes; you get asked inquiring questions. This is the same reason I hated Puerto Galera. "Mam Sir, Banana boat kayo?", "Sir, naka pag helmet diving na kayo?" Teh horrors.
  • Seafood galore. Awesome range of freshly harvested creatures showcased along the foot paths of Stations 1 to 3. Pick and they shall cook it for you!
  • Refreshments. Fruit Shakes here costs P50 up. There's this Shake Stand at Station 2 called 928 Fruit Shakes that sell 50 peso fruit blends, might want to give it a try.
  • Hotels and Inns. Since Boracay caters to a huge market, there is a huge variation of hotels and Inns that cater to every Market segment type here.
  • Night Life. Perfect for those who prefer loud music and entertainment. Watch kids get wasted run around and hit the waters with their partners and would be one night stands. Some unload their alcohol converted beer intakes facing the horizon, directly at the sea. We also witnessed drunken locals maliciously stare at us; at my wife specifically, as if with intent, turning head ever so far from where they should be looking at when walking. We were quietly consuming our vodkas on the beach sands then. Truly WTF.
  • Starbucks, Shakeys, Pizzahut, Mang Inasal, Andoks, Pancake House, Cyma. Just some of the big city players who added their franchise on the island. You surely won’t miss the city.
  • Souvenirs. I particularly like the sand in a bottle souvenir. We were also able to buy some native bags and some accessories we gave out to loved ones.
Its a party house in paradise, almost the same as Panglao in Bohol, only worst. It seem that some people forget that there are those who picture out paradise in a way totally opposite the way we have been welcomed with. But that's Boracays character and dont get us wrong, we enjoyed our stay here even given these that we despise. Its just that it could have been more ideal, with these we gripe lessened.
Now some reminders and crash course of sort about what the island holds for you....

A short glossary of common Boracay Terms, Activities and Places to go to.
  • Bartering Cap -Haggle, in Filipino, tawad - This is a prime essential in Bora. Prices are steep so always impose (not request) a discount before deciding to get goods be it service or souvenirs. Of course gauge and respect those who most likely already offer fixed price, specifically Food.
  • White Beach - is divided into Stations 1-2 and 3. Station 1 is where the luxurious hotels are. Station 2, the average and is the heart of entertainment, shopping central and where there are a lot of hotels, restos and bars. Station 3 is said to be the quieter part of White beach due to lesser concentration of commercial establishments. Besides, had you walked the entire white beach even just starting at station 2, you’d be exhausted to thread station 3 further, especially when a lot of people are also doing so. People add to the stress, and with the right ingredient of sweat and sun, it can easily bug you down. Dont let me prevent you from doing so though. 
  • Outside White Beach -There are a lot of other resorts and private homes you can rent if you want to avoid the commercialism overload at the beach front, take note though that you’d have to either walk far or commute to the beach if you’d like to get some sand.  These places are usually near the Main road.
  • D’mall - is an area filled with commercial establishments. This place is also what separates the main road from White Beach and is your Entry point to Station 2. All your needs are here, budget hotels, shopping boutiques; (board shorts, t-shirts, bikinis etc) convenience stores, restaurants, fast foods, supermarkets, wet markets, souvenir shops, alcohol stores, ATMs, even cell phone repair shops!
  • D’Talipapa - If you’re familiar with dampa, this is its Boracay counterpart. You can purchase the goods and have it cooked by your chosen restaurant. Groups who also prefer to cook for themselves, (some guest homes offer their kitchen facilities for guests to use) will find this market place a seafood Mecca. There are also souvenir shops here.
  • Andoks/Mang Inasal - Located at the Dmall, this place, even very common in Manila is crowded with people most of the time compared to other restos or fast foods due to the affordability of their servings.
  • Astoria - If you want free food, don’t mind sales people and think you can bullshit your way out of their hard-selling offer, do entertain an agent when asked and pass by their hotel at Station 1 by 6pm for their eat all you can buffet dinner. As mentioned, they’ll try to sell you an Astoria property after your feast, as they have hotels in almost all tourist destinations in the Philippines.
  • Helmet diving - Also known as Reef walking. Breathe under a helmet and feed the fishes. With CD memories of your Videos and photos, priced at P350/head. They have hand signals they’d teach you before the decent. Don’t confuse yourself with the signs, thumbs up (aprub) and OK sign (ala “Magnifico” in Italian jargons) or they’ll pull you out of the water instantly.
  • Willy’s Rock - A rock formation at Station 1 where a grotto has been placed. Nice spot to take photos.
  • Bulabog Beach - is parallel the White beach. You’d need to commute to get here.
  • Kite Boarding, Wind Surfing – An Extreme sport rapidly picking up. If you dig this trip, head on over to Bulabog Beach. Wind favorable months are November to March. Competitions are also held during these seasons.
  • Ariels Point - A 30minute VIP boat ride to Buruanga, Unlimited drinks, food, snorkelling, kayaking, swimming and did I mention, unlimited cliff jumps in varying levels the whole day? Make sure you’re at the pickup point in the morning as they only have one chartered ride to and fro in a day. P1400.
  • ATV – includes a visit to the Everland Aviary Farm (mini Zoo-where you see photos of people stretching a bat to its wing tips) and the Ocean Tower where you can have a 360 view of the entire island on a self driven All Terrain Vehicle. P350+ for a 1hour guided tour. It’s a different rate if you’d like to add another hour tour to Puka Beach and a top Mount Luho’s summit, the highest point in Boracay.
  • Buggy - Same tour as the ATV but differently priced. An advantage for those who rather leave it to their partner to drive. P800
  • Zorb - If you want to negate that headache, add this to your activities. If you take the ATV before this, you’d pass by one of the Zorb areas.
  • Paraw - Are the blue and white sailed boats you can see around stations 1 and 2. They offer rides for those who are cheesy over setting suns. P600 for the whole boat for an hour cruise.
  • Parasailing - Fly on a parachute for 15minutes. P1250 to P1500. Selling point of those who price higher is better and newer equipment. This activity is variably available depending on the weather.
  • Zipline - 300meters, 80Feet above sea level, two riders simultaneous. P600 each.
  • Skimboarding - Wait, run, throw and ride. At P200/hour they can also teach you the basics. It’s best to engage in this activity when less people are zombie-walking the beach as they can be obstructions and delays for you to catch those breaks you’re waiting for.
  • Flying Fish – a crazy float ride pulled by a fast jet boat. Sure to get you off your under wears. I think they have a minimum capacity of 3persons to make the ride a go. P400
  • Banana Boat – Same as the flying fish but on a banana shaped floater. Sure thing here is that you and your group will have a nice experience of being, kicked-off-the-boat-and-eat-sea-dirt, during those sharp 360 turns. To hang on or to let go? P200.
  • Scuba diving - Ideal on January to June, there are about 30+dive spots 30minutes from Boracay. A Packed experience with fishes, reefs, wreck sites, caves and canyons-excellent sites for amature and professional divers.
  • Jetski – Step on the gas and rampage with this piece of machine without inflicting accidents. For the drive frenzies’, jetski’s are teh way too goo. P1500/30mins
  • SPA - You’d find a lot of them along the beaches, but if you like privacy, there’s this spot in Station 1, beside Real Coffee that’s nice; ambiance and facility wise. There are a lot of kung fu styles of massaging, so inquire. Basic is P350 On site. P500 Home Service.
  • Bars Pubs and Clubs - Its definition is not really far from what City life (even price wise) offers except for a few variations here and there. Beer, liquor, acoustic, live band, some Reggae or House music. Others also showcase Poi Dancers. You can also see a lot of em escorts here, if you know what I mean. Makes Boracay less ideal for those who hearts serenity, peace and quiet.
  • Hair Braid and Henna Tattoo - If you want a statement of where you’ve been, try these two souvenirs.

Here are just some of the basic stuff a Bora virgin needs to know. There are a lot of activities you’d be surprised, exists here. A 4 Hour Mainland Eco Tour, Horseback Riding, Mountain Bike cruising, Island hoppings, stand up paddle tours, heck you can even play golf or go for private plane or a chopper tour if your budget permits. If you like to see your options, demand a MY BORACAY guide book at the Caticlan Jetty Port.
Boracay Map.

Tans Guest House. We have stayed only at cheap hotels during many of our travels. There are just a few that, by our budget definition, is pricier, and Tans is one of them. But considering the hotel rate standards on the island, Tans is definitely within the middle spender bracket. We took the newly built (but still under construction) Annex part which is a few meters from the main guest house.
Room 305.

  • WIFI - We had to come out of the ground floor room to get a stronger and more stable connection even when the reception area is just a few steps from ours and the router just outside our door. No DSL connection on the island, only USB stick internets.
  • Comfort Room – Hot and Cold Bath. Japanese inspired Sliding door. Huge floor and wall tiles make it look more spacious. Hotel like but with no bidet.
  • Main Room – Flat Screen 32inch Sony Vaio with cable. Foamed Queen bed. Cabinet for your folded clothes. With hangers but with no allotted bar to hang it on to. Small ref enough to fit a few bottles of beer and water. Side table. Cold working aircon. Huge glass sliding door with curtains allow a view of the outside and for light to come in. Clothes rail to hang wet apparels. Tiled and well  maintained. Fantastic ambiance.
  • Service – All our expectations were met and simple requests were immediately granted. Courteous staff; front desk and roof top diner crew. Breakfast meals are the usual “SiLogs and coffee” and are sufficient in serving. We bought a 500ml bottled water and load it up daily at the diner to have it chill in our room ref.

80 White Beach, Station2, Balabag
Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan, Philippines 5608
+(63) (36) 288-6878 / +(63) (928) 500-0040

Boracay, as we experienced it.
There are a lot of activities that one can endulge in at the white beach but we prefer to less engage on those. We were there to celebrate our 3rd year anniversary and to fulfill a long dreamed of activity. To parasail. But since Sendong is brewing and concluding havoc somewhere, we were only able to take the ATV tour the 4 days we were there. The rest were spent bumming around the beach and the waters, walking here and there, Drinking by the sand, buying souvenirs, bonding over coffee and taking lots of pictures along the way. 
**We will be back on September 23, 2012 to Parasail. Got cheap tickets as early as now. 
From here, Ill let the photos define our experience.

White Beach and its Sunsets.

Boredom Kickers.
Banana Boat Ride.
At the Everland Aviary farm.
Bats natural state are closed claws, reason why they hold firm and wont easily budge and release their grip.
A poor Golden Retriever, probably missing his owner. The Boys at the Aviary takes care of him (or  not). He stinks by the way.
One of the Zorb Areas.
Bulabog beach.
The tip part of the Island.

At the Ocean Tower grounds.

Fiesta Folkloriada.

Wasting time in coffee shops.

US: Celebrating our 3rd Year Anniversary.

Photo bombing.
With our friend Chot.
At Andoks.

They always seem to pop out of nowhere, just when I want to have my photo taken. LOL.

Since they disallowed the Sand guy from making awesome sand arts, kids make money from donations with their simple creativity .




December 15, 2011 - Thursday

555 AM – 630 AM
Taxi fare – Pasig to Airport

Terminal fee

Café France
950 AM – 1130 AM
Kalibo airport to Caticlan port

Jollibee brunch

150.00 (75/pax)
Environmental fee

100.00 (50/pax)
Terminal fee (Caticlan – Boracay)
1200 NN – 1215 PM

Boat ride
1215 PM – 1230 PM

Multicab to Station 2
1245 PM

Check in at the hotel
215 PM
Late lunch at Andoks

Mineral water
700 PM
Shrimps for dinner. Cooked by the Branna Family.

December 16, 2011 - Friday

700 AM




1210 PM
Lunch at 928

400 PM
Coffee at Café del Sol
640 PM
Dinner at BBQ Backyard
1030 PM
Coffee at Café del Sol (w/ Chot)


December 17, 2011 - Saturday

700 AM

800 AM – 1000 AM
ATV with entrance fees

Tip to Kuya Kenneth

240 PM
Late lunch at Aria (OMG!)
600 PM
Coffee at Real coffee
1200 MN
Late dinner at Andoks

December 18, 2011 - Sunday

900 AM


1210 PM – 1225 PM
Tricycle going to port
1230 PM – 1245 PM
100.00 (50/pax)
Terminal fee (Boracay - Caticlan)

550 (additional 150)
Van and boat to Kalibo
110 PM – 235 PM

Travel time Caticlan to Kalibo 

Terminal fee
530 PM – 630 PM
Taxi fare going home

Php 2,075
Php 1,620
Php 2,922.75
Php 1,280
Php 7,897.75
Airfare – Zest Air
Php 1,254.40
Airfare – PAL
Php 3,704
Hotel (Tans Guesthouse 3days)
Php 6,000

Php  18,856.15 

Video Summary.