Travel date: November 5 – 7, 2015
Boracay Island is the top tourist destination and the most popular beach in the country. According to Wikipedia, it is a small island in the Philippines located approximately 315 km (196 mi) south of Manila and 2 km off the northwest tip of Panay Island in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines.
My first time going to Bora was in 2003 [or 2002?] when I was about seven or eight years old. My experience in Bora was not that special because I had high expectations. Back then, it was quite commercialized already but I wasn’t able to roam around to see for myself. For the eight-year-old me, it felt like we were just in a beach in Batangas.
A lot has changed in Bora since then. The water back then was full of lumot [algae] and the shores were less crowded with people. It was more quiet and the landscape of Boracay is similar to that of El Nido. But of course the sand was perfect, as always.
How We Got There
Via Air. We waited for a seat sale and booked an Air Asia ticket since it is cheaper than Cebu Pacific. But now, I realized why people opted to fly with CebuPac rather than AirAsia. Hah! No one told me [nor my travel buddies] that travelling to Bora from Caticlan Airport via CebuPac is more convenient than coming from Kalibo [AirAsia]. We got our roundtrip ticket at about P2,400 and the flight was 45mins to 1hr and 5mins.
Upon reaching Kalibo International Airport, a lot of scouts are waiting outside offering van rentals or private taxi rentals with boat transfer to Boracay. Since we are a group of nine [4 boys / 5 girls], we had a bargain of P200 each for a private trip which already included fees for the boat transfer [P25]. The van ride from Kalibo Airport to Caticlan Jetty Port was 1.5 to 2 hours while the boat transfer from Caticlan to Boracay Port was only 15-20mins.
But wait! There’s more! When we arrived at the Boracay Port [Cagban Port], we still had to ride a multicab worth P27 each [9pax] to get to Station 2 and then walked for 15minutes searching for the hotel. It’s quite tiring, I know.
NOTE: Prepare P100 for the Caticlan Port terminal fee and another P75 for the Environmental fee. Another P100 will be paid for the terminal fee going home. Fees galore.
Lesson learned: AirAsia may be a cheaper option, but the travel time and cost are smaller if you fly via CebuPac despite its higher airfares. It’s up to you though. The trick is to just keep weighing the prices and the convenience.
Where We Stayed
We finally arrived in Maja’s Place at around 8PM. Our flight was moved to 3PM, so we had almost 5 hours of travel time via air, land, water, and by foot! Our Day 1 was almost finished and the only thing left to do was to enjoy the famous nightlife in Bora.
Photo not mine
We stayed in an air-conditioned room that can accommodate four people [for the girls, we were five] which costs only P1,800 per room. It has two queen beds, wifi, a flat screen TV, a small table, a mini refrigerator, and a bathroom with no water heater. We were also provided free breakfast and towels. It was decent enough for the price. They also had 24/7 security. It may not be located at the beach front, but it wasn’t that secluded from the commercial areas. We felt safe in our place because it was inside a compound of B&Bs and not all people can get inside it.
Our other cheap option was La Fiesta Hotel which was located along the commercial areas near Station 1. You can contact them at +639198610886.
Our first day was basically full of travel and we only started roaming around the island at 9PM. We first scouted for a cheap place to have our dinner and ended up in a canteen somewhere after an hour of walking. I spent P70 for a meal. While walking along the beach, a lot of sidewalk vendors and tour guides kept offering us island activities, henna tattoo, braids, and massage services. We booked an island hopping tour for the next day worth P600 each [originally P800] which included buffet lunch and a snorkeling set.
We promised ourselves that we will experience the nightlife in Bora despite my cousins being conservative in life [mehehe], so we went to this place called Epic and indeed it was EPIC! 🙂 We went there on a Thursday night when it still had a chill vibe and the music that time was kinda old school, but we still enjoyed ourselves with a few drinks during happy hour. Some of the beer and cocktails were buy one take one for as low as P90. It was a good thing, though, that we had the chance to party in Epic during our first night because they were already charging P300 for entrance the following night! Since we were broke, we dint risk it anymore.
Our call time for the island hopping tour was 9:20 AM so we all agreed to wake up at 7 AM. We had to wait for everyone to finish preparing and unfortunately, we were left by the boat so we still needed to ride a tricycle from Station 1 to Station 3 to catch our boat. Amazing Filipino time.
The boat had a capacity of 30pax so it was a large group tour. There were more foreigners than Pinoys. We were advised beforehand that we wouldn’t go to Crocodile Island due to the strong waves, so we first went to an area where we can do snorkeling.
When we went down from the boat, the waves were kinda strong that we kept holding on to the boat’s katig lest we might get lost in the middle of the sea. Hah! We’re that paranoid. 😛 The first 15 minutes of that 30-minute itinerary were spent by struggling for our lives. Haha! The underwater scenery was nice, though.
After that, we went to Crystal Cove where it had an entrance fee of P200 each. Being broke that we were, we opted not to go inside. There wasn’t much to see anyway so we stayed outside the island taking hundreds of photos under the scorching afternoon heat.
Our third destination was the lunch area. I don’t know if the island had a name, but the tour guide / boatman just told us that it was where we’ll have our buffet lunch. The food was okay, it was enough to fill our empty tanks, and it also had unlimited beverages.
To somehow burn our calorie intake from lunch, we went to another snorkeling spot and stayed there for 30 minutes. The water was calm there and it was easier to swim in. I even removed my life vest and attempted to free dive. Well, it was not quite successful. Haha!
Our last destination was the best part of the tour–Puka Beach!!! It was the legit Boracay that I imagined. It was quiet and it had no establishments around. It was the place where all you have to do is just enjoy the beach and do nothing else. Don’t get me wrong, the beach in the stations in Bora are also nice with its distinct powdery sand, but it became too commercialized that it felt like you’re in Eastwood or BGC.
After the island hopping, we had henna tattoos worth P100 while waiting for the famous Bora sunset.
For dinner, it also took us an hour walking from station 1 to 3 to search for the most practical place to eat. We decided to eat at La Carmela de Boracay for their international buffet worth P300. That was the only splurge meal that we had during he trip. It was also a good thing that my cousin paid half of my fee. Yay! 🙂 There are lots of buffet restaurants located in Station 3 so you can choose which one best suits your appetite.
We only had half of the day to spend in this beautiful beach so we had to spend every minute of it wisely. We woke up at 7AM and immediately changed clothes. My cousin and her fiancee got up earlier to have their pre-nuptial shoot while the rest of us have at most an hour strolling by the beach, having some breakfast, or whatever. We all agreed that we should leave by 8:30 AM for the parasailing and banana boat. Ate Michelle, tour agent, fetched us in Maja’s Place at around 8 AM but it was too early so she had to wait for us to finish our breakfast first. As smooth as I imagined the plan would be, the photoshoot people didn’t come back on time and we wasted almost an hour waiting for them so that we can all go to the boat station. We had no choice but to leave them since we couldn’t contact them [good job for not bringing your phones with you, guys]. Sadly, it was only the three of us who were able to do the parasailing. But luckily, they were able to arrive at the platform when we were about to ride the banana boat. At least we were complete for that one.
It was super scary at first, but we enjoyed every minute of it! 🙂
It was our first time to do parasailing so we were very afraid of heights. It was such a thrilling experience that we felt like we were birds [or drones]. The view was great from up there too. Ahh thank you, Lord! 🙂
Banana boat with the gang!
We got our parasailing and banana boat package rates from tour agent Michelle [+639069319995]. She’s nice! Don’t worry, it’s not a scam. You can ask for a discount if you have a big group. 😉
A friend also recommended that we should try Jonah’s Shake in Station 1. Before packing up to leave, we dropped by their place to try the popular Bora beverage. I had melon mango for P120 and it was yummy!
Shake not included. Haha! Sorry 😛
So here’s the tricky part of the trip. I only allotted P5,000 for the trip but I ended up saving almost P1,000 on the trip itself. Note that we paid 50% each in advance to reserve our slot for Maja’s Place. I know that I could have spent less, but I think this is the most honest that I can get. I also didn’t have the chance to buy pasalubong and I didn’t include my contingency fund in there. Let’s just say my P1,000 change was my unspent contingency fund. 🙂
If you really really need to cut costs, you can skip the buffet dinner and the henna tattoo or banana boat. Or even the parasailing as well and just do the island hopping alone. That way, you can save another P1,000. But what the heck, why not do parasailing right? If you’re into that kind of thrill, that’s definitely a must! 🙂
My Bora budget
Lastly, if you’re on a super tight budget, it’s okay to compromise things. For instance, you can stay at a hostel or lodge and be as thrifty as you can with food. But don’t deprive yourself too much of the good things. It’s okay to have one [or two at most] relatively expensive meal and maintain a P50-budget for the other meals. Don’t make yourself super kawawa. After all, you’re supposed to enjoy every bit of your adventure. 🙂
Boracay is definitely the place to be. I can say that it is the go-to beach in the country. You’re not a legit Pinoy when you haven’t visited Bora at least once. However, it is quite sad to know that it’s getting too commercialized that almost every popular restaurant you know can be found in there as well. I have nothing against them, but I’d rather have Sbarro or Project Pie in Manila than in Bora. I’d rather enjoy the bare beauty of the beach instead of the distracting fancy restos. In the first place, I dint go to Bora for that. I just hope the local government and the Department of Tourism take action in preserving the island so that more generations can enjoy the beauty of it rather than future kids knowing Bora as a mall-island. It might soon become Boracay Global City, if you know what I mean.
Nevertheless, I still enjoyed our super short trip in this paradise. I know that this will not be my last time visiting this place. When I go back, I will try paraw sailing, helmet diving, flyfish, and mermaid swimming lessons [IF I GET SKINNY HAHA!].
See you soon, Boracay! 🙂