Paradise of The Philippines: Boracay
One of the top beach destinations of the Philippines, Boracay Island. This island is on many travel awards and reviews, you almost can't miss it. Some may say it's overrated, crowded and the biggest "tourist trap". Others, fun, beautiful and a must visit. I on the other hand, had no intent ever visiting Boracay before setting myself up for the trip and I wont say I regret it. The little expectation I had helped me really indulge on the island with my own perspective and not anyone else's.
There are many ways to reach the Island, but with the time restraint, I had to pull together a larger budget plan so I flew AirSwift straight to Caticlan Airport. This is a very small domestic airport that transfers its passengers after landing into the main terminal where you can pick up your bags. Arriving to Caticlan, you will have to take a boat to get to the Island called Caticlan Jetty port which is about only 600 meters from the airport arrivals. You can take the tricycles on stand by across the street or you can simply just walk over to the port. I opt of the tricycle after grabbing a ticket from the booth that have set prices which was better than negotiating with the drivers from taking advantage of its tourists. Though later on my way back I took my feet for the stroll with my google map on hand which was a simple 10-15 minute walk to the airport. Once you've reached the port terminal, you will need 3 types of tickets; a boat ticket to Boracay, terminal fee and an environmental fee from all different windows. When you've reached inside, not much is laid out as to where you will have to wait for your boat so it's always best to ask any associates or guards in the terminal, people are usually friendly and they will lead you to the right queue. The boats to the Boracay Island are small and what they call a "bangkay". To my surprise the boat ride was about 20 minutes. Once you arrived at the port, you can either take a tricycle or the pedicab which is a cheaper options for about Php8 but it will not take you to the doorstep of your accommodation. It's much like the jeeps. How I managed to get off the pedicab was by following my GPS map and walked over just a block away. I booked my stay at W Hostel where I was meeting up with a couple of friends I met in Manila prior. That's what's really great with Hostels is that you meet some great people you may end up having lasting friendships with. Rarely, but when you do find some cool travel buddies to share stories with, you don't regret very much of your trip.
Puka Shell Beach
I had no set itinerary on the island but to enjoy the beaches and a little bit of the popular 3.5km white beach strip. Let's start with the beach strip. You can find all sorts and from the bars, market , hotel beach fronts and A LOT of people. There are loads of people strolling on the strip and A LOT of people selling you tours and excursions. Like, constantly. If you refuse and have no intent in buying any of their promotions, just keep walking, smile and politely say no. You'll probably do this throughout your walk. The strip is sectioned into stations, station 1-3 from North to South. I didn't bother to do any tours on this Island except paddle boarding in station 3 after 20 minutes of persuasions from the men selling me the package and with a little bit of negotiations, I caved in. After only having spent a few days on the island, I checked out Puka Shell Beach which was at the very Northern part of the island, and getting to it by hopping in the pedicabs and reaching the last stop was easy breezy. This beach was probably the best and most accessible beach on the island. You arrive to a very open white sand beach, lined up are some eateries and people offering massages on the beach for a couple hundred pesos. Keep walking to the far side of the beach for a more secluded area. The area at the time was empty and quite, it felt we were the only ones on the island. The water was definitely much clearer than the beach strip. Keep in mind, this trip was during the low season in September-October month when I visited so there weren't very many tourists on the beach. Which is always the best time to visit many of these tourist attractions. Another great part of Boracay are the bars and street performers, or shall I say, beach performers, usually during the night, parts of the strip have fire dancers and you can experience bar hopping which you can register yourself through some hostels or online on their Facebook pages. I on the other hand, opt out of these experiences this time because i'm the biggest grandma you'll meet who like to hit the sack by 10pm; yes, even when i'm travelling. There's usually some persuasions involved to find me partying.
So even though you might find yourself deciding to skip Boracay all in all, remember that every part of the world has it's own beauty. Other islands in the Philippines may be more worth a visit but keeping Boracay out of the equation, you might find yourself missing out on other experiences other islands may not offer or new friendships that cross your path more highly than a less "tourist trap" islands offer, especially when you're a lone traveller.
If you've visited Boracay or have plans on visiting, let me know what you liked about the island or why you decide to put the island on your travel bucket list.