I am backtracking all my trips this year that I haven’t posted yet. Starting from my vacation to Boracay, Aklan after it was reopened in 2018.
Boracay island is what the Philippines is most likely known for. It is this perfect, majestic, and beautiful island destination for visitors. However, with time, after millions of tourists coming in year after year, Boracay’s natural beauty was neglected. Worse, some have taken advantage of it for monetary benefits only. And so, an order for closure was placed for six months for its rehabilitation which started in April 2018.
That was a great thing in my opinion although most locals I talked to shared how difficult those times were for them. I remember my last trip in 2013 when seaweeds were floating on the water. Honestly, I don’t think I ever swam the beach during that trip. It just was terrible at the same time disappointing. The island was calling for help very badly.
Fast forward to 2020, I flew from General Santos City, made a quick stopover to Cebu to visit my family and friends. Then, hopped on another plane to Caticlan, Aklan. The plane I took was a small one with only two seats on each side. And it took an hour until arrival at Caticlan Airport.
Arrival to Caticlan
Outside the airport are vans and tricycles that will take you to the port. I paid 150 Php for a 5-10 minute van ride. That’s when I knew I was nearing Boracay island for everything costs more.
At the port, people were being checked with a thermometer pointed on the foreheads. It was a time when COVID-19 was starting to break out but not fully yet. We were instructed to fill our information on a form for contact tracing purposes.
Thereafter, I bought my ferry ticket. I didn’t have any idea where to go but I followed the people in front of me. Once I paid all the fees, again I followed people who seemed to know where they’re going. Finally, I reached the ferry, waited a few minutes for my last journey to Boracay island.
Arriving at the port in Boracay, like everyone else I felt excited to start the holiday. With my previous visits, I already have an idea of how expensive the trip is going to cost me if I’m not going to be careful about it. And so, beforehand, as always, I have already set my mind to find the cheapest options available.
The first thing I looked for after exiting the port was affordable public transportation for me. There were electric taxis already full of passengers so I walked a little further. It was when motorcycle drivers approached asking me where I was heading. I told one driver, who was the same driver who picked me up five days later, the name of my guesthouse. We agreed to a 100 PHP fare to drive me to my accommodation, 20-30 minutes away from the port.
Boracay White Sand Beach
One of the many things I love about Boracay is its very fine white sand and its blue shades water. While living in Thailand for years, I consider myself lucky to see some of its top island destinations. From Phuket, Krabi to Koh Tao, and so on. They are all so magical in their own way.
Vacationing in Boracay again has reminded me that the Philippines has its wonderful treasures too. The island is absolutely one of them. Every day on this trip, I walked on the shores, from station 2, heading sometimes to station 3 or station 1. It made me proud to be a Filipino because while others dream of traveling to a place like this, we got to call it our own. We are lucky to have this island a part of the Philippines. All we have to do is take care of it, really.
During one of my walks, I dared to go further away until I’ve reached a little hideaway I’ve never been before. Local fishermen were setting up their boats. There were hostels there too. What made it even more interesting was the two weddings side by side held on that same day. Actually, on that day, on the entire island, there were at least three weddings being celebrated that I’ve seen. That was a lovely romantic day!
There were only a few guests in this area, can’t remember what the beach is called. The bartenders I spoke with explained that those buildings on the hills were ordered to close. I asked them why those seemed abandoned which wasn’t the case before.
Activities in Boracay
Like any other islands, Boracay has many fun activities to offer. They have island hopping, snorkeling, diving, surfing, standing up paddling, and many more. However, I didn’t do any of those. For one, I have done some of those activities during my trips there or to other islands. Two, you could say, I was trying not to spend too much money on this trip. And three, probably, I have truly aged, ha. Because my idea of a vacation has changed. It includes more sleeping until whenever I wanted, sunset viewing, and more quiet time for myself.
Don’t get me wrong, a nightlife with loud music still excites me from time to time. That’s exactly how I spent my last night in Boracay. I went to a bar playing reggae songs, people were jamming and some were up and dancing. In comparison to my last visit, there were no parties on the shores anymore where people can lounge, party, and drink. Some establishments close before midnight, some a little bit later.
This was where I hang out for a little while, listening to an acoustic band. Filipinos are very talented singers and musicians, aren’t we? Well, maybe, except me, ha.
Puka Beach, Boracay
If you ever visit Boracay, you shouldn’t miss Puka beach. You can reach it either through an island tour or by renting an electric taxi. Compared to the White beach though, the waves in Puka beach are bigger and the wind is stronger.
If you have been following this blog, you already have an idea of my fascination with sunset. During my stay in Boracay, it probably rained once and was cloudy for a couple of days. However, during my last day, I was so thrilled because, for that last time, it was sunny and so was a good chance of a sunset on the beach for me.
This is where I stayed my entire duration of the trip. Their standard room is spacious and clean. Staff are friendly and always helpful to their guests. There’s free breakfast- either pancake (banana was my favorite) or omelet and bread.
What I love the most about this place is its seating area. In the morning after breakfast or any time of the day, I would hang out there, read or check my phone. Their wifi is fast too so I could watch videos as usual.
The guesthouse is on the opposite side of the white beach. It’s close to Bulabog beach which is a perfect place for windsurfing and kite-boarding. In the afternoon, I would see people out there having fun. When I checked the cost for beginner lessons for windsurfing though, I coughed a little and just walked away. If I can remember correctly, it was around 5,000-8000 PHP. So maybe, next time. But at that moment, I was content watching others play.
So, I started with this idea of trying all sorts of cocktails from my Malapascua island trip. This came out after a question was asked to me of what my favorite cocktail drink is. And I thought, well, I only tried a few, how could I tell which one is my favorite of all. And so, it was kind of my goal to taste at least one to two new cocktails every day while on holiday. Some drinks had a terrible taste but a few stood out to me.
The good thing, I would say, is that some restaurants and bars are offering a buy-one-free-one on cocktails. One can buy margarita and the free drink could be a long island ice tea, for example. The price varies as well, it ranges from 180-240 PHP per order.
I’m going to end this post with what I’ve learned from this trip. Aside from getting myself oriented with cocktails which were fun, I guess the most important message of all is that we should take care of our planet, of what we have. We shouldn’t wait before it’s too late. Luckily, Boracay is fixable. What if it’s not? It is a depressing thought.
Finally, my answer to my title is yes, Boracay is definitely still worth visiting. It’s even like a brand new island whereby people are more disciplined and concerned in their environment. My hope is that it will be maintained for the next years to come so we avoid losing it again.