Boracay is rumored to have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. As soon as I heard this, there was no way I could leave the Philippines without seeing for myself if this rumor is true.
Boracay was not an easy place for me to get to. At the airport in Puerta Princesa, I was informed that my flight from Manila to Cataclan (the closest mainland town to the tiny island of Boracay) was cancelled due to weather. Cebu Pacific Air instead put me on a flight to Cataclan for the next day, which would mean I’d have to spend another night in Manila. Luckily, an extremely friendly and helpful couple in line next to me who overheard my dilemma (and were themselves experiencing the same dilemma), said we had the option to go to Kalibo, a town about an hour and a half from Cataclan, where the airline promised a van would take us to our original destination.
Unfortunately, Cebu Pacific said they couldn’t change my flight again since they’d already moved me to the flight for the following day (crazy discount airlines in undeveloped countries – they also only accept cash for at-airport baggage and terminal fees and the closest ATM is a ten minute tricycle ride away from the airport, but I won’t get into the details of that story).
In Manila, I stood in line at the standby counter for an hour hoping that being in an international city would make the Cebu Pacific counter there more able to cater to my needs. My waiting paid off, because they put me on the flight to Kalibo and I was again on my way to Boracay.
In Kalibo, my new friends, the incredibly friendly couple – a girl from Barcelona and a guy who grew up in Palawan, who were on a pre-wedding honeymoon in his native country – and I followed a mob of people and made it onto a van that would take us to Cataclan. At the jetty port in Cataclan, I was very thankful to be with a native Filipino as he helped me navigate the confusing ticket buying procedure (he even paid for my boat tickets), the boat boarding, the luggage carrying (Filipino men seem to be very chivalrous towards women), the finding of a place to stay for the night, and the tipping of the Filipino man who assisted us in finding a place to stay. I was yet again blown away by the kindness of strangers – this couple went out of their way to help me without expecting anything in return.
After this crazy day of traveling, the sun was already gone by the time we arrived in Boracay, and I couldn’t verify whether the Boracay beaches live up to their reputation. It was okay because I was exhausted, so I used the darkness as an excuse to go immediately to bed upon my arrival.
As soon as I was awake the next day, I dashed to the beach and basically stayed there for the next three days.
Unlike El Nido, Boracay is and has been a tourist destination for a long time, which means there are many places catering to the needs of vacationers. White Beach, appropriately named and the main tourist beach, is lined with resort after restaurant after bar after spa after shops after freshly squeezed juice kiosk. The beach itself is polished smooth ivory sand fading into cerulean warm yet still refreshing water. The water is shallow for a hundred feet or so into the sea, so it is perfect for lazy swimming to periodically cool off from the blazing sun. An endless array of sailboats complete the beauty of the seascape. Basically, Boracay is an ideal spot for a pure relaxing beach vacation.
There are some forms of entertainment for the more adventurous traveler – scuba diving, sailing, snorkeling, windsuring, jet skiing, parasailing, banana boating – but as I was feeling exceptionally lazy (and most of the activities are quite pricey), I spent most of my days lounging on White Beach. There are fancy lawn chairs all over the beach, most of which don’t require payment or guest status at the nearby resort they belong to, so sunbathing is a very easy, inexpensive activity.
When I needed a break from the sun, I walked about ten feet off the beach to the outdoor mall for some souvenir perusing (not buying) or bought a pure watermelon juice and sipped it under a palm tree (watching for falling coconuts) or got a 350 peso massage under an awning next to the beach (almost double the price than in Puerto Princesa – probably inflated because of all the tourists – but still quite the unresistable bargain).
My nights were spent watching the sun disappear over the western horizon (yes, I finally saw a sunset!)
I can now verify that White Beach must indeed be the most beautiful beach in the world.
Unfortunately, my blissful time on the beach had to come to an end at some point. After a very relaxing time exploring the remote tropical paradises of the Philippines, tomorrow I’m heading back to the bustling city life in Singapore.