Boracay Philippines Beach Bumming

An ocean sunset with a boat with rainbow colored lighting
Were they Drinking Boat Drinks?

The First Excursion

A diagonally color striped rock wall
So Drab

My first excursion from the in-law’s house (in this case sister in law & her family) was to Boracay in the Philippines. In previous trips to the Philippines our beach excursions were often limited in time and scope. I had been to Oslob and to Malapascua Island both of which were beach destinations but the former was a day trip and the later was just a single night — hardly enough to count as a beach trip.

On New Year’s Day we loaded up and left my Ate’s (older sister) house for the airport. We went through that routine and after sometime we landed at the Caticlan airport. Quick enough we collected our bags and exited the airport and found ourselves on a small boat. A short boatride later we were on the island and met the hotel shuttle.

Our niece made the arrangements (a much nicer use of that term than is typical) for this trip. She selected the Henann Lagoon Resort. This hotel was not on the beach, but there are Henann and other options that will put you directly on the beach.

brilliant blue swimming pool and coconut palm trees
Why Leave?

it was only a ten minute walk to and from the beach. There were many other shops and restaurants in the vicinity of our hotel. The hotel as you can see was beautiful and provided a worry free stay. The only problem is the hotel was so nice one may be tempted to spend their time on Boracay in the hotel which as you see is silly.

We spent time sleeping, washing, eating, drinking, swimming, and getting massaged at this hotel and it was most excellent in all of those. Was the the face the resort was not on the beach a drawback? Yeah it was but I am not going to complain.

The hotel had the usual amenities, a basic workout room, a restaurant, the pool, and multiple bars from which to order drinks from. In addition, we worked with the front desk to hire a bangka tour package. Since our group consisted eight of us we elected to hire a private excursion. The excursion consisted of a number of stops including one lunch stop.

The Usual Disclaimer

Nothing on this trip was comped to us or provide free of charge. In addition I have no direct or distant financial stakes with any business, service, or good described in this article.

The Night Life — Ruh-Oh!

lemon slices, salt, and shot glasses
RUH-OH!

Boracay has quite the night life. There are multiple night clubs beach side with all of the bars, shops, and restaurants also carrying on. If you are looking for quiet, tranquil, and close to nature the Boracay beach is not the place to get it. Don’t get me wrong, sitting on the shore looking out across the ocean is peaceful, but you will have neighbors.

My niece’s husband arranged for us to visit one of the nightclubs. There was a minimum purchase to make while there. The house drinks and pulutan (snacks while drinking) purchases were not making much progress towards the minimum purchase.

The way out was the purchase of one liter of Jose Cuervo tequila. Shortly after that a waitress delivered salt, lemons, shot-glasses, and the bottle. I pretty much envisioned how this was going to end with one of us requiring assistance to get back to the hotel. The only question in my mind was who was going to be that victim and how bad the hangover was going to be.

Much dancing was had (not me, the club was heavy with techno-pop and I say yuch onto that). My nieces danced, the nephew danced, and so too did the boyfriend (who in a future installment promotes himself) of our other niece. I hung out and monitored the scene for imminent disaster. IIRC, I was up exploring the club a bit and when I returned to my group I saw the boyfriend sitting, doubled over with a bag under his mouth. Yeah, disaster struck the boyfriend, fortunately though the tequila was empty and while I did my share of consuming the bottle I was in good shape (definitely tipsy but coherent and coordinated). So, we got our stuff in order, got up, and I took one side of the boyfriend and my niece took the other side of her boyfriend and we marched on back to the hotel. I counseled my niece to have some gentle words with her boyfriend about this. A day or two later the boyfriend came up to me and we talked it over. I’m the last one to jack someone up for getting that way, but we all know it is a bad thing.

We ended up cancelling our excursion the next day because the boyfriend was too hungover. In my opinion, that was okay the beach we were at was a good place to while away the day.

The Boracay Beach Day

Please Try to Relax!

The decision to cancel the excursion was actually a good thing. On Boracay, there is plenty to do on the beach and the beach is well developed and accessible. We did the usual beach things, we found a shady spot under some plam trees, rented a mat, and spread out and just hung out. The youngsters rented a paddle board and we played around with that. The sand was a beautiful cool color, the shade was warm but kept the tropical sun off of us, and the tide was out and was slow but surely rising. Of course the water showed off a variety of beautiful blue shades. It was all we dream about when we think of going to a tropical beach place.

Shops, bars, and restaurants were also close by. So there was no going with out drinks, food, souvenirs. The only irksome thing was the regular vendor bothering if you needed a cellphone housing, food, drink, water-shoes, etc etc etc. The solicitors usually were not too persistent and a gentle no was sufficient for them to move on. They had plenty of potential customers.

As expected the water was warm and took no “acclimatization” . Occasionally there would be some rocks in the water but they were few and far between.

There were a lot of people here. Boracay has long been a popular internationally know beach destination. In fact, the Filipino government closed the resorts down in order to perform significant rework on vital infrastructure. I was also told, the shops (which I will use generically from this point) were also backed off of the beach.

The shops were close by the beach but there was a healthy margin between the two and between the shops and the beach zone was a definite strip to allow for auto-traffic which was limited to emergency vehicles. There were no private autos, triskikads, or other motorized transport on the beach itself.

The Boracay Beach Shops

From the inside of a restaurant looking out into the night
See the Marching Band?

The shops on the beach were a mix of the usual resort venues. Bars, restaurants, street food stalls, hotels, souvenir shops, etc. Some of the shops were completely open to the air, some had mixed outdoor and indoor seating and a few were completely indoor. I found all the venues clean and provided decent goods and services for a reasonable price. We ate here twice, the second night we found a shawarma stand and my niece, her boyfriend, and I bought shawarmas while my wife and her sister and brother-in-law found a place serving up Filipino sea food. The next night we ate a place serving Italian style food and it was good but not wow-good. Of course places selling San Miguels were ubiquitous and I was stopping at these places regularly.

My nephew found a shop entitled Mango Halo and they served soft-serve mango ice cream with chunks of fresh mango. It was good but I did not find it quite worth the raves my nephew was offering up. I just am not a big fan of soft-serve ice cream (but when I want ice cream soft-serve is better than nothing). On the last night in Boracay we were in Mango Halo eating our ice cream when we heard music from outside the shop. We looked and it was a marching band playing music and marching down the main. We exited the shop and joined in the throng following them. We all had to pull over as an ambulance was coming down that main and as soon as it passed the band and the rest of us resumed. We stopped following when a souvenir shop drew us in.

The Boracay Excursion

Lorie and Mark standing behind a beach sand sculpture
Happy New Year

The second full day we were all ready, willing, and able for action. We then met up with the tour company in the morning and they transported us to where our bangka was waiting for us. We had paperwork to fill out and we all got on, food was loaded up, and so too some snorkeling gear. We then pushed off and the first stop was a beach where they had created a sand sculpture with the date and location, obviously many pictures in different poses were taken — group photos plus photos of each couple. If you know anything about Filipinos you will know they love to take photos and we had many taken.

This trip included a couple of snorkeling stops and the water was clear but somewhat lifeless. It was not totally bereft of life but we only saw small fish and not much else.

After the snorkeling we proceeded to the lunch stop and this was at a beach restaurant. The food there was good but it was definitely Filipino style. Included were fish, shrimp, crab, pork, chicken, and yes the essential rice. However, no beer was available. After lunch we loaded back onto our bangka and circled Crystal Cove island which gave us full exposure to big and open water. The waves were noticeably bigger but not bad. However, my mountain-girl sister in law started to earnestly pray for safety.

The last event of the this trip was the banana boat ride. This is akin to tubing, but instead of laying on an inner tube you ride on a long narrow inflatable. Again, there was earnest prayers for safety being offered up and fortunately God heard her prayers and we all had a fun ride and no one was dumped.

Would I go back to Boracay? I will say without hesitation — YES!

Boracay Basic Travel Facts

Getting There

Two Mercury Marine outboard boat engines
Wisconsin Travelers!

To get there by plane you need to arrange a flight or flights to Caticlan Airport. Caticlan is a small domestic airport and you will be on a smaller plane to get there. Then you transfer to a boat to cross over to the island itself. Beware and have some cash and your IDs ready, you will be required to pay a fee (above and beyond the cost of the trip across the water) to go to the island.

Lodging

A sign for "Ellen's Resort and Apartelle" There is plenty of lodging, but I would book ahead especially if you are traveling at peak times.  Peak times I am guessing will be during Chinese New Year and other holidays in the surrounding region. It did appear there is a wide range of lodging options available from basic guest houses to luxurious hotels and exclusive resorts.

Money

There are 7-11s around, but I never stopped at one of the Filipino 7-11s for cash withdrawal from your bank accounts. So I am unable to speak to that. It worked well for me in Japan so I am guessing it would work well too in the Philippines. However, make sure you have plenty of Filipino Pesos to spend while in Boracay. Have tipping cash on hand too as tipping is a thing in the Philippines. While prices for local goods in the Philippines are less expensive expect to pay more here. We had taken care of our need for Pesos in Manila. I don’t recall using my credit card here but it was obvious there were some venues that would take it and many venues that were cash only.

Communication

I purchased and setup a pocket WiFi in Manila prior coming here. It worked well but as I said before and elsewhere it is another device to track and manage. Next time, I will be installing an eSim on my phone for this purpose. With that said, my phone with the pocket WiFi worked well enough, I was able to upload to my social accounts in near real time and IIRC I did do some live-streaming.

English is widely spoken in the Philippines. Most people are speak it well but regularly you will encounter people who speak little or poor English, for sure it will be accented.

Would I go back?

Without hesitation, I definitely want to go back to Boracay.

 

 

 

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