Friday, July 10, 2009


The low fares provided by the airlines today has really given a big boost to the tourism industry in the country. More and more Filipinos are going to places which before they could only dream of. Seven years ago when I last visited Boracay I had to shell out about seven thousand pesos just for the round trip fare to Caticlan from Cebu. This time, the whole trip: fare, food, 3-night accommodation, sight- seeing and the fun rides around Boracay cost only seven thousand for each of us.
We stayed at the native-style Orchids Resort [Tel (036)288-3313, Cel 0917-2420833] near Station 3. With a discount card of the resort which I was able to buy about a year ago, they gave fifty percent discount for the first night and 20 percent discount on the succeeding nights during low season from June to October and thirty and twenty percent discount respectively, during high season from November to May. Since we were there during their low season, with rates fifty percent less than the high season, the discounted aircon room was only 540 pesos for the first night and 864 for the succeeding nights with a maximum of three persons to a room. For a short stay of three nights only where one is out of the resort most of the time the place was just ideal: cheap yet at the same time near the beach.
Boracay is really very much different from what I remember seven years ago. Business establishments occupy almost every bit of space available. Department stores and boutiques of every kind are found in the island. Although the roads are not wide yet they have already been cemented. Resorts from the simplest to the grandest dot the landscape of Boracay. The resorts along the four kilometer stretch of White Beach have all improved. I was trying to locate the small cottage where I stayed before at the end of Station 3 but I could not find it anymore.
There were nine of us who joined in this trip. With five of my assistants and three other parish priests we were able to get that promo fare offered last April by Cebu Pacific paying only 975 each for the round trip fare from Cebu to Caticlan. (They have rerouted the trip to Kalibo instead of Caticlan because of the runway problem at the airport of Caticlan.) We arrived early afternoon of Monday in Boracay and spent the rest of the day walking along the beach and the shops and resorts at the famous White Beach. Most of the resorts have already put on high defensive fences as safeguard from the sand and the sea since it is now ‘habagat’ season. Although we were quite lucky as the whole time we were there the seas along the White Beach was not rough and it was sunny throughout.
The second day was island hopping tour. For 600 pesos we took that tour around the island starting at ten in the morning. The boat trip included snorkeling in two areas, a stop at the Laurel Island 2 Crystal Cove, lunch in Tambisaan Beach, and another stop at Puca Beach. We were back by four in the afternoon. After the tour we got on a sailboat for an hour of sailboat ride. We were charged 100 pesos each. It was windy so it was just perfect.
The third day was spent for the rides. I went for scuba diving in the morning at the Crocodile island with a Korean woman as my dive master. In the afternoon we were all together for the rides: parasailing, jetski and banana ride. The price for the rides would just depend on how you haggle with the agents. Since it was already low season the rides were much cheaper: parasailing from 2,500 to 1,100 per person; the jetski from 2,500 to 1,700 for 30 minutes and banana ride from 250 to 180 per person. For food we went to different establishments every meal time to try their different cuisine. For dinner we went to restos which offered eat-all-you-can food.

The famous distinctive landmark of Boracay at the end of Station 1 

Flights to Caticlan have been diverted to Kalibo because of problem with the airport runway in Caticlan. It is an hour and a half ride to Caticlan. Since our tickets were to Caticlan, Cebu Pacific had us ferried by van to Kalibo for free.

Lunch at Andok's in front of the Caticlan port.

Caticlan port has really been improved to cater to tourists coming from all over the world.

Caticlan port

They even have an aircon boat to ferry the tourists for that 6-minute crossing to the port of Boracay

The first white sand beach that greets the visitors upon reaching Boracay

Boracay port. All passenger boats now dock on this port just across Caticlan no longer in the 3 stations at the White Beach. Stations 1 and 3 are used only for pick up and alighting of tourists for the island hopping trips. No boats are allowed to dock at Station 2.

Walking to the Orchids resort from Station 3. Tall temporary fences as cover for the sand and the sea are now being put up along the White Beach, being already a "habagat" season. We were fortunate that during our whole stay there the waves and the wind were not that strong and it was sunny the whole time while the rest of the country was experiencing some heavy rains due to a low pressure area and an inter tropical convergent zone.

The native-style Orchids resort. It is tucked inside among other resorts just a minute away from the beach.

White Beach of Boracay at low tide.

Tables are being prepared on the beach for dinner

Even preggies don two-piece suits.

Boracay at sunset

The moon was shining brightly during the nights that we were there in Boracay. Even though it was low season there were still a good number of tourists walking along the beach.

At the end of Station 3, a tunnel is being dug by Hotel Isla Verde so that their guests would just have a short walk to the highway at the back.

The entrance to the tunnel from the beach. It's still covered by a bamboo since the work is still undergoing.

This was our second night in Boracay

Having breakfast at the resort. Bought fish being sold by peddlers and have them cooked by the staff. The resort only has set menus for breakfast, but they can accommodate food to be cooked.

The famous 4 km White Beach during high tide.

We are off for our island hopping.

Dressed in our resort wear, we excitedly pose for posterity.

Laurel Island

Our formal group picture taken from Crystal Cove.

Another pose at the entrance of Crystal Cove. We no longer went inside the resort as the entrance fee was exorbitantly high (200 pesos) for such a small place with not much really to see. Anyway, I have been there already seven years ago.

The foreigners in our group just went sun bathing while the rest went to the sea or just in the shade as it was really hot that day.

Buffet lunch was served in Tambisaan Beach.

Another look at Laurel Island where Crystal Cove is located.

One of the stops during the island hopping tour for snorkeling

Some soft corals could be seen.

Coral growth with plenty of small fishes

Puca Beach was the last stop of the day.

Having ice cream to ward off the heat at Puca Beach

Posing at the Puca Beach

Puca Beach with its distinctive fine pebbles and shells for a beach

A close-up view of the sand in Puca Beach

A woman gathering Puca shells they will use to make ornaments only found in Puca Beach.

The Monaco de Boracay Suites with a one-bedroom suite being sold starting at 6 million.

The Shangrila Hotel in Boracay

Manny Pacquiao's place in still in the works.

Being habagat already with the strong winds on the White Beach side, sailboats abound along the shore waiting for tourists.

We took the opportunity to ride on a sailboat for an hour.

We chose one sailboat which could accommodate the nine of us.

Bamboo restaurant where we had our buffet dinner on our second night

We had our tables on the beach.

Took the opportunity to go scuba diving. For my other companions they had a free morning by themselves as I was the only one having a license to dive.

My dive master was a Korean woman who now permanently resides in Boracay.

Being low season there are fewer divers. I was the only diver for the dive which we did near Crocodile Island. The place is famous for its colorful soft corals and various fishes.

While waiting for our other companions for our lunch we had refreshments from this cafe at D Mall.

Paradiso Grill where we had our lunch

Paradiso Grill

While foreigners would take to the sun, Filipinos mostly kept to the shade at noontime.

There are indigenous people in Boracay. Here Ati children are also enjoying the sea.

The afternoon of our third day was for the rides. We are taking the boat to get to the jetty for the jetski, parasailing and banana rides.

Four of us went on parasailing. With me is Fr. Nathan.

It was a little bit scary being up there in the air but it was exciting.

As we started to relax up in the air, we savored the sights around and of course this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Contentment and joy were on our faces as we landed safely back on the speed boat after that 15-minute parasailing.

Frs. Erby and Romel followed after us.

While we were parasailing our other companions went on jetskiing.

Then together we went for a banana ride.

One of the newest sport in Boracay is kite boarding.

Our last night dinner at Liebevoll.