20 August 2010

A Boracay Birthday Getaway

Yesterday, I woke up to this...

right before sunrise on White Beach, Boracay

good morning, Boracay!

Last night, I was back in Manila and dove straight back into work & stress, but with my batteries recharged and spirits revived.

I have just gotten back from a few days in Boracay. It was my 25th birthday, and it was the perfect excuse to escape for a bit. I badly needed a getaway. And Boracay has always been the perfect place for that.

the tiny island of Boracay

Boracay never gets old for me. I will never tire of its fine, almost talcum white sands and of its clear blue waters...

Yes, it may be too congested now (construction of even more hotels & restaurants are under way!) and trash disposal remains to be an issue (I don't understand how some people can stomach leaving their cigarette butts or empty plastic water bottles on Boracay's beautiful sand -- how could they?!)... but when it really comes down to it, when you sit there on the beach, on sand that never gets hot despite the heat of the sun because of its super fine powder-like texture, and just looking out to all that blue and white, all that sand and sea... It really is still one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

The Mister and I have made it an annual summer break for us. For the past 7 years now, we'd been visiting Boracay every summer to spend a few days with the sun, sea and sand to relax and recharge ourselves. We're beach babies!

divers going into the water...

Every summer (late March - May), the island transforms into this summer island destination where everything you could possibly want to do is possible. During the day, you've got people in their board shorts and tiny bikinis lounging around the stretch of White Beach with their fruit shakes and cocktails in hand; or tourists on jetskis, skimboards, kayaks, banana boats, parasails... every imaginable water sport is available here, I think. Why, you can even walk underwater wearing just a big bubble helmet on if you book the reef walking! There's island hopping, some snorkeling, paddle surfing, skimboarding... If you'd rather stay inland, there're ATV rides you can book to take you to Mt. Luho for a gorgeous view of the sea and the island, or you can even jump into a giant plastic bubble and tumble down a hillside. Seriously. I did say anything was possible on the island of Boracay, right?

kayaking in Boracay
learning how to paddle surf
At night, Boracay becomes the ultimate party island -- beanbags scattered on the beach, mojito bars set up right on the sand, poi dancers entertaining guests with their fire dance, house music booming from loud speakers at every beachfront bar, the acoustic, dreadlocked reggae musicians doing their own gigs in the smaller dive bars, beachfront barbeque grill buffets, happy hour everywhere, and in April, big event after big event, when rock bands and big rave parties (oh my, I feel so old. Is that even what it's called still?) are brought in from Manila. People everywhere, with half of Manila's population transported into this tiny little island.

mojito bars at sunset during summer
Not for us definitely. We're not much for parties or big crowds. We like our beach trips sedate and quiet. Sure, we'd enjoy the occassional happy hour cocktails but far from the maddening beach crowd, and that's about it. Yes, we are old farts. :p

That's why staying at Discovery Shores at the end of Station 1, far from the parties and crowds of Station 2 and the other end of Station 1, is perfect for us. (But more on this amazing boutique property later!)

Anyway, having said all that a summer spent in Boracay has to offer, this was actually our first August / low season trip to Boracay and I think I just fell in love with the island all over again. I had always wanted to visit Boracay in the off-season since I knew it'd be much more quiet and a lot more relaxed and it was exactly what I expected! When the 'habagat' winds roll around, Boracay becomes a different place. Waves are a bit bigger... winds pick up a bit more... rainshowers in the afternoon... no algae!!! (during the summer, Boracay's White Beach encounters algae issues when loads of the green stuff swim close to shore, giving the White Beach a green stripe running along the shore -- not very pretty! :s). But the best part is that there's significantly less people, locals are more relaxed and there is generally that sedate, slow, almost back to provincial Boracay feel. It was actually quite nice.

Sure, it rains. But not all day. The past couple of days, it'd been sunny mornings and rainy afternoons. But it works out perfectly for us. Yesterday, I was able to enjoy a swim in the sea and a walk on the beach in the morning and right after lunch, when the rainshowers started, I was getting comfortable on a massage bed getting a Hot Stone massage, as were most of the visitors enjoying their siestas in the comfort of their own rooms. How perfect is that?!

During the low season, locals are also a lot more friendly since they have a bit more time to talk and chat with less guests to attend to. Yesterday, we were able to chat with Lee, the lovely lady who owns and runs our favorite Boracay breakfast spot, Real Coffee, as she was telling us about how sometimes the rainy days are her busiest days but mostly with her regular local patrons. After all, everyone wants a good cuppa when it's raining cats & dogs outside!
And I couldn't agree more. As I sat there enjoying a breakfast of Mango French Toast and an omelette stuffed with tuna, pesto and cheese with a big mug of freshly brewed coffee (more on this amazing breakfast later!), I couldn't help but think how being in Boracay during the rainy season finally gave me the perfect excuse to enjoy a cup of hot coffee on this island, something you definitely cannot do in the heat of summer.

And so with that, I will interrupt my Bali series for a bit to write about one of my favorite little islands in the world, Boracay. (I promise to post more Bali stuff soon, though, so to my Tripadvisor.com Bali forum friends, keep checking in for that! ;p) But for now, a tribute to an island that never fails to cheer me up and give me that much needed recharge for life back in Manila.

Stay tuned! ;-)

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