Thursday, May 11, 2006

Island of my dreams by TM Sheila dela Cruz

Imagine this… clear and cool, blue waves gently lapping on powdery white sand. The warm sun peering through near cloudless skies. The perfect picture of calm. And you, standing waist deep in the ocean, and being able to see not just your feet, but fishes of all different colors glistening in the sun!

I used to think this was the stuff of fairy tales and dreams… but for 4 glorious days and nights last March, I actually lived my dream! And I still have the tan to prove it! ;-> The dream island actually exists, and lucky for us Filipinos, it is right here on our shores. What dream island am I talking about? Nothing else, but the world-famous Boracay island.

This is the place which elicited not just ooohhhs and aaahhhs from my kids! Imagine, not once did I hear them say, “Mommy, I’m bored”.. but instead I heard them say: “This is great!” OR “Mommy! This is awesome” And last but certainly not the least, “Mommy, can we live here in Boracay?” Hahaha! My kids had so much fun in Boracay that they didn’t want to leave. And I can’t say I can blame them coz I wanted to stay there myself!

Tonight I want to share with you some info about this tropical paradise, where it is, how to get there, and what to do once you’re there! Basically, a guide for all first-time visitors to Boracay…

Where IS Boracay? Boracay is a dumbbell-shaped 7-kilometer speck off the northwest corner of Panay Island, in the Visayas island group of Central Philippines. The famous White Beach is its central destination, stretching for 3.5 kilometers on the west side of the “handle” of the dumbbell. A dazzling expanse of “talcum-fine” white sand, it is considered by travel connoisseurs as the world’s best tropical beach.

Central Boracay is informally divided into three sections around the three drop-off points along White Beach. These are known as Boat Stations 1, 2 & 3.

How to get there? For us Manila-based mortals, we actually have 2 options… to go by air and fly direct to Caticlan, or via Kalibo. If you take Kalibo, it’s just an hour and a half trip via bus to Caticlan, then a short ferry ride to the white sand beaches of Boracay. 2nd option is via the land/sea route and get to boracay using the RORO (fyi, RORO means roll-on, roll-off). Of course, if money is not an issue, then I suggest you fly direct to Caticlan, and be in Boracay in less than an hour! From Caticlan, you disembark at the Boat Station nearest your resort.

Boracay is both the tropical dream, and party animal’s paradise…So before you go there, decide if you want to commune with nature, or party! The hippest, party-est places are in Boat Stations 1 and 2, while Station 3 is relatively quieter.

Boracay is commercialized, and really a “tourist” spot. Where else can you find children going around the beach offering their service of braiding your hair in corn rows for 300 pesos! Where else can you be snorkelling in the middle of the ocean, and find vendors in hawking ice cream and fresh buco juice! :D But as commercialized as it is, Boracay’s natural beauty still shines through.

All throughout the year, there are loads of people at White Beach, so if you’re like me who prefers the quiet, deserted-island feel, then head to Puka Beach, where there are no crowds, the beach is cleaner, the sand just as white, but with corals and tiny, pretty rocks at your feet. You can also go up Mt. Luho, the island’s highest peak, to enjoy the beautiful view.

What else is there to do in Boracay? Go island hopping. Famous tourist spots are Crystal Cove Island where the adventure is to go down into the different crystal caves and splash in the cold, cold waters inside the caves. There’s also Crocodile Island, aptly named such, as the shape of the island from afar is in the shape of the crocodile. This is where a lot of tourists go snorkelling, and try to find nemo. Or as in the case of my kids, to feed different-colored fishes with bread right from their hands, and wherein they saw starfish the color of deep blue.

Try everything Boracay has to offer, whether it be scuba-diving, snorkelling, para-sailing, or riding a glass bottom boat, or a banana boat…

Really, there are so many things to do and see in Boracay. Still so many tips but not much time to say it! So let me leave you with the most important tip. And that is to befriend the locals! You get the best deals, the best service, plus, they’ll tell you the best places to go!

And before I end, remember, what should be every traveler’s credo:

Take Nothing but Pictures.
Leave nothing but footprints.
Kill nothing but time.

Good evening…

(delivered May 10, 2006)

1 comment:

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