So I finally hit the Philippines and WOW what a place! Markus and I took a plane from Denpasar, Bali to Manila, Philippines and then changed planes to head for Caticlan, the airport closest to Boracay. The view out of the window was very promising!
The Island of Boracay has been closed for tourists for 6 months and re-opened October 2018 after renovation. So after arriving at the Airport in Caticlan, we had to catch a ferry because the airport of Boracay actually isn’t on Boracay. The ferries are rather small but luckily they go back and forth frequently so getting to the island is very easy.
We were greeted by Boracay with this view of White Beach. Eventhough I have seen whiter beaches, this one has pristine clear water and the sun makes the illusion of a white sand perfect. This beach you will not have on your own, it is very crowded especially at sunset as you will see later…
The town itself has one main road and a few side streets and traffic is as bad as in any city… unbelievable, it is an island and we managed to screw it up with traffic 😉
Anyway, we wanted to explore the island and after staying at White Beach one day we visited Puka Beach the next day and were not disappointed.
Not really deserted but being on the other side of the island, furthest away from the ferries, you see a lot less tourists here. The sand is a little rougher but still very, very nice! The sand at White Beach, to the north is powdery like flour.
Back at White Beach you will find an esplanade running along for the most part of this 4km long beach and plenty of opportunities to spend your cash in one of the many bars or shops that live from the tourists.
Nightlife is quit interesting as well, Boracay is a very touristy place and many places are catered towards tourists so you will find matching prices. If you are on the lookout though you can find places that are a bit cheaper and attract more locals. The following pictures show the rather popular places which are filled with tourists.
These guys do a great job at painting T-Shirts, it was amazing to watch. The wall shows their previous work and they all look amazing. I did not buy a T-Shirt though because my backpack is already packed to the point where it is too heavy and rather difficult to pack. Also I think those T-Shirts cannot be machine washed… so they are pure decoration only!
The next day we went to Ilig Iligan Beach. This beach is pretty much deserted and we only saw 2-3 other tourists. It is very nice also but it had bigger waves that made it less comforting to swim. The big downer of this beach though are the helicopter tours that are offered to the rich tourists closely. Every 5-10 minuted we heard a helicopter fly above us and at a certain point it got so annoying that we left for Puka Beach again. A way better choice to relax.
We also met some locals that gave us some insights to why Boracay was closed for tourists, how it affected the locals and their business and how it is to live on Boracay now compared to before the closure. The reason was the President of the Philippines was the opinion, Boracay did not met his standards of cleanliness and so Boracay needed to be renovated and cleaned up. This was good for the island but not good for the locals relying on tourists to earn money on. Since the closure many houses are abandoned which were inhabited before. So closing an island and cutting of a major branch of income does not happen without consequences. One of them being that locals left the island to look for work elsewhere. It is quite obvious if you think about it, try to live without an income for 6 months… this is really sad but maybe things will get better in the future again.
The main road is pretty frequented and a very good example of where renovation has taken place and where it still needs to be developed.
This cable was at the hight of my head and could not have been placed anymore inconvenient than this 😉
Other places look like a developed and tourists ready beach town, you can find anywhere in the world.
The main road from the ferry toward the centre of the island is pretty good and very frequented. Further north the quality of the road quickly decreases and development is ongoing. My guess is, this state will continue on for the next 3-5 years until the infrastructure is fully developed.
Aside from its problems, Boracay offers some AMAZING sunsets to offer! This is from White Beach including all the tourists 😉
and one fellow you should know if you read this blog 😉
My cousin and I we switched hotels before because we extended our stay in Boracay but the hotel was already booked out for Holy Week… Easter. We then extended our stay one more day because flights are way cheaper during the week compared to Sundays. My cousin came up with the idea to go into a luxury resort, like a 5 star type of place. Not really the type of hotel I tend to stay as a budget traveller but he had a special idea in mind.
First, the resort had a cheaper price on Sundays and since my cousin travels a lot, stays in hotels a lot he received a gift voucher that reduced the price of stay dramatically. The normal price for a single room with two separate beds would set you back approximately 330,- Euros for one night… On this Sunday the price was about 189,- Euros (a great deal but still too much for a budget traveller)! Now came the gift voucher of my cousin worth 160,- Euros and reducing the price to 29,- Euros for one night only and this price we split between the two of us. So we got to stay at one of the most luxurious resorts on the island for 14,50 Euros each… HAHA! What a deal 😀
This was the Skypool where we spend the most of the day relaxing and sucking up the luxury life. Ahh what a day 😀
The next day we were heading back to Caticlan to catch our flight to Cebu city. At the ferry station you could can see many minivans and tricycles (which are small motorbikes with a very uncomfortable side wagon to sit in). Locals tend to tell you on arrival there are only bicycles and scooters on the island but that is blunt lie! No need to fall for that one now.
So the next stop is Cebu city.