We had heard that the beaches in the Philippines are a paradise on earth. So, we asked our friend Carlyn Sarino, who is a travel lover just like us, and is originally from this beautiful Southeast Asian country, to share with us her number 1 spot.
By Carlyn Sarino
A postcard-perfect stretch of powdery white sand, turquoise blue waters, a breathtaking sunset, fire dancers throwing and twirling batons, and lively nightlife… ah, you just set foot in the paradise that is Boracay Island, located in the central part of the Philippines. The hype is real – it’s gorgeous, dreamy, and the perfect setting for a relaxing holiday under the sun unlike no other. No wonder international magazine Conde Nast Traveler keeps rating Boracay as one of the “Best Islands in the World” in the last decade.
If you’re thinking of spending a holiday here, it’s easier to get to than what you might think. Fly into Manila or Cebu in the Philippines, and take a connecting flight to Caticlan or Kalibo island, both of which are just an hour away by plane from Manila. The Caticlan option is the faster of the 2 routes, bringing you in close proximity to Boracay – from Caticlan port, you can board a boat that will take you to Boracay in 15 minutes. Kalibo is the cheaper route and has a bigger airport, but travel time takes a little longer – from Kalibo, you would have to take a bus or van for 1.5-2 hours to get to Caticlan port.
Now that you’ve set foot on the island, these are our Cuckoo B favorites for you to do to enjoy your stay:
Beach, beach and more beach: White Beach is Boracay’s main draw with its glorious stretch of white sand lined with resorts, restaurants, and bars. Don’t limit yourself to White Beach though as there are many other beaches in the island that can be explored, such as Puka Beach (a beach lined with puka
shells). One tip is to hire a banca (canoe) to go beach-hopping, access small islets, explore hidden coves, and do some snorkeling in the coral reefs. The scenery is stunning and the friendly boat guides offer a truly local experience.
Try exciting water sports and activities: If you love water sports, Boracay offers a number of activities to keep your sense of adventure alive! Go on the banana boat or the exhilarating fly fish, where you ride a huge inflatable and be pulled by a speedboat. You can also go helmet diving, where you walk on the seabed and feed fish as you wear a huge helmet to keep you down in the water. Ride one of those romantic paraws (a sailboat) and sail around the island during sunset – it’s extraordinary and breathtaking. You can also do parasailing, windsurfing, or even cliff diving at Ariel’s Point, with the highest platform at 15 meters above water.
Paraws in Boracay Island
Enjoy true Filipino cuisine, street food and drinks: The best way to enjoy local Filipino fare is to go to the wet market, D’Talipapa, and shop for fresh seafood and meat. Once you’re done, you can get one of the nearby restaurants to cook it for you in how you want your meal cooked. You can also experience a boodle fight, where you eat food piled on top of banana leaves – and with just your hands! Along White Beach, you can also try street food like isaw (barbecued pig or chicken intestines), chicharon (pork fat crackers), balut (fertilized egg), and the famous chorizo burger (grilled chorizo with sweet sauce in a bun). Visit Jonah’s Fruit Shake & Snack Bar, an island institution with its fresh juices and fruit shakes (mangoes, anyone?) that you can enjoy anytime of the day. In a scorching hot summer day, beach-goers often drink Beer below Zero beers, served ice cold at -2 to -6 degrees Celsius. Try out the local beers, San Miguel or Red Horse, and get right into happy hour mood.
Experience the vibrant nightlife: The nightlife scene in Boracay is a lot of fun with all the dancing and partying that you can do. There's the famous Cocomangas Shooters Bar on the beach, famous for its “15 shots challenge” – you have to take 15 shots consecutively to become a legend on the island with your name engraved on the bar’s wall for life. Club Paraw and Epic are also local favorites for the dancing and drinking. Along the beach, skillful fire dancers also make a nightly appearance to entertain tourists and locals alike.
Firedancers entertain crowds in Boracay
Other pro-tips: After an action-filled day on the beach and water, it’s time for a relaxing massage. There are a number of massage shops by the beach or you can simply hire a local masseuse by the beach area for less than $10. A lot of beach-goers also get a henna tattoo and a corn braid to flaunt for the rest of their stay.