Boracay Island, PhilippinesI’m one of those people that listens to a song for the first time and often doesn’t get it. If I listen to it a few more times it starts to grow on me, then I soon realise how great the song actually is. This trait falls into other categories of my life too, such as travel. On occasions I’ve arrived at a destination only to be disappointed, before reassessing a day or two later and utterly falling in love with the place.
This happened recently on a trip to Boracay Island in the Philippines. This island is nominated regularly in the top islands to visit in the world, but it wouldn’t have made my top 100 after my first hour there as we were herded around like cattle on arrival.
From the terminal we were taken to a minivan for a short drive to a marina where we were put into holding pens before being corralled onto a ferry for a twenty-minute cruise to the island itself. If that wasn’t frustrating enough, after disembarking we then had to bide our time in extreme heat till a tuk tuk was arranged to take us to our hotel.
While I’m on a rant, you also have to pay three separate fees for the privilege of this discomfort: a landing fee, transport from the airport to the marina fee and a fee for the transport to your hotel. I later found out that a one-off payment of 400 Pesos ($10AUS) can be paid on the plane for all these services and I strongly advise this course of action.
After settling in to my beachfront hotel I walked the thirty metres to the beach and was immediately accosted with offers of massages and island hopping sailing tours half a dozen times. On the plus side, the sand was as white as the brochure and diving into the aqua blue ocean brought some respite.
If I had to describe my first impression of Boracay it would be a combination of Paddy’s Markets and Pitt Street Mall. The crowds of tourists were enormous.
I was overwhelmed, but as the warm afternoon lingered, a kaleidoscope of colours started filling the sky. Boracay was beginning to resemble the paradise I was promised. The first sunset I witnessed was as stunning as I’ve ever seen.
The main beach (named White Beach for obvious reason) is where you will spend most of your time and there is so much going on there: watching frisbee football, walking, sailing, swimming and sunbaking.
The nights were a real eye-opener, care of the immense competition for your patronage. Most hotels set up eating areas on the beach outside their properties and the choices are almost endless. The air is abuzz with live music and DJs playing their thumping music. It’s crowded, but the longer you’re there the more normal it becomes and you soon get into the island groove.
The main beach is divided into three stations: station one is the place to stay as it is where the majority of bars, restaurants and cafes are. Stations two and three are all very well positioned, just slightly further away from the action. There is a huge range of accommodation available catering for all budgets.
I stayed on Boracay Island for four nights and the longer I stayed the more I loved the place. There is so much to do, but one thing you should not miss out on is hiring a boat and doing a tour of the island. While the main beach is super crowded, the other side of the island is the exact opposite.
In Boracay, first impressions don’t last. After four days, I didn’t want to leave!
How to get there and accommodation info: