On the Philippines island of Boracay, one place stands out the most – White Beach – a four-km-long tourism attraction lined with pubs, five-star resorts, budget chalets, restaurants, tattoo parlours, souvenir shops, professional hair-braiders and just about anything a tourist could want.
This stretch of beach may just boast the softest, whitest sand in all of Asia. The water is clear and welcoming, but the main lure of White Beach is its breathtaking sunset, which takes place between 5.30pm and 6.30pm, depending on the time of year, gloats a travel report in ANN.
And, don’t forget the shopping.
You will be surprised to discover that Boracay is a great hunting ground for funky tees, ultra-cool souvenirs, trendy beachwear, silver jewellery, pewter, carvings, leather bags adorned with puka shells, beads, bells and more.
Favourites are the shops selling custom-designed sandals and the witty “attitude tees” with such catchy slogans as “Miss You-Can’t-Afford-Me” printed right across the chest.
The Tourist Center is a nice place to browse. Basically, it’s a convenience store, mini market, pharmacy, bookstore, money-changer, ATM and information counter all rolled into one.
As far as food options go, it’s a bit of a problem since everything looks good, the portions are huge and the prices are reasonable, especially the fresh seafood.
The small attap-and-bamboo outfits hiding in the shadows of the bigger outlets tend to serve reasonably-priced local food like rice and a variety of dishes, while the classier joints are more cosmopolitan, serving everything from Italian and Moroccan, to Spanish and Thai.
Located at the heart of D’Mall, Lemon Cafe offers cheese and chocolate desserts that are worth piling on the pounds for. And the main courses are absolutely divine. Its airy ambience with walls of lime green and sunny yellow makes the café a great place in which to sit back and people-watch.
There is also The Hobbit House, a bar cum restaurant with an extensive American, Filipino and Asian menu, staffed by – as the name suggests – friendly “little people.”
No matter how full you are, though, you must make some room for one of Asia’s most famous exotic delicacies – the balut, a boiled duck egg containing a three-week-old embryo. The taxi drivers will tell you it’s best to either eat it in the dark or with our eyes closed tightly!
Eaten with vinegar or salt, the yummy yolk, the half-formed embryo and some hard white stuff we couldn’t make out, turned out to be quite nice – if you can get past how it looks.
Boracay is located in Aklan province, 345km south of Manila, a dumbbell-shaped island in a nation of some 7,000 islands. It is accessible by air from Manila or Cebu through two principal gateways: Caticlan airport or Kalibo airport.
Boracay generally has two seasons: wet (Habagat) and dry (Amihan). The showers are usually from June to September, so the best time to visit is from October to May. The Christmas and New Year season is a particularly exciting time because most Filipinos are Roman Catholics and, be they rich or poor, will celebrate in a big way with lots of parties by the beach.
White Beach is “divided” into Stations 1, 2 and 3 – the first being the cleanest and most beautiful.
Accommodation is quite expensive in Station 1 and 2.
Like all island holiday destinations, Boracay has more than enough water activities to keep you occupied. There doesn’t appear to be any lifeguards here but security is tight. Every few metres or so you will find armed security guards and police personnel.
You may want to skip the typical activities like jet skiing, windsurfing and snorkelling, but kiteboarding at Bulabog Beach, on the eastern side of the island, is worth a try.
Island hopping is another option to consider. You could take a boat-ride to the north of the island at sunset for a spectacular sight of hundreds of fruit bats flying over to the mainland to feed.
Now, if your entire holiday plan is to just laze by the beach sipping piña coladas from dusk till dawn, and you can only make time for one water activity, try parasailing. You haven’t fully appreciated the beauty of Boracay until you’ve hovered above it.