Boracay is world-famous for the long white-sand beach, the rich night life and for me, it’s the water activity tourism that attracted me the most.
So, on the night that we got there, we strolled White Beach and enjoyed the sea breeze.
Watched in awe at the fire dancers, marveled at the crowded beach front and the many nationalities that flock it.
We chanced upon a few groups of activities “marketer”. We haggled (I am the official haggler of the group), but still found some packages a little bit expensive. So we walked farther back and chanced upon a very lively marketer who, among all the others, made me understand the difference between the 2 helmet diving options.
His name is Paquito, and he was pretty honest about the cheaper helmet diving option, which included air coming from a compressor, going to the the helmet, which smelled like Metro Manila traffic. It was PhP 200 cheaper per head. But that’s exactly the point, we were trying to escape the urban pollution. We opted for the the oxygen tank version of the helmet diving. So, we ended up taking up the flyfish, parasailing, helmet diving and island hopping all for PhP 2200 per head, instead of PhP 2400.
Writer’s Note: Price may vary depending on the season of the year. Expect higher prices during summer vacations, semestral breaks, and the Yuletide season.
At 10am the next day, Kuya Paquito went to where we were staying at, ready for a day of activities. It threatened to rain as we got to the back beach, where most of the water activities have been transferred since the monsoon wind (habagat) made it impossible for these activities to be done in the front beach.
The objective is to stay on top of the flyfish while we are being dragged by the speedboat, against the strong monsoon wind. And yes, it’s not called the flyfish for nothing. The fish-shaped inflated thing actually flies! And the drizzle made it doubly hard to stay atop the fish. First you have to have both hands firmly gripping the handle, but rainwater makes it hard for us to keep our eyes open. And yes, Kuya driver made 3 rounds of high-flying fish, as we exhausted ourselves gripping and trying to keep our eyes open. When you fall off, the speedboat driver will continue to do his thing and won’t come back for you until the next round. These photos were taken by the boat rider from Joe-B’s underwater camera (pre-gopro days):
Imagine how slippery the boat became during this stance:
Helmet diving’s objective is to go 20 feet below the surface, feed the fish, and stay down for about 15 minutes. The most challenging part here is the pressure on the ears, which we were told to equalize to lessen the pain. The guide said to sneeze really hard while holding your nose shut, once we feel the pain so our ears would pop. Bren, our beach buff, advised to also try to swallow, or yawn. The helmet weighs 25K above the surface and only 2K below. I was the first to go down, and gosh. My ears were really painful for the first 2-3 minutes. Equalizing didn’t help immediately.
There were a few fishes (yes, fishes) down there, and true enough, Bren’s skyflakes idea worked. Because it’s wrapped and hard, it eventually gets softer the longer you stay underwater. You press it a little bit and the fishes would be delighted to eat it. The word was, pusit-pusitin, or pisil-pisilin. Just press press it. =)
Going back up, the sun was already rising, and we decided to also do the parasailing within that same day after taking lunch nearby so we could queue back for the last activity for the day.
I heard so much fuss about this before going to Boracay. But when Bren and I were finally hoisted in the middle of the sea, it was…well,a zen moment. See, even a 5-year old can do it.
It was quiet up there, relaxing, and. After the adrenaline-pumping flyfish, this is a welcome respite.
HENNA TATTOOING The price largely depends on the size and difficulty of the design.
MASSAGE While the girls had fun time getting inked, Bren was relaxing with a massage offered at PhP 350 at the beach front.
CHASING SUNSETS And while they all did their own stuff, I just stood in awe at the beauty of this place, notwithstanding the fact that when I first tried the beach, it was kind of dirty (saw coffee mate wrappers, twigs, leaves, etc). The beach walk was long, it stretches for almost 2 kilometers of white sand from station 1 to 3 (the island is 4 km long). The sun that day didn’t show as the clouds were thicker. But you know what they say about faith, right? Not because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. So I still pleasured my eyes with what sunset I had.
PARAW-SAILING is a good way to chase sunsets too. You get to ride a non-motorized bangka (boat), where your sail and the boatman’s rowing skills will determine how long and far you can go.
DAY 2: ISLAND HOPPING From the back beach (which at first I thought Paquito said Pack Beach), we headed to the eastern side to snorkel. Just a tip, if you have your own mask, by all means bring it, or buy one, if budget permits. Bren had his own so there was no hesitation in using it. As for us? Well, it was a lesson learned.
Anyway, there were a lot more fish here than when we went helmet diving. Bigger, more colorful, and friendlier. We had more than one skyflakes there. I think they were hungry as it was only a little past 7am.
A man also sold buko while we there, and that killed the saltiness of our lips, and palate as we may have gulped a few glasses of salt water, trying to get a good underwater photo.
The island hopping was only limited to 3 hours, so we hurried our way to Puka Beach, which was a lot more tranquil than the main white beach of Boracay. It was about 20-25 minutes from where we snorkeled at, and we passed by some bat turfs. The waves are a lot larger here, since to our right, we were already facing the ocean. Another tip, bring water proof bags, or, in our case, sturdy plastic bags.
Puka Beach is super clean and only a few people were there. It can also be reached by land through a tricycle ride, which could cost PhP200 per tricycle as per our boat man.
ILIG-ILIGAN BEACH We were supposed to snorkel again in Ilig-Iligan, but we opted to have lunch first. They have 3 beach food places there, all offering the same thing, at the same price. So your deciding factor could be the friendliness of the staff, and the location – which one was less crowded, has more shade, etc.
The food there was generally less expensive that in stations 1 and 2, but if you buy the whole fish about a foot long, would cost you PhP 1200. For food in Boracay, a separate blog will be posted. And since we were near our 3-hour mark, we didn’t have the chance to snorkel again, which was okay since it was around 1pm then and the sun was scorching hot.
ATV The Zetro offered the ATV package we took from Paquito. It was PhP 800 per pax to do it with Zorb. But I haggled again and got it at PhP 650 each.
Shuttle ride was free back and forth but because we wanted to do it right away, we took the tricycle going there, which was a little uphill, and cost us PhP 100. They also have The Bug, a four-wheel drive much like a go-kart for a more challenging terrain, and Segway, which is a two-wheel stand up drive that would cost PhP 2000 since it was the only outfit which offered it. So we didn’t take it.
We had to go up to Mt. Luho for a 360-degree view of Boracay Island, on board our ATV. The rough road was less than 500 meters and then we took off on a paved way going up as the part of the rough road for the ATV’s was under repair.
That made the ride less of all-terrain, but more of, a simple motorcycle ride, with 4 wheels. A little bit boring because there was no mud and all.
ZORB You may have already seen it in photos, and so have we. So, we fit ourselves in a ball, with about 2 pails of water inside to make us slide, unstrapped.
TIP: Obviously, you’d get wet while inside the ball, and after getting out of the ball. Bren and I landed facing uphill, in full reverse mode as our positions got switched while going down.
Then we rode the ATV again back to the base, and as if on cue, the rain started its daily afternoon routine.
At the end of it all, after the activities and the over-all savings we had as a group (PhP 1400), we gave Paquito a PhP 200 tip. He made sure we were first on queue, and if not, then he’d joke around to pass the time. He would endorse us to his friend boat-man, he was there on time, and he played it really cool. He even had a lot of good shots using any camera we handed him. So, again, thank you, Kuya.
OTHER STUFF YOU MAY TRY THAT WE DIDN’T: Wall climbing inside the D-Mall compound – didn’t have the chance to ask how much it was. Kite and wind surfing, scuba diving, renting motorcycle for the entire day / stay, mountain biking, banana boat, and clubbing.
(Writer’s Note: I came back to Boracay with a different set yet equally adventurous set of friends and cliff-jumped. Click here to read the blog about that adrenaline-pumping activity)
Thanks to Joeb and Brennan for your photos. Till our next trip!