Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Score on Boracay


Yes the beaches of Boracay have fine, white sand and its wonderful to burrow your feet into its warm recesses. The water is clear and cool. The coconut trees sway in the gentle breeze and offer much needed shade and the sunsets are showstoppers.

These things we already know about Boracay. But here’s what we haven’t heard or read about:

1. You take a ferry to Boracay from Caticlan for P30.00, a relatively inexpensive fare. But to this you have to add an environmental fee of P50 which you pay at a separate window and a terminal fee of P20 which is paid to a different cashier. If you travel after 6 p.m., there is a fare surcharge as well.

2. To get into the ferry (usually an outrigger), you have to walk a plank which measures about 1.5 ft. in width. Attendants will help you along but watch your step anyway. It gets tricky when you are carrying a bag or two. One of the passengers in our boat dropped his luggage in the sea. While an attendant dove to retrieve it, his clothes were all wet.

3. If you take a minicab into town from the harbor, the driver will drop you off at the station closest to your hotel. Since the best hotels are on the beach, you have to walk a short distance through narrow passages to get there. These routes are not pretty and it might dampen your expectations until you get to the beach. The cheaper hotels can be found in these alleys.

4. We were accosted by several pearl jewelry vendors as we walked along the stretch of beach. We enjoyed selecting from the array of siopao pearls which were being offered at reasonable prices. Bargaining is the norm. But even while eating at an outdoor café, we were approached by more pearl hawkers. This gets old fast.

5. If you think you have enough of pearl vendors, how about the fruit sellers, the tour salespersons, the restaurant, hotel and bar promoters handing out flyers, the tattoo artists, the masseurs on the beach? They’re all there.

6. Be prepared to get your feet wet if you happen to take a smaller ferry back to Caticlan. The boat will take you to shore but you have to wade in water when you get off. Wear flipflops to protect your feet.

7. If your idea of a holiday is to escape from it all, then Boracay is not the place to go to. It is a world famous beach destination and attracts many visitors. My friends stay away from Boracay during the summer season (from March to June). This is when the island is teeming with vacationers. If you want a relaxing time, go after the Ati-Atihan festival in late January. We visited in February and it was quiet and slow and the beach quite roomy.

Now that you have a fresh perspective of Boracay, you are better prepared to enjoy all it offers. We had a great time during our visit there. A friend had a massage on the beach and she loved it. Two friends had a tattoo (temporary) done. We bought beautiful shell jewelry from the many stalls around. We marveled at the site of emerald sea that turned to sapphire blue in the distance. And best of all, we didn’t have to rub elbows with anyone at the beach.

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Images by Rosario Charie Albar

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