I cannot count how many times I been left out among conversations with friends or how many times I been asked by people from other countries I met thru work and travel about this island and caught myself shyly admitting that I have never been to Boracay thus cannot provide much help.
So I decided that the best time to see the island is straight from my Indochina trip and diverted my flight from Bangkok back to Manila to Caticlan, Aklan instead. Besides, this is just the perfect opportunity to nurse my early post vacation blues and maybe lessen the guilt of enjoying the beaches of Nha Thrang, Vietnam and yet failing to patronize the prime example why you should consider Philippines as your next summer getaway destination.
With my backpack and an additional hand-carried luggage of huge sleeping Buddha mannequin I bought from Bangkok as a promised gift to my Aunt for her collection, I arrived early morning at Caticlan Airport, took a motor tricycle towards Caticlan Jetty Port, boarded the public boat named Mermaid 3 that sail towards the island of Boracay.
I looked tired, disoriented, strange and alone.
With no idea where to go, with no prior hotel booking, it was indeed a blessing having met a Filipino couple at the ferry terminal, whom are both island natives. In a span of ten minutes boat ride, starting by answering their initial questions of “Why are you alone?, Why are you carrying a big backpack?, I thought you are Korean, most tourists here are from Korea and was surprised when you speak Tagalog.”, I was provided with handful information about the island and a hint of nostalgic story back when Boracay was theirs alone, back when it was a little unknown paradise.
Pick your station- Station 1, Station 2, Station 3. White Beach.
White Beach is the commercial center of the island. The four kilometers beach stretch is divided into three stations and grouped accordingly.
Station 1 is where the widest beachfront is and where the most expensive hotels are located. Station 2 is where the crowd is and where you go for beer and McDonalds. Station 3 is where you go to get away from the crowd, for some quiet time.
I stayed and spent most of my time in Station 3, reading Flowers for Algernon.
It was said that the name Boracay is derived from the local word “borac”, which means “white cotton”, exactly the word that can closely describe the color and texture of the island sand. It is so fine and soft, thus tempting other tourists to fill up a bottle as a souvenir though this is illegal and prohibited.
Boracay far exceeded my expectation on two occasions.
Cited as one of the best beach destination in the world, the island of Boracay located at the northwest tip of Panay has garnered a generally positive feedback from visitors though there were few travel bloggers and critiques who wrote the exact opposite.
I guess the top reason why there is such difference in opinion is the intention of going to the island. If you are looking for sun, sand and overflowing San Miguel beer Boracay is for you, but if you are looking for quiet meditative beach time mixed with some cultural sightseeing maybe this is not the island for you.
In a sense it is also fair to accept that as much as the hype and prestige associated with Boracay, there are certain transformation that you wish Boracay will undergo- starting with the local government control on the rapid infrastructure over-development, followed by tourism officials to seize this chance to promote the region culture and heritage and somehow tone down the party place vibe.
At the end of the day, the natural beauty of Boracay justifies all the hustles associated to reaching the island including the seasonally increasing terminal fees.