Braden and loved our stay in Boracay. It was the perfect getaway together before we settle in to a new routine, and the journey from Hong Kong was reasonably straightforward (if you don’t count the disorganization in Manila (avoid Manila airport if at all possible!)) Read about it here.
We stayed at the most fabulous resort, Asya Premier Suites. It is a high-end resort on the quiet end of White Beach. We stayed in our own private suite, which overlooked the pool and had a spectacular view of the ocean and boats beyond. There was a large balcony perfect to watch the sunset from; we also had amazing relaxing massages out there one evening, listening to the birds and ocean. It was luxurious.
Outside our bathroom we had a private walled little courtyard. It wasn’t intended to be a place to spend time in, but a little bird couple discovered it and decided to build a nest. Each morning the birds sang and flit back and forth gathering material to build with. During the course of our weeks stay the nest progressed from a few ribbons of dry bamboo leaves and course grasses handing from a branch to a full nest with a little overhang protecting the round entry and quite sturdy structure. We loved them!
My favourite part of the resort was the pool. It is the largest pool on Boracay, the resort claims, and I suspect one of the shallowest as well. It was a circular pool perfect for floating and relaxing – it was about 2’ deep in the majority, with a channel in the centre that was 4’ deep. Most days we spent the morning by the pool, alternating between reading in the shade and hopping in the pool to cool down. Even in the shade the heat was intense; it was over 30 degrees with a high humidity index every day.
We spent a lot of time walking along the beach to get to the strip of restaurants and shops lining the beach. Our typical routine was to make the walk from our end of the beach along the sand until we reached the start of the pathway, which was a bit shaded. Under the protection of the palm trees we got to know the hotels, bars and shops lining the path: the men selling hand-carved (read: mass-produced) religious carvings, hats, sunglasses; vendors convincing us we need to ride a banana boat / jet ski / parasail / sail boat (if not today, then tomorrow?); men resting in the shade on their bicycle cabs, not even awake to see if we needed a ride; the same large old guy in the same chair at the same table in the same bar EVERY SINGLE TIME we walked by. We knew every turn and all the bars with the best Happy Hour specials!
Our breakfast was included at Asya, so we generally weren’t hungry until late lunch / early dinner time. We tried a variety of restaurants along the beach and most of them were underwhelming. Filipinos aren’t really known for their food, so local fare was hard to find. And, though there were plenty of locals going for the meat on a stick waiting in the sun to be grilled, we took a wide berth around those stands. Our favourite place was The Sunny Side Cafe, which we ate at three times. It is a cute little restaurant with tables on a patio, which provided phenomenal people watching, and great food.
While it was tempting to do absolutely nothing but sit by the pool the entire trip, after a few days of sunshine (and a bit too much sun) we were eager to participate in some activities. We went for a dive at Balinghai, a beautiful spot just 10 minutes off the beach; it was just Braden and I and the guide, and we saw amazing coral and fish. It was a slightly different experience that when we learned to dive in Koh Tao because the water wasn’t as warm and we wore wetsuits this time. It was great to do a dive again and we would definitely return to Free Willy Diving – they were very friendly, thorough and fun.
We checked the reviews of recommended excursions and decided to go to Ariel’s Point. This involved meeting at “Ariel’s House”, then a boat ride to the point. Once at the point, we disembarked and found a spot in the terraced seating areas lining the cliff. We found a great table where we could watch people jump from the platforms. Braden jumped from the 5m without even hesitating, and then did the 8m also, while I watched and held my breath. I jumped from the 3m one time and that was enough for me. All those years of lifeguarding made me a nervous spectator! The 15m (the highest platform) was busy too, but luckily Braden didn’t feel the need to jump from there. We also did some snorkelling, which wasn’t nearly as spectacular or fish-filled as our dive but still so nice and relaxing.
For a change of scenery we went to Puka Shell Beach, which was a trike ride’s distance away. We are so glad that we made the journey to the other end of the island to see this spot. It wasn’t very busy and so beautiful. We had noticed along White Beach that there was some green seaweed / algae washing up on the shores and in the shallow water just off the shore. Although the beach was beautiful it wasn’t very tempting to swim in it. (Braden did some research on this and, unfortunately, learned that this algae blooms primarily in February through May and is likely due to pollution). Gross! Puka Shell beach, however, had none of this algae and it was so fun to swim, snorkel and play in the waves there. The turquoise water and white sand made it irresistible. There were no puka shells to be found, unless you count the variety of necklaces / wind chimes / headbands / anklets being sold at stands along the beach. I think the locals scavenge the beach at high tide to snag any shells that can be found.
When we were scheduling our dive we met the owner of the business, who was originally from Switzerland. He told us that eighteen years ago he got tired of living in Europe and decided to travel and dive. He planned to go to the French Polynesia but made it to Boracay and never left. He explained that he loved the kindness and loyalty of the people there, and didn’t want to leave. He said, “when the Filipinos smile, they smile from their heart”. We loved how he said that and completely agree.