For Part 1 of our Boracay adventure (arrival, parasailing, white beach, etc.), check out https://rodifiedopinion.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/oh-my-boracay-part-1/
Due to the tiring activities we did (and the cocktails consumed) the previous day, waking up early in the morning seemed very challenging. We started the day with the complimentary breakfast by Hey! Jude Hotel. We also had coffee to counter the strong urge to sleep. We wouldn’t want to waste our time sleeping in freakin’ Boracay, would we?
By 9am, we wandered again to white beach. The morning view of the coast was beautiful as ever. The sunny weather really added to the beauty of the scenery, not to mention the rather few tourists roaming around (possibly due to the late-night partying).
We contacted Ron again for our planned activity that morning, helmet diving (a.k.a. reef walking). Since Ron had other clients to attend to, he referred us to his partner, Nino, for the booking assistance. He led us to Red Coral, one of the companies providing helmet diving activities in Boracay. We paid Php350.00 each which already includes a CD with our underwater pictures and video. Unfortunately, we had to wait for the earlier group to finish before we had our turn. We decided to wait behind the shades and do people watching instead. We would have also liked to try the fly fish or the banana boat but we would have to join another group to avail of the cheaper rates. On our next visit perhaps.
Tip: Availing of water sports activities as a group can be very advantageous since the bigger the group, the bigger the chance of getting lower rates (per head). The more the merrier, as they say. Popular group activities include banana boat, fly fish, paraw sailing and island-hopping. Do remember that while these activities are fun, they consume a lot of time.
After what seemed like 30 minutes of waiting, we were finally led to the pump boat that led us to Red Coral’s helmet diving structure in the middle of the ocean.
Finally, we made it to the helmet diving site. The crew briefed us about the dos and don’ts during the action underwater and we were also given basic sign language. New knowledge never hurts.
Tip: You might want to pay attention to the instructions given, especially the sign language. Universally accepted signs may differ with underwater signals (thumbs up is given to signal that you want to go up, not “ok”). Also, expect a little hurting in your ears as the pressure deep down will definitely affect them.
The helmet is very heavy but once emerged in water, it becomes light as a feather. We didn’t need any oxygen because the air inside the helmet served just fine. Reef walk started as we were slowly lowered to the sea bed. Upon reaching the ocean floor, we were given pieces of bread to attract the fishes to come near us. However, there weren’t enough fishes for my liking (probably due to the location transfer). Nino mentioned that the helmet diving activity was used to be held at a place were there were more fish and corals. The local government ordered the helmet diving sites to be transferred due to the environmental effect it had on that particular area.
After the not-so-eventful reef walking, we went off to Hawaiian Bar-B-Que for lunch to try their specialty (and one of my favorite dishes), baby back ribs. They only have limited seats “inside” but they do provide tables and chairs outside, near the Station 2 path, to accommodate additional patrons especially during lunchtime.
A medium slab of Hawaiian baby back ribs (good for two persons) costs Php350+. The pork meat was very tender and had the fall-off-the-bone feel that I expected. The sauce was also tasty though we would’ve liked more sauce or at least a refill of it. The pineapple topping was also a nice touch in terms of presentation and it kept the restaurant’s “Hawaiian” identity. While it wasn’t the best baby back ribs I have tasted, I’d say it still belongs to the top 5 of my baby back ribs list (Brian’s Ribs of Casa Verde in Cebu holds the top spot).
After feasting on the pork ribs, we headed back to our hotel for a quick break and prepared for the afternoon’s scheduled activity, ATV driving. By 1pm, Nino fetched us at D’Mall hi-way and led us to APA ATV and Bugcar Services (5-minute ride from D’Mall). We paid Php350.00 to Nino which covered the 1 hour guided ATV tour plus the entrance fees to the tour stops.
We were led to the rows of ATVs for the test drive. Our personal guide gave us instructions on how to safely operate the ATV. At first, I thought driving the ATV would be a piece of cake. Being a motorcycle rider, I was confident that I would quickly adapt to the technique in handling the machine.
Boy was I wrong. The steep learning curve I was hoping for was not meant to be as I actually had difficulty in maneuvering the ATV! It had a push-button at the right side of the handlebar which you have to push to speed up (contrary to the squeeze-throttle motorcycles have). I also had trouble turning the handlebars as I found them to be very stiff and resistive (lack of lubricant perhaps).
To add insult to my already-injured self-esteem, Kaye effortlessly drove the ATV along the training course as if she was the one who was the trained motorcycle rider. For shame Rod, for shame. Since I couldn’t properly handle the ATV, the in-charge suggested that we test the buggy car instead. According to him the buggy car was the easier one to ride. Thanks for rubbing it in, buddy.
Tip: When in doubt, choose the buggy car.
True enough, I drove the buggy car with relative ease despite the lack of car driving lessons (must be bizarro world out here). The buggy car rental cost Php700.00 for the 1 hour guided tour. To stick to our budget, we decided to rent only one buggy car with me driving the first half of the course and Kaye driving on our way back.
The tour started with a short ride from the APA grounds to our first stop, Everland Aviary Farm. The trail going to the aviary was a bit tricky as the concrete road posed minor challenges. A few minutes later, we arrived at the park. We were given 15 minutes to tour around the place.
Tip: If you’re not too sure about your driving skills, regardless if you’re going with the ATV or the buggy car, you might want to give the driving honors to a more educated (or at least confident) companion. Although the trail is completely concrete, it is one uphill ride but that has several turns and curves.
While an aviary is expected to be a sanctuary of birds and butterflies, the highlight of the place was the huge bat. The aviary permits tourists to touch the bat with wings spread open. Other than that, we didn’t find the place that appealing. The assortment of bird species also didn’t impress me as I’ve seen better aviaries/zoos. Eden Nature Park’s aviary in Davao was far more impressive.
After the underwhelming aviary experience, we then made our way to the second (and last) stop of the tour, the Ocean Tower. This is a newly built structure on top of a hill to give tourists a 360° view of Boracay island.
The view at the top of the tower was lovely. You can see the vast Boracay oceans while peeping at the high-end resorts far from the white beach. Better ready your cameras to panoramic shooting mode. There’s also a pair of binoculars *insert coin* to give you a better view of the immense scenery.
Since Ocean Tower was the last stop of the tour, Kaye took the driver’s seat and drove ourselves back to APA grounds. The track going back was easier since it was generally a downhill ride. One obstacle though would be the foreigners. These dudes drive their ATVs fast!
After the challenging (not to mention hot) buggy car tour, we went back to the hotel to gear up for the planned late afternoon dip. Since it was only 2pm, we decided to go with our merienda plans first. The snack menu: Real Coffee muffins and Jonah’s fruitshake.
Located near Hawaiian Bar-B-Que in Station 2, Real Coffee is famous in Boracay not really for its coffee (as its name would suggest) but because of their calamansi muffin. I have read enough blog posts going gaga over the baked goodie that taking it off the itinerary was almost a crime. To taste is to believe, as they say, so it was put up or shut up time for the humble pastry.
To maximize our visit at Real Coffee, I ordered their banana walnut muffin while Kaye went with the classic calamansi muffin (Php45.00 each). The muffins were still very hot as they were served straight from the oven, complete with sweet aroma and all that jazz.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t overly impressed with the calamansi muffin. The citrus tang fused with the moist muffin base, while unique, didn’t really click with my taste buds (although to be fair, Kaye really loved the calamansi muffin). I also thought the banana walnut muffin was tastier than its more popular counterpart. I found the blending of the walnuts with the banana cake delectable. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.
We continued munching our muffins (we had them to-go to save time) while walking to Station 1 where Jonah’s Fruitshake is located. What better way to close a warm and heavy snack than with an ice cold fruitshake?
Like with Real Coffee, Jonah’s fruitshake is an uber popular place here in Boracay. Their specialty: banana choco peanut fruitshake. This time, I got to order the specialty menu item while Kaye had their banana peanut vanilla. Their fruitshakes cost Php95.00+ each.
While both shakes tasted very good, I must say I enjoyed the banana peanut vanilla more than the famous banana choco peanut (surprise, surprise). That’s not to say that the bestseller wasn’t any good as both fruitshakes were very flavorful and well made. The shaved ice was very fine and you can tell that the ingredients used were fresh. Also, kudos to Jonah’s for creating such unique and original flavors. We’ll definitely return to Jonah’s on our second visit.
After cooling our tummies with the fruitshakes, it was time to cool off our bodies with a quick swim at the Station 1 beach. We also took pictures of some attractions such as the Virgin Mary grotto and the “sand castle” made by the kids. Sadly, the local government has prohibited the locals from creating huge sand castles (read: more aesthetically pleasing, based on pictures we’ve seen on the web) as this contribute to the detriment of the beach. Oh well.
Tip: If you want a not-so-crowded place for swimming at white beach, Station 1 is the place to go as there are relatively fewer people swimming around compared to the tourists dipping in Station 2 beach. However, there is a downside. The sand is not that fine and smooth in Station 1 and unfortunately, we weren’t amused by some plastic wrappers and containers we saw floating around the shore. The Station 2 beach is cleaner and its sand finer and smoother than what can be found on Station 1.
And of course, no Boracay day would be complete without a sunset shot.
By 7pm, we had our last Boracay supper at Crown Regency’s Sea Breeze Buffet found at Station 2. The all-you-can-eat feast is charged at Php650+ per person. We chose Sea Breeze since we’ve read that they have one of the most extensive buffets in Boracay so we thought we’d give it a shot. There are also local buffet strips along white beach, ranging from Php250.00-450.00 per head price range though you might sacrifice food choice and quality if you decide to go for them.
While Sea Breeze does offer more food variety compared to other buffets in the island, I must say we were slightly disappointed with their menu that night. There weren’t enough meat dishes and desserts for our liking and most of the choices were Filpino food. Don’t get me wrong, I like Filipino food. I just expected more variety from them. I also thought the Crown Regency buffet in Cebu (bundled with the Sky Rides) had more food choices compared to what we had here in Boracay. Cheaper too.
Food variety aside, their food tasted above average in my opinion. Not overly delicious, but enough to help yourself get a second serving. Since I wasn’t impressed with the range of food lined up, I ended up getting second helpings of their beef stew and pork hamonado. Ambiance was also good as it wasn’t too crowded compared to the food stalls lined up at the beachfront.
Following our dinner meal, we strolled along the bars and restaurants near Crown Regency. Again, we saw fire dancers doing their thing along the street, in front of passers-by. We were quite impressed with their dance routine as they showed numerous stunts and used a lot of fire-teasing moves that was well-liked by the audience.
Here’s a short video of their dance routine. Sorry for the video quality, this was taken using my camera phone.
We also wandered around D’Talipapa. It’s still located at Station 2, although it’s near the border of Station 3. D’Talipapa is like D’Mall with food stalls and souvenir shops around, though D’Mall is much cleaner and more organized than D’Talipapa. We were supposed to go to Sand Bar that night but we decided not to. We were feeling very tired and we hadn’t packed our things yet, not to mention we had to catch a morning flight back to Cebu.
We woke up very early the next day to prepare for our trip back to Cebu. We had our last-minute souvenir shopping at D’Mall by 8am and by the time we were ready, we immediately hailed a tricycle going to Cagban Port. We paid the same Php100.00 for the chartered trip. Upon arriving at Cagban Port, we bought our boat tickets (Php25.00 each), this time going back to Caticlan Jetty Port.
From Caticlan Jetty Port, we rode another tricycle to Caticlan Airport (Php50.00 per chartered trip) for the early check-in. This time, we booked our Caticlan-Cebu flight with Air Phil Express due to the difficulty in grabbing low fares from Cebu Pacific during their seat sales. The terminal fee in the airport was only Php20.00
Time was very good on us as our flight took off as scheduled. We arrived at Cebu after an hour and went back to home sweet Davao the day after.
All in all, our first Boracay experience lived up to our expectations. Good weather; check. Awesome scenery; check. Extreme adventures; check. Night-life; check. Great food; check. A fun and educational vacation indeed. I hope to visit Boracay again in the future and here’s hoping that the government, investors and tourists alike preserve the beauty of the island. It’s not only a duty to our country but most importantly a duty to mother nature. Until next time, Boracay. -rod-