Rediscovering Boracay

 

 

template boracay square

 

It has been almost ten years since I’ve been back at Boracay’s White Beach. It wasn’t a deliberate absence. We’ve just been spending more time with long summers in Toronto. I was also under the notion that I had outgrown Boracay. I’d been going there since the early 1990’s. But last month, during my sister’s visit to the Philippines, we planned a four-day stay in Boracay.

We flew to Kalibo, instead of the more convenient Caticlan. I knew there would be extra land travel once we land in Aklan, but I was told that the roads were nice and the drive was pleasant. It was. This time we flew Air Asia. It was my first time to try Air Asia. I was very impressed with their snappy service.

We chose to stay at Discovery Shores Boracay. I knew about their excellent service because we stayed at Discovery Primea in the early spring. What I didn’t know, being a first timer at Discovery Shores, was their excellent location. They’re at the best part of Boracay, the northern tip of White Beach called Station 1, with the whitest and finest sand.

Here’s how our Boracay rediscovery went…

 

20160617_091710
Our journey started in Terminal 4 which, in my opinion, is the more organized terminal than the other three. It’s smaller and more efficient. But there are no tubes and ramps, so you have to walk across the tarmac. On a sunny day, it’s wonderful.

 

image-0.02.01.4f9cd4c373882a2205f765e1ef519a1273c4939dca4c27d6f293e32133ab2b89-V
We had five kids with us.

 

20160617_102118
The kids were so impressed with Air Asia’s in-flight menu (pretty pictures and bold graphic design). They ordered a feast!

.

20160617_102303
Stella’s in-flight meal. I suggest for longer flights, you pre-order your meals online for fancy hot meals.

 

20160617_105635
Stella and her new friends.

 

20160617_112110
Our land transportation to Caticlan from Kalibo was arranged through Discovery Shores Boracay. We had a private van. The trip took 90 minutes. These days there are many options, like shared vehicles or buses. You may arrange it with your hotel or on your own. On board the flight, Air Asia staff was selling land transfers as well.

 

20160617_132104
The Caticlan shore.

 

20160617_132124
Our bunnies excited to just be there already. All my three girls are wearing Gingersnaps and Melissa shoes. Unplanned.

 

20160617_132640
The five-minute boat ride from Caticlan to Boracay was very comfortable. The little boat was air-conditioned. We were given cold towels, cold water, and oatmeal cookies. There were lifejackets for all of us in the seat pockets in front of us. And there was a stewardess!

 

P6180214
Our home for four days. Approved by The Lily, my only child who loves doing OOTD shots.

 

20160619_181822
A lot has been said about Boracay’s environmental problems – over-development, algae, flooding, local governance and more. Yet one thing remains, that 8 kilometre stretch of white beach is still so beautiful. As someone who once worked on an environmental planning project there in 1995 (under my Canadian government’s technical assistance program), it alarms me to see the many violations that have been/and are still being committed. But I am also hopeful because there are stakeholders that are trying to do things to improve and preserve Boracay. I think all stakeholders, including tourists, should pause and realize that this small island can only take so much. Technically there is an index called “carrying capacity.” And we can see that for such a small place, perhaps it has been maxed out.

 

P6170082
Looking towards Caticlan, there are windmills. It’s good to see sustainable energy choices in the area. Wind power is renewable and non-polluting. By the way, my camera was set on auto. The sky just does crazy things like that during magic hour. Beautiful.

 

P6180202
In the shore fronting White Beach, they only allow eco-friendly recreational sports. I’m glad there are no more jet skis allowed there. (Yes, it has been that long since I visited white beach). Sophia and I loved the stand-up paddle board. I suck at every sport, but I’m very comfortable with anything with paddles and scuba diving. But I don’t know how to surf.

 

20160618_112008
David Goldberg is the owner of Heidiland, the Swiss deli located in D-Mall. David is my good old friend. We met in the 90’s when I was managing an environmental management program in the island. We helped set up Boracay Consortium, a group of multi-disciplinary stakeholders who started different programs to ensure the environmental stability of the island. It had lofty goals. Not all were met, obviously. But we started the communications and cooperation between different groups and communities. This eventually became Boracay Foundation.

 

20160617_141702
My family and my sister’s family stayed at Discovery Shores Boracay. More on that experience at a later post.

 

P6170047
We loved Discovery Shores. Facilities were beautiful and well-maintained. And the service was impeccable.

 

P6200763
As beautiful as our room was, we couldn’t wait to hit the beach every morning.

 

20160617_152200
The whitest and finest sand.

 

P6190632
I never got tired of looking out at the water. The light changes quickly. This was just after lunch. I love the silvery tones.

 

P6190630
From Discovery Shores, we were able to go anywhere in the island using their shuttle. But honestly we only went as far as D-Mall. Considering we were at the best part of the beach, I didn’t find the need to go to other places.

 

20160618_145913
I regret not buying these cute hand-painted creatures. They were made of seeds and husks from mangroves. No two creatures were alike. I am hating myself for not buying at least one.

 

20160618_153451
My daughters don’t stop drawing and painting. They carry their sketchbooks and markers everywhere they go. Scroll back up to the photo of Lily and Stella in the flight. Both had notebooks. At D-Mall, Lily drew some cute anime figures while I had my coffee.

 

20160618_144115
Sophia and sorbetes.

 

20160618_144507
Cheap lunch at D-Mall. I meant this panoramic shot for Facebook 360. Only I knew that I was taking the photo. Sorry Han!

 

20160619_173626
I always made sure we were back in our part of the beach during Happy Hour. This signals the start of the greatest show in Boracay, the sunset.

 

P6180267
Wearing my favourite caftan from India.

 

20160619_173142
Our kids created little ecosystems where crabs, snails and other creatures lived.

 

20160619_173013
Another folksy cover up.

 

20160619_173310
Me and my sister Johanna.

 

20160619_181006
Stella kept herself busy shuttling from beach to shore, carrying sand back and forth.

 

20160619_181219
Sunset usually brings down the tide. So the kids can lay down like its a big bathtub.

 

P6180247
No need for caption. Sigh.

 

P6170088
White beach at magic hour.

 

P6190683
Just when you think the sunset is over, the sky does this.

 

P6190694
Discovery Shores at night. Kudos to the lighting architects.

 

P6190706
On our third night, we took the kids to the busier part of the beach.

 

P6190709
Lily found it a bit loud, haha. I had to remind them that Boracay is many things to different people. If we found it serene and relaxing, there are others who come here to party. And that’s ok.

 

P6170130
Sophia and that fiery sky.

 

P6170116
Lily too.

 

P6170105
Stella couldn’t keep still long enough for me to capture her profile though. Here she is running around before it got completely dark.

 

P6190685
I was really pleased to see that Boracay is still all that. Yes, many of us look back at the past and think it was much better then. And it was. But Boracay is still really beautiful. I just hope that something will be done about the threats the island is facing. Before it’s too late.

 

P6170114
Seriously. No wonder we Filipinos are beach snobs… and sunset snobs. Just look at that! No filter. Oh, Boracay, you are still so beautiful.

 

Transportation:             Air Asia from Manila to Kalibo

Airport transfers:         c/o Discovery Shores Boracay

Accommodations:        Discovery Shores Boracay, Like them on Facebook,

 

 

Leave a comment

  • http://www.christinelovestotravel.com/ Christine loves to travel

    So many beautiful beaches in the Philipines! I miss living there. Nothing beats our beaches :)