There are many short break holiday destinations that are easily accessible from Hong Kong and The island of Boracay in the Philippines must be included as one of the best.As we left Hong Kong on a particularly muggy and overcast day, we had high hopes for a relaxing, sun-soaked few days of fun, and Boracay certainly delivered. We took a short flight from Hong Kong to Manila, then Manila to Caticlan and finally a short boat transfer to Boracay. This all sounds rather time-consuming and tedious, however, the journey was straight forward and both flights were short. It was on the boat transfer to the island where we really knew our holiday had started.
First Glimpse of Paradise
As we boarded the traditional boat (locally known as banca) we had our first glimpse of the turquoise, crystal clear water that Boracay is famed for. Under the sunshine we couldn’t have felt further away from city life. Upon arrival in Boracay we were greeted by an air conditioned minibus that was to take us to our accommodation. Another short journey through the island gave us further evidence that we had arrived somewhere new and exciting. The bustling road was fringed by small huts, vendors going about their daily business, tricycles, vans and children walking home from school. As we took a left we were nearing our destination. Then suddenly it became clear that we had made the right choice in choosing Boracay as our holiday destination; we saw the beach.
Where to Stay
There are plenty of accommodation options in Boracay – from the high-end such as Shangri-La and Discovery Shores to boutique hotels like Two Seasons and Sur. Make sure to get a beach front property. Imagine waking up every morning to a breathtaking view without even leaving the bed.White Beach of Boracay has been consistently voted as one of the best in the world. The sand was as perfectly white and powdery as we had ever seen or felt and the water was clean and clear. With the lure of the beach being overwhelming, we hurried to the hotel to drop off our bags and change quickly into our swim suits. In about 2 minutes flat we were lying on the sand soaking up that well needed vitamin D. The beauty of the beach is undeniable and with strict but very fair rules on littering, the hugely popular beach is still pristine.
What to Do & See
Boracay’s long sandy beach is split into three sections, cleverly named Station 1, 2 and 3. We had picked our spot for the next few days in the more laid back and cleaner side, Station 1. Station 2 is where the action is as most restaurants are located in this area. It was very busy, packed with holidaymakers from all over the world. After a couple of chilled out hours sunbathing, people watching and swimming in the beautifully temperate ocean, we then became aware of another dazzling asset to Boracay: the sun set. Still in our bikinis we ordered 4 chilled beers and watched the most incredible light and colour show that Mother Nature has to offer. These Boracay sunsets rival any I have ever seen, and I’ve seen a few! As we sat there on our chairs, sand between our toes, sipping our beers and watching this wonder, everything was all right. It was astonishing to think that just hours before we were waking up to a familiar grey Hong Kong day. Now we were in heaven. Another option is to take a “paraw” (double outrigger sail boat) ride for the sunset.Night-time is when Boracay really comes into its own.
Where to Eat
There are rows upon rows of bars and restaurants offering a wide range of cuisine and most with the option of dining on the beach. Some of our favourites include Gasthof (famous for its baby back ribs), Dos Mestizos (great paella), Real Coffee and Tea Café (try the calamansi muffin), and don’t forget to try the shakes at Jonah’s Fruit Shake and Snack Bar!
What a perfect way to spend an evening; listening to acoustic sets, eating good food and drinking wine on this paradise island. For those wanting a more lively experience, there are clubs and busy bars ringing with music until the early hours. We decided on a more sedate approach, after all, we were there to relax.
There are plenty of markets and shops to satisfy those in need of retail therapy and of course plenty of souvenirs to take home to loved ones. Along the strip there are people offering boat trips, paragliding, scuba diving and other tours. However, we spent our days swimming, sunbathing and having traditional Filipino massages right on the beach.
It’s a tough job but somebody has to do it.
After a few days our time on Boracay had come to an end. Feeling completely relaxed and a little more bronzed than when we arrived, we made our way back to the airport. Later that day, we arrived back in Hong Kong reflecting on what a fantastic short break we had had. I was even tempted to buy a shirt stating truthfully: I love Boracay.
By Jo Chapman