Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Boracay, Phillipines

Breathtaking Boracay, an island in the Philippines, is not the easiest to get to but certainly worth the effort. Upon arrival the crystal clear water and fine white sand, reminiscent of Bora Bora and the Maldives, will impress anyone. Here are some helpful tips to getting the most out of Boracay:

Step 1: Plan your travel properly.
Don't skimp on the flight or overlook the details. Fly into Caticlan. There is a cheaper option which takes you to Kalibo but it isn't worth the 1 1/2-2 hour car or van ride you would need to take after. Trust me. I accidentally did it. Cebu Pacific Airline (http://www.cebupacificair.com/index.html) will take you where you want to go for a great price leaving you only a 5 minute drive and 15 minute boat ride to paradise. (your hotel can organize this transfer)
Step 2: Select hotel.
This small island is set up so most hotels are on the strip of beachfront splendor or across the street from it. However the crown jewel, Shangri La (http://www.shangri-la.com/en/property/boracay/boracayresort) is on the other side of the island that is known for it's ultra-pristine beaches and having fantastic surfing. They will insure that your every whim is catered to, which can be a challenge in remote places. When I saw their Villa Balani suite(http://www.shangri-la.com/en/property/boracay/boracayresort/rooms/villabalani) with it's own sparkling pool I knew I was in the right place!
Another favorite is Discovery Shores (http://www.discoveryshoresboracay.com/), a chic and sleek resort located at the top of the strip of hotels and just slightly removed. Their Sands restaurant has some fantastic seafood and traditional specialties. (their website needs some serious work and the service leaves room for improvement however the grounds are stunning and the extra details are nice, like cucumber and strawberry water and cookies at the beach)

If you are looking for something super charming and on a budget the Boracay Beach Club (http://www.boracaybeachclub.com/index.html) is perfect. I love how cute this place is and the staff is really on top of things. The rooms are clean and just enough considering you'll probably spend most of your time at the beach which is right across the street.

Step 3: Survey recreation options.
-Go Diving: The scuba diving is insane...I dove a wreck at just over 90ft, the spaces were just the right size to navigate with ease while still being entertaining. There's also a lot of colorful marine life at more shallow depths. I had a blast with Mary Anne at WaterColors(http://www.watercolors.ph/).
-Get at least one massage per day. I got two on some days and wish I did that every day. After much trail and error I found the best masseuse on the island who will come to you, beach or hotel. Ofelia Dagatan(09203965510 or 09397934089) For more luxury Mandala Spa (http://www.mandalaspa.com/) is insane.
-Jet Ski: It's fun to fall off.
-Ride a Trike: The fastest and easiest way to get around is on tricycles.

-Happy Hour? The White House (http://whitehouseboracay.com/) has a lively beach party and happy hour scene. I just liked the Frozen Kefir stand, which is right on the beach. Yes, I'm fully aware that it sounds funny. Similar to frozen yogurt but with even more pro-biotics. (Tastes like tart yogurt ;-) Mmmm!)

Step 4: Don't waste your time. Know what to skip.
-D mall. There is no shopping in Boracay.
-Don't golf. The course is hardly a course.

Step 5: Eat.
Boracay isn't known for their food but I enjoyed these places:
-Sirena at the Shangri-La(http://www.shangri-la.com/en/property/boracay/boracayresort/dining/restaurant/sirena) Amazing seafood and views. Service as it should be!
-Sands at Discovery Shores Hotel (ate here almost daily)
-Zazuni. (http://www.zuzuni.net/) Crazy good Greek.

Step 6: Relax.