The last few days of our Hong Kong and Philippines trip was reserved for a real beach vacation on the popular island of Boracay. It is still in the province of Aklan, so from Kalibo we only needed to take a two-hour van ride to the Caticlan jetty port, a ten minute boat ride, and a ten minute tricycle ride (the rickshaw of the Philippines) before we were at our hotel. Travelling to Boracay by air is also really convenient; the Caticlan airport is only a five minute walk from the jetty port.
We stayed at Sur Boracay Beach Resort, in Station One, near the Western tip of the island. Most restaurants and island activities are found in Station Two, but, as someone who gets anxious in crowds, I really enjoyed being away from that and spending more time at our quiet end of the beach. Sur has four buildings in successive distance from the beach; we stayed in the one closest to the road because it was cheaper, but we still spent all our time on the beach or at the beach-front restaurant/bar anyway. I tend to get bored after doing sitting on a beach for more than a couple days, so four days was the perfect amount of time for a stay in Boracay.
There are tons of activities aimed at visitors to the island, and one afternoon we decided to go sailing. Late afternoon was the perfect time to go since it was still bright enough to get a good view back on the island, but the sun wasn't too harsh out at sea. A lot of people like sailing at sunset, but I definitely preferred watching the sunset from the beach with sailboats as part of the view. At night we would meet up with a cousin for drinks and other activities; one night we saw fire dancers at a beach-front shisha bar, and another night we went to a local karaoke place. I also got a massage on the last day, which was the perfect way to relax before going back to reality.
There are a lot of options for eating and drinking in Boracay, but most of it is pricey and designed to rake in the tourist dollars. A breakfast buffet was included with our room at Sur, so we would fill ourselves up and then graze at lunch time either by splitting a small meal at the hotel or grabbing something from the supermarket, and at dinner time we would head out to a restaurant in Station Two. We ate typical Filipino food at favourite chain restaurants Gerry's Grill and Inasal, and got fresh fish and chips at Tilapia 'N Chips. We drank a lot of calamansi juice, made from a tiny green citrus fruit that tastes like sweetened lime. Very good, very refreshing, and offered at basically every restaurant, resort, and bar on the island. One night we were both hankering for a burger, so we tried the Filipino chain ArmyNavy Burger + Burrito; it's fast food but tasted really good, and I finally got to try banana ketchup. Unfortunately something was not right with my burger, and I got horrible food poisoning that left me in bed for the entirety of our last day. Clem's meal was totally fine, but boy am I glad we were armed with Pepto Bismol and tons of water.
Illness aside, I really enjoyed our little beach retreat. It felt good to have the sun on my face and to spend so much time outside! But, according to Clem, who has been to Boracay a number of times over the years, the island has become really commercialized and crowded. I found the same thing - the central tourist areas are very, very crowded, and prices have been jacked way up. Luckily we had a cousin and some friends to show us the cheaper places and get us discounts on stuff, but next time we want a beach vacation we might try somewhere a little less crowded - Palawan and Cebu look like fabulous destinations.
This wraps up posts on our trip to Hong Kong and the Philippines. Now I'm working on posts about our post-vacation vacation to Kyoto, which is such a beautiful city. Stay tuned!