Boracay the alluring island princess
It was quite an immense challenge for the family when we were invited by one of our favorite nieces who got married to an American and who have been living in California for many years now invited us to come to Boracay and join them in their vacation.
Maria Lou Mangampat got married to Ed Sinkoff, a manager of one of the large hotels in California. Malou still works at customer service of Marriott Hotel in California. They brought along Emily, their beautiful FilAm daughter who’s now a near adolescent.
Their challenge and offer is that whoever can come to Boracay at one’s own travel expense would be treated to free residence or hotel, tour gigs and meals in this perfect part of the Philippines. It was an offer no one could resist.
This was a big challenge on their part too, since they would have to foot the bill for an entire clan coming to Boracay. Wow! Such big hearts. We have big families here in the Philippines, and so that’s the way it is. It’s part of our culture to include everyone in loneliness or happiness, in poverty or prosperity.
Boracay Island, Philippines
Tips for Enjoying your Travel to Boracay
Boracay is one of the most expensive tourist destinations in the Philippines. This was our first time to come here. From Northern Mindanao, we took a flight to Cebu, our jump-off point. Make sure you comply with airport regulations.
Plastic bottles containing more than 100 ml of rubbing alcohol or lotion must be checked in the baggage counter, and not placed in your hand carry bags or backpacks.
If you’re a frequent flyer you wouldn’t have any problem complying with Philippine airport regulations. At the Laguindingan International Airport in Northern Mindanao your handcarry items including belts, coins and cell phones would pass through the scanning machine only once.
At the Cebu Mactan International Airport, you’ll get checked twice. From Cebu City, we flew by Cebu Pacific to the Kalibo International Airport in Aklan. Since it was a group tour coordinated by a niece Kris Redoble who also works as BPO manager in Cebu, it was seamless booking for a bus or van to Malay, Aklan where a smaller airport Caticlan is located.
Ed, Malou and Emily came to Kalibo by a connecting flight from San Francisco to Manila. They flew in direct to Caticlan from Manila that can only accommodate smaller aircraft. However, in Kalibo, there are direct daily and nightly flights by Cebu Pacific from China, Taipei, Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore and other Asia Pacific countries.
Tourists are coming in and out on a 24/7 basis in Kalibo. It’s a quiet but amazing and lively place. Large tour buses and vans wait for foreign and local tourists outside the Kalibo International Airport.
If you’re travelling alone, booking for a bus or a hotel is not a problem. There are a number of government and private company-based people willing to help outside the Kalibo airport. Booking booths are also lined up outside.
Make sure you approach the right people. If you have an agent booking for you, he or she should be the one to assist you directly.
From Kalibo, we boarded the bus for Caticlan. If you need to urinate, the nearest toilets are inside the airport. It’s a 2-hour bus ride so make sure you wouldn’t feel uneasy inside the bus or van.
Upon our arrival at the Caticlan seaport, we were guided to the reception area to register before boarding a ferry boat for Boracay. Caticlan is part of the municipality of Malay in Aklan Province, Western Visayas.
If you’re travelling with a group, make sure that each member gets the boat ticket as this would be scanned individually, to avoid delay hassles. Each boat can accommodate about 45 passengers.
have to foot the bill for an entire clan coming to Boracay. Wow! Such big hearts. We have big families here in the Philippines, and so that’s the way it is. It’s part of our culture to include everyone in loneliness or happiness, in poverty or prosperity.
Where the Sun Rises
We were booked in a residential flat by the beach at Tambisaan Beach, known as the backside of Boracay where the sun rises. It’s located about 15 minutes east of Cagban Jetty Port where we first landed.
The frontside of the island is where you’ll find the popular white sand beaches of Stations 1 and 2, and it’s where the sun sets, although all beaches around Boracay are white to beige colored sands.
The 3-room townhouse at Tambisaan has all the amenities of a modern residential single-storey residence, including cooking and storage facilities. The place is owned by Nina and Mark Ibadlit who both come from Malay, Aklan. The beach house is a legacy from Mark’s parents.
We’ve got a large frontyard, from the house to the beach trail, about 900 square feet with beige sands all over. We grilled fish here and gulped bottles of beer as we chat over the activities for the next few days. A wire fence separates the property from the beach trail. From the trail, it’s about 15 meters to the emerald, clear, wide open salty sea.
I opened the door at 5 am and saw the sun smiling in front of me at sea level. It was an overwhelming sight. I responded by quietly moving towards the open sea, dipping myself into the cool, green refreshing waters and paying my obeisance to the Sun. It’s a ritual the ancient Egyptians have done 5,000 years ago.
By six in the morning, you can see “Barotos” or large pump boats from a distance of about one kilometer from shore near Crocodile Island. According to Mark Ibadlit, the backside is a popular snorkeling site. Mostly Koreans, Chinese, French, Italians, Americans and of course, Filipinos come here for snorkeling.
Tambisaan Beach Resort
Station 2 and Cashless Payment
The eTrek is a sleek, smooth, fast and practical electric-powered open taxi that can seat 6 up to 10 passengers depending on its size. It’s one of the common means of road transport in the narrow streets of Boracay, aside from the motorbikes and tricycles.
The seascape around the island is a highly active zone of tourists, plying the routes, crisscrossing the coastal areas, with pump boats, sailboats, speedboats, yachts, catamarans, partyboats, and glass bottom boats.
The frontside of Boracay is particularly active at daytime at Stations 2 and 3, with banana boats running here and there some 500 meters from shore, high-speed flying fish boats about one kilometer from shore and parasailing boats some 1.5 kilometers from shore.
The entire seascape at Station 2 becomes a live stage of people swimming here and there, some just laying on the beach, but at a farther distance the different boats just crisscrossing every minute, while at a still far distance, the open chutes of parasail look like kites flying in the air.
By dusk, the atmosphere changes as the hotel and restaurant staff in front of the beaches start installing outdoor chairs, tables and fixtures to prepare for the Boracay night life. It’s a 2-kilometer long line of restaurants at White Beach.
Since ATMs are hard to find on the island, a cashless payment system known as “BoraPay” was introduced in February 2016. Hotels give out bracelets embedded with NFC technology to tourists that can load international debit or credit cards, similar to Bluetooth.
There are mobile terminals on the white beach establishments where tourists can pay with a simple swipe. This makes ATM a thing of the past in Boracay.
Food, Drinks and Entertainment Galore
The beach side road at night becomes full or people, in procession. Packs of tourists moving southward are met by large droves moving northwards. You’ll never know where these people are coming from, mostly in beach attire, in bikinis, in shorts—Asians, Caucasians—the beach becomes more alive at night.
Food and drinks galore, and entertainment galore are featured in each outdoor resto. Some feature live bands and folk singers, others, the unique and thrilling “Fire Dance” by skilled men and women.
We experienced almost every tour gig at Boracay, from the boat tour around the island including the newly opened beach resorts at Puka, and at the Crystal Cove, a “mysterious island.” The Boracay tour is not complete without a visit to Crystal Island Cove.
The parasail was the most exciting, followed by the all-terrain vehicle ride, the flying fish, then the banana boat, and of course the sumptuous meals at the beach restaurants and at Talipapa Paluto, one of the island’s spots where you can choose fresh fish, crabs, prawns and have these cooked right there and then.
ss, in poverty or prosperity.
Sea, Sun, Fun and Family
But the highest rating I gave was swimming daily on the crystal clear, emerald waters of Boracay with an enthralling view of the sea, the mountains, the green environment and the sun, which confirms a 2012 international magazine discovery as the best island in the world.
There are actually smaller inns and hotels at downtown Boracay where a budget tourist can avail of lower prices. Most of the expensive hotels are at the beachside. We all went back home bringing memories of Boracay the alluring island princess.
From the start to the end of our tour, Tambisaan beachside residence owners Nina and Mark Ibadlit made sure that everything that we needed including transport coordination on our way back to Caticlan was promptly given. What a great service.