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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Island Paradise - Boracay

There was an occasion for us to go to Kalibo, well, in my case to go on a junket to this Visayan province just last weekend.  But we decided to go a day early and make a lay-over, if you will, at one of the best beaches in the world (or at least for 2012).  After all, from Kalibo, going to Boracay is just around an hour and a half of land and ferry ride.  (Of course, there is another option to get there and this is getting a plane to Caticlan which makes reaching Boracay shorter, but the purpose of our travel is in Kalibo.)

This isn't our first time to this paradise, and so it just hit me that upon arriving via the Supercat Ferry, there is really something about Boracay that makes you relieved that you have returned. Not only were we greeted with bright blue skies and plump clouds, but the sea remained calm and inviting, sparklingly clear and blue against the powdery white sand.  Ah, to be blessed with being able to have this place in your neighborhood.  Is it any wonder that Filipinos and tourists alike keep coming back?

The first order of the day was to get ourselves settled in our beachfront hotel.  Le Soleil de Boracay is located in Station 2 in White Beach, right in the middle of where the action is.  We arranged for airport-hotel transfers with them and it was very well-coordinated although a bit pricey for a local (Php500/pax excluding the terminal fee of Php100/pax and environmental tax of Php75/pax or a total of Php675 (around USD16).  But you do get quality attention.
Front desk services was quite fast and even though we arrived early for check-in, we were whisked immediately to our room, one with high ceilings, very comfy bed and fully air-conditioned to balance the heat outside when its time for dozing off.  They provided basic amenities and toiletries, including a bar.  But if you prefer cheaper sundries, they don't mind if you shop at nearby D'Mall at no additional corkage.  What's great about this hotel is that once you step in your room, you won't hear the hustle and bustle of beach life outside.  You can be sure you'll enjoy a bit of solitude if that's your thing, or easily slip into your sweet dreams.  The only minor downside to our stay here was that the internet connection was non-existent at the time of our visit, and if there is one, this is only available for free at the lobby.  On the other hand, this isn't the reason why one goes to the beach. 

Meals in Boracay should really be about seafood.  At night you'll have many choices of restaurants and hotels offering buffets or cooking on-the-spot according to your preference, but at lunch time, only a few open up their outlets for this. 

At Boracay Uptown (a minute's walk from the hotel), we settled for Paraiso Bar and Grill and had our fill of live crab cooked with chili garlic sauce, fresh prawns with butter and garlic, an order of grilled pork belly for my daughter (who is unfortunately allergic to shellfish) and a plate of Kangkong (swamp cabbage) sautéed with garlic to balance things off.  We also had grilled Cebu Chorizo from nearby Golden Cowrie Grill just because.  This on-the-spot cooking feast is priced by the kilo so our meal cost Php2,500 (around USD59.52), but well worth it.  We finished our meal feeling satisfied but not heavy.


Dining options in this busy vacation spot are quite numerous, it might leave one undecisive, but I'd like to make special mention of Lemoni Café located at D'Mall owned by Sarah Adey La Brooy and Julia Lervik.  While it is as open-air as its many neighboring restaurants, you won't miss this because of its cheerful yellow-green, yellow, and white colors.  Plus, they provide a menu that are healthier options apt for a beach life, while keeping some of what Filipinos look for [i.e. all-day breakfast items like tapsi (beef tapa, egg and rice)]. 

For my daughter, going to Lemoni Café would mean getting their Bacon, Fried Egg and Rice (not on the menu as is, but they allow requests), while I got the Feta Cheese and Spinach Parcels with Yogurt Dip.  We also had their fruit shakes, but they serve excellent coffee as well.  Excellent here would mean it isn't coming from a 3-in-1 sachet and it isn't Starbucks.  Do try out their various cakes and pastries too, especially the lemon bars.


Nightlife is very active here, but it will just be composed mainly of drinking and binging with some restaurants or hotels offering entertainment such as acoustic or band performances or fire-dancing.  This is on an off-season.  Peak season will have the entire coastline crowded with concerts, dancing and sports competitions.

While in Boracay, there will be many activities to go for like parasailing, kayaking, diving lessons, snorkeling, riding ATVs and exploring the other side of the island, banana-boat riding, or immerse yourself in massages either in spa outlets or from the many masseuses right there on the beachfront (Php300/hour or around USD7).  You can also get a henna tattoo or have your hair braided. But for only a lay over, well, just walking along the coastline and settling for a margarita and a beer would do just fine.


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