Independence Day in Boracay

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Alas! Another long weekend was fast approaching, another opportunity to get away from Manila or at least escape its mundane routines. I had been contemplating my trip, wondering whether to spend it in the mountains and join the first Annual Freedom Climb in the Philippines, or spend it in the plains of urban Manila and join Meg’s despedida in Club Ascend before her return to OFW land. These are both once a year events so I made up my mind to do both – join the climb on Friday and Saturday then rush home to catch up with my friends on Saturday night. With lots of Advil and Red Bull, I was convinced it could be done. (yay!)

 

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We walked all the way to the end of station 1 and discovered another private resort beyond

Then, four days before the climb on a manic Monday, I got a call from Charlie Barley asking “How would like to go to Boracay instead?” I was like umm “long pause” ok sure “long pause” Why not? So on one of the earliest flights to Caticlan, we were off to Boracay via Cebu Pacific on the 12th of June to join his friend at Alta Vista de Boracay. I didn’t end up on the mountain or on the plain after all. I was back at Boracay and again, on the beach for the nth time. (kung di ka lang malakas sa akin, nasa bundok ako).

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The Mall in off season

Boracay will always be my number one choice for an all-in-one beach destination in the Philippines. Its long stretch of pure powdery white sand that doesn’t get hot even under the most scorching midday summer sun, and its crystal-clear blue waters have made this tropical paradise one of the best beaches in the world. It has a wide selection of accommodation from the most luxurious hotels to the most budget-friendly packages. Its diverse choice of restaurants and cuisines ensures that there’s something to suit every traveler’s taste and budget. Its pulsating night life is still, and will always be, the most vivacious with its numerous open air-bars, discos, cafes, karaoke and non-stop parties.

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Enjoying one of my favorite Thai recipes - Pad Thai

Boracay also offers year-round choices of activities. Even during the monsoon seasons, after the sun worshippers have finally gotten their dose of tan, tourists still flock to Boracay. They are the water-sports enthusiasts, the throngs of foreigners (especially Koreans) and those who prefer to experience the island outside of the crowded and chaotic summer months. I would have preferred to go during the summer months this year since the water is calmer, the photos look better, and the last time I was here during the September monsoon, it rained most of the time.

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The Grotto of Mama Mary near Station 1

The rainy season came early this year so I didn’t expect much good weather during our stay. Even at the end of May, the beaches in Coron had been showing signs of the rough waters of the Habagat season. But of course it didn’t dampen our mood at all especially Charlie whose love for adventure will never be hindered by any natural disaster Philippines has to offer – not even AH1N1 (peace dear!). As expected for a long weekend and one last hurrah of summer, the place was still bustling with visitors. As it was almost off-peak season it would have been easier to haggle for cheap accommodation – but we didn’t have to do so since Charlie’s friend had already booked us into the Alta Vista de Boracay and got a good deal.

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Alta Vista de Boracay - the biggest gated condotel community in the island

Alta Vista de Boracay sits on a sprawling 80-hectare Eco-Village on a prime property on the hillside at Barangay Yapak which is at the upper side of station 1. It is just a few minutes drive from the white beach, central market and shopping outlets. It is the perfect choice for those who want to experience a serene and private sanctuary away from the hustle-and bustle of beach life but still accessible enough anytime they want to spend time in the beach. The resort prides itself with the sense of privacy it affords its guests, luxurious comfort and the magnificent panoramic view of the surrounding sea and mountains.

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Alta Vista de Boracay infinity pool

One downside of being away from the beachfront though was the hassle of waiting for the hourly shuttle van to the beach – Or taking a tricycle if you missed it. Sometimes you just want to have a swim early in the morning then come back anytime you want without bringing all your stuff. Besides the beach life, it is the energetic vibe of the people and the pounding beat of night life that give Boracay its unique charm. I would prefer to go in a secluded beach in Palawan or Zambales if  wanted to do some relaxation and soul-searching away from the maddening crowd.

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Ok I have to admit my slight aversion for our chosen hotel was starting to become evident, because it was still expensive even though we got a discount and it was away from the beach. I also missed the chance of using their infinity pool when they closed it for private function the next day. That was until Puka Beach came into the picture. For me, the hotel’s access to this private beach was its most redeeming factor. It was a face of Boracay that I haven’t experience yet. It gives you a glimpse of what Boracay used to look like decades ago when only backpackers and some privilege few had been keeping this paradise a secret among themselves.

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Puka Beach against lush backdrop

Puka Beach is a haven for privacy and relaxation with a backdrop of dense rainforest instead of crammed resorts and restaurants. It still has the signature white sand and clear water of White Beach minus the frantic crowd. The serenity of the places and its pristine nature is in stark contrast of the other side. We would have spent most of our time here have we discovered it earlier. But spending an afternoon here while waiting for the sunset was probably the best part of this trip. I guess you can have everything in Boracay after all – nature, relaxation, entertainment and a dynamic night life.

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Sunset at Puka Beach


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