Boracay '10 Day 1 - Boracay in August

August 24, 2010 (Tuesday)

They say never to go to Boracay in August. I say the adventure is worth it. We booked one of those crazy low-price off season tickets bound for Kalibo airport and another warning no-no came up on internet reviews. It seemed like my 3-day vacation would start and end at nothing. Determined as I was to make my stay worthwhile, the only thing I came up about the Kalibo airport was that it was the old way to go to Boracay, back when the Caticlan airport was non-existent. Kalibo comes to life only during the Ati-Atihan Festival in January, sadly as I approached one of the locals when we landed to squeal any hidden spots, he repeated that there was nothing special here except for the Ati-Atihan Festivities.


I moved on to the few different ways to get to Boracay from Kalibo. It was either the jeepney, the van, the bus or the hotel-arranged transport to the Caticlan Jetty Port then a boat ride to Cagban Port, which was the only entry point to the island. We figured that the van with boatride for an affordable price of P200.00 (P175.00 for the van, P25.00 for the boatride stub) was the way to go compared to the P250, P350 and P475 plus plus rates of the jeepney, bus and hotel transport. There were a lot of Hi-Ace type air-conditioned vans waiting for us outside the airport and it can accommodate around 10 people excluding the driver so the slot fills up quickly and you leave faster. Before you know it, you are sitting beside other local tourists cruising by the countryside and passing by a few towns for that 70-kilometer ride. We were told that the ride will take 1.5 to 2 hours of our time no matter what kind of transport we choose. The roads were paved and the weather was cloudy-perfect (no sun, no rain). We arrived at the port and paid P125.00 in all for the terminal fee (P50.00) and the environmental fee (P75.00).


Upon boarding the boat, we were told to put our lifejackets on, which was a good sign that passenger safety was taken into account. There was enough for everyone but you would have to make do with the state of the lifejackets though. I remember the first time I came here more than six or seven years ago, when you would ride boats that will splash you with water and are a little unstable due to the size. The boat was definitely improved, safer and a little more tourist-friendly for that 10-minute ride from Caticlan to Boracay where a rather modern cemented port filled with ads came into view. 


The next common ride into the island was the tricycle, which could accommodate around four people comfortably. It could fit around six people if you decide to wait around for that P20.00 per person ride. For us though, we settled with the driver for P25.00 each per person (since it’s P100.00 if you want the whole tricycle or what they call the chartered ride) for the four of us to get to the hotel already. It took us directly to the back door of our hotel through the main parallel road to the beach.

The check-in at Astoria took so long and we were hungry and tired by the time it was finished only to find out that we had to wait until 2 p.m. for any available rooms. As far as my research goes before this trip, our beachfront hotel was located in Station 1, supposedly where all the high-end hotels are located. I printed a copy of the D-Mall directory from the very informative My Boracay Eguide and encircled the featured restaurants I wanted to try out. There were also a few coupons with discounts but they were subject to the shop’s other conditions so ask first before you order. We chose Aria for its woodfire oven and ordered the seafood pizza and the chicken with rosemary. 


The turnout chicken had a small serving and it was very very dry and flaky. The pizza only had cheese and toppings in the middle so when you bite in it, you take away all the toppings with you and you are left with the tomato sauce. The only explanation we got was that it was cooked via woodfire oven. We could have eaten somewhere nicer for that hefty price. I felt like I was robbed from that experience. Some of the restaurants there are indeed overrated. We could have stayed at Astoria and jumped on the offer from the promo ladies waiting outside the hotel instead for a free buffet lunch or dinner if we hear their “presentation”.


Astoria in general was a nice place to stay in because of the location and the clean design theme of the place. Some of the few comments though came from the room itself. We stayed at the first floor and the bathrooms somehow emit a disturbing canal odor and there were big mosquitos everywhere. Our friends from the second floor had a pleasant stay except for the smaller space, low flowrate of water in the shower and some outlet issues. We were able to snooze for a few hours in the room though while the sun was still too hot to do anything.


One of the few things I like about spending August in Boracay was that in the late afternoons, the shoreline in the White Beach is longer due to receding waters. 


The waves are not that strong at around 4 p.m. and you can just sit in the sand and let the warm water reach you without worrying about sunburn due to the very cloudy skies. This setup is also ideal to go do some skimboarding or play frisbee in the beach. Eventually the waves become bigger when it gets dark but that little window of around 2 hours is really priceless and peaceful. As you can expect, the beaches are also not crowded and you can see the restaurants setting up one by one those extended dinner tables near the beach.


We checked out the famous D’Mall for our dinner choices according to the reviews but we were never really enticed to eat there. We ended up going to the parallel main road then made a U back to the beach via the dark market/palengke side of the D’Mall where a few people passed. We saw some smarter and cheaper food choices at the beachfront like buffets and set meals. Before I knew it, we were heading down to Station 3 in search of maybe cheaper and better deals since we were not hungry yet. We walked for around an hour up to the point where it was scarcely populated then headed back. We were famished by the time we got back and ended up eating at one of the restaurants from our starting point. It was a very nice walk though to get a feel of the nightscene in the island. Station 2 was really more lively with all the music and activities such as the sand sculptures, musicians and occasional fire dancers. Station 3 was beginning to look a little more lively and had nice hotels already. Visitors normally don’t know where the demarkation line is and there is no visible sign but you can feel the difference in ambiance.

We ate a very satisfying dinner at the 24-hour Jammers restaurant. It is near D’Mall by the beachfront. The Greek Salad and the Spaghetti with Meatballs is the perfect combo to fill our bellies. It’s a definite comeback place for its affordable price and yummy American food. We were also introduced to a must-try different concoction - the coconut-mango shake! I've included Jammers in My Favorite Guiltless Foodie Picks in Boracay post.


The foreign owner was there and he gave us a little background of himself and the restaurant. It has been open for 8 years and he has been living in the Philippines around 20 years ago. He talked about Boracay back then when the shoreline was longer and it was full of coconut plantations and there were no infrastructures yet. The main livelihood in Boracay before was the cash crop kopra taken from the coconut trees. He described it in a way as if it was an undisturbed paradise back in the days but modernization had to take its natural course as more visitors came into the island.

*Note: Please be reminded not to smoke or litter in Boracay. I heard violators who are caught would have to pay P500 per occurrence.