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Boracay! Paradise on Earth…... Insider Travel Guide by Dave Jackson.

So many places nowadays will claim to be paradise on Earth and we all know it comes down to perspective.

  • If you talk to Filipinos, they will give you mixed reactions. The majority of them will tell you about how amazing it is, the beautiful beaches, the nightlife, the activities. You see Boracay is very much a part of Filipino pride. They will ask you if you’ve been to The Philippines, and regardless if you have or not, the next question will ask if you’ve been to Boracay, usually with a proud smile.
  • And then there are some who will tell you it’s crowded, over developed, too many problems. Don’t go there! Go to Palawan, it’s like Boracay was 10 years ago. My response to that is they’re only half correct. It’s likely these people have never been to Thailand. The beach can be crowded but not nearly as much as it’s rival south east Asian counterparts. Even during the busiest times it’s no problem to find a piece of the 4km famous white beach to yourself. And if you head to the other beaches the island has to offer, such as beautiful Puka Beach. You might feel like you have the entire beach to yourself……anytime of the day!
  • The other thing I personally love about Boracay is 75% of the tourists are Filipino. They are from Manila, Cebu, Davao, as well as overseas Filipinos. To me it makes it feel like I am traveling somewhere exotic, another country. I don’t feel like I’m just 1 of thousands of Americans or Europeans. People here seem generally interested in meeting you, genuinely curious about who you are and where you are from. The smiles are real. I sometimes feel that is lost in other touristy parts of SE Asia. And I’m recommending anyone come here now before this ends.
  • You will notice that there are vendors all up and down white beach selling knock off sunglasses, pearls, watches, and boat trips. These are all genuinely good people, a simple smile and no thanks does the trick. If you are feeling social, engage in a conversation with these people and you will learn that they forget they are there to sell something and you will make a friend.
  • Speaking of boat trips. It’s highly recommended. Around the island is best. Be sure to negotiate hard. Up to 50% off their asking price. Here’s the trick. Always smile and be cordial. Negotiate and if you don’t get the price you want, say no thanks maybe tomorrow and begin to walk away. If they let you walk away, your price is too low. If you gave a fair price, they will call you and tell you that you get a special price, just for you. Works like a charm!
  • Your boat trip around the island will is incredibly scenic. Don’t forget your camera. You will usually stop at Puka Beach for lunch and then you can do some snorkeling. The vendors also sell other trips to such as jet skiing, para-sailing and so on. Highly recommended is Ariels Point, it’s an hour boat ride to a place where you can cliff dive, or if you want, relax with a beer and watch everyone cliff dive from crazy heights.
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  • A cheaper tour on the island is to take a trike tour of the island. Usually a trike will take you any distance from Station 3 to Station 1 for 10 pesos (20 cents USD) or you may book for 200 pesos per hour. Negotiate hard or you may be paying double! It’s not so expensive but it’s good to ensure they charge the proper prices so that they don’t get in bad habits of cheating people. If their service is good, such as being a good guide feel free to tip.
  • Ask your driver to go the Bulobog Beach route. At this beach you will see the kite surfers doing their thing. During low season this is the calm beautiful beach and during high season this is the windy beach with a lot of waves. It’s undeveloped and has a great scene of sports enthusiasts who hang out here.
  • You may stop wherever you like and your driver will wait for you. After that you will go up past “The Beverly Hill” of Boracay past all the mansions and high end homes with incredible views. You’ll stop at Mt Luho. Pay the 50 peso entrance fee ($1.10 USD) and you will get to the highest point in Boracay. The views are second to none as you can see all the beaches, Fairview Golf Course and even the farther islands in the province of Romblon.
  • After that you will head to Puka Beach. This is a completely undeveloped slice of paradise. There will be very few tourists here compared to the size. Here is a place that if you want a spot to yourself away from the vendors and tourists, this is it. There are a few bamboo restaurants along the strip. Be forewarned that the airports will confiscate any giant shells you purchase. So it’s best not to buy them.
  • After that you will head to Diniwid Beach. Another slice of paradise. On a sunny day the colours of the ocean pop out best. From here you have a choice of saying goodbye to your driver and walking back to White Beach on a path they built along the rocks or getting a ride home. It is a couple kilometers. I highly recommend the walk but it can be for a long day and if the sun is shining ensure you have plenty of sunscreen as it can get intense.
  • The path leads you to White Beach Station 1. . This long beach is split up into stations 1 to 3. All equally as beautiful. Station 1 is where the higher end hotels and resorts are. Station 2 is where the action is, along with D’Mall, a large outdoor mall with a couple grocery stores and wet market. And Station 3 which is quieter and has a good selection of budget accommodation. Walking between the stations is what most people do along the beach, just keep in mind it’s a long walk and doing it back and forth several times a day will surely keep you fit. If you are in a hurry, you can walk to the main road and catch a trike for 10 pesos. Try to have correct change.
  • I won’t get to much into the restaurant and hotel recommendations. Mainly because there are many places that do that already. What I will recommend that at least once, ensure you head to D’Talipapa wet market in Station 2. Here you can choose from Lobster, crab, and other seafood for cheaper than the front beach vendors. From there you can take it to the cooking service restaurants located right beside it. Angel Wish Dish by Chef Tawi is known for being the best. It’s a very unique experience. Once again ensure you negotiate with the seafood vendors and ensure you are getting the freshest product.
  • However also ensure you have dinner on the beach, there are plenty of restaurants serving all sorts of food. Some with live music or fire dancers. It’s truly romantic. The buffets are hit and miss, some better quality than others.
  • For nightlife there are several spots. Nigi Nigi Nu Nu’s is an institution with a great bamboo lounge full of expats. This is more of a place to enjoy a beer or a cocktail. Next door to that is Deja Vu Resto Lounge which has a DJ and a great selection of drinks and Charlhs Bar with a live band. Bom Bom Bar and The Red Coconut are also great spots.
  • For nightclubs and dancing, in Station 1 you will find Gullies Island, Cocomangas and Club Paraw. Summer Place in staton 2 usually runs until 6am after everything else has closed. If you dare try the 15 shots and still standing at Cocomanagas you will get a free T-Shirt and your name on the wall. It’s something I have not tried however 1000’s of people have.
  • Overall Boracay compared to Palawan is it’s a lot more developed. Palawan is extremely beautiful, and quiet. There’s not much there and if you go there, that one of the reasons you should go there. It’s pristine. While Boracay is a lot more exciting and fun, there’s simply more to do. And compared to Thailand or Bali, it’s still in it’s infancy and feels like those countries must have 15 years ago.
  • You can get there from Manila via 2 airports. Caticlan or Kalibo. Caticlan is just a 5 minute boat ride away. And then a quick trike ride to your hotel. If you book a trike on your own it’s 100 pesos or you may share (just walk to the road) with others for 20 pesos.
  • Kalibo is a 2 hour bus/van ride to Caticlan, and then you would take the same boat. The difference is flying in and out of Kalibo is usually half the price. So it depends if you have more time or money. Flying out of Caticlan to Manila can be 5000 pesos while Kalibo to Manila is usually 1800 pesos.
  • Overall I’m convince that Boracay is still paradise on Earth and you will be truly blessed to arrive here before mass tourism takes it’s toll. You still have the good part of this decade before that happens and it will be changed forever.
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