Epic Summer in Boracay

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When its travel season in the Philippines, it is definitely during Summer! And if you’re looking for an epic summer vacation, no place can give it to you than Boracay! So when I have a chance to visit this party island of Aklan on my summer travels, I gave it a go.

This is my second return to Boracay Island since 2008 – a return after 6 years! And much has been change to the island since my first visit six years ago. But first, let me share how I got to travel on this popular travel destination again for the second time. It was actually not part of travels for the summer of 2014, as I look for other destinations in the country that I haven’t into yet. But some of the good friends at work suddenly made a planned vacation there by summertime. I wasn’t able to resist to say no to it even I have planned destinations (and funds matter for it) already because the travel mates I will be having on this summer trip were some of the best travel buddies I had. So I say a green light to it on April even knowing that in between March, I have two trips and May, two trips again, Whew! Goodluck to my wallet!

The most beautiful moment of the day in Boracay.

I believe in every trip to be memorable, you have to try something new. My travel to Boracay, this time is uniquely memorable because this was one of the trips I had where I had to use all modes of major transportation – bus, ship and airplane! Going to Boracay Island for the second time, I tried RORO (roll-on roll-off ship) from Batangas Port to Caticlan Port of Aklan province. But before going to Batangas, I have to ride a 3 hour bus trip from Pasay to Batangas then RORO vessel for 9 hours to Caticlan Port. Then transfer to a small boat going to the island for 7-10 minutes. On my return to Manila, I fly via airplane from Kalibo Airport. Now, that’s what you call travel on all transportation!

It’s my first time to travel via RORO vessel on long sea trip! And I found it exciting and great travel experience. I always travel via planes on my travels and this experience on RORO was a welcome one. I recommend you to try this once in a while as travel via RORO lets you savor the time that fly fast when you are in the metro. 2GO Travel is one of the most prominent ship companies in the country and they have frequent scheduled trips to Caticlan from Batangas. I scored a good one-way ticket online of 2GO Travel with free meals so I became more eager to try it. But if you’re coming from the metro, say Pasay, you have to rode a 3 hour bus trip to Batangas with a signboard Batangas Port which stops exactly inside the port area. I recommend JAC Liner bus company and their terminal is beside Buendia LRT Station, Pasay City. But if you are after saving a lot of time in visiting Boracay, then I recommend you not try this itinerary of mine since airplane is the fastest way to go there while, RORO travels for 9 hours going to Aklan.

Lobby area of the ship with cushioned seats and benches for passengers to stay lounging with their free WIFI.
Travel Class bunks on 2GO Travel.
First time on 2GO Travel!
My first RORO experience was a pleasant one. Maybe, because I’m not a seasick person. There was no delay and it departed on-time. The sea vessel is clean, well-maintained and staffs are friendly. It was different to what I presumed a ship travel would be. The vessel also has a wide lobby area with wide cushioned seats for passengers to lounge around while using the free wi-fi onboard. Yes, free wi-fi onboard for you to shout status of travel and post travel selfies. They have an information desk at the center of the lobby with approachable staffs that is willing to help you for any assistance you may need. My ticket is Touris Class which leads me to the economy class of bunk beds with aircon cabin of 2GO Travel. In this cabin, we are joined together with other Tourist Class passengers. There’s a private cabin called Cabin for 4 which is suitable for family and friends as it has private restroom, electrical socket and television. And there’s Super Value Class fit for budget travelers. The most fun and memorable part of boarding RORO is when it undocks from the port, Island Fiesta Grill’s performers (2GO onboard bar) starts to sing live club songs that entices you to rock party with them while welcoming every passengers to the ship and inviting everyone to jam to the party!  Now that’s party, party onboard! 2GO Travel’s schedule to Caticlan is very convenient as it departs in the evening and arrives dawn at Caticlan, Aklan.

Stunning lights of Batangas Port upon dock pushback.
Party-party onboard at Island Fieta Grill Bar!
My friends already arranged our accommodation prior coming to the island at Carmela de Boracay Resort Hotel – one of the premier accommodations in Boracay. As they said, it was the the Boracay resort of the celebrities, nah, we didn’t get their pricey accommodation rates but we availed their Summer Barkada promo at that time with free breakfast so we didn’t spend a lot for an “alta” resort! The resort boasts that “celebrity resort” status because most of local Filipino celebrities choose to stay in the resort for their island vacation in Aklan. And Carmela de Boracay has a habit of taking photos of those celebrities who stayed at their resort and post it in their public bulletin wall. You can see it near their reception area.

Aklan at dawn...
The busy Caticlan Jetty Port at 5:30 in the morning.
Not so pleasant view of our room at Carmela de Boracay.
Carmela de Boracay provides shuttle services with free from – Port to the resort and vice-versa. The resort was suitably located at the center of Station 2 of White Beach of the island which is the “life” center of Boracay. Our “Barkada Room” is good for group of six people but you can actually sneak-in at least two more persons because of the spacious room and beds of the room. There’s a veranda but unfortunately it doesn’t have a great view as the room faces the construction site property of the resort – not a good view to have morning meditation or evening relaxation. Good thing we had a free buffet breakfast with our room package so we won’t have a problem taking breakfast but their food selection is so-so. Few walks from left or right side of the resort facing the White Beach (the world reknown beach of Boracay) are restaurants, bars, cafes and souvenir shops that caters all foods and things that every tourist will enjoy in Boracay. I certainly felt the ”celebrity status” while staying at Carmela de Boracay Resort Hotel but if budget constraints matters for a Boracay travel, I would choose to other nearby affordable rates resort hotel as I’m not much into grand resorts in travel.

My first glimpse of one of the world's famous beach - White Beach.
Memories of Summer 2014!
 White Beach, probably one of the world’s popular beaches because of the island fame of Boracay has a long kilometer stretch of pure powdered white sand that it comprises Station 1, 2 and 3. Station 2 where all the island activities are centered from day to night. The sands of Boracay remains the same since my last visit in 2009 but I only get to appreciate it wholly on my last day in the island as immediately me and my travelmates, did our first and the most traditional activity in Boracay – Island hopping! For only 1,500, Kuya Jhun (0920-2129592), provided us a 10 seating capacity banca for round-the-island tour of Boracay. Our first stop is Magic Island, where picturesque landscapes and rock formations dotting its shores makes it an ideal summer photoshoot. But at the back of the island is a cliff jumping activity which will surely satisfy visitors’ craving for adventure and adrenaline fun. The cliff jump platform has two levels – one is a 3 floor jump and the higher one is a 5 floor jump. My friends tried it but me I’m not into that kind of adventure. We only pass by the next island which is the Crocodile Island. It is named after its shape – a crocodile that looks like floating in the sea.

In Panorama: The world famous White Beach of Boracay.
We had rough ride of the waves as we circle the tip of the island. Waves were quite big and violent that it lead to pray silently at the back of my mind. I was relief that after 20 minutes the waves stopped as we approach our last destination for island hopping. It was another famed beach of the island – Puka Beach but it is more untouched, pristine, quiet and serene. Puka Beach is said to be what is White Beach twenty years ago. So imagine, how truly paradise it was!

Island hopping at Boracay!
Summer 2014 in Aklan!
The waters are so inviting that I had a nice swim and water play with my friends. From afar, the silhouette of Carabao Island (part of Romblon province) can be seen in which I read that it has the beach comparable and can rival Boracay but is still undeveloped. Then like kids, we also played in the sands of Puka until I witness Boracay Sunset. It was one of the most beautiful sunsets that I’ve seen on my travels! It was the second time I’ve seen Boracay Sunset and it still doesn’t change the perception I had on it – a perfect photo with a caption of “The beauty of the Philippines”. Boracay Sunset is stunning and gorgeous beauty still doesn’t change. It still never fails to amaze me that I even tried to hold it in my hands!

I enjoyed Puka Beach mainly because it is not crowded, cleaner and atmosphere here is more in touch with the nature. You can also visit this beach from White Beach by hailing a tricycle and haggle for a price that tricycle will agree to wait for you to go back to White Beach. It was already past 6 in the evening when we returned to Station 3 where our island hopping started.

Choose where to jump at Magic Island.
Are you ready for the jump of your life?
Carabao Island of Rombon from Puka Beach!
Must-see, must-swim and must-play - Puka Beach.
The night is young and when the night falls in Boracay, that means party has just started in party island! Nightlife is very famous in Boracay not only because of surge bars like mushrooms on the beach strip of the island but also because most visitors foreign and local are urban dwellers bringing with them the culture of nightlife from urban cities. Bars are also modernized to rival bars from the metro that visitors are looking for yet still has a family-friendly atmosphere and toned down wildness compare to bars in the city. I and my friends spend a nightlife party in one of the posh bars in the island, Epic Bar. It is one of the hottest place to go for night life in Boracay. You have to reserve early as Epic Bar easily gets packed and crowded from island partygoers. Epic Bar’s ambiance is set towards in a classier lounge style with sofas and couches rather than crazy party zone standing bar but still expect a dancing fever all night in its dancefloor where hottest club music is played by its DJs.

Playing in the sands of Puka.
Holding the sun.
Boracay Sunset at Puka Beach.
I enjoyed my stay in Epic Bar! It was my first taste of the so-called “nightlife” in Boracay. I never experience nightlife in the during my 2009 visit since I was with my family. But with partygoer friends now on this trip, I enjoyed the dancing all night in Boracay with cheers of Rhum Cola and Gin Tonic!

Party, party all night!
Nightlife in Boracay should be... EPIC!
The following morning we availed a package to Happy Dreamland Theme Park which included rountrip transportation to the theme park (it is 20 minutes away from Station 2), ATV Ride, Trick Art Museum, Bird Farm Interaction and Sky Cycle Ride. It was my first time to do an ATV Ride! I suddenly became nervous when my friends challenged me to drive it solo since most of them will drive a solo ride though you can have a duo. I don’t have a formal driving lesson so I silently panic in my mind. The ushers of the ATV Ride quickly taught how to do it – the acceleration, break, etc. I find it easy and I’m up for the challenge so I did a solo drive. I was so slow at first but once you get used to it, you will find how easily fun to drive it. We were guided in one-line lane drive and I was very careful as the 1 hour drive course is on a public road area that leads to a drive up to a hill top view with ravine drop road sides. After finishing the course ride, I wasn’t just relieved but felt accomplished with my drive of an ATV!

We then went to Trick Art Museum which I enjoyed some of the best and funny art painting galleries that gave comic fantasies and illusions to the visitors like as if you are part of the art. There’s also Bird Farm where you can have closer interaction to birds pet by the theme park like Brahminy Kite eagle and owl. Then my travel mates tried the Sky Cycle ride, a theme park ride which lets you do a bicycle ride on the 40 feet tall guided cable wires. I didn’t try it but my friends told me that it was nauseating up there. We returned to Station 2 of the island just in time for sunset. It was my second and last time to view Boracay Sunset as this was my last night in the island. It is still perfectly stunning. This time, I get to enjoy the famous and pure powdery white sands of White Beach while enjoying the beautiful Boracay Sunset. The parked paraw (double outrigger sailboat native to Visayas region) by the shores made a dramatic look at the seascape of Boracay. A lot of visitors too, savored the most beautiful moment of the day in Boracay by staying on the beach. We’re happy to meet Russian ladies by the beach as they are also enjoying their last day in Boracay. Like us, they are just few of the thousands visitors who appreciates the beauty of Boracay.     

First time to drive ATV.
Getting a K.O. from Pacman at Trick Art Museum.
Smoking by the beach is strictly prohibited in the island. One of my friends is who is about to lit a cigarette, was reprimanded by environmental tanod or security. The reason was ashes pollute the beach. Law is not just implemented but it is also monitored if being followed. It is a praised to the local government of the island for enforcing an environmental-related law. It only shows your commitment in preserving the beauty of the place and the environment. Kudos! Maybe next is prohibition of littering the sands and the beach.

Waiting for sunset at White Beach, Station 2.
Boracay Sunset, the second time around.
For the last night life in Boracay, we went bar hopping at Guilly’s Island and Club Paraw at Station 1. Guilly’s Island is packed by local and foreigners hanging out for a Bora nightlife. They have cool songs played by their resident DJs for party-goers to enjoy. The middle bar tables makes it an ideal place to attract, meet and drink, of course! Outside Guilly’s Island are hang out area of trans so be careful to what they offer. Then, we hopped next to Club Paraw. It is also one of the best nightlife spots on the island! Their in-house DJ supplies load of updated music club remixes that keep the party going. There a lot of foreigner here than locals during my visit. Their wide dance floor in the middle is enough for me to join the rave dances, gyrating hips and beat of the sounds. And I think my glass of Blue Moon added enough alcohol to my mind to keep the party mood going!

Last day in Boracay feels like the most relaxing day to enjoy White Beach to the fullest. My friends had an earlier flight so they left the island already, and I was left with one of my travel mate. We still have a lot time before our afternoon flight so we savor our last hours of stay in Boracay by strolling at White Beach. And while strolling to one of the world’s famous beach, I found a new food to crave in Boracay – Big J’s Sausages, a shore side food stall at Station 2 that serves giant sausage sandwiches. It will surely fill your hungry stomach with their big sausage serving! I explore the long stretch of White Beach. The palm trees strongly gives a tropical and summer vibe while I saw again sand castles of Boracay where having a souvenir photo with cost a fee. The there are the various activities by the shore like paraw sailing, parasailing and banana boat ride. I failed to see again on this visit the famous landmark of Willy’s Rock (a tidal island or islet with a Virgin Mary grotto at the top of the rock) at Station 1. But my most favorite last day musing at White Beach is just sit by the shore, relax and enjoy the view.

Paraw by the seashore.
Meet my new Russian friends... Spasiba!
 When it’s time to go home, we tried the commute and backpacker style going out of the island. We hire a tricycle from Station 2’s main roadside to Cagban Port. Travel time is 15 minutes. Then we rode a ferry to Caticlan Jetty Port for 7 minutes. By the exit of the port, you’ll see the public vans that will transport you directly to Kalibo Airport.

Be careful in buying advance combine ferry ticket and van transportation at Cagban Port which happened to us. The van that you are going to ride is the not public van that is near the exit of Caticlan Jetty Port. Instead, those vans are separate terminal (maybe owned by different operator) but located just across the street of Caticlan Jetty Port and it will wait for passengers that will do the same combine ticket in Cagban Port. In our case, almost an hour has passed and no one approach the van after us who availed the same combine ticket. The van will wait until passengers are full for it to run. We have a flight to catch and time is running. Plus Kalibo Airport is 2-3 hours land travel from Caticlan. So we decided to let us transfer to other van that will leave immediately because we don’t want to be leave by the plane. We were able to transfer but the van’s travel time was just enough for check-in counter close when we arrived at Kalibo Airport.  And we’re just lucky for their extension of closing time since the flight is delay! Whew! I will never to that again. I felt relieved when our boarding passes was issued and proceed to the gate to wait for our flight.

Last day in Boracay.
The famous sand castle.
My newest food cravings in Bora - Big J's Sausages.
First time on Air Asia - not so pleasant flight experience.
It’s my first time flying with Air Asia. Seats are heavily cramped on legroom. I can’t move my knees due to its cramped legroom; add to that I am a tall person. And it is so hot inside the cabin! My gosh! I perspired so much that I feel like I’m still at the shores of Boracay because there was no air-conditioned! The crew apologized for the hot atmosphere as they will turn the aircon on when it’s already cabin door close. Every traveler should know that flying with low-cost carriers has disadvantages when it comes to amenities and getting low fares. It was an unpleasant experience to me. But the flight was smooth and safe from departure until we arrive to Manila. What an epic adventure of my return to Boracay! It was an epic summer story to share to those who don’t just misses Boracay but also to those longing for an epic summer travel.


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*How to reach Boracay via 2GO Travel (RORO vessel)
Purchase advance ticket online via 2GO Travel website. Route is Batangas Port - Caticlan/Boracay. Ride a southbound bus JAC Liner or any Bantangas-bound bus with signboard Batangas Pier which last bus stop is directly at Batangas Port. Travel time is 2-3 hours from Pasay-Buendia Bus Terminal.  Look for 2GO Travel Terminal and check-in. Travel time to Caticlan is 9-10 hours. Upon arrival in Caticlan Jetty Port, exit and proceed to the front to pay for the Cagban Port-bound ferry. Fee is includes environmental fee, terminal fee and fare itself. Caticlan Jetty Port to Cagban Port of Malay, Aklan is 7-10 minutes travel. From Cagban Port, you can either fetch by your accommodation arranged transportation or ride a tricycle to your selected accomodation in the island.

*How to reach Kalibo Airport from Caticlan Jetty Port.
From Cagban Port, ride a ferry boat to Caticlan Jetty Port. Travel time is 7-10 minutes. At the exit, left side is the van terminal to Kalibo Airport. Caution on purchasing a tag-along one-ticket Cagban Port and Van to Kalibo ticket as time constraint may affect your flight to Manila. Van travel time is 3 hours. 

Epic Summer in Boracay is 3rd of my Summer 2014 travel trip that happened last April 20-23, 2014. This is my 2nd visit to the province of Aklan and to Boracay after 6 years. To read my first adventure to Boracay, read I love Boracay.


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