Travel Black Book: Boracay's beaches beckon

Travel Black Book: Boracay's beaches beckon
PHOTO: Various sources

Illusionist Priscilla Khong likes the Philippine island for its pristine beaches and good food

Who: Priscilla Khong, 34, creative director of Gateway Entertainment and a professional illusionist, will perform with her father, Pastor Lawrence Khong, in Vision. The show, from July 3 to 12 at the Esplanade Theatre, is a tribute to Singapore's 50th birthday and will feature new illusions.

Favourite destination:

Boracay, the Philippines

Why: I've been to many beaches in Asia and around the world, but Boracay is still my favourite for its pictureperfect, pristine beaches, clear waters, amazing food and wide array of places to explore.

Although Boracay is getting more developed, it is not as busy or commercialised as Bali or Phuket. It has managed to retain its basic, back-to-nature ambience, which to me, is the charm of the island.

Favourite hotel

You are quite spoilt for choice in Boracay. It is hard to believe that the island started out as a backpacker's destination many years ago. My husband and I like Nigi Nigi Too hotel (Station 1, White Beach, Boracay Island, Boracay Tambisaan Jetty Port Road; tel:+63 36288-3150; www.niginigitoo. com).

It is a simple, rustic hotel that sits right on the beachfront at Station 1. It has clean and spacious rooms that give guests a lovely view of the ocean. The homely and cosy feeling makes this place special for us. It has just the right ambience for one to relax and yet is close enough (about a 10-minute walk) to Station 2, which is more bustling.

Rooms cost 6,500 to 8,000 pesos (S$193 to S$238) during the peak season.

Favourite restaurant

Ole, a Spanish, Mexican and Cuban restaurant and bar (D'Mall Station 2; tel:+63 36 288 5940; www.oleinboracay.com). It is famous for its paellas and quesadillas, and its burritos are really good too.

Prices here are reasonable, with main dishes costing about 300 pesos. The paella is a must-try.

Favourite beaches

The best thing to do in Boracay is go to the beach - 4km of pristine sand and crystal-clear water. You have seen the pictures and it looks even better when you are actually there.

One of my favourite beaches is Punta Bunga beach in the northern part of Boracay. It is shared by the Shangri-La Hotel and a little less visited, so you will feel like you have your own private little beach.

Balinghai beach, also in the north, is another of my favourites. It has a shorter beach front enclosed by walls of rock. It feels like you are in a deserted paradise.

Favourite market

If you are looking to shop for food, especially seafood, you must visit D'Talipapa in Station 2, a few minutes' walk from D'Mall shopping mall.

D'Talipapa is a huge wet market where you can find all kinds of fresh seafood.

Buy lobster, shrimps, squid and fish by the kilogram, then go to one of the nearby restaurants and get one of the friendly chefs to cook the seafood for you.

It is my favourite culinary experience in Boracay.

Best place to watch the sunset

My favourite place to watch the sunset is West Cove (Diniwid Beach, Balabag; tel: +63-36288-4279; www.boracaywestcove.com), a hotel built into the cliffside that overlooks a coral reef in the northern point of Diniwid Beach.

It has really cool, organic architecture directly facing the sea and is a lovely romantic spot. It's great for folks looking to have a different view and feel of the island. But do go there soon as the area may be redeveloped.

Best day trip

Ariel's Point (Batason, Buruanga; tel: +63-928-226-8210; www.arielspoint.com) is a great place to visit. It is a secluded cafe and adventure playground accessible only by a roughly 40-minute boat ride.

The day trips leave daily from Station 1 at 11.15am and return at 5pm. Once there, you will find a great food and party place where you can also snorkel, kayak and cliff dive in an unspoilt tropical setting.

There are three jumping boards on the cliff, at 5m, 8m and 15m high. Nothing beats standing on the board overlooking the ocean and taking the plunge. It is a total rush of adrenaline.

Fun activities

I recommend scuba diving lessons. I took my deep diver course there and enjoyed it. Boracay has more than 15 dive sites and you can choose different dive packages - from open water courses to a dive safari, which can last for several days.

You can also try learning kite surfing, which is also fun. For the avid fisherman, take a boat trip and do some fly fishing.

Getting there

It is not easy as there is no direct flight. The cheapest and fastest way is to fly from Singapore to Kalibo on Tiger Airways, then take a two-hour bus ride to Caticlan, where you will take a 10-minute boat ride to Boracay. Once you arrive, take a tuk-tuk to your destination.

Tiger Airways does not fly to Kalibo daily, though.

Another option is to take Philippine Airlines to Manila and then catch a flight from there to Caticlan. However, this takes a lot more time because of all the transfers.

You will need at least four days in Boracay to make the trip worthwhile.

When to go

The best time is December to May.

Best advice

Don't always take a tuk-tuk. Instead, spend time walking along the beach from one destination to another. It is very relaxing and you will love the feel of sand beneath your feet.

vlydia@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on June 14, 2015.
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