A couple days of rest and some laundry later, we were on our way to our next island destination – Boracay! About 300km south of Manila, Boracay is famous for its beautiful white sand beaches and it’s ever popular nightlife. We arrived shortly before noon in Kalibo, an airport about 2 hours away from Boracay. There’s the option of flying right in to Caticlan, however it was almost double in price as we got our tickets for less than $100 each. So we went right for the nearby vans (250PHP for the van ride and banca) and made our way to (yet another) island paradise!
The main beach area of Boracay is divided into three different stations, with most of the action going down right in the middle at Station 2. Thanks to Hotels.com, we found a lovely little room in the Sitio Villas and Suites, about a 2 minute walk from the beach. We dropped off our things and got settled in before heading toward the beach to grab some food at Robin’s favourite place in Boracay, Mañana’s. The location on the beach is tiny, but luckily we were in between the lunch and dinner rush and were able to snag a spot. We both had their mango shake and enchiladas, both of which are to die for. The portions are huge, and if you go away hungry then you’re crazy. Definitely a great place for pre-drinking or post-drinking food! Afterwards we wandered along the beach and enjoyed the beautiful sunset. The stations face west, and as it was low tide it meant lots of beach to walk along as we enjoyed the stunning view of the sun disappearing for another day.
We took some time to relax and mentally prepare ourselves for the challenge we had been planning since we booked our flights to The Philippines… Cocomanga’s famous ‘Still Standing After 15’. Yes, it it as gruesome as it sounds. 15 shots, as quickly or as slowly as you like, for less than 1200PHP (about $33CDN) and a souvenir t-shirt or basketball jersey. You also get a point for your country. Canada was actually in 4th which was pretty exciting! So we started around 10pm, and were doing quite well until they told us the bar was closing… and we still had 7 shots left. OH BOY. However we finished them like champs, and made our way down the street to our place to pass out and nurse the hangover the next day.
As I’m sure you could imagine, Thursday was a slow day as we just took our time waking up and we started to feel human again around 4pm. We did some wandering around d’Mall in Station 2, which has a bunch of shops and a wide variety of restaurants. For dinner we stuck to something we knew and grabbed some pizza at Aria, an awesome little Italian place with a cute patio right along the main beach path. I can only attest to the pizza, but apparently the pasta is quite delicious also.
Since we had lost a lot of the day, I wanted to enjoy Boracay a bit in the evening to make up for it, and I’m sure glad we did as we stumbled upon a fish spa! Yes, it’s where ‘doctor fish’ or garra rufa nibble at your toes to remove all the dead skin cells. I know what you’re thinking, and yes it is as ticklish as it sounds! Robin and I were crying we were laughing so hard for the first 5 minutes, but eventually your feet become accustomed to it. My Fish Spa at Boracay Station 2, and costs 250PHP (~$7CDN) for 30 minutes. If you’re in the area then you should definitely check it out!
With happy feet we continued to wander all the way down to the end of Station 3, enjoying the entirety of the beach (and making sure I get my 10,000 steps on Fitbit). On the way back we stopped and had a beer… in a treehouse! Apparently it’s part of a full beachfront resort, but in doing some research the rooms are not treehouses, but the bar is! We settled in on some squishy pillows for a San Mig Light, and then decided on an early night to rest up for our next big day at Ariel’s Point!
Hands down Ariel’s Point is one of the MUST DO’s of Boracay. For 2000php (~$55CDN) it includes all you can drink, a delicious lunch, and the banca ride from Station 1. Need another reason to go? This is one spot where you can go cliff diving! They have four jumps: 3m, 5m, 8m, and for the crazy people 15m. If a crazy adrenaline rush isn’t your thing, you can still go swimming, kayaking, or just enjoy the beauty of the surrounding area.
Early on we befriended a wonderful woman named Christina who is a teacher from Hawaii. Half Filipino, she shared stories of her Mom growing up as we laughed about some Filipino-isms and Robin broke out his (almost perfect) Filipino accent. We had some liquid courage and then it was off to the diving boards… or for me the baby cliff. I have terrible vertigo, so the cliff diving was a bit of a challenge for me. However, as Robin loves to make me push my boundaries, he said that if he does the 15m then I have to do the 5m. This would be fine if I knew he had any chance of backing out, but being the adrenaline junkie that he is, he practically ran off the board. So after a little more liquid courage, I did the same thing (for fear of chickening out) and off the 5m board I went!
TIP: It’s not so much the fall but the way you land that matters, so keep your legs STRAIGHT! Jump as if you’re doing a pencil dive, and plug your nose if need be. When jumping from 3m this isn’t a big deal but with anything higher your butt will appreciate it. Otherwise you’ll end up like me and have a sore, bright red but for an hour. Luckily there’s some alcohol to numb the pain!
With all the adrenaline flowing through my system, I decided to take it easy for the rest of the time and enjoy some drinks as well as the area. While doing so we bonded with a few others from the group as some hardcore adrenaline junkies were doing backflips off the 15m board. As our time at Ariel’s Point began to wind down, a French Canadian couple got the party started with some rounds of shots. Bonding was then imminent as we boarded the bancas to head back to Boracay. Robin and I proceeded to convince half our banca to join us for Boracay’s Pub Crawl that evening between more drinks, selfies, and laughter. As we arrived on shore, we parted ways with promises of seeing each other later on that night… which held true!
A few hours and a quick dinner later it was time for some crawling of the pubs. To join, it’s 990PHP (~$28CAD) unless you snag the early bird sign up like Robin and I did, then it’s 690 for girls and 750 for guys. This includes your pub crawl t-shirt, shot glass necklace, 10 (probably more) shots, and drink discounts at every location. As with most pub crawls the night is a complete and utter blur, but it was filled with laughter, dancing, and new friends. Again, a must-do for those of you looking for an awesome time on the island of Boracay!
There was a little bit of deja vu on Saturday as my head was yet again a wee bit fuzzy when waking up, but with a check out time of noon we had no choice but to power through! We stopped at Mañana’s for one more mango shake to help rehydrate us (because apparently the 9+L of water over the past 4 days wasn’t enough for us) and give us a bit of a sugar boost. That paired with a healthy, veggie-filled lunch helped get us back on track before we met up with the lovely Christina from Hawaii at Nigi Nigi Noo Noos (yes that is the name of the restaurant/bar and no I didn’t make it up). There we met her cousin and shared in some hair of the dog courtesy of the chef…? Part-owner? Not sure who exactly he was, but he worked there and was plenty of fun! Three rounds of Calamansi-cello later and we were right as rain.
With threats of storms shutting down the bancas between Boracay and Panay Island, we decided to head back early. In hindsight we probably didn’t need to book the 11:40pm flight home as we had 3+ hours to spare upon arrival, but better too much time than not enough! Let’s just say we slept like rocks when our heads hit the pillow back in Manila.