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Walking On Cotton – In Boracay, Philippines

By Indian Food Freak @IFoodFreak

When hubby strolled into the room one fine day and said "We shall go holidaying in Boracay", my retort was "What and where the hell is Boracay ?"

"It's in Philippines and has been consistently voted over the years as the best island in the world and amongst the best beaches in the world", he exclaimed. Noting my less than enthusiastic response, he threw his last dice (knowing that I am a major foodie and a bit of a party animal) by saying (or pleading ?) - "It also has great food and nightlife !"

Well, I could write a treatise or two on the subsequent interrogatory interactions that hubby and I had on the subject but I'll spare you a peep into our marital discourses and just say that very soon, we were on our way to Boracay notwithstanding my skepticism.

So what and where is Boracay ?

In case you have been reading, the encomiums had already been showered upon Boracay by the hubby - so all I wish to add on to that in my desire for brevity is that it's a small island in the Philippines which is approximately seven kilometers long and has a total land area of a mere 10.32 square kilometers. While it has many beaches within such a miniscule stretch of land, Boracay is most well known for its pristine beach in "White Beach" and windsurfing and kite boarding in Bulabog Beach.

Walking Cotton Boracay, Philippines
Getting There :

Boracay Airport in Caticlan is the closest (barely ten minutes away from the Jetty Port - more about this port later). However, only a few airlines land in this airport and that too from Manila or Cebu. This, coupled with the fact that only small body airplanes can land here, means that the air fares are on the higher side. It may also be kept in mind that the smaller aircrafts restrict the amount of luggage you can carry. Kalibo Airport is a larger airport about two hours away from Boracay. From India, it makes more sense to arrive in Kalibo Airport as there are direct flights from Kuala Lumpur & Singapore to Kalibo. Otherwise, you will have to take the more circuitous (and expensive) route of flying from Kuala Lumpur/Singapore to Manila and then to Boracay Airport.

Arriving in Boracay :

Our Air Asia flight was pretty much on time and after a quick immigration process, we boarded a very well appointed bus for the 1.45 hour journey through a scenic route to the Jetty Port in Caticlan (as mentioned, Boracay is an island so whichever airport you land in, you have to make your way to the Jetty Port to be ferried to Boracay).

Walking On Cotton – In Boracay, Philippines

After purchase of ferry tickets and filling out of some rudimentary forms, we clambered on to a rather decrepit looking ferry which would deposit us in Boracay Island. As Boracay came into closer view (the ferry ride is about 15 minutes), I was confronted by what looked like a small strip of land bursting at the seams due to an excess of construction many of which gave me the impression of being tin sheds.

Walking On Cotton – In Boracay, Philippines

Disembarking gingerly from the ferry onto what looked like a makeshift pier and then driving through the back lanes to our hotel did not add to the enthusiasm level what with all the narrow, occasionally potholed roads, rubble and ram shackled looking shops and houses packed like sardines next to each other. I could notice my hubby casting nervous glances at me - he knows this lady likes her comforts!

Walking On Cotton – In Boracay, Philippines
Through the Magic Door !

After checking into our hotel and freshening up, we crossed the road (ours was not a beachfront hotel) and entered the hotel's restaurant on the beach. As we walked through the restaurant and out of its front door, to our utmost consternation, we witnessed what appeared to be a magical transformation of Boracay !

Miles of clean, powdery, white sand ! Clear blue water almost merging into the sky - I'm probably exaggerating a bit but you could make a distinction between the sea and the sky only from the shimmering of the sea under the sunlight and the mild waves lazily creeping towards the shore almost as if to invite us into the waters.

Umm...what else can I say ? No words can describe accurately the beauty I was beholding. They say a picture is worth a thousand words so here goes....

Walking On Cotton – In Boracay, Philippines

Thus mesmerized, hubby & I step onto the beach with kids in tow.....

Hey ! Hang on ! What's this ? We are treading on something indescribably soft ! Is this really sand ? No way ! We are walking on cotton !

Walking On Cotton – In Boracay, Philippines

I have never seen or felt such fine quality of sand in any other beach. Admittedly, my beach visits have been limited to Goa, Karnataka, Thailand & Malaysia but I would really be amazed if there is any other beach with better sand. Amazingly enough, even when you are wading around in the sea, the sand bed stays soft and gently tickles your feet.

Talking of the sea, it is kid friendly as the water is not rough and is shallow - you could walk almost a kilometer into the sea and still be only neck deep in water (mind the yachts and speeding motor boats though!).

Walking On Cotton – In Boracay, Philippines

And the water is so clear that you can see the sea bed - this became especially apparent when I went para sailing.

By the way, the beach I have been attempting to lyrically describe above is the White Beach which is where we restricted our entire stay to. Just for information, White Beach is divided into Stations 1, 2 & 3 (so named after boat stations no longer in existence). Station 1 is where the beach is at its widest and is considered the upscale part of White Beach. Station 2 is the shopping centre and where most of the "action" takes place. Station 3 is the quietest part of White Beach with more budget stay options - for those looking to just loll around on the beach, I would suggest that Station 3 be avoided as too many yachts and boats are moored here.

Beyond frolicking on the beach :

As the day wore on, we settled down for some snacks and drinks in our hotel's beach front restaurant and hung around long enough to watch the sunset (a marvelous sight!)

Walking On Cotton – In Boracay, Philippines

Thereafter, we headed back to our hotel and after a shower and a quick change, we set out to see what else Boracay had to offer - and as we discovered over the course of the next few days, there was quite a bit.

We hopped on to a motorized tricycle and proceeded to D' Mall. D' Mall is located in Station 2 and is a place where there is a large concentration of shops and restaurants. To those who equate a mall with multi level buildings housing numerous outlets, let me clarify that D' Mall is not a mall as commonly understood but rather a conglomeration of individual outlets at, more or less, ground level.

Walking On Cotton – In Boracay, Philippines

Walking On Cotton – In Boracay, Philippines
Amidst a smattering of spas and shops selling trinkets, clothes and accessories are a multitude of restaurants serving cuisine ranging from Filipino to Spanish to Greek to Italian and what not. There are even two restaurants serving Indian food ( Crafty's Roof Top Bar and True Food) which are supposed to be pretty good but I cannot comment beyond that as we did not eat there. For fussy kids, there's McDonald's, Subway & Pizza Hut. These are apart from the numerous restaurants dotting the entire landscape of White Beach as also the restaurants away from White Beach.

Walking On Cotton – In Boracay, Philippines
To say that we stuffed ourselves silly with food during our stay in Boracay would be an understatement. Boracay is a non-vegetarian's paradise with excellent fish, beef and pork available. On top of that, as already mentioned, there is a wide variety of cuisine on offer. We had, for instance, good local and American fare while lounging around in Ariel's House, excellent Italian in Aria and delectable Thai in a rather moribund looking restaurant in Sulu Plaza Hotel. Alcohol is reasonably priced - I noticed with interest though that the alcohol prices kept dropping as one progressed from Station 1 to Station 3. Some restaurants have live music performances also. Our last evening in Boracay was spent listening to an excellent reggae band till late into the night in BomBom Bar.

Walking On Cotton – In Boracay, Philippines

Beyond the food, there are various activities to keep you busy (quite frankly though, just lounging around on the beach, waddling or swimming in the sea, gorging on delicious food and partying to great music at night are more than enough to occupy your time). Island tours are recommended as also the paraw sailing (especially at sunset). Scuba diving and snorkeling can be done though, from my extremely limited snorkeling experience, I would say that I have seen better corals and more fish in other places. Para Sailing makes you realize how clear the water is and gives a wonderful view of the landed surrounds. For kids and adults who are children at heart, there's the Banana Boat Ride and the Fly Fish (the latter is seriously scary for non-swimmers !). And so on and so forth.....

Walking On Cotton – In Boracay, Philippines

All in all, a great time was had by us in Boracay. This place is seriously worth a visit for those who hanker after great beaches, food and nightlife. My only regret is that our holiday in Boracay fell short by at least a couple of days. But no matter - to borrow a bit from General Douglas McArthur's famous quote (interestingly, said when he had to evacuate during World War II from Philippines) : "I Shall Return !".

Walking On Cotton – In Boracay, Philippines

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