Boracay

One of the most popular islands in the country is Boracay, a small beach paradise nestled in the south. It’s blue waters and white sands call all types of tourists and travelers year-round.

Sheltered by other, larger islands, Boracay doesn’t receive as much of the rain and wind, which makes it a great place to visit even during monsoon season.

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We hopped on a plane in Manila to Kalibo airport. Although the flight took only an hour, the small island airport had us hold in the air for about 30 minutes because there was too much traffic on the runway. While there’s another, closer airport to Boracay, Kalibo is cheaper to get to.

After landing, we hopped off the plane and looked for transport. Taxis and buses all wait around the arrivals doors, shouting prices and places. A taxi driver approached us and offered to take us to Caticlan, the town where we needed to go, for 1,000 pesos. This is extravagantly overmuch, so we ignored him and went for small, white buses.

“250 pesos for bus ride and ferry ticket,” another man called to us.

“200 pesos and no ferry ticket,” I bargained.

“Okay,” he said happily, and took us to his white van.

We waited about20 minutes, until he found other passengers, and we were off. Traffic is still a problem, even on smaller islands, and I watched as he weaved between cement trucks, tuktuks, and other vans through the middle of town. The trip to Caticlan is normally two hours, but he made it in an hour and a half.

The ferry port was a madhouse. People streamed around, looking for proper lines and down the pier tourists hopped on ferry after ferry.

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In one line, we paid the environmental fee, which was 100 pesos a person. In the next line we bought our actual tickets for 25 pesos apiece. The third line was registering our passage and validating our ticket. And then, finally, we walked down the pier and hopped on a ferry. (On the way back, we had to pay an environmental/terminal fee AGAIN, but this time it was just 30 pesos a person).

The ride itself was short, but it took us to a different port on Boracay than we had anticipated. So our walk across the island to our hostel was long.

But the beaches are worth it!

We stayed at a small hostel about a 12 minute walk from the beach, far from drunk partiers and expensive resorts. Although there’s lots to do on Boracay, we mainly rested on the beach and enjoyed the palm trees.

I went scuba diving(!) and later we built a sandcastle.

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It was my first time diving, and I was very nervous about the water pressure and my ears, but it ended up not being a problem. My instructor/guide was patient and let me take all the time I needed to pop my ears and equalize as we went. We went only about six meters deep, but that was plenty for me.

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Jordan stayed on the boat and sketched, not wanting to spend the extra money. Still, it was a great price– I paid 2,000 pesos for a dive and a CD full of photos and videos. I really loved exploring underwater, especially at such an affordable price.

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The sandcastle was my idea, but Jordan really ran with it. After about two or three hours’ work, one shovel, and one small bucket, this is what we got:

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Unfortunately, our time in the Philippines is almost at an end. This country deserves so much more of our time, but we’re leaving today and heading for Japan.

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Morgan S Hazelwood

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