Slowly getting away from Boracay

Distancing myself from Boracay took longer than I thought. The Philippines’ version of Thailand’s Phuket or Spain’s Ibiza (albeit on a much smaller scale), the party island has a way of sucking you in like a black hole. I planned for a two-day visit, yet six nights vanished there in no time.

Knowing the tiny island’s outsized drinking reputation resides on White Beach, along with the majority of foreign tourists, I tried to keep my distance. I stayed at the Lazy Dog (P540 dorm), a stone’s throw from Bolabog Beach, and a 10-minute stroll from the bar/disco scene that is packed around Station 2 of White Beach. What did I accomplish? Sadly, not much. By day, I would watch the wind & kite surfers at Bolabog, and be a beach bum by snorkeling and/or swimming at other beaches. Puka, an undeveloped shell beach on the western tip, is great for a quiet sunset.

If you want to people watch and don’t mind crowds, by all means head to White Beach, which draws hordes of sunbathers to its long stretch of white, powder sand. Starbucks and an unbroken row of resorts, restaurants, and souvenir shops are all close at hand. I generally stay away from resorts due to their exclusive nature, but Spider House was exceptional! The eclectic resort, originally the owners’ house, was built on a rock face, and partially on rocks in the sea. You can jump from their restaurant deck into calm, crystal-clear water, 3m below! Follow that act with a beer and pizza, and enjoy a sunset, far enough from the tourist masses.

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Once the sun went down, I was inevitably pulled to the nightlife on White Beach. Exit, a chill bamboo beach bar that has a rotating cast of Reggae, House, and Hip-Hop Djs, is a good spot to start the night. Part of the draw was no shortage of good drinking buddies — I met two Germans and a Russian at my dorm, a fun-loving group from England at Puka Beach, and I reconnected with my two Swiss friends on my last evening.

We parted on Mindoro Island after a long journey from Sabang Beach to Roxas (P20 jeepney to Puerto Galera bus terminal, P80 jeepney to Calapan, P180 van to Roxas). I waited eight hours at Roxas Pier for the 10pm Montenegro car ferry (P480) that took five hours. Finally, I caught the first Boracay boat (P25 boat ticket, P75 environment fee, P100 terminal fee) at 5am. All in all, it took over 20 hours to get from Sabang to Boracay!

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That’s another reason why I stayed for six nights — the thought of another long island hop wasn’t appealing. The scenery and people you see during slow, tedious land and sea travel can be rewarding, but it’s taxing as well. If you don’t have the time and a deep reserve of patience, you should definitely fly.

I timed my personal exodus so I could catch the Saturday boat to Coron, two days later. The route required me to backtrack to Roxas by ferry, where I would take a van to San Jose followed by a Coron-bound banca (Tues, Weds, Thurs, Sat, Sun at 9am — P800, seven hours). It’s not a convenient destination, but it’s worth it if you want some of the best wreck diving to be found. To my knowledge, you can’t drink and party underwater.

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