About a year ago, my wife, myself, and some of her cousins spent 3 nights on the Philippine Island of Boracay. None of us had ever been there before but knew that the island was considered to have one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. I doubt many reading this are interested in the details of the flight to and from the island, so I’ll simply give a short review of the island and our mini vacation.
The beach is beautiful, especially at sunset. It lives up to its many reviews. Looking out across the beach at the endless ocean is probably as close to paradise that exists on this planet. If you ever go to Boracay, make sure you don’t miss the sunsets. Find someplace relatively quiet, and let God impress you. If you’re an atheist and determined to stay an atheist, don’t go to Boracay.
Unfortunately, I don’t think God was consulted much in what man built for the tourists. There is little imagination to be found in the row of businesses that stretch parallel to the beach. I would say at least half are restaurants, either connected to a hotel or independently run, such as Shakey’s Pizza. Another large portion of businesses is for massages. There’s nothing wrong with having a large choice of places to eat or be pampered, but outside of most of these establishments is a solicitor trying to get your attention. “Massage Sir?”, I must have heard a hundred times. Maybe the business owners figure the tourists are idiots and can’t read the big sign that says ‘MASSAGE’. You can avoid the solicitors and most of your fellow tourists by walking in the sand closer to the ocean, not too far away from the actual path/walkway.
There are of course many activities available for a fee. Our group decided to do the helmet diving and parasailing. Both were fun, well organized, and reasonably priced. Some live entertainment exists and is free except for the price of a drink. The fire dancers are interesting for about 15 minutes (or one drink, whichever comes first.)
The hotel we stayed at was Japanese owned and well managed. The attached restaurant was fine, except they make a horrible pina colada. The hotel also had a dedicated building staffed only by attractive young ladies for massages (a big plus for me anyway). Our whole group tried it and were very pleased with the service.
When evaluating the overall Boracay experience, you have to consider the value you are getting for your pesos. Assuming you are already in the Philippines, airfare should be about 5000 pesos per person. An average hotel should be about 5000 pesos per night. The cost of the restaurants and activities varies, but I thing 5000 pesos a day should be adequate. I estimate that the total cost for a most relaxing, sometimes exciting stay on Boracay to be 40,000-50,000 pesos, which is in line with what I spent. I’m glad we went, however, it’s one of those experiences where once is enough. I have no desire to go back.