I’ve been to Boracay Island many times since my first visit in 2002 though my last trip was in 2008. There have been a lot of nice changes to the island and its facilities since then. Over the years, I have read complaints from folks who have complained about the changes to Boracay in the recent past. Pleasantly, I for one am happy with the current state of island, which according to Travel and Leisure is the #2 Island Destination in Asia and #4 in the world.
The particular trip was sort of an impulse trip with one week worth of planning. My sister from Florida was coming home around the Thanksgiving holidays and she very subtly insisted that I bring her to Boracay. So with a quick check of flights and hotels, I booked our flights on Cebu Pacific and booked a room at the Astoria Boracay.
View Boracay Island in a larger map
Upon landing at Caticlan, I was very pleasantly surprised that airport was nice and new. I had forgotten that this airport just opened formally a few months ago, June 2011. Very nice. Very clean. Very modern.
A van from the airport picked us up and brought us to a private dock where we hopped on our boat to Boracay… then another van from the port to the hotel itself. All, in around a nice comfortable 30 min since we left the airport.
As it was still early, we got to stroll along the “White Sand Path” near the beach. While few placed seemed to still be familiar to me, a lot has changed since then. A number of newer cement structures, a number of name establishments, updated designs to signs. An indication of progress, I guess. But a lot is tasteful. Then again, some establishments are still downright baduy… hehe.
And of course… a Starbucks with a Gerry’s Grill on the second floor.
After lunch we checked into our room at Astoria. A very nice little boutique hotel with modern rooms…
…and a very nice bathroom. Ok, sure, it doesn’t feel like you’re in Boracay, but a nice room and great banyo are always great to have after walking around in the sun, sand, and surf.
The resort itself is nicely designed. White walls, glass, and metal trims. Granted it isn’t what one would be expecting if they preferred more rustic accommodations, but while rustic in a beach is nice… the comforts of modern living are always awesome!
The thing about Boracay is the great relaxing ambience of the place.
The next day, my sister were in the mood for a few water activities. I booked to ride on a jetski… one of those things I always wanted to do, but never got around to actually doing. And this “Helmet Diving”
We took a speedboat to a floating platform for the JetSki.
After signing the requisite waiver that says “I know what I am getting into and if I die I will not sue you” I was on my way…
and I was off…
Took me awhile to get used to the controls but it was fun! I had a hard time getting used to turns, I always though I would topple over. I tried standing on the thing a few times, but it was a strain on the hands, and the rubber handles weren’t exactly comfortable.
I’m done! Now off to this helmet diving
Next… my sister and I went for this helmet diving. A fascinating concept, reminiscent of those pre-scuba diving diving helmets in the 1930s-40s. It a safe activity for families and in itself quite an experience. I am a certified scuba diving, so I had my doubts over this. But while “baduy” for me on some level. It was quite interesting. But for P500/person, ok na rin.
You get lowered from a boat where the big air pump pushes air through a hose to the helmet. You get to walk around in a small area pleasantly full of fish. Again, it is a far cry from actual honest-to-goodness scuba diving, but it was still an interesting activity.
It was a first for my sister too. At first she was get a little anxty from stories of the ones that had gone down before… one was an asthmatic, the other, and elderly woman. I guess it really is just about having the courage to go for it, because there really wasn’t anything to it. There was a small 8 year old kid who was having the time of his life… yes, they had smaller helmets as well.
It was a great weekend trip to the island. I should do this more often.