Boracay is a prominent and popular island within the Philippines and somewhere which instills dreamy wanderlust in the best of us. Want to know what it’s really like? Then read on…
Is flying from Singapore easy?
It can be. On our outbound flight we flew direct to Kalibo International airport with a flight time of just under 4 hours.
Caticlan airport has a short runway and only deals with small domestic planes, therefore the max amount of baggage you are allowed to check in is 10kg. Whereas, Kalibo (International Airport) allows much larger planes to land, therefore allowing you the regular baggage allowance allowed by your airline.
There are public ferries from Caticlan to Boracay, however I would arrange a boat transfer with your hotel wherever possible as the ferries looked extremely busy when we passed them and the journey takes double the time.
Please put a padlock on your checked in baggage or use the inbuilt locks! I won’t go into details but lets just say I ended up with another passenger’s reading glasses thrown into my suitcase and a lot of creased clothes!! I have never experienced this at another airport so please for me just use the padlock.
Is Boracay as beautiful as everyone says it is?
I’m going to use the wonderfully vague answer of yes and no. Here is why…
We stayed in the Shangri la Resort, which was absolutely stunning. Their private secluded beach nestled within a bay was one of the most picturesque settings I have ever been lucky enough to visit.
However, the beauty of this tranquil paradise ended once we left the resort. We only ventured out of the resort once, where one evening we headed to the main area called White Beach. From our friend’s descriptions, this used to be another beautiful and very tranquil area; unfortunately what we saw couldn’t have been more different.
This long strip lining the beach is very similar to what you find in Koh Phangan and similar islands in Thailand, with bright neon lights, buckets of booze and it even had its own Starbucks! That pretty much tells you all you need to know. This is not the deserted island paradise the majority of the Philippine islands claim to be and certainly nothing like the pictures of White Beach I have seen previously.
If you want a souvenir or a wander within the hustle and bustle of this heaving area then head to White Beach to explore. However, if you are looking for peace and tranquility I would give it a miss.
I have some truly wonderful things to say about the Shangri la resort, such as the picturesque setting, stunning sea views, excellent level of service where nothing was too much and everyone always had a smile without fail.
However, I did have one quite major issue with the resort. The food.
The resort has 4 restaurants offering dinner options for the evening; Rima for fine dining Italian cuisine, Sirena for seafood, Vintana for buffet or a la carte on certain evenings and Cielo their poolside restaurant for casual dining. However, having spent a week in this resort I would have to discount 3 of those options for the following reasons.
Sirena has a beautiful setting situated on the cliff overlooking the sea with decadent décor and excellent service, however the food lets this restaurant down hugely. We ate here twice and on both occasions wish we hadn’t bothered. The fish we sampled tasted as though it had been cooked in a microwave it was piping hot and very bland, even the vegetables were overcooked and tasteless. Such a shame as this restaurant has all the markings to create a fantastic evening for their guests.
Vintana café is where you head every morning for breakfast, which by the way is fantastic. However, in the evening it is soul less and the food was a bit lackluster and unmemorable, which was surprising considering how good some of the breakfast items were.
Cielo restaurant is really just somewhere to head to for lunch in my opinion. Again considering the location adjacent to the pool with some tables on the beach, there isn’t much atmosphere and in a luxury resort I would expect, well a bit more luxury.
So that left us with Rima, which thankfully was excellent and provided us with some delicious Italian cuisine. We pretty much sampled their whole menu during our stay, which was no bad thing, but it would have been nice to have a little more variety of decent restaurants to choose from.
Therefore, IF I ever went back to Boracay I would choose to stay at the Shangri La. However, if I were to go back to the Philippines I would choose to visit islands such as Palawan, El Nido and Coron, to get an authentic taste of the Filipino culture and a sense of seclusion on some of these near deserted islands, as I get the feeling that Boracay has fallen into the trap of becoming too commercialized losing its Filipino authenticity.
Have you been to Boracay? If so, where did you stay?