We’ve had nothing but “good luck” on our sides this entire trip. No major illnesses, no bad encounters, nothing – knock on wood. Our stresses these days include things like “how do we go about getting our visa?”, “I hope our luggage shows up”, “the water pressure totally sucks in our shower” – I mean – life is good and we’re so very grateful for that.
As mentioned in earlier posts – we’re not too big of fans of big cities. They’re cool to check out for a couple days but we’re more into beaches and a slower way of life. We were excited to leave the massive city of Manila and head to the picturesque island of Boracay. But first? A canceled flight.
Sometimes a little “hiccup” happens – blow it off.
Four hours before our flight was supposed to leave – just as we were about to check out of our Airbnb – we got an email notification that our flight to Boracay was canceled. God damn it. So we had a few options:
1.) Get rebooked for a flight the next day. The problem with this is that we already had a place booked in Boracay and no place to stay in Manila that night.
2.) Be placed on a flight to a different airport and then take a 2 hour bus ride – arriving way later in the evening than we wanted.
3.) Get a full refund and book a new flight with a different airline (at an increased price) but arrive just 2 and a half hours later than we were originally planning.
We wanted to get out of Manila – so we put finances aside (uncomfortably so…) and went with the last choice. We were so excited to get to Boracay that we wanted to get there – like yesterday. We figured it all sort of “evened out.” If we had taken the option of flying the next day – we would have lost out on the money we’d spent on our lodging in Boracay and accumulated expenses in Manila.
We’re so glad we decided on the option that we did – because once we arrived and got settled in – we witnessed the most intensely beautiful sunset we’d ever seen. Aside from walking out to the beach and having our breath taken away by the beauty of it all – this sunset was just…a moment that makes you believe in a higher power. Had we not been determined to get to Boracay – we wouldn’t have seen it. It felt like we were meant to be there at that night…like a “thank you” for arriving that very night.
Our beach – the perfect juxtaposition – “Boat Station 3”
Arriving to our Airbnb from the airport took a trike ride, followed by a boat ride, followed by another trike ride. It was located behind a bar/restaurant called the Cowboy Cocina. Again – it was extremely modest – just a studio with hardly any windows, a bathroom and a mini kitchen. But this is how we roll.
The main plus of our week-long residence? The beach that was located just 50 meters from our door. The major beach of Boracay is called White Beach and it’s divided by boat stations – 1, 2 & 3. Station 1 is the very nice resort area, Station 2 is the very touristy area with all the bars/restaurants and Station 3 is the more chill area. There are restaurants and bars but it’s quiet, peaceful and best of all? Uncrowded.
Keep in mind we came during low season so it was especially uncrowded. If we were to have come during the months of November through May? It would have probably been an entirely different story.
Clearest water we’d ever seen!
As I said earlier – White Beach was PRISTINE. The things that postcards, daydreams and magazine covers are made of. The water was beyond clear. You could swim out quite a ways, look down at your feet – and see them perfectly.
When the water dipped just slightly deeper, it went from clear to that turquoise blue that always looked Photoshopped – only – it wasn’t. More about this, with pics, later.
A wonderful thing about this beach too was the respect. When we lived in Mexico – it was so maddeningly dirty. Nothing was done about it. We were in paradise but no one seemed to want to keep it that way. Here? We saw locals taking the time to clean up the waste that tourists left behind constantly (don’t even get me started on this topic.) They legitimately cared and that was amazing!
The best thing about being in Boracay was that I was going to be spending my 33rd birthday here! Like…WHAT?! Who am I?!
We are people who never spend money frivolously but I was determined to find the best meal on the island. After tons of researching through blogs, TripAdvisor, etc. I found a place that we had walked by a couple times called Smoke. Their “best” dish was called Sizzling Bulalo – described as a slow cooked beef shank in brown gravy. Like…yes please!
This restaurant is located in busy Boat Station 2 and is known to have a line out the door so we arrived at around 11:00 am to have a delectable lunch. We sat down – didn’t even need to look at a menu – and ordered the coveted Sizzling Bulalo. It came out and I was stoked. It looked like gluttonous heaven.
I was so excited to put the first bite in my mouth…oh god…nope. Nope, nope, NOPE. It was so fatty and with the weirdest flavor. I wanted to gag. Talk about being BUMMED! This shit just cost me $7!! This is like…hella expensive in the Philippines!
Next birthday celebration spot was to come – so we paid (leaving most of the bulalo behind) and left. We were headed to the Spider House which was a bit north of Boat Station 1.
The incredible beach continues…
As we left with total disappointment, we headed north toward the Spider House. OH. MY. GOD. The beach just became more beautiful and more pristine. It felt like we were looking at something completely out of our dreams.
As we walked on, reaching the glorious resorts at Boat Station 1, we reached a shrine of Mary located halfway in the ocean. It was stunning. We aren’t super religious people by any means but this was something that you had to respect – I don’t care who you are.
It was about a 15 minute walk or so from Boat Station 1 up to the Spider House and the beauty just continued. Once we reached the Spider House – we realized how expensive and busy it was – had one quick cocktail and headed out. But it was so worth it to see the sights that we did.
Hospitality for days!
Family and friends were worried about us coming to the Philippines – we get it (as much as the media sends crap to the U.S.) – but honestly? We couldn’t have felt more welcomed.
As we walked the beach, celebrating my birthday, it happened to also be a country (and surrounding countries as well) holiday. This meant that locals were hanging out with their families, cooking food and drinking on the beach.
As we walked by, they would all exuberantly say hello and ask to take a picture with us. At first – we were like, why? But after the 2nd and 3rd time it happened – we just went with it. They offered us drinks, food and hang out time. It was awesome!
On our walk to Spider House, we declined every time – but as we were walking back I was like “you know what? Let’s just stop! And hang out – how great of a birthday story would this be?” So we did. And it was.
To Boracay or not to Boracay?
You might read that Boracay is a tourist trap and so completely overrun that it’s not worth going to. Had we visited in the peak season? We might have agreed!
But if you happen to visit during the low-mid season? It’s perfection. I mean – this is truly one of the most beautiful places we’ve seen on earth and are so grateful to have experienced it’s glory.
It’s weird because I don’t want to advocate going to Boracay at it’s least prime – because – it might constantly become “prime time.” But I guess the secret’s out – so go. Like…now.