Boracay for 2014 New Year (Part 1)

I’m writing this post now from my beach vacation in Boracay Island, Philippines!!! This is my 7th or 8th time here in Boracay in the last 10 years, an island lifestyle introduced by my then boyfriend, now husband when we first started dating. The island is named 2012 No.1 World’s Best Island featured on NBC’s Today Show and Travel + Leisure’s No. 1 island destinations in 2012, and still continued to be my favourite beach holiday destinations in the world. Love the place, the food, the people.

 

Just a quick background on Boracay

It’s a small island located off the south of Manila, the capital city of Philippines. It is the country’s most popular tourist destination and contribute significantly to their tourism income. The biggest draw to this beach destination, has got to be White Beach, the bustling tourist spot, over 4 km of hotels, resorts, restaurants, street vendors and stalls. This stretch is separated by sections known as Station 1, Station 2 and Station 3.

Boracay (Image Source : BoracayCoupons.com)

Station 1 is the nicer and quieter part with more luxury hotels and private beaches, while Station 2 is the bustling centre of it all with D’Mall shopping and dining central, and Station 3 being the more relaxed end with budget resorts.

When I was here about 9 years back, it wasn’t too commercialized, with mostly chalets and locally ran hotels and resorts. Today, there’s a Shangri-la Hotel (not on White Beach), a Starbucks (nearer to Station 1 end), a 24-hour McDonald’s (at Boracay Regency Hotel at Station 2) and a Subway (also  at Boracay Regency). Nevertheless, there are plenty of room for the local hotels, resorts, restaurants, dining options and beachfront relaxations like massage, hair braiding, henna tattoo and street vendors selling sunnies, hats and island activities.

For more information, check out the official Boracay tourism website at http://www.boracayisland.org/ and TripAdvisor page here.

 

Getting to Boracay

Getting to Boracay Island is not easy. It is a bit of a journey that can take a full day or two from KL.

Thanks to Hubby’s bad trip planning, we ended up taking the longest route possible to get there. Also, due to the crazy busy time of the year (year end during Christmas and New Year) that most flights were near impossible to book if you didn’t plan months ahead. We went from KL (ETD: 8.55 am flight) to Singapore (transit) then to Manila (ETA: 4.00 pm). Then, spent the night in Manila at Sofitel Manila (free points again) to visit some friends for dinner.

Sofitel Manila
Sofitel Manila
Belated Christmas (Boxing Day) dinner
Belated Christmas (Boxing Day) dinner

From Manila, there are 2 domestic destinations you can fly to either Caticlan or Kalibo as there are no airports on Boracay Island itself. Caticlan is the nearest to the island, but also the more expensive flight.

  • Fly from Manila to Caticlan (approx 1 hour) with turbo prop planes, land transfer to the jetty (approx 15 minutes) with a van / tricycle (aka tuk-tuk), take a boat / ferry to Boracay Island (approx 15 minutes) and land transfer to your hotel (approx 10 minutes) with a van / trike
  • Fly from Manila to Kalibo (approx 1 hour) with jet planes, land transfer to the jetty (approx 4 hours) with a coach bus, take a ferry to Boracay Island (approx 20 minutes), and final land transfer to your hotel (approx 10 minutes) with a van / trike

See Also : New Year 2013 in Boracay, Philippines

We woke up late night / early morning (4.00 am) to head to Terminal 3 to catch our domestic flight with Pal Express (subsidiary of Philippines Airline) to Caticlan. We boarded a small 20-seater turbo prop and it was reminiscent of the FireFly turbo prop planes back home.

We arrived at Caticlan airport / Boracay airport and we’re almost there…

A quick land transfer arranged by our hotel took us to the private jetty to take a small boat to head to Boracay island.

Airport to Boracay boat trip
Me and Hubby on the boat ride to the island

The same boat ride we had years ago in our first trip together to Boracay, back in 2005. I dug some old pictures out and snapped a similar pic of hubby on the boat.

Geoff - Boracay Trip (2005 vs 2013)

Yes, we all aged and changed shapes…

Boracay Island Terminal Fee
Promptly paying the PHP 75 per pax in Conservation Fee + PHP 100 per pax for Terminal Fee
Boracay Island Ferry Terminal
Very busy Boracay Ferry Terminal

The hotel van brought us on the final leg of the trip – from the ferry terminal to the hotel.

Boracay Main Road
Weaving through the narrow main road of Boracay island to the hotel

Reaching the hotel (we’re staying at Sea Wind Resort on Station 1) by around 10.30 am. Obviously extremely tired since we woke up at 4 am that morning. Both of us so exhausted we just want to get to the room for a nap.

But the best part – we’re here… at the start of our holiday, with beautiful white beach and blue ocean.

 

Being here in the holiday season

This is our 3rd year here for New Year’s celebration. It is truly a great celebration and spectacle with hour-long fireworks display throughout the 4km long beach. I am excited to spend this New Year 2014 celebration again in a few days.

Nevertheless, Boracay can get really busy at this holiday season – where apparently anyone who’s anyone in Manila is here in Boracay island. So it gets quite crowded and busy. Took us more than 6 months to book our rooms in advance for this trip!

Even with the long and tiring travel from KL to Boracay, seeing the beautiful white sandy beach and blue seas, it’s all worth it…

Beautiful beaches of Boracay
The private beach in front of our hotel in Boracay
Sunset at Boracay
Our first sunset on this trip
Busy beach of people on Boracay during the holiday season
Busy beach of people on Boracay during the holiday season
Busy inside walkway on the beach on Station 1 Boracay
Busy inside walkway on the beach on Station 1 Boracay
Boracay Trip 1 - Cigars
Cigar rolling in a shop in D’Mall, Station 1, Boracay
Winnie on the beach in Boracay
Me chilling on the beach

Got a chance to have some great food in the last 2 nights here at Boracay as well, which includes some great grill meats and seafood at our favourite Gasthof Grill at Station 1. Dedicated review of Gasthof Grill coming soon in the next posts.

Giant butter prawn at Gasthof Grill, Boracay
Giant lobster sized butter prawn at Gasthof Grill

I have a total of 8 days here on Boracay Island and I’m chilling and relaxing and thoroughly enjoying the solitude and relaxation, catching up on some reading and sunbathing… and napping. *wink*

Upcoming posts on restaurant reviews of Gasthof Grill, New Year’s celebration and more. Happy Holidays, everyone!!!

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