Homepage ( Leaderboard Top ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch:

The island that doesn't sleep

A paradise island called Boracay.

The PeopleAsia and Allure staff of the Philippine STAR hied off to Boracay for some team building and bonding and realized that it was possible to “eat, pray and love” on one island; that work and play aren’t mutually exclusive; and that in Boracay, sundown is the beginning of a brand new day.

Boracay island in Aklan province is the second best beach destination in the world and the No. 1 in Asia for the second year in a row, according to travel website TripAdvisor, which is based on travelers’ reviews and ratings. It is one of the industry’s most credible jurors on destinations and travel amenities.

The tiny island of Providenciales in Turks and Caicos remains the world’s best beach destination, according to TripAdvisor. But why go that far? Boracay is only about an hour away from Manila via Caticlan.

“At only 4.5 miles long, Boracay is small enough to navigate by rented bicycle or motorbike. But don’t let its small size fool you  you’ll have several excellent beaches to choose from,” TripAdvisor said in its website.

I don’t know of any other place where you can have a hermit’s quiet in one corner, then have a riot of a party a kilometer down  without either getting in the other’s way. You may stay at private enclaves like Asya on the southern tip of the island, or if you want to be at the center of Boracay’s strip of clubs and chill places, stay at the Boracay Regency on Station 2 (the center portion of the island), like we did. Regency is the biggest resort group on the island, right smack where the action is but providing guests their own retreat in every room. It’s a stone’s throw away from D’Mall, a cluster of souvenir shops, the seafood market D’Talipapa, and the mesmerizing sea.

According to resort manager Dindo Salazar, Regency has the widest beachfront in Boracay, with 125 meters. Its sister resort Regency Lagoon, on the other hand, boasts the biggest swimming pool on the island, encompassing 1,200 square meters.

Homepage ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

Eat

There are also hundreds of great restaurants on the island, from the exquisitely expensive to dirt-cheap. You may have scallops seared in olive oil with herbs at the treetop Italian restaurant Rima at the Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort and Spa or done paluto style with garlic and margarine at the D’Talipapa on Station 2. You may have margaritas at sunset on the beachfront of the Discovery Shores (located on long beach, the island’s most spectacular beachfront) or mojitos at Ti Braz along Station 2. You can have tinapa spring rolls at Mesa (near Regency) or a spicy choriburger (a burger made of the island’s famous chorizo for less than P100) in one of the stalls on the strip.

The Regency has an extensive breakfast buffet at its Sea Breeze Café, and its cinnamon rolls and ensaymadas are always freshly baked. It serves good coffee, too. 

One of Boracay’s best kept secrets, according to one of the island’s frequent visitors, Allure creative director Luis Espiritu Jr., is an unobtrusive restaurant with a thatched roof called Real Coffee. It is on a side road near D’Mall, and is arguably the best breakfast place on the island if not in the whole province of Aklan.

You are lucky if you find an empty seat in the restaurant at 9 a.m., for a throng comes for its scrumptious muffins, fluffy omelettes cooked on a griddle right in front of you and fully-loaded rye bread sandwiches. The specialty drink? A blend called “Real Coffee,” what else, which comes at P100 per mug (more expensive than Starbucks but worth it. Incidentally, there is also a Starbucks outlet on the island.)

For crepes and the island’s best mojitos, go to Ti Braz. It serves refreshing frozen mojito in a jar instead of a glass, and after a jar you feel like island life is the life.

Pray

You don’t need to be inside a place of worship to pray and praise the Being that gave you such a wondrous island and the opportunity to enjoy it. Transfixed by the calm waters of Boracay that is a canvass of foamy white, light blue, Tiffany blue, aquamarine then sapphire till it meets the sky, you actually say a prayer of praise without uttering a word. You believe.

Or you may retreat to the tropical jungles of the island where resorts and spas also nestle, or to the cliffside resorts with a 360-degree view of the ocean.

Or simply melt your stresses away under the radiant morning sun. Or bask in the cathedral-like rays of the glorious sunset. You will feel like you are part of a choir singing silent alleluias to the Creator.

Love

They say what happens in Bora… stays on Facebook. Seriously, lovers will go over the moon in Bora, where they can cocoon themselves for an eternity, and then go for a break at the beachfront and mingle with the crowd. Korean honeymooners form a sizeable chunk of island visitors.

Among friends, it is easy to draw out the best in each other in Bora. One evening under the stars, with some of us smoking shishas (water pipes) at Café del Mar and having refreshing cocktails, we professed to our colleagues what we like most about them  one’s sincerity, the other’s elegance and grace, the other’s capacity to do his best to please others, the other’s sterling reputation in the industry as a style guru. The kind words that were exchanged that night were like stars in the heavens  they glittered for a long, long time.

And sleep no more

Boracay is no soporific, despite the sea breeze. From the hilltops of the island at dark, you will see a string of lights down below that looks like a tennis bracelet freed of its clasp. This is known as Boracay’s “strip.” Life here begins at sundown, peaks past midnight and rages till sunrise. We left our hotel at 4 a.m. to catch our Air Asia flight in Kalibo, and on the way to the jetty, we would pass by people who had not yet called it a day   or were just beginning it. Night had raced into day, and a new day was just raring to be born.

 

 

Photos by LUIS Espiritu, Jr., Phoebe Marquez, joy avila and LYKA MAE DELA CRUZ.

(You may e-mail me at joanneraeramirez@yahoo.com.)

Homepage ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
  • Follow Us: