Ahh Boracay. Normally on our vacations, Nicole and I put together a giant Google Doc with all kinds of info on weather, exchange rates, places to go, things to do. However, when it came down to planning for this trip, I was busy with Flatiron School prework so Nicole did all the planning. It was fun for me to visit Boracay going in blind. Honestly, I couldn’t even find Boracay on a map until halfway through our trip, but enough about me, let’s dive right into the trip.
Getting to Boracay
For Nicole and I, our last day of work was Wednesday and we left Korea on Thursday. By the time Thursday rolled around we’d already shipped a few boxes to the states and packed our things. We had coffee and shaved ice near the bus station then took an afternoon bus to Busan and a flight out that night.
Our plane was delayed an hour at the airport so we arrived around midnight, local time, instead of 11. It was weird flying into Kalibo at night. There were almost no lights. It looked almost uninhabited from the air. There was a patch of dirt and grass before the runway started and for a minute I thought the airport didn’t have a runway, and we’d be landing on a dirt road. That was not the case. However, the airport was only slightly larger than what you would expect from an airport with a dirt runway. There was one building, half was departures, the other half arrivals and no real security. We walked from the plane into the terminal, past several luggage carts from other flights. Once we got our bags, we had to pay a fee to enter the Philippines. Outside the airport a van from our guesthouse was waiting to take us to our guesthouse for the night.
To visit Boracay you have to either fly into Katiclan or Kalibo airport. Katiclan is right next to the ferry port to Boracay so it’s geographically very convenient. However, the runway is too short for most aircraft so you can only get there from Manila or other regional flights. There’s also a very strict weight limit on baggage. Since Nicole and I were moving after this vacation, there was no way we were going to be traveling light. Kalibo it was. From Kalibo you can take a bus, van, or taxi to the Katiclan jetty port. They’re listed by price and time to destination with bus being cheapest and slowest and taxi being most expensive and fastest.
RB Lodge Kalibo
Since we got in so late, we stayed the night at RB Lodge Kalibo. It’s a guesthouse that seems to exist for the sole purpose of providing lodging for late night airport arrivals. The accomodations were nice. Our room had an A/C wall unit and there was wifi. Bizarrely, our room had two twin beds.
In the morning we had breakfast downstairs. I love Philipino breakfast. It consists of some type of cured marinated meet, a fried egg, and white rice. I had that every day for our entire time in the Philippines and sitting in New York writing this now, I miss it dearly and remember it fondly.
After breakfast we took a trike to the airport. The main form of transportation in Kalibo and Boracay, and I suspect most of rural Phillipines is a trike, a small cc motorcycle (dirtbike?) welded to a little sidecar with a roof and room for up to 7 people. Nicole and I squeezed in to one, but we passed several trikes that appeared to be hosting family reunions inside. Some people even rode on the back of the motorcycle with the driver while their entire friend group and closest family members rode in the sidecar part.
Kalibo Airport Again
At the airport I had 500 pesos, about $10. The ride was 100 pesos, about $2 and no one had change. I finally found a woman selling chips who was able to give me some change. I bought a bag of conceited sour cream & onion potato chips that promised to revolutionize the world of snacking forever. Despite the bold claim, I think the chips delivered on their promise. They tasted like a more flavorful Baked Lays.
Finally, change in hand, I paid our trike cabbie. Nicole and I tried to find a van or bus to take us to Boracay, but they were waiting for more people to arrive at the airport. We had the option to either wait for a flight to land, possibly in an hour or two, or take a taxi straight there. We were excited and the difference between a taxi or bus was only about $2, so we opted for the cab and headed out posthaste. The ride took us through rice paddies, forested mountains, past Catholic churches and schools. The weather was rainy but not terribly so.
Riding to Katiclan Ferryport
We got to the ferry port and boarded a tiny wooden boat with outriggers on either side. A porter helped to latch our bags to the roof of the boat. The trip from the ferry port to Boracay is no more than a 15 minute journey. On a speedboat it’s even shorter than that.
The Stations of Boracay
When we arrived at the port a golf cart was waiting to take us to our hotel. Boracay is split amongst three “stations”, or sections of the beach: Station 1, Station 2, and Station 3. Station 1 is quiet. It’s where a lot of the more expensive resorts are. Station 2 is right in the middle. There are plenty of bars and shops and activities on the beach. Station 3 is quiet, a bit older and tends to have more budget accomadations. All three are a short walk from one to another along a beautiful white sand beach.
Welcome to Agos
We stayed at a place called Agos Boracay. It was across the main road and up a set of stairs from Station 2. Because we were going in the low season, July to November, the hotel was practically empty and so our room was upgraded free of charge. We dropped our bags off and ventured down to the beach to explore. Station 2 has a big outdoor mall/shopping area called D’Mall, pronounced Deemall, not Duhmall as Nicole thought. We got some barbecue chicken and drinks on the water and sat by the beach.
That night we did a pubcrawl and met a ton of people from all over the world. I chatted about Disney theme parks with some guys from Saudi Arabia, met a former marine and his girlfriend who’s the number 1 pole dancer in Thailand, and a number of Germans on holiday.
Overall, not a bad first night and day. We got the lay of the land, saw two cities in the Philippines and met a bunch of characters.