Since this is my first blog post for the year, let me go ahead and greet you a Happy New Year! We may have welcomed the year two weeks ago but may the motivation and optimism we felt that time be all year round. Cheers!
Another year has passed and looking back, I’m thankful for the exciting and wonderful things that happened to me last year. Personal goals were met, I got to travel more and I started this blog (!). There were painful events too but I’m really thankful mostly for all the wisdom and wonderful experiences I gained last year. Now, I’m filled with optimism for what this year has in store for me.
Marco and I have actually been starting off our years great because our anniversary is just days after New Year. So how excited we are at this time! Two weeks ago, we’ve just had our 3rd (yay!) anniversary and to celebrate this special event, we had a 3-day vacation in Boracay. And it was one amazing trip. 🙂
Ah, Boracay. A very much known tourist destination not just here in the Philippines but much of the world too because of the island’s stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife and thrilling activities. I had been in Boracay with my family twice for summer vacations and what I especially like about the place is its long stretch of powdery white-sand, postcard-worthy beach. Another thing that makes staying on this island enjoyable is you won’t run out of things to do here; you can go on trips with your family or friends and do different activities every time. Marco and I hadn’t experienced Boracay together yet, so we decided it’s where we wanted to spend our anniversary next. So on the first weekend of the year, off we went to the island.
A Morning Dose of Vitamin Sea
The weather was delightfully good when we arrived at Caticlan Port on a Sunday at 7:00 AM. From the port, we took the 5-minute boat ride to Boracay then rode a tricycle to Jony’s Boutique Hotel, the hotel that we would be staying in for 3 days. The check-in time was at 2:00 PM so Marco and I first left our bags in the care of the accommodating staff and would just come back when we’re about to check in. We then attended the 8:00-9:00 AM mass at Holy Rosary Parish.
We didn’t have time to eat breakfast early that morning so by the time the mass was over, I was starving and eager to have my first meal of the day. We ate in this dining place near the iconic Willy’s Rock. I was quite dismayed with their food and I had actually written about it in my draft but I sounded so whiny early on in my post, lol, so I just scrapped that part. Moving on, we stepped out of the resto and that’s when we really took in the view in front of us.
Ah, I had missed that powdery white sand and clear water near the shore that turns into different shades of blue as it gets deeper. Just 2 weeks before our visit, typhoon Urduja hit the island (almost around the time my sisters and I were in Siquijor) and Boracay was on the news for flooding and destruction. There wasn’t any sign of that now so I’m glad that the people and the areas affected were able to recover fast.
As we waited for our check-in time, Marco and I strolled near Willy’s Rock. After a while, we saw a sand castle and walked towards it to take some pictures. The two guys who made it offered to carve any words we like on the castle for P400. Photos of a personalized sand castle would make a good souvenir, I thought. So not really sure if the price offered was too high or a bargain, we haggled over it until we agreed on P300. The kuyas then immediately started carving.
I asked kuya if we could just come back later but he said that we should just wait for them to finish their work because a guard might knock the sand castle down any time soon. We then realized that they’re not allowed to make money out of building sand castles. So we agreed to stay and watched how they cut and shaped the sand into the words we wanted.
By 12 noon, the sun’s heat was getting more intense so we decided to head back to the hotel and just wait for the check-in time there. Luckily, when we came back, the hotel receptionist informed us that our room is already available. Once in our room, we settled our belongings and changed clothes then headed out again to have our lunch.
Spider House Restaurant
Days before our travel, my officemate suggested that we try the restaurant at Spider House Resort. After checking out the pictures and the menu online and seeing that it’s always high on the recommended list, I included it in our itinerary. So that’s where we were headed when Marco and I set out for lunch.
Did you know that Boracay has plenty of beaches? As in plenty! I didn’t know the island has this many beaches (I’ve been to Puka beach before but that’s just about it) until I saw this wooden board hanging on the wall at our hotel’s reception area. It’s that of the island labeled with its beaches. I counted a total of 14! The White Beach, which is the most popular beach in Boracay, is the one that’s divided into Stations 1, 2 and 3 and where the happenings are mostly at. But people can also check out the less crowded beaches by tricycle, boat or foot.
Now one of these less crowded beaches is Diniwid Beach, which is where Spider House is located. It’s a 15 to 20-minute ride by tricycle. We couldn’t get public tricycles to take us to the restaurant, though, because it’s already far from where the other passengers would be dropped off, so we rented a private one instead for P150.
After reaching Diniwid Beach, we walked a short distance to the restaurant. Our short journey composed of passing by other hotels, climbing a few flights of stairs and walking through a passage that looks like a cave.
Aaaand we finally arrived! The restaurant was filled with diners when we came. Indeed, the place is popular. We waited for a few minutes to be seated and for our orders to be taken. I ordered their Seafood Marinara while Marco chose Shrimp Teriyaki.
While waiting for our food to arrive, we took in the details of the place. The resort is mostly made up of bamboo which gives off a very laid-back vibe. It also sits atop a low cliff so the sea is right below it. And floating there on the sea are two Spider House attractions – a trampoline and a huge bamboo raft with an inflatable spider on top. It was fun seeing kids and adults alike enjoying those.
Moments later, our meals arrived. I was looking forward to the food here and it didn’t disappoint! I loved the generous portion of fish, shrimps, and mussels in my dish. And aside from it being delicious, the tangy kick I always look for when eating tomato-based pasta was there so I was really satisfied. Marco had the same amount of pleasure with his dish which had huge shrimps, green bell peppers and onions that paired well with the mildly spicy teriyaki sauce. Yum.
After our sumptuous lunch, we walked back to White Beach. There’s a trail that people can take if they want to go to White Beach by foot. And unlike the main road that we used to get to Spider House earlier, this trail will give you a really nice view of the sea. You’ll also pass by huge rocks and Diniwid Beach itself.
After 15-20 minutes, we’re back at Station 1. We then spent some time swimming while waiting for our scheduled Paraw Sailing.
Paraw Sunset Sailing
Before going to Boracay, Marco and I had been looking for some activities to try. We had always wanted to try Parasailing so that was at the top of our list. When Marco found TravelLog on Facebook and saw their detailed offers and packages, he chose them to assist us with our activities. They arranged for our Paraw Sunset Sailing, ATV and, yay, Parasailing. We would be trying out all these for the first time and we’re so thrilled!
The activity for our first day was Paraw Sunset Sailing which was scheduled at 5:30 PM.
If you aren’t familiar with the term, paraw, yet (just like we were when we first saw this as an activity offered), according to Wikipedia, it’s a double outrigger sailboat native to the Visayas region. It’s basically a bangka (boat) with layag (sails) and katig (outriggers). In paraw sailing, tourists sit on each of the outriggers and can watch the sunset from there. I read that the sunset in Boracay is an attraction that shouldn’t be missed, so we were looking forward to witnessing it while on the paraw. I imagined the scene to be grand, seeing the sun in all its golden glory with nothing but the sailboats and the sea to complement the dreamy view. How magical would that be!
Unfortunately, though, there were blankets of clouds obscuring the sun that afternoon when we went paraw sailing. Aww! It was quite a bummer. But I guess given the month we’re in, it’s highly unlikely that we’d see a cloudless sunset. (There were fewer clouds the next afternoon, though. More on that in my next post!) So we just enjoyed our chill boat ride.
Sailing while sitting on the outrigger has its own thrills, too. Our ride was enjoyable and I wished our sailing time took longer than 15 minutes and that we had gone farther out to sea.
And just like that, paraw sailing was over! We went back to the shore and continued gazing at the horizon and watching the sunset. Thick clouds and all, the view was lovely.
A Too Good To Be True Moment
It’s time to have our dinner! At this point, we were thinking if we should accept the offer of the agent from Astoria. Before we went paraw sailing, this agent approached and invited us to have a free dinner buffet at their hotel in exchange for 2 1/2 hours of our time. She said they needed people to promote Astoria Hotel online so after the supposed dinner, we would be toured in the hotel and we can then let other people know online how nice it was. The offer was tempting. Free dinner buffet for an easy task? Show us where the food’s at! Marco was okay with it. I would have gladly agreed to meet up with the agent, too, if not for a similar experience I had with an insurance company before.
It’s déjà vu really, the agent offering free goodies in exchange for our time. But it turned out to be a marketing strategy, luring unsuspecting people to listen to their presentation and selling them – a forceful one at that – their products in the end. My experience with the agents of that insurance company was unpleasant so I was wary that we’d be undergoing the same with Astoria. (I totally forgot about this part of our trip until just recently when I came across a blog that confirmed my hunch. And it turns out there were an awful lot of them warning readers against Astoria’s marketing strategy! So if you’re not looking to be a holiday member of the hotel which costs 6 figures, decline their invitation). We finally decided to just explore and look for a budget-friendly dining place instead.
We turned to some blogs for recommendations and found Smoke Resto to be a recurring name among the cheap-eats lists. It’s located in D’Mall so we started walking towards Station 2. After turning on Google Maps and asking some locals, we finally found the resto.
And boy, was it filled to the brim! It got me really curious what their food’s like. They have another branch to accommodate incoming customers so we need not worry about the long wait. This second branch is a bit far from D’Mall, however, but they have a multicab to take customers there for free.
The trip took about 5-10 minutes and when we arrived, the place wasn’t as packed. Smoke’s second branch, unlike its sister, is in a secluded area. Well, I guess it’s not that secluded because there were houses surrounding it, but it’s definitely quieter there. Also, the place is on the simple eatery side; no fancy interiors and furniture. Marco said what he enjoyed the most with the place – aside from the food, that is – was the way he can dig his feet into the sand while eating. Oh, and we found out that Bulabog Beach is just right in front of the dining place, opposite from where we entered. That’s another beach! But since it was night time and it was really dark outside, we weren’t able to see how it looks. We’ll surely check it out in broad daylight on our next visit!
But let’s not forget about the food. Once we’re comfortably seated, we checked their menu. I first ordered their Sweet and Sour Fish but it’s not available at that time so I switched to Pork Steak. Marco asked for their Pan Grilled Chicken. We wanted to try their coconut shake but that wasn’t available too. We then thought of just having our dessert at D’Mall. The waiting time was long so by the time our food arrived, we were ready to devour it.
For the Pan Grilled Chicken, I first noticed how the barbeque sauce was lavishly poured on the chicken and the plate entirely. My next thought then was it might be salty for my taste buds (even though it’s Marco’s food haha). But it wasn’t and it’s just the right amount of flavorful. Thumbs up!
This pork belly was cooked in soy lime sauce and topped with onion rings. I could delightfully taste the lime all the way and the pork was so flavorful too that I ordered another cup of rice to go with it.
Overall, we were really satisfied with the food at Smoke Resto. It’s now our turn to recommend it to friends should they visit Boracay.
Cold and Hot
An hour later, we were back at D’Mall, thanks to Smoke’s multicab ride. We walked through rows of restaurants and souvenir shops, looking for some dessert to cap off our dinner. When we saw Crazy Crepes, we stopped looking further. I missed ice cream crepes!
We also spent this time to buy pasalubong for family and friends. After some time, we were ready to call it a night. On our way back to the hotel, we saw a fire performance and stopped to watch. Right, fire dancing is common in Boracay! It was so entertaining that we stayed a little bit longer. I think I posted quite a number of fire-dancing clips on my Instagram Stories that night. Hehe. Amazing performances.
And that’s how we spent our first day in Boracay. It was mostly a chill but definitely a memorable day. I’ll be blogging about part 2 soon! 🙂