Friday, July 19, 2013

Boracay


Boracay Honeymoon from Reuben Uy on Vimeo.


Probably my favorite picture of all the pictures I've ever taken in my life. This was shot at sunset from the Beach at Shangri-La Boracay.
Boracay is a magical place. I've been there three times, which is probably three times more than most people but it just feels like one of those places I'd like to go to at least once a year if I could. It has a reputation as a party beach, with students flocking here to have the Filipino equivalent of spring break to party at the bars along shore. The last time we went though, it seemed like Boracay was starting to clean up its image (from party central) and began catering to families. We went there after our Cebu beach wedding with some of our close friends and we had a blast. Here are some of the things we did:



The Beach - The white sand beach of Boracay is one of the best in the world. There aren't many waves on the white beach side of Boracay so it's better suited for chilling out by the beach with an ice-cold fruit shake in hand. It has amazing sunsets

Red Coconut - I can't remember what I ordered but the Mango shakes here were really, really good.

Discovery Shores - A bunch of our friends stayed at Discovery Shores, which was in Station 1. It's a nice modern hotel that kinda seems like some high-class condos or townhomes. In the middle was a nice, inviting pool, an open bar and restaurant with good food, and the white beach right outside the hotel.


















Groupon - When we were last there, my friends and I got a groupon deal for several activities that can be done over the course of several days. I'll rate them here on a scale of zero to five stars, where zero is crappy and five is excellent.
  • ATV (All-Terrain Vehicles) - 2/5 stars - While it was fun riding on the ATVs, it was only for a very short time. We only got to ride them along a dirt road from the ATV area to the ZORB area and back. Would have like to have a chance to take it off-road and explore some more.
  • ZORB - 3/5 stars - The ZORB is a big plastic bubble that you crawl into and roll down a hill in. The ZORB experience is basically divided into two parts. First you lie down in the ZORB's path and they run over you. Then you walk up to the top of a hill, jump in the ZORB with one or two other people and then they shove you down. Video of the ZORB is shown above. We weren't supposed to film inside of the ZORB but my friend David Marte stuck the gopro in his pants and snuck it in.
  • Helmet Diving 3/5 stars - This was pretty interesting to us, but probably only because none of us have ever gone scuba diving before. We were able to go down farther than we'd usually go while snorkeling. The visibility was good and there were plenty of fish to see and a few rocks/corals, but overall wasn't that much to see. Good experience though for those who aren't scuba snobs (Snorkeling's too boring for me!! WAHHH)
  • Glass bottom boat/Island Hopping/Snorkeling 2/5 stars - There wasn't really any island hopping to speak of, unless you count leaving Boracay and then returning to Boracay as "island hopping." We all got onto the boat which had a glass bottom and let you see down below, which was admittedly cool. After a short boat ride, they told us to jump in the water for snorkeling and it was pretty as well, but I felt like they could've taken us to a much better spot. Lots of the corals and plants seemed lifeless and I don't think they took us far enough from the mainland. I would have liked to go to a spot with more variety. The first time I went to Borocay they took us far out near some other island and the snorkeling was AMAZING. That was almost 10 years ago though...

Shakes
  • Coconut milkshakes 5/5 stars- Coconut milkshakes are amazing in Boracay. I must've ordered 3 or 4 shakes for each day I was there. They're milky and coconutty and sweet. The place whose coconut shakes I liked the most was next to the Manila East Hotel.
  • Jonah's 5/5 stars- Don't miss out on Jonah's milkshakes. Though I don't think they had coconut shakes, the banana-strawberry and chocolate-peanut shakes are awesome and definitely a must-try if you're in the area.

Shangri-La (5/5 stars) -
 
Probably the nicest hotel I've ever stayed at. Unfortunately it will ruin all other hotels for me for the rest of my life and I'll always be comparing them back to Shangri-La Boracay, which is the gold standard of hotels for me. It was on a different part of the island away from the bars and restaurants, secluded in its own little spot with its own private beach. While the beach sand wasn't as white and a little coarser, the water was crystal clear. Besides, the facilities and totally awesome sunset view more than made up for that. There's a shuttle that will take you to Station 2 where all the action is at if you're looking for cheaper food or just looking to hang out with the rest of the tourists and do some shopping.



The breakfast is amazing and I had some of the sweetest mangoes I've ever tasted here. I could spend a whole morning eating the breakfast there if I weren't so enticed to go down to the beach or just walk around the hotel and take in the serenity.







The staff were awesome. They upgraded our room and were so nice and helpful. The coolest part is taking the speedboat directly from Caticlan, then disembarking at the Shangri-La's special dock where one of the hotel staff is waiting for you to take you to the front desk in a golf cart and check in. The views are simply amazing at the hotel and I didn't want to leave. We extended one more night even though it was super-expensive but the extra day of relaxation was totally worth it.




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