Where to go in the Philippines for my First Trip?
When I decided upon the Philippines for my vacation, I had a difficult time choosing between traveling to Palawan or Boracay. In my heart, I wanted to go to Palawan. Palawan is the road less traveled, it has less tourism, and it is uniquely more Filipino. Additionally, it holds the wonders of El Nido and Coron. However, I could not get a direct flight to El Nido or Coron from Manilla. This meant I would have to fly to Puerta Princesa and take a bumpy, dirt road ride for an additional 6-8 hours. If you do the math, this deducted an extra day from my already short one-week vacation in Seoul.
Boracay, on the other hand, appeared beautiful but very touristy. I did like the fact that I could party a little and even have the option to flirt with girls in English. However, I wanted to explore and experience something unique. The fact that Koreans(the country I so desperately needed a break from) vacationed in White Beach was almost enough to deter me from the option. I began searching other options like Cebu and Bohol. Nevertheless, upon studying a map of Boracay, I discovered other beaches were on the island. Upon spending a week on the island, I discovered there are beaches that exist which are not on any map.
If a person wants a quiet and pristine tropical beach, that beach can still be found on Boracay.
This really makes Boracay a great location for someone who needs a break, is limited by time, but doesn’t want his vacation to be inundated by the crowded party scene. Before we begin, let me submit to you that White Beach is not the most beautiful on Beach on Boracay.
Bulabog was my home beach and I was extremely grateful. It was the offseason(the first half of the year) for wind sports so my beach was nice and quiet. It still had people, of course, who pre-gamed at their hostels and headed to White Beach later at night. Not many people swim in this beach, but when fully illuminated by our closest star it’s a sight for sore eyes. It’s a very pleasant place to find a bench or sit under a tree to have a drink at night or to enjoy your breakfast while simultaneously enjoying a visual feast for your eyes via sunrise. All of the bed and breakfasts on Bulabog serve fantastic food as well.
I loved walking down this beach at night. There are a few places to stay on Bulabog(see my Lazy Dog Review) so the lack of locations means the beach is dimly lit. I had to turn my cell phone on a few times to see where I was walking. However, the dearth of light means that you can see houses glowing on hills in the distance. Plus, the stars come out to play on Bulabog beach in ways you will never see while staying on White Beach. This beach is not hidden, but I highly recommend staying on this beach if you are traveling on a budget. Best yet, it’s not more than a ten minute walk to White Beach to fulfill your partying, scuba, or more expensive needs.
Puka beach is a good 10-15 minute taxi ride from Bulabog or White Beach. I normally payed 100 peso for the enjoyable ride. Nothing strikes your mind that your vacationing in Boracay like riding a taxi. Also, it’s a far cheaper option than including Puka beach on an Island Hopping tour. If you take an island tour, save the time to see places like Crocodile Island, Crystal Point, and the often missed Gateway Arch. Go to Puka Beach by taxi on your own.
When you arrive at Puka Beach, you’ll approach a place to have lunch on the right and a handful of merchant stands on the left. For all of your cheap island style jewelry needs, I recommend these vendors. This is a beautiful beach on a sunny day and it’s a great place for couples to go if they want to get away from the crowd. You can lay out and swim here and there is plenty of room for throwing a frisbee with the natives. However, be careful as the current is really strong.
If you take a left and walk you’ll eventually meet a small family that runs a little cave conveniently called Puka Cave. It’s not a large cave, but the family is so charming it is worth the 20 pesos(you should buy a souvenir from them as well). Inside the cave, they will allow you to grab a handful of Puka shells and show you the sandcastle they built inside. I absolutely loved it!
Continue to head left and walk towards the end of the beach. You will come to a series of cliffs and rock faces. There are paths cut between the rocks. Follow these trails and you will be rewarded as they lead you to new and private beachfront. There are other places where if you wade in the water(ankle-deep so not really wading) and go around a rock face you’ll access even more beach. This is a spectacular area for photography or privacy. Barely anyone walks far enough for this magnificent payoff but I highly recommend doing so.
When I went to Mount Luho Lookout, I noticed a spectacular looking beach to the right of the island. I knew my goal was to explore all of this untamed beach. I left the lookout and walked down a winding road where I met a delightful family about to jump into a zorgball. I figured I’d only live once so I did the zorgball with the family. Afterwards, I began my trek towards this mystical beach. Luckily, the family passed me in a rented a van and offered me a ride. The van ride took about 20 minutes so I was soooo thankful that I did not have to walk that far. When I arrived, I was greeted by the most uninhabited and stunning beach I have seen in my entire life. Words will only cheapen the pictures of this magnificent beach. Had I been with someone significant, we could have played on this island in the sun all day until our hearts were content. Even after sailing with Tao Expeditions from El Nido to Coron and spending time in Palawan two years later, this is the most impressive beach I visited.
Hidden Beaches and Lapuz-Lapuz Beach
If you go left on Illig Illigan Beach you will find a path that leads into the mountain. I walked this path and passed the batcaves and found a small private beach that only private tours stop at. After I had lunch, I backtracked and tried to follow the coast all the way back to Bulabog. I climbed small mountains, followed seldomly used trails and when I came to the end of one beach I waded around a rock face that gave me access to a different beach. In all, I found four different beaches on this one day that were uninhabited. My journey photographically ended right when I discovered the Gateway Arch. This private beach is owned by a golf course and they politely escorted me off of their property.
On my last exploring day(because I chose to try Ariel’s point on that Friday), I explored station three, grabbed a shake at Jonah’s and ventured to Diniwi Beach. There is a gorgeous cliff that extends out into the ocean which is perfect for jumping into the azure blue water with local children. When you finish, continue to walk and you will find a wonderful small beach with huge rocks and boats scattered on the shore. Again, this is a great place for photography and privacy.
I visited other beaches and I have hundreds of other pictures. My point is this, if you want a vacation and White Beach does not appeal to you, there are plenty of other beaches and places to explore to keep you more than satisfied in Boracay. It’s an absolute gem of a place to stay for three to four nights. If you meander around, you can easily make it last a week like I did.