The Flyer That Remain Unchanged: A Boracay Experience

Real Coffee claims establishment in 1996. The last time I’ve been in Boracay was the early 90’s when there were hardly any businesses occupying the beach front of the beautiful island. It was way back before I was even a teenager so I’m not really sure if either we went there earlier or none of my “titas” noticed Real Coffee.

Fast forward 20 years (give or take), married; with one kid and another on the way, I got the chance to go back to the place dubbed as “the best beach destination in the world” by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

Getting there

Surprising to many, I’m actually terrified of flying—so just imagine my apprehension getting on a very small plane going to the island. We landed at Caticlan airport at around 11 o’ clock on a sunny Saturday morning. The runway of the airport is fairly short which explains why only light aircrafts are allowed to fly here. Just as any tourist destination, be ready for a couple of fees* once you land:

  • Php 50 – Tricycle ride from Caticlan airport to Caticlan jetty port
  • Php 100 – Caticlan airport terminal fee
  • Php 75 – Environmental fee
  • Php 50 – Boat ride from Caticlan to Cagban jetty port
  • Php 100 – Tricycle ride from Cagban jetty port to anywhere

*prices as of October 20, 2013

Regardless of which hotel you’re checked in, the tricycle can take you practically anywhere. There are a lot of cheap ones in Boracay but I suggest you check in somewhere near Station 1 to save yourselves from all the walking.

Nothing’s the same from the early 90’s. The island has become one huge resort with a 2 to 3-meter wide walking path and a 5-second interval between a guy trying to offer you discounted rates on “parasailing, jet ski, helmet diving, riding a speedboat, etc.” (not necessarily in that order) and another. If you want to skip all that, you should consider walking on the shore. Not only is the sand soft enough to walk barefoot on, the intervals in which an annoying guy offers you something balloons up to minutes.

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Because we felt tourist-y, we went to check out Jonah’s Fruit Shakes. One of the staples and must-go-to’s here in Boracay. Sadly, not only did I find it over-rated but we were also faced with a dilemma of choosing between a limited selection of mango, chocolate, or choco-peanut shakes. To cut it short, don’t get your hopes up too much on this joint if the fruits you’re craving for—strawberry, melon, avocado—are not in season. Price ranges from Php 95 to Php 180.

Tip: There’s a vendor out front who sells grilled stuff which includes isaw, hotdog, and chori burgers. One thing to remember before ordering a chori burger is to check whether the bread is still fresh or you’ll end up paying for a Php 40 piece of chorizo.

Dining in Boracay

If you came to Boracay to eat, then your cravings will be satisfied. Almost all food joints are here. Filipino, Italian, Mexican, Indian—you name it. For us, we settled eating at McDonald’s. Yes, you read that right.. McDonald’s. Because, people might go and say “you went to Boracay to eat at McDonald’s?” but then again, where else can you get a Quarter Pounder and eat it on the shore with an untroubled view of the sunset? Yep, I thought so.

This place has been dumped with a number of restaurants you’d typically see in a mall: Andok’s, Cinnabon, Cyma, Mang Inasal, McDonald’s (again), Mesa, Shakey’s, Starbucks, Yellow Cab, and many more. There are a bunch of originals here as well and one place we planned to visit is Real Coffee —for we’ve heard they make these calamansi muffins to die for.

One thing to be aware of is that most maps being distributed here are already outdated in which you will see Real Coffee pegged at its original location—in Station 1. They’ve recently moved to Station 2 just beside Sea World. Nadine, the owner, is very chatty you won’t miss her while you’re there.

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Tip: Better approach the counter and place your order before getting a seat. It gets pretty packed here and it seems they become short-handed quickly.

Another Tip: Calamnsi muffins gets sold out within the very first hour (they open at 7:00am) so it’s either you head there very early or pre-order your muffins a day before. “Calamansi” is just something they use to make it sound local but on the first bite, you’d instantly taste that it’s lemons they’ve used.

If you’re the type of person who craves seafood whenever at the beach, I suggest you skip the fancy and expensive restaurants at the beachfront and go for something ghetto (see: cheap, practical, and great food!). Head to Section 1 of D’ Mall and on the north side is where you’ll find Plato D’ Boracay. Your typical “paluto” restaurant but way, way cheaper than those near the shore. And since I’m not fond of seafood (with the exception of buttered garlic shrimps, mainly because of the sauce), I ended up ordering myself a grilled liempo value meal. Funny, ’cause a la carte, their bottomless iced tea costs Php 65 and my value meal” cost me Php 85 which already came with a glass of iced tea which only means one thing—a slab of grilled liempo and a cup of rice only costs Php 20! (That was a joke, by the way). My wife ordered buttered garlic shrimps and 1-piece of crab.

Tip: Nothing like going barehands when eating your favorite food on the beach!

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There’s this food stall called LeyLam Shawarma in the middle of Station 2 which sells weird but tasty shawarma creations. There’s beef shawarma, shawarma rice, shawarma noodles (which is basically shawarma rice but with noodles instead)—all to which you can either add an extra serving of egg, cheese, or both. Everything is under Php 100 which practically makes this joint a steal in Boracay where everything is pretty much jacked up in terms of price.

Tip: Get yourself a beef shawarma wrap nearing sunset and eat it at the shore. You will thank me later for this inexplicably amazing experience.

Etceteras

Every vendor here pretty much sells the same thing. Necklaces, bracelets, toys, souvenirs, etc. but there’s one stall that sells good leather items. From bracelets and anklets to wallets. This nice and friendly woman places her stall right in front of Plazoleta just beside Boracay Regency. It’s hard not to spot her ’cause what she sells are really nice-looking and unique leather items which were all handmade.

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Conclusion

Boracay is a nice destination for a vacation—period. Nothing more, nothing less. If you’re the extrovert type of person, you will surely enjoy the island and its nightlife. But for people who suffer from introversion like me, I’d rather go to Bohol which is not as densely packed but offers almost the same kind of landscape. While people would still come up with “Boracay!” when asked which is the best beach in the Philippines, I honestly think there are now legit contenders out there. So forget the Boracay flyer and try something else. Who knows? You might just discover yourself a whole new paradise. And when you do, please do not forget to send me one of those flyers.

Side note: Our PAL Express flight back to Manila got delayed for 4 hours which was pretty much the only low-light of our trip. They were able to (well, somehow) redeem themselves by providing us free lunch as we waited at the airport lobby.