Thursday, April 30, 2015

Beyond Valenzuela Travels: A Boracay Throwback

Summer brings so much joy to many. It also signals for us to unwind and chill from the daily work routine. And so this busy month of April, One Valenzuela and Little One Valenzuela were able to visit Boracay together with relatives. It is the second time that One Valenzuela was able to set foot here since 2003 and yes, she is thankful for those few days off, brushing her worries aside even for a while and just be in awe with the island.

This post shall recount her wonderful vacation which she hopes will help her fellow Valenzuelano bakasyonistas to plan their trip. Do take note though that she is not a Boracay guru and she simply wants readers to have an idea or two from her experience.

Plane, Boat, and Land Transfers. One Valenzuela's pack took a package from PAL Holidays, wherein the plane, boat, and land transfers are all included. Since it is a trip which was planned within the month, it is expected that the airfare cost is quite high. It is advisable, as always, to watch out for seat sales from airlines so you can have cheaper fares and allot more of your hard earned money to food, activities, and pasalubong. Take note also that a flight to Kalibo is much cheaper than arriving to Caticlan. Why? Because you have to travel for two hours from Kalibo to Boracay while it will only take you around 30 minutes to reach the island if you pick Caticlan. Since One Valenzuela's group was not in a hurry, they took the Kalibo route.
Uy, clouds! Aboard Philippine Airlines.
Southwest Tours provided reliable land and boat transfers. You may want to check their site here.
Welcome us, Boracay! Boat transfer of Southwest Tours.
Hotels and other Possible Places to Stay In. The group stayed at Le Soleil De Boracay. Despite mixed reviews about the place, One Valenzuela had a wonderful stay at the hotel. Rooms 119 and 120 provided the comfort that they needed after a long day at the beach. The personnel were equally accommodating and readily gave their warmest smiles everyday. Location wise, since it is at Station 2, a few minutes walk will bring you to D' Mall and other interesting points along White Beach. It is a beach front hotel and so you get to eat your buffet breakfast overlooking the beach.
Le Soleil de Boracay
There are, of course, much cheaper places to stay in Boracay. For people who would like to stay for weeks and even months, there are places like Agos de Boracay (Got the chance to see the rooms and view from Agos. A narrow route near Le Soleil de Boracay will bring you to this place along the main road. Pinoy Adventurista has a detailed write up about this place here.) and Cool Stay Inn (One tricycle away from the White Beach. It is near an Iglesia Ni Cristo Church.) which are not located near the beach but will provide you with the necessities to have a wonderful stay in the island. One Valenzuela was also told that Station 3 has cheaper accommodation. But for those who would like to splurge a bit, Station 1 has those pricey places to check out. And yes, TripAdvisor has noted Shangri-La Boracay Resort and Spa, as the top hotel to stay in as of this writing.  
Welcome lei and drink from Le Soleil de Boracay
Eating in the Island. All the walking, picture taking, and swimming will make you go hungry! D' Mall has a lot of places where you can dig in. Andok's, Mang Inasal, Shakey's, Dulcinea, Starbucks, Chatime can be found in D' Mall and along White Beach. A similar concept to the paluto of Seaside in Pasay, D' Talipapa is a go to place for some seafood. There are also several "Only in Boracay" restaurants that you also have to check out such as Tilapia N' Chips, Lemon Cafe, Smoke, and Jonah's.
Jonah's mango shake (Php110), Sinigang na Maya-maya from D' Talipapa Paluto, Steamed Labahita fish included in the island hopping tour, and some dessert from Lemon Cafe

Learned that Chatime Boracay have drinks exclusively offered in this branch. One Valenzuela was not able to find this Coconut Green Tea variant in their Trinoma branch.
What to Do in Boracay. Together with her relatives, One Valenzuela tried out helmet diving (Php500 per head), joined and snorkeled during the island hopping fun tour (Php800 per head for 6 hours; inclusive of buffet lunch), road a banana boat (Php1800 for a group of 9), and did some parasailing (Php1000 per head). There are of course more water activities like mermaid swimming, fly fish, scuba diving, and kite surfing at the Back Beach. After a fun filled day, one can walk along White Beach to watch some guys and gals do poi dancing, join a party, or have a relaxing massage. 
Snorkelling at Coral Garden, Parasailing, Helmet diving, and Banana Boat Ride
Playing with the powdery sand is a win-win to children like Little One Valenzuela and the calm waters of the beach is definitely good for swimming. Hair braiding and henna tattoo services are also offered here and there. 
Magnum while in the middle of the sea? Why not! The price doubles though. Talk about manong's efforts...
With so many locals offering water activities to tourists, where do you get a decent one? The pack went to Station 3. Instead of nodding to the men offering water activity services along the stretch of the beach, they decided to get services from established booths. And oh, do not forget to haggle a bit.

What to Buy for Pasalubong and Souvenirs. There are many items that one can bring home from Boracay. Comparing items from D' Mall and D' Talipapa, One Valenzuela would say that you can get more value for your money at the latter. She was able to buy 6 Boracay printed shirts (free size) for Php500.00 at a store in D' Talipapa. You may also want to buy some puka shell bracelets at 6 for Php100.00 and bring home bottled sand key chains from Php15 to Php50 a piece, depending on their size. 
Boracay in a bottle
Boracay is still worth going to after so much commercialization and coliform related news. One Valenzuela only hopes that the said issues be dealt with so that the paradise island's charm and beauty will not be lost. When you love the place, you take care of it, right?

Gratitude Box:
One Valenzuela would like to thank her aunt and uncle for making this trip possible. She hopes to see you back in the country soon. Salamat po!
Thank you po!

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