Talcum-fine white sands, crystal-clear calm waters, the culture, the people - these are just few reasons why I can't get enough of this paradise called Boracay.
Enthralled by my first Boracay getaway
same time last year, I told myself that I would definitely go back. Since, it’s another long vacation with the proclamation of Oct31-Nov01 as Non-working holidays, we decided to experience the Boracay-fun again.
This time, since I, like most of the people here in the country, am experiencing some cash problems, thought of some ways, so as not to deprive myself of my passion for traveling, and still enjoy Boracay, even if I’m on a budget. Thanks to the Strong Republic Nautical Highway, better known as RORO (roll-on roll-off), since this enhances travelers to go to tourist spots on an alternate route. Traveling by RORO may be tiring and exhausting for those who are not used to it. You may find spending long travel hours, transferring to and from a bus or on a RORO vessel, a bit too inconvenient, but still, it is much cheaper, and a Roundtrip ticket will only cost you half of your airfare. Imagine the savings you can have. In addition, you can also bring
your own car and indulge into a road-trip.
The entire trip is approximately 12 - 18 hours depending on the stopovers that you will make along the way. It is important that you know the RORO schedules, so as to maximize your time, and not end up waiting for the next RORO vessels. Suggest you bring snacks/food, so you can eat along the way, and reduce the stopovers that you will make.
Getting to Boracay
There are some bus companies in Cubao/Pasay which serves the Manila-Caticlan route. There is the Philtranco (02-851-8077 or 851-8079), Bachelor Express (02-731-7287)
, Alps & Ceres. We decided to take the 2PM Philtranco Trip on October 29, Saturday. As early as October 01, we bought our tickets at their Cubao Terminal (Ali Mall). Since its holiday, we might run out of ticket reservations. The bus ticket costs Php 615.00(including Php15.00 Insurance) and the 2 RORO fares, which you will pay to the conductor, cost Php 430.00.
The RORO is a four-part travel. First, the two-hour bus ride from Cubao-Batangas Port. Then the 2-3 hours RORO to Calapan, Mindoro. Third stretch is another 2-3 hours land travel to Roxas Port, Mindoro. Last part is
the 4-5 hours RORO to Caticlan Port. From there, you are just a 15-minute ferry-ride away from Boracay. The banca fare is now Php39.50, which includes the Php20.00 terminal fee.
Sadly, my first RORO experience was a tad disappointing. We were scheduled for the 2pm trip on Oct 29, but the bus was 1.5 hours late in Cubao. We thought that we were on our way to Batangas, but, we were disgusted when the bus docked to their Pasay Terminal and made us wait for another hour coz they fixed something in the bus. Sigh. So many delays that we encountered, and the worst that happened was we missed the 3am RORO from Roxas to Caticlan. So we have to wait for another 3hours, coz RORO scheds in the Roxas-Caticlan route are every three hours, starting 3am. We arrived at boracay, 1130am the following day. The travel time was too long, almost 24 hours, sigh. It would have been better if all RORO vessels have beds to rest to make the trip more comfortable, however, some vessels only have inconvenient plastic chairs. It’s a challenge on how you’ll make yourself comfortable during the travel. You can hang out at
the canteen to douse your hunger, watch the tv if they have one, jam with others at the videoke bar, or simply feel the vastness of the sea at the upper deck.
Soon as we arrived at Caticlan Port, we looked for other vehicles other than Philtranco, coz we were disheartened with their delays. Good thing, we found RODASTCO
office inside Caticlan Port Terminal. Their terminal in Cubao is near Baliaug Transit Terminal, and they also have one in Sampaloc, Manila(02-783-0886). You can also ask GOPE(0921-524-5394 )
in Caticlan to book you for a trip from Manila/Cubao - Caticlan and vice versa. They have several Passenger Vans, so if you are a group (10-14 persons), it would be more convenient to occupy the entire van. The fare is much cheaper than that of Philtranco, it is only Php910.00/each one-way (Caticlan-Cubao) which includes the two RORO fares. They do not require any reservation fees. Better transact directly with Gope, because they have agents which will charge you an additional fee of Php50.00 as commission.
Boracay on a Budget
Since we are considering this vacation as a budget-trip
, part of it is to scout for cheaper hotel accommodations. Thanks
to the internet and I was able to make reservations on two affordable hotels. Jeric and I stayed at Villa Camilla
while Nanay, Sarah, and Tan stayed at Orchid’s Resort
. Both are located in Station 3. We were booked for Standard Rooms (aircon) at Php1,000.00 per day. Villa Camilla is a beach-front hotel, and their rooms have verandas facing the beach, whereas Orchids Resort is 3-minute walk from the beach. Day1 - October 30, 2005, Sunday
Soon as we docked at Station3 at past 11am on October 30, Sunday, we immediately checked-in to our respective hotels, refreshed and strolled down to D’Mall at Station 2 for our lunch. Tired and hungry, due to our long trip, we just took our lunch at Andok’s. After our swift lunch, we walked along the shops at D’Mall. There were a lot of improvements and additions in the D’Mall as compared last year. Among them are the Budget Mart, Julie’s Bakeshop and many others.
Still tired and with barely enough sleep, after our lunch, we took some rest at the hotel. Villa Camilla has nice amenities. It has a small pool, a lobby where you can dine and watch tv, and a deck on
the second floor overlooking the beach. The hotel staffs, especially JingJing, to whom I arranged our reservation, are very friendly and accommodating. We even managed to bargain our room rate from Php 1,000 to just Php 800.00 per night, since they gave us a fan room instead of an aircon room which we agreed thru our email exchanges. Settling on a fan room, instead of an aircon room, is no big deal since the weather is not so hot and the rooms are spacious and cozy since they have their own verandas overlooking the beach.
By sunset, we set a relaxing snack/dinner in front of our hotel near the beach. After our dinner, we engaged on another expedition of the island. We just strode and strode, celebrity-sighting, and just looking around, until we reached Jonah’s at Station 1. Their affordable fruit shakes (Php60.00 - Php75.00) should not be missed when you go to Boracay. Their specialty - Choco Banana Peanut is superb, along with my other faves - Choco Banana and Mango Papaya. After our round of shakes, we called it a night, and headed back to our hotels to have a goodnight sleep. Day2 - October 31,
Station 3 is a less crowded than Stations 1 & 2. Nevertheless, it still has the best share of the White Beach. We made an early morning stroll to the southern part of Stn 3, where we had our picnic and enjoyed the tranquil water.
With the influx of foreigners in Boracay, it would be a challenge to scrimp on your budget, since Restaurant prices are really expensive. Our immense probe of the island paved an answer to this predicament. You can still have a lush stay in the island without spending much coz there are lots of affordable restos there. Luckily, we found RNRC Restaurant
, beside Angol Point in Stn3, just a 2-minute walk from our hotels. It’s just a small canteen, more of like a carinderia cum sari-sari store, which serves affordable yet delicious food. Their menu prices ranges from Php25.00 - 35.00/order, rice Php 7.00/cup. To save more, we brought canned goods, bread, chips, snacks and most especially bottled water. There is also a water refilling station near Station 3 pier. For five days - 3 days in Boracay & 2 days travel, we only spent Php4,000.00 for food (5 persons).
massage at the beach is another entry in the Boracay hitlist. Masseurs, in green uniform are all-over the island, and will often approach you with their “Massage Ma’am” greetings. For Php300.00, you will experience an hour of relaxing massage. I was able to haggle with the old lady and gave us a massage for only Php200.00.
Boracay sunset is simply awesome. Taking a round of San Mig Lights, we idly sat on the wide shorelines of Station 1 in front of the infamous Willy’s Rock, as we witness the breathtaking setting of the sun. Day3 - November 01, 2005, Tuesday
To appreciate the beauty of boracay, an island tour is a must. Instead of the usual 3 or 4 -hour banca ride, we rented a tric for 3hrs which we dealt on a fair bargain of Php500.00. We explored the northernmost part of the island - watched the waves at Puka Beach, plunged at the inviting waters of Club Panoly, trekked down Balinghai Resort, passed through the Grotto on Diniwid Beach, and sunbathed in front of Boracay Terraces Resort.
Boracay is a place to do NOTHING. You can spend hours on just sitting on the white sand,
watching the tourists passing by, feeling the cool breeze of the air, and you can’t even notice that the hour hand fastly ticks. To get pleasure from the lazy afternoon, we played scrabble under the shade of the coconut trees which were perfectly landscaped in front of our hotel.
Boracay nightlife is so lavish with plenty of bars staging various shows every night. For our last night, we sat at Bom Bom's, and enjoyed the reggae ambiance. We also passed at Charl's and listened to the band's set of country music. Day4 - November 02, 2005, Wednesday
How I wish that time can go 3 days back. It is our last day, but I still wanted to stay. Early morning, after our sumptuous breakfast, I took a book, and lazed down at the beach. I just beachcombbed for hours, savored and felt the sea breeze, and marked every inch of a memory that I had in this paradise.
Time to go home. By 1pm, we were already at Caticlan Port to purchase our tickets at RODASTCO for the 3pm RORO schedule. The Van trip was way convenient than that of the bus trip. No stopovers, no delays. We left Caticlan 3pm Nov02, and we arrived Cubao 3am the following day.
There is something in Boracay which lures me to always go back. There would definitely be a next time.
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