There are plenty of short-break holiday destinations across Asia that are easily accessible from Hong Kong, but the island of Boracay in the Philippines has to one of the best.
As we left Hong Kong on a particularly muggy and overcast day, we had high hopes for a relaxing, sun-soaked few days of fun, and Boracay certainly delivered. We took a short flight from Hong Kong to Manila, then Manila to Caticlan, and finally a short boat transfer to Boracay. This all sounds rather time-consuming and tedious; however, the journey was straightforward and both flights were short – and once we were on the boat (locally known as a “banca”) catching our first glimpse of the turquoise crystal-clear waters that Boracay is famed for, we knew our holiday had really begun!
Upon arrival in Boracay, an air-conditioned minibus was ready and waiting to take us to our hotel. There are plenty of accommodation options in Boracay, from the high-end, like the Shangri-La or Discovery Shores, to boutique hotels like the Two Seasons or Sur Beach Resort. Make sure to get a beachfront property, where you can wake up every morning to a breathtaking view without even leaving your bed. Bliss!
White Beach of Boracay has been consistently voted one of the best beaches in the world. With the lure of the beach proving impossible to resist, we hurriedly dropped off our bags at the hotel as soon as we arrived, changed into our swimsuits and in about two minutes flat, were lying on the sand soaking up that much-needed vitamin D! The beauty of the beach is undeniable and with strict rules on littering, it remains unspoilt and super pristine. The sand was perfectly white and powdery and the water totally clean and clear.
Boracay’s long sandy beach is split into three sections, cleverly named Station 1, 2 and 3. We decided to make our spot for the next few days the more laidback and clean Station 1. Meanwhile, Station 2 is where all the action is as most restaurants are located in this area, but it tends to get very busy and packed with tourists.
After a couple more chilled-out hours sunbathing, people-watching and swimming in the beautifully temperate ocean, we became aware of another dazzling asset to Boracay – the sunset. Still in our bikinis and accompanied by four cold beers, we watched the most incredible light and colour show that Mother Nature has to offer. These Boracay sunsets rival any that I’ve ever seen… and I’ve seen a fair few! It was astonishing to think that just hours before we were waking up to a familiar grey Hong Kong day and now we were in tropical heaven. Another option is to take a “paraw” (double outrigger sail boat) ride to watch the sunset from the ocean.
There are also plenty of markets and shops to satisfy those in need of retail therapy and of course, souvenirs galore to take home. Along the strip, there are people offering boat trips, paragliding, scuba diving and other tours. However, we spent our days swimming, sunbathing and enjoying traditional Filipino massages right on the beach – it’s a tough job but someone has to do it!
Boracay also really comes into its own at night. There are rows upon rows of bars and restaurants offering a wide range of different cuisines, whilst most also have the option to dine on the beach itself. Some of our favourites were Gasthof (famous for its baby back ribs), the great paella at Dos Mestizos, Real Coffee and Tea Café (try the calamansi muffin) and the shakes at Jonah’s Fruit Shake & Snack Bar! We generally spent our evenings listening to acoustic live bands, eating good food, kicking back with several glasses of wine and just soaking up the best that this paradise island has to offer. For those wanting a more lively experience, there are plenty of busy bars and clubs ringing with music until the early hours.
All too soon, our time on Boracay came to an end. Feeling completely relaxed and a little more bronzed than when we arrived, we made our way back to Hong Kong, reflecting on what a fantastic short break we’d had. It was so good, I was even tempted to buy one of those tourists tees saying “I Love Boracay” – cheesy but true!
FLIGHT CENTRE DEAL TO BORACAY: $5,999 (excluding taxes and fuel surcharge), including return economy airfare to Boracay with Philippine Airlines and 3 nights’ accommodation at Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort & Spa with daily breakfast. This offer is valid until September 25, 2013, depending on availability; call Flight Centre on 2830 2866 for more info.
For assistance on your travels, visit www.flightcentre.com.hk. Flight Centre’s team of travel consultants can help you book everything travel-related, as well as make excellent recommendations.