Boracay and Manila
From the White Beach of Boracay to the smoldering smog congested city streets of Manila.
We took an overnight ferry from Batangas, which is one hour ferry ride from where we had stayed in Puerta Galera, to Caticlan (the gateway to the famous Boracay island). We paid $27 USD each for the overnight ferry booking the “tourist class” which is essentially a VERY large room filled with almost a hundred bunk beds. However, it was quite comfortable and we were lucky to sleep next to a family who had a very sweet and more importantly quiet baby. After the ferry it’s a quick pump boat ride to Boracay though the process is a little confusing because you have to get 3 separate tickets, boat ticket, terminal fee and environmental fee, from 3 different counters to get on the boat. At least the 3 tickets only come out to $4 total per person. Most people that go to Boracay want to stay at White Beach which is divided into 3 sections. Section 3 is where most of the backpackers stay and tends to be less crowded. It also has less of the “white beach” as the water drops off more quickly into deep sea. Section 2 is where the majority of restaurants, bars, shops, and hotels are thus making it the busiest section. Section 1 is more high end and has arguably the best section of the beach. Here you can walk out far into the sea on the famous white sand. We stayed at Frendz Hostel which was on the edge of sections 2 and 3. This is by far one of the best hostels we’ve stayed at. While not directly on the beach, they have their own section on the beach with beach chairs that you can use and include a free pasta dinner night.
The White Beach of Boracay is absolutely spectacular and one can quickly understand what all of the hype is about. We spent most of our days under palm trees on a section of beach in Station 1. When you swim in this location it feels like the white sand goes on forever. The water is chrystal clear with amazing prisms bouncing off of it. There is one large “but” though: green algae. Our stay in Boracay corresponded with their annual green algae bloom, leaving large swaths of the beach covered and unpleasant to be around. While many locals will argue that the algae is normal and actually helps create the beautiful white sand, many scientists have pointed out that it gets worse every year and is a product of pollution. Boracay is also notorious for being crowded and touristy, but we didn’t find it overwhelming and were still able to enjoy the beach. However, our last two nights there were part of the Philippines Labor Day Weekend. While, during the day it felt a bit more crowded, at night it was obnoxiously crowded. The entire beach essentially turned into a huge party in the evening that we weren’t too keen to be a part of. We were also incredibly disheartened to learn that they left a huge mess. All in all, we managed to visit two of the Philippines most popular destinations during holidays: El Nido for Holy Week and Boracay for Labor Day Weekend.
From Caticlan we flew to Manila for the remainder of our stay in the Philippines. While we thought we would take a day trip from here to the Taal Volcano in Tagaytay, as our initial trip there was cancelled from food poisoning, we ended up deciding against it. We were both feeling a bit exhausted and as we’ve got a lot of travel and expenses coming up, we decided to spend time in Manila unwinding. However, we did spend one day visiting the historical quarter, Intramuros. Here we visited one of the most beautiful sites in Manila, San Agustin Church. We were not able to access the actual church as they were filming a commercial inside it, however you can spend hours going through the section dedicated to a museum.