26 Oct Something About Boracay No One Tells You About
“Oh, you’re from the Philippines? Where should I go when I come visit?” – a question I get whenever I meet fellow travelers everywhere in the world I go. So I give a quick list of where to go, then I get a follow up question asking, “Ah nice, but what about Boracay?” I often leave Boracay at the bottom of the list of must-visit places in the country.
.. until I discovered this part of the island.
For many years, I have been visiting Boracay at only one time of the year – during the labor weekend for the so-called #LaBoracay for at least a week. To put it simply, it’s a week(end) of non-stop partying – think Southern Thailand’s full moon parties, happy hour as early as 8am, just when you’re about to sleep; it’s that crazy. Since 2013, it was an event I never missed. Not that I’m a drunkard, but it was hitting two birds with one stone for me, especially that I get to see my friends from other universities as well. It’s like a mini reunion on the beach, and who am I to say no to that – I mean that’s Boracay. This was going on until 2016 when I realised how bad it has become; people go to party, drink, and get laid. It was no longer about the beach, so 2015 was my last #LaBoracay and I swore to myself that this island is overrated; I’m never coming back.
Boracay was pretty much ruined for me, until a week ago when I flew on a random trip (really just wanted an escape, lol) to the island. Flights were cheap, I found a super cool hostel – I mean why not, right? Booked everything on a Thursday, flew right out the Saturday after.
The island is famous for White Beach, the long stretch of fine white sand, now divided into “stations” to make it easier to identify where your resort / hotel / hostel is at. In the past, Station 1 was solely for the rich as hotels in this area cost at least $200 a night, and Station 3 was more for those in a budget. The argument is that the beach is cleaner and better in Station 1, but I reckon they’re the same; it’s just that big hotel and resort chains built their properties on Station 1 and so this area just appears to be maintained better. Today, they’re really just the same; luxury resorts are present in Station 3 as well, so now it’s a good mix altogether.
But the famous White Beach is not what this is all about – I’m here to rave about Diniwid Beach and Bulabog Beach. These “avoided” areas of the island are actually what got me to visiting again, and they actually made me enjoy Boracay even more. Trust me on this one.
Diniwid Beach is a small, “private” beach alongside White Beach, separated by a “mountain”. It is accessible by foot through a paved path around / along the base of the mountain and through the rocks – a bit of a “secret” pathway although not really. The trail saves you a 20-minute, 150-peso ($3) tricycle ride from the White Beach, but only during the day. At night, the trail is incredibly ~mysterious with little to no lights at all. I meant to risk walking through it at night to save some $, but I walked back; it wasn’t worth it.
Unlike the White Beach that almost never sleeps, Diniwid’s nightlife ends just after the sun sets – and I assume it’s because of its location (read: it’s an extra cost and hassle to go to / leave the place at night). People flock to Spider House, one of the bars overhanging on the sea, to enjoy good music and a chilled-out vibe while the sun sets. The earlier you arrive, the better; the place is picking up (if not already famous) among party animals (lol), so you know the drill.
This Boracay visit was intended to be a quiet holiday – and knowing how perfect Diniwid would be, I decided to get a room at Spider House (I mean, where else). And because I’m a cheapskate, I booked the cheapest possible room (full sea view, but shared toilet and bath). Kinda like the best decision ever, especially that you own the best seat for the sunset and then wake up to the sea the next morning. Perhaps the only downside is having no AC (and TV) in the room, although it wasn’t as warm as I thought it would be; it only gets problematic in the day, which is ideally spent outside anyway.
Price-wise ($30 per night for two adults, mid-October), the room isn’t so bad considering the view; it’s a full-on hotel, except that all rooms have no AC and this particular accommodation shares a toilet and shower room with another room in the property. The restaurant serves decent (price- and quality-wise) food, too – so that’s far from being a problem.
Perhaps the only thing keeping me from staying here again is the idea that you’re either stuck in the hotel after the sun sets, or you have to shell out a few hundreds to go to the White Beach and back – it’s not that practical.
Geographically, Bulabog is on the other side of the island parallel to White Beach, while Diniwid is somewhat an “extension” of White Beach on the same side, but not directly accessible especially at night.
This is Bulabog Beach, or otherwise known as the kitesurfing beach of the island. During my visit, it was empty (and I loved it) primarily cos the wind was blowing on the other side so no one was kitesurfing. It meant the beach was empty and it was a far different experience from the busy white beach.
The water was just as perfect, and without the people. For someone craving for some alone time, it was quite perfect. Especially with a coconut (or OK, a beer).
In this part of the island is a (party) hostel that caught my attention – Mad Monkey. Having been around Southeast Asia, the Mad Monkey chain of hostels isn’t new to me; I’ve been hearing people rave about it and when I saw they have one in the island, I figured I had to stay there.
Mad Monkey is just 3 minutes away from Bulabog Beach, and I pretty much got the best of both worlds here – of course there’s the relaxing (empty) Bulabog Beach and there’s a hostel that puts the happy in happy hour. Best decision ever. And for just under $8 a night (Mid-October, low-to-high season), I may have found my lost self!
The hostel intrigued me a lot because aside from en-suite 4-bed dorms, they have private en-suite rooms as well; literally a hostel for all sorts of travelers. So on my last night, I requested to get moved to a private room because why not. A superior double set me back about $26, which is still quite a deal for me.
On top of all these, they have a bar at the hostel – and they’re hailed as one of the best party hostels for a reason. But that’s something I’ll leave for you to experience.
If (and only if; though I reckon you won’t) you find Mad Monkey to be boring for your wild self, White Beach (and its crazy bars and pubs) is a short walk away; about 8 minutes. Otherwise you can take a tricycle or backride on a motorcycle for just under $2 (but that’s how much a beer costs, so which would you rather spend your bills on?).
Find the good in getting lost,