Over the long Chinese New Year break, we headed off to Boracay Island in the Philippines for a relaxing holiday. The trip started off to a great start when we discovered a Cinnabon in the Manila airport! We dined on a quick cinnamon roll, then boarded our second plane to be whisked off to paradise. When we arrived in Caticlan (the closest airport to Boracay), we took a 5 minute private helicopter ride to Boracay Island. After a short cab ride, we were delivered to Boracay Beach Club where we would be spending the holiday.
By the time we got settled it was time to enjoy the sunset, so we headed across the street to Ariel’s House. Ariel’s is a beachfront bar owned by the Boaracay Beach Club- in addition to serving as the place where we enjoyed breakfast and happy hour each day, Ariel’s also arranges a number of tours around the island. After what turned out to be the best sunset that we saw all trip, we walked down the beach to check out the rest of Station 1, Station 2, and D Mall, which is the popular touristey area that sells clothes and trinkets. We settled for dinner at an Italian place, Italianni, where we enjoyed a bottle of wine and a delicious pizza. That night we headed to bed early because we had a full day planned ahead.
The next morning we boarded a pirate-looking ship to go to Ariel’s point, one of the tours arranged through Ariel’s. Ariel’s point is a series of cliffs overlooking the gorgeous ocean, where people can cliff jump, swim, kayak, and do a number of other water sports. Included in the trip was unlimited booze and lunch, and the booze definitely helped when it came time to cliff jump! Scot headed straight for the 15 meter drop (49 feet), while I slowly made my way from 3 meters, to 5 meters, to 8 meters, and finally to 15. The free-fall was terrifying, but it’s an incredible feeling when you finally hit the water and then look up to see where you’ve just come from. After a fun filled day of drinking and making new friends, we made plans to meet up with our new crew later on (and then promptly forgot about them) and headed back to Ariel’s for Happy Hour cocktails.
We headed back to the hotel intent to go to bed, when we were stopped by a pale British looking guy in a budgy smuggler (google it) by the pool, drinking two zombie cocktails. He offered us one, and being the good-natured people that we are, we couldn’t turn him down. After chatting a bit we found out that our new friend, Tom, had recently moved to Hong Kong as well, to coach at the Hong Kong Rugby club. He and some friends were also on holiday for Chinese New Year. Scot and Tom chatted while Sarah played with two random kids in the pool- after a few more drinks, Tom joined his friends for a night out, and Scot and I stumbled off to bed.
The next morning, we nursed our hangovers at Ariel’s house for breakfast, then settled down in the sun to enjoy our books. In the early afternoon we walked down the beach to explore Station 3 and stopped at Jonah’s Fruit Shake to try one of Boracay’s famous fruit shakes (they were OK, at best, and gave us both a stomachache afterwards). We headed back to Ariel’s for some more sun, and were greeted by Tom and Andrew Brown (“Brownie”) who had picked up a pair of girls (Amanda and Mari) and were enjoying cocktails. We didn’t want to be rude so we joined them for “one drink” at happy hour. Soon after, John (“Big John”) and Luke, the remaining Rugby Boys, joined us. After 3 hours, 8,000 beers, a random Bolivian, and several drinking games later, we decided that it was time for some food so we showered up and headed out for the night.
We headed to Boracay Steakhouse for a steak dinner, which was far too expensive and extravagant given the state that everyone was in. After dinner we headed to CocoRed’s, a beach bar with Tom’s favorite drink, the Brain Train (basically a syrup-ey version of a long island iced tea). We played some Jenga and drank some rum-and-coke chuggers, then headed to Epic Night Club for some dancing.
The next morning we ordered breakfast in bed and watched the Superbowl. Around lunch time, we met up with the Rugby boys at TGIFridays for lunch and to watch Luke pay his fine for going home with his girlfriend when he was supposed to be on a “boy’s trip”. We headed to CocoRed for the fine: a series of disgusting shots. We had some beers at CocoReds, and Tom pretended to be a waiter and took someone’s order (the bartenders did not fill it). Scot and I headed back to the hotel to get a poolside massage, then headed out for dinner at Los Indios Bravos, a Filipino gastro-pub on the quiet side of the island. After dinner we found a hole-in-the-wall, Lokal, for some karaoke and beers. We headed back to Ariel’s for the night and bought a round of drinks for our bartenders who had been taking such good care of us during our stay.
We started our last full day in Boracay by laying around at Ariel’s, then headed for another massage in the early afternoon. It was pouring out, so we read our books under the cover of a cabana by the pool, and relaxed until Happy Hour. We met up with the Rugby Boys at Ariel’s for sunset beers, then headed to D Mall for an Italian dinner at a Buca di Beppa. After dinner we headed back to the beach for shisha, then later to CocoRed’s for some Jenga, rum-and-coke chuggers, and flippy cup. The boys had a chicken fight on the way to the next bar, where John tried to sing karaoke but was denied because of the live band that was playing.
Our final day we headed to the airport only to find our flight had been delayed, so the airline put us on an earlier flight (so we wouldn’t miss our connection) which happened to be the same plane that the Rugby Boys were on. We gave Tom one last gift at the Manila airport: an “I survived the Brain Train” t-shirt for him to remember Boracay forever.
Boracay was the perfect mix of relaxation and party- if we have time to go back before our time ends in Asia, we definitely will!