Wow, by the time we got to Boracay it was hard to believe we only had 7 full days left in the Philippines. It had gone so fast, we had already done so much after a 24 hour stop in Manila, 5 days in Coron and Christmas in Bohol where we also got engaged.
An intro to ‘the new Boracay’
Boracay was the place I had booked for new year, where we expected a little more ‘party’ atmosphere. But we were going to ‘new Boracay’ essentially incase you didn’t know earlier in 2018 the government closed the island to all tourists to environmental rehabilitation he called the place a sess-pitt and well it needed work. It was a back packers haven and unfortunately over the years rubbishes filled the beaches, sewage wasn’t properly disposed of (yes you can guess where that went!) and in general the island natural beauty was at risk so 6 months he gave the business to turn stuff around or they wouldn’t open. Our hotel was the first to get the OK to open but we found that not everything was open when we went.
A lot more rules were in place no sun loungers on the beach, no tables on the beach for restaurants, no sellers on the beach, no smoking and also no fireworks. That’s right we sat on a beach at midnight with thousands of others and …. nothing. We get it, but was still a slight anti-climax. I will say this now though the changes are positive, no plastics in hotels or restaurants is allowed and the beach was immaculate. It still has a long way to go and the rules were heavily enforce when we were there only being open a month or so, however if you went later this year I think some of the more I would say ‘petty’ rules like no sandcastles bar those with a licence are likely to be lifted. What I will say was this in no way affected how much we loved this place!
Getting to the island
We flew into Caticlan airport it is closer to Boracay but, Boracay itself is on another island and the only way to it is by boat so after your plane journey you need to head to the jetty port. This took a lot longer than usual as the day before a small cyclone was int he area making the sea too choppy to get passengers over to the island meaning there was a backlog of 5,000 people from the day before the 5 minute journey took over an hour to the port.
It was okay though, HUE our hotel picked us up from the airport and took us to the port where another member of staff had already got our tickets and took us right to a boat. The journey is quick, around 10 minutes and then from the other side it was around a 15 minute journey to HUE in Station X. I had pre-booked this with the hotel and the return journey for both of us including terminal fees at the port was 3,000php (£44 approx.). Personally I am glad we did it, it was quicker and we skipped any queues and the forms you have to fill in were done. One tip is that you MUST have a hotel booked for your trip, you can no longer just arrive in Boracay and get accommodating when you get there so make sure you plan ahead.
When booking the hotel it was a tough choice, which station was right, should we be on the beach etc. however we went with HUE an ultra modern hotel in its own station called Station x, a 5 min walk to the beach and right into station 2/3. Location wise this is ideal as the ones on the beach can no longer pop sun loungers on the sand.
We arrived and got a welcome drink and cold towel, the vibe is very hipster and fresh we loved the palm prints, mix of bright and pastels with some industrial elements too. We had requested a king bed but sadly they only had twin’s which we were a little annoyed about they pushed them together though and the bed worked out to be a good 7ft wide. The view was very disappointing looking out onto a concrete abyss pretty much so our curtains we not drawn, a little annoying considering it wasn’t a cheap hotel.requested a king got a twin (pushed together)
We were staying for 7 nights so got x2 free massages in the on site spa, the rooms themselves were clean and spacious of course also eco-friendly and you got treats to your room every day.
We chilled by the pool some evenings but we never actually used the pool itself tough it does have a swim up bar. Breakfast was OK not a huge amount of choice so we preferred to eat out. If you keep going you can find out all about station x and why this is a great spot with so much to offer.
The staff were lovely and even gave us Boracay t-shirts as souvenirs when leaving, Wifi is good everywhere in the hotel but you do need to go and grab a new code every 3 days. All in all HUE is a great choice for an upmarket stay in Boracay that won’t break the bank, however in hindsight we would of been happy with something a little less flashy because we didn’t need all the facilities it offered.
Station X – Shops, Bar & Food
Station x deserves it’s own section because it has so much! Modern and funky food outlets, a cool coffee shop, a mini mart and a fabulous bar. The places we tried are:
Prisma – The tropical bar serves great cocktails, make sure you try the watermelon froze it is delicious and so refreshing.
Little Wave Coffee – Lovely iced coffee here and the biggest vanilla slice i’ve ever seen.
Santa Peligrosa – Lovely Mexican, not the best I had on the island considering this is one of three Mexican places we ate at but was a big portion and filling for a late lunch.
Winner Winner – Jonny ate here when I had Mexican as you can order at any of them like a food market. He had chicken, rice waffle and gravy it was really good but the waffle and the rice was too much. Ask for some extra gravy!
Supermagic Burgers – Wow this place was good! Like delicious the set menu was cheap and was a classic burger, fries and a drink. I actually think this is one of the tastiest burgers I have ever had.
yside_cafe_nnCoco Mama – I saw this outside of the hotel too but the coconut ice cream can be served in a cup or a coconut shell with or without toppings. It was so fresh and super creamy.
The other outlets here are: Nonnies which has a ton of good reviews serving a range of healthy dishes, POPO making their own noodles and delicious dim-sum, Diavolo pizza place, Fat Rice serving a mix of Asian cuisine, Percy your traditional English fish and chips plus fresh oysters, Sugar Cloud serving an interesting cloud like iced desert, The Tart Shop with a range of pastries and cakes. Plus they also have a sweet street market on sometimes too!
Where to eat and drink
Mayas Filipino & Mexican Cuisine – Wow, this place does the best Mexican food in the Philippines I reckon. The decor matches how wonderful their dishes are and their fruit shakes were perfect. We went back here on New Years Eve for drinks and i had frozen watermelon and pineapple margaritas and I could of sat here all night.
Hama Japanese – Don’t go here, it was poor service and most of the things we wanted weren’t available what we did get was pretty poor and tasteless oh and very overpriced.
BomBom Bar – Considering you can’t drink on the beach anymore this place felt like the beach was being brought inside we sat at the bar me drinking Amaretto Sours and Jonny the local beer for a few hours on New Years Eve after being at Mayas. The food didn’t look super appealing but the drinks were good.
Aplaya – We came here a few times, this Italian bar and restaurant had a great feel to it and after a couple of drinks here too on New Years Eve we came back for drinks the day after and dinner a few days later. Drinks are good and the pizza here is cooked perfectly, I had the risotto which was nice but a little too rich.
Hoy Panga – We popped in for breakfast and mine was delightful a strawberry and banana smoothie bow and a fresh juice was the perfect start to 2019. This was the one and only place Jonny had a fruit shake in the Philippines (odd I know) and he loved it, Mango of course!
Tres Amigos Mexican Cantina – On our last full day we popped here for lunch and I have no clue why this place has 3 stars on TripAdvisor because I had the mixed tacos they were fresh and zingy and Jonny had Pork Sisig which is not Mexican but he really regretted not getting this Filipino signature dish earlier on in our trip.
Aria gelato – Perfect way to cool down was with gelato from here, the biscotti flavour was super tasty.
The Hobbit Tavern – We wen’t to this Irish bar for drinks, they were good we went back for dinner and it was OK. Our most expensive meal and nearly £50 which for here is a lot and the service was average.
Cha-Chas at Coast – This is the restaurant at the Hotel I tried to book but had no availability, Coast. We had a few pomelo gins as it was happy hour had the best scallops to start followed by us sharing a pizza burnt butter and just being super content. The food here is again a little more expensive but was defiantly worth the price.
Epic – We debated going here for their NYE party but din’t love the white party vibe so we popped back a few days later for lunchtime drinks and then again that evening for food as we saw people chowing down at lunch. The steak Jonny had was nice, nothing amazing and my ceaser salad the same it lacked enough bacon but you know here you can sit outside as they are far enough back which is really nice.
Sunny Side Cafe – Owned by the same people who own the restaurants in Station X. I can say this was the best breakfast we had the whole holiday. Jonny had Eggs Benedict with spinach and I had poached eggs with rosti, chorizo and sour cream it was perfect, shame it was our last meal here and we didn’t clock onto it sooner.
Spice bird – Again owned by the same people that own Station X this place is in d*Mall. It is kind of like a Nandos it has lots of different sauces to go with your meal and is a good lunch spot.
Real Tea & Coffee – We popped in first for a coffee and calamasi muffin which they are famous for (their like a mini lime) and ended up back here for breakfast. You get free filter coffee with some breakfast but we wen’t for ice options instead I had the Elvis which was peanut butter and banana french toast and Jonny had a humungous tuna and cheese omelet.
diNiggy Niggy Noo Noos – This is one, if not the oldest bar on the island. We had breakfast here but it has live music and is right on the beach it is always busy though so can sometimes be a wait for a seat in the evenings.
We also had some fantastic lobster fresh from a seller then the hotel restaurant cooked it for us in garlic butter. Now I can’t for the life of me find what this place is called but they do this all down the beach, it goes on weight and you can haggle a little we got this guy for 1,500php + 200php to cook (£25 approx.) and he was massive!
Things to do on the island
Take a tour – or don’t! Out of the all we really did not rate this one it was 1,500pho for two people (£22 approx.) and due to lots of the other island such as Magic Island and Crystal Cove being shut for environmental reasons there were only three stops on the trip plus lunch. It was a shame because this is where you can cliff jump, something that Jonny really wanted to do! A little reef off by the Shangri-La Hotel which you pay 40php per person to go in (50p approx) to the boat men to go in. The second stop is Pukka Beach, it was really choppy here when we went and it rained so it was a brief stop before heading to the other side of the island for lunch. lunch was good with fresh fruit a mix of dishes and BBQ too, after here though the last stop was another reef but it was so choppy and not hugely clear here that no one was too bothered about going in. It did make us appreciated the other trips we had done, especially in Coron.
We couldn’t rent a bike here either as it was between 6,000 – 9,000php per day (£90 – £130 approx.) this is again due to a new law around having the right papers meaning the rental prices have soared.
_Bulabog Beach – Directly on the opposite side of the island from White Beach is Bulabog Beach about a 20 min walk (the island is not big at all) this is not a spot to sunbathe but it great for wind and kite surfing we did neither but sat and watched people which was pretty impressive.
Get a massage – I took advantage of a massage where I could and here i got one for 350php (£5 approx.) though i gave the lady 500php (£7.40 approx.) as I felt that it was too little so wanted to tip. I guess these ladies used to work on the beach but now can’t so it was a little weird because it was in an abandoned building opening out onto the beach but my eyes were shut so who cares!
Watch the sunset – A nice free activity! The beach here is so long that if you walk down to the tip of station 3 there is hardly anyone there. We grabbed a soft drink and corn from one of the sellers and sat back watchng the sunset, we sawam as the sun went down and just throughlly enjoyed being there in the moment an appreciating it all as the sun went down on the horizon.
Overall we really enjoyed Boracay, the beach was just incredible and went for miles the sand was so soft and the waters crystal clear. No wonder it is the 25th best beach in the world! However 7 days was too long for us because well with all the new rules and regulations while most good, some were a tad too excessive and not a huge deal was open or ready for tourists. Three or Four days her would have been perfect and meant we could of fitted in Sigaro too!
Wow that’s it really for our trip covered you can find out about 24 hours in Manila, five fab nights in Coron, how we spent Christmas in Bohol and got engaged and now this one. I am doing a roundup post where they will all be linked meaning it will be more Pinterest friendly too and easy to navigate coming next week! It will also include our last stop in Manila but it was less that 8 hours so not really worth a whole post.