I arrived in the early evening by twin prop at the airport of Caticlan. In a hurried mess, I was asked to fill out a form with a lot of details but no real clear agency asking for them. Next I was asked if I wanted to take the package deal for trike to boat to trike for 800 Peso (~$20USD) one way to get to my hotel on the island of Boracay. I passed on this offer as it didn’t feel like a good value. I grabbed my luggage from the drop and headed to curb to find a trike to take me to the port. You need a ticket – Boat and Trike 75P. I arrived at the port and thought I was good to go so I walked through the security line and made it to the next choke point, “Tickets”? I needed an environment ticket and a terminal ticket before I could get on the boat with the ticket I already had. After another 200P (~$5 USD) and doing the security line again and moments later I was on a boat headed for the Boracay port on a lovely slow moving ferry. I was ready for a ticket guy to jump out at me when I got off the ferry asking me for something like an “arrival ticket” but I was not given the pleasure. I was given the pleasure of being told that it would cost 150P to get a trike to my hotel which was just too much for me because there was no haggle room. Best way to cut a cost you can’t negotiate is to share with the strangers around you. Oliver and Anders were kind enough to share the cost and trip with me to Station 2. Side note, the west side of the island that is home to the famous White Beach and is divided up into stations which are about a kilometre in length each. There are 3 stations along the coast and I stayed in Station 2 in the heart of the action at D Mall. Back to it. After the trike dropped me off I started to walk in search of my hotel. During my walk along the waterfront I bumped into some of my teammates from Canada that I had planned to meet on the island and share the experience with. After a brief hello and plan to meet for dinner I was off again on my search. As the businesses along the beach are stacked upon each other it was quite difficult to find my hotel without assistance. Fortunately there was a guy on the street who worked at the hotel and was able to lead me to the front door.
Hey Jude Resort Hotel is a 4 story building with about 10 rooms on each of the floors. My room on the 2nd floor was air conditioned, with a balcony that faced the back of another building, and had 2 double beds in it. I dropped my stuff, pulled out my flip flops, and headed for the local supermarket to pick up a 10L jug of water and an ice cream cone, because I obviously can’t go a day without ice cream in a warm climate. I dropped my jug at home and headed out to grab a snack before meeting up with my friends for dinner. Our dinner venue was a greek restaurant that served an okay Gyro but I can’t fault the guy considering its the Philippines and not Greece. After dinner it was time to tackle the task of finding the registration party for the Boracay Open and meeting my teammates. I picked up with a mostly Australian squad for the tournament who was a friendly group with the majority of them knowing each other from a school team. After some team drinks and a bit of bonding, I called it a night.
The next 3 days were devoted to Ultimate frisbee and all the events surrounding them. I was able to play on the white sands of the beach against teams from Hong Kong, Manila, and the Currier Islands. The tournament schedule could have used some tweaking but the parties made up for let downs on the fields. The tournament wrapped up as quickly as it began and the months of looking ahead were now behind me. It is definitely a destination and you should treat it as such. I recommend spending a day before and a couple days after the tournament to enjoy everything the island has to offer and to vacation. After all you likely just flew 10,000 miles to an island with 30C weather everyday.
Monday was a chance to participate in the sloth olympics. Least amount of moving, competitive beach napping, most frisbee throws without moving your feet. It was a great day to hangout at the beach and share the last day with friends from abroad before we went our separate ways again. Some would be heading home and some I would see again at the next tournament. Tuesday was devoted to getting my 3 KG of clothes laundered and checking out the “back beach” on the island. I was able to find a laundry service that would wash, dry, and fold my things for 40P/KG. That worked out to less than $3 USD for a fresh and clean wardrobe with a turn around time of 24 hours. I dropped off my bag and headed out to find the windy side of the island. I worked my way through a couple paths and found myself standing under a sky of kiteboarder sails. The colours were fantastic and there must have been over 35 sails in the sky that day. I wandered up the beach gazing out and admiring the view. I inquired about lessons and found out that private lessons were about $125 USD for an introductory lesson. I decided against the adventure as I couldn’t justify getting hurt learning to do something new and not being able to play my 2 remaining tournaments. I sat and watched the kites go by for a couple hours before returning to the white sands on the westside of the island for an afternoon dip. For dinner I enjoyed a stone pot meal at one of the Korean restaurants in D Mall. By chance, I ordered the most popular item on the menu because they brought the check with a 20% discount on the meal which translated into a free beer with dinner.
My final day on the island began with a slow start and a lazy walk to the beach where I pretty much replicated my efforts from the previous day. Dinner this time was at the local pizza shop as it was discount day for large pies. I sat out on the beach at one of their tables and finished off a pie while I watched a fire dancer show that the restaurant was putting on next door. Once sufficently stuffed I returned to my room to do my best to putt as much weight in my carry on as possible to avoid paying baggage fees at the Caticlan Airport. I already knew that this return trip would cost a few extra dollars as I had picked up 4 new jerseys, a new pair of shorts, and a couple of bottles of liquor for the next tournament in New Zealand.
Boracay does have a fantastic beach with world class sunsets. You have to be ready to be constantly surround by tourists and young people treating everyday as a party day. There is no shortage of activities so be prepared to spend some money on excursions and have fun. This island can be peaceful or party central, it’s what you make of it.