Boracay, from a hushed secret beach among backpackers in the 70s and 80s, when it was just another palm fringed island in the Philippines primarily inhabited by the Ati tribe and where the only entertainment at night were stories, singing and dancing under a blanket of stars and a gas lamp, has come a long way to finally become a world destination where people celebrate its powdery fine, sugar white beach, emerald waters, frenetic night life and cosmopolitan cuisine. But there’s more.
The chori burger is a sandwich made from local chorizo slices grilled and basted with a sweet and spicy sauce in between halved grilled buns. It is a Boracay original, cheap yet a filling and savory snack with its delicious smoky and spicy-sweet barbecue flavor. It got so popular and well regarded that many restaurants, from local eateries to high end diners serve their own versions. For the real deal, look for Merly’s Barbecue stall during afternoons at Station 2 near Yellow Cab Pizza.
Boracay history and nostalgia comes intertwined at Real Coffee while you bite at another island favorite, the calamansi muffin. It is a treat made from calamondin, a small lime like citrus fruit that has a distinct flavor, soft and moist and has just enough hint of sourness. But be sure to chat up with Californian Lee Rosaia, a Boracay pioneer and the senior of the mother-daughter team who owns the cafe as she enthralls you with her stories when the island was just coconut trees, sand, sea and backpackers. Real Coffee is atop Sea World dive shop in Station 2 and just less than fifty meters from D’Mall.
Boracay’s hot and humid afternoons can be oppressive but is the perfect excuse for a nice tall glass of soothing and thick Jonah’s Fruit Shakes. It’s a palliative of blended fresh fruits, cracked ice, milk and a little bit of sugar. You can have one combined with other flavors too like banana with peanut butter. Jonah’s has a branch along White Beach in Station 1 near Willy’s Rock.
Look ma, I have a fishtail
Fulfill your dream to be a mermaid, literally, at least for an hour or two. There are exercises and basic dolphin kicks that are given before you hit the water and are ably guided by instructors of the Philippine Mermaid Swimming Academy once you are swimming with the colorful mermaid suit complete with a monofin for a tail. These instructors are licensed divers and lifeguards and do actual mermaid stuff for shows and live performances. Everyone is welcome, from children to old folks, male or female. The academy also offers a certificate course that includes marine conservation and more advanced swimming techniques. It’s the first in the world and lessons are conducted in the morning or afternoon along White Beach in Station 2. Meet up is at the Fish Eye Dive shop.
Baby you light my fire!
Provocatively sexy, oiled and lithe and agile bodies daringly executing dance routines with their flaming pois to the delight of their audience. Boracay nights are not complete without a routine fire dancing while having al fresco drinking along the beach front. It’s a dazzling and amazing performance while you sit back and relax with a cocktail or beer in hand. Most major hotels and bars along the beach front have fire dancing shows but head to Beach Bum Bar in Station 1 for the best performances.
A pirate shack funk?
Far from the loud and busy strip of White Beach, Red Pirates Bar in Station 3 near Angol Point is a funky bar, bordering on the quirky that is surely a welcome change from the usual establishments you find in Boracay. It’s more like a shack with drift wood for tables and stools and an interesting island pirate themed interior. Owned by the affable Captain Joey, what it lacks in refined, modern edge, it makes up for in character, authentic island vibes and friendly people for a memorable night of fun.
Royally, shiny pearl-y
At a stunning 9 kilos and 18 inches in diameter, it is said to be the biggest in the world, the Pearl of the King, bigger than the current record holder, the Pearl of Lao Tzu which is just 7 Kg. It’s a highly iridescent gem that glows when light is passed through it. The pearl came from a giant clam of the genus Tridacna, of which specimens can grow as heavy as 400 Kg and span a width of four feet. The Pearl of the King is one of the attractions in Boracay Oceanarium at the Crown Regency Hotel and Resort along the main road in Station 2.
Sail into the sunset
Ladies and gentlemen, behold, the Boracay Sunset! It’s a phenomenon in the island that as the sun is ready to set, people along White Beach goes into a trance, stop at what they’re doing, sit on the sand and just stare into the horizon as the skies light up in fiery reds and oranges. But a better and memorable way of honoring the sunset is to ride a paraw, a native sailboat that can take you around for an hour. You get to feel the wind on your face, the salty spray on your lips and a spectacular sky show of different hues. Paraws are readily available along White Beach or book one with your resort.
Text orginally published in Silkwinds January 2015 issue under Two Perfect Days.