Towards Boracay’s White Beach
Day 1 of the Travel and Photo bloggers excursion to Boracay started very early. I was literally pulling myself out of bed around 3:30 in the morning just to make it for the 5am call time at the domestic airport. Only had less than a couple of hours of sleep that evening finalizing a project I’m doing. At the same time, I’m very excited for the weekend. I haven’t been to Boracay for some time and going along with fellow travelers and Photo enthusiast calls for an interesting weekend. When I got to the Terminal around 5, Karla was already there, followed by Abe, Gail with Marc, then Eugenius.
Inside Seair’s Dornier 328 flight to Caticlan
One of our major sponsors for this trip is Seair. It seems funny somehow that around 2 years ago I was working in a PR company whose a direct competitor to their Caticlan route. And now I get to ride one of their planes which is good so I can actually compare. Seair’s planes are a lot smaller than the other local airline rivals, but according to them, their market really is for those upper A and B class travelers whose more into luxury travel as you can see from their destinations. Aside from their stewardess having really mini-skirts than the other airlines, they boast the “Fastest flights to Boracay.” Which we’ll soon find out.
Seair Landing on Caticlan Airport
We were the first group to fly out of Manila for Caticlan on a Dornier 328. This Dornier 328 is a German built, 32 seater plane and is considered one of the fastest turboprops in the world capable of short takeoff and short landing. It’s a small plane from the looks of it outside but I have no problems with that, the smallest plane I’ve flown is an 8 seater when I flew to Batanes. Inside the cabin, the A seats side are singles seats and the other side are the double seats. The aisle is spacious enough. Putting my stuff in place I immediately noticed how small their overhead bins are compared to other airlines. I can’t put my hand carry bag there. Good thing though, their seats have very good leg room and actual seats are widely comfortable enough. I just placed my bag under the seat in front of me.
For the actual flight, I noticed they seemed to fly on a lower altitude and on a different route somehow but very scenic. Overlooking Mt. Banahaw and Mt. Makiling in our windows. Generally the flight was quite smooth. We were served two small bags of peanut crackers as snacks with a small glass of water. Not bad since in a short time we found ourselves already landing Caticlan airport. I must admit, it was pretty fast. In several times I flew with their competition’s turboprops, I think it took around 45 minutes to an hour, while Seair’s Dornier actually delivered on their 35minutes promise and a smooth ride at that.
Seair also has this very interesting Adventure Pass that I’m looking into. For Php 18500 (20k++ with tax), you could fly all you can to any of their routes in 45 days. With a lot of free time, I think this is a very very good deal. The catch here is that only two flights are bookable and others are subject to availability. I think that’s reasonable and adds to the adventure. Hmmm… I may take this up one day as I could cover a lot of the Philippines in just 45 days.
Hello Microtel Boracay
In Caticlan, we waited for the second group to arrive. We were supposed to go ahead but the Seair Manager showed us his butterfly garden at the back of their waiting lounge and all the other bloggers turned butterfly-eyed shooting those colorful insects at the garden. It was a nice way to pass time until the other group arrived, then we headed off. The port of Caticlan now has a Php 50 Environmental and Terminal Fee. I remember paying Php 20 before, but the increase is just ok for me. And also Boracay now has a single entry and exit point, which is the Cabgan port at the back of the island. I think this is a good idea, a little sacrifice to preserve the pristine condition of the beach from traffic of incoming and outgoing vessels. From Cabgan port we took a 15minutes ride to the north part of the island in Diniwid where Microtel Boracay can be found.
Leaving Diniwid Beach
At Microtel, we were greeted with a glass of juice and “Mentos-fresh-mint” towels to freshen ourselves from the dusty ride. We were given our key rooms at the reception and settled our things in our room. (Will write about Microtel next post). At lunch we had a small welcome talk from the Microtel and Seair people. And soon had our free time. As much as the lure of the bed was strong since I had little sleep, I decided to catch up with the rest of the bloggers on their walk to the beach. The weather was really cloudy with a bit drizzle at times not very conducive to taking photos, but we had to maximize our time there. Like what Melo said “What if it rains the whole day tomorrow?”. Very good point there. So we left Diniwid beach and headed to the long stretch of the famous white beach.
It really feels good to be walking on the wide powdery sand of Boracay once again. At first I managed to catch up with Fernan and Eugene who were busy taking pictures along the way. Then I caught up with the rest of the guys, Eric, Anton, Melo, Karla, Marc and Gail. It was nice to see what has changed since last I was there. New accommodations and structures. New names from popular bars and clubs. And really enjoy seeing those dogs walking by the beach. Gail, a dog lover lights up when her doggy radar spots a canine in the vicinity. I was able to see Nina (of Chicken Inasal’s) dogs again. I met her last time with her dogs which she takes sailing with her. I wonder if she still remembers our group then, but I wasn’t able to visit here. No dog, can escape Gail’s doggy radar, even a small one dressed in a cute doggy clothes can be found.
Posterity group shot at the sandcastle
Boracay isn’t complete without a photo op along its famous sandcastle. We talked to one of the makers and she sadly told us that this Sandcastle building will soon be gone since the local government are forbidding them to build and earn from donations. They said for they would be imposing a certain fee to these builders soon and those who oppose would be fined or imprisoned. I don’t know if all this is true since I haven’t talked to any local official about it yet but if it is, it’s really sad. We also learned that they have a “Sand Castle Building” school there. Maybe they should add this to their Fine Arts course. After our posterity shot, we moved on.
Walking kilometers for the much coveted Strawberry Shake
Walking for kilometers can be tiring, and I soon learned that Melo and the guys were in search for Jonah’s famous Straberry Shake. You should watch out for Melo’s magic bag, aside from his offline promotional giveaways, there are also some pastry goodies which he generously shared with the group which made us thirsty and craved for that shake more. We passed by D’mall but haven’t sighted it yet. We ended up on a cafe near Regency where a picture of a Strawberry Shake already lulled us in the cafe. Hey, we’re thirsty.
My chilled Cranberry Juice and a mango shake
We finally got to cool down at the cafe. Each ordered their preferred shakes, while I just chilled with a glass of cool Cranberry juice. After our brief relaxation, we went off again. Melo suggested walking back only to be countered with eye piercing stares and we just decided to call Microtel’s shuttle to pick us up at the Budget Mart. It took quite a time for the shuttle to arrive, which opened up hilarious concepts for new sites and blogs. Sorry, confidential information at the moment. :p When the shuttle arrived and we were whisked back to the hotel. Everyone got into their rooms. I remember talking to Abe who seemed to have just woken up at our room but found myself soon asleep just resting my head on those soft pillows.
Sunset at Diniwid Beach
I think I had a very short nap, no one was in the room when I woke up. I thought they were already having dinner so I went down. When we were about to eat, everyone suddenly ran to the shore. There was this very colorful sunset which we really didn’t expect to come with cloudy skies. Really a beautiful sight. It’s really great that we had a chance to see Boracay’s famous sunset.
I found myself really hungry soon but we have to play a couple of games before we can eat dinner. One where we have to fill this sack with sea sands and a limbo rock after a shot of vodka. Abe’s group won twice but at least now I can eat. :p The shots of vodka’s still hanging on my head then there’s the Microtel bossa nova jingle playing over and over again at the background while eating. I felt being brainwashed. Kidding.
After a little presentation and QA we had free time for the night. We did plan to go out but it rained hard. Being bloggers we are, we just stayed there except for Lauren who went to party with the Mircotel people. The spacious lounge became an internet station with the Hotel’s wifi internet available. We shared some stories as well that night but while I was typing on my laptop around 11:30 pm, my eyes were finally shutting by themselves. I guess that’s it for the day for me. Gotta catch up on that much needed sleep.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.