The palm-studded island of Boracay - with its white, talcum-fine beach, balmy weather and warm, crystalline waters - is like a hypnotic magnet that lures many to a lotus existence.
In this tiny, butterfly-shaped island at the northwestern tip of Panay in Western Visayas, days can be spent by simply lazing on the beach and nights are for indulging in the tropical party lifestyle.
Boracay is an anchor tourist destination and one of the 7,000 times more islands that make up the Philippine archipelago.
Barefoot in the Beach
There is an undeniable easy atmosphere in Boracay where walking barefoot than shod is the rule rather than the exception. White Beach is so, soooo fine, it feels like treading on miles of baby powder! No wonder, even swinging discos have the beach for a floor, giving dance a new twist. There are no hang-ups either in this island. At daytime, tourists having a soothing massage under the shade of a coconut tree beside the shoreline is a common sight. And from dusk to dawn, Boracay turns into one big party place where everyone is welcome to join in…But first, let's toast that sunset cocktail! Diversions are certainly no problem in this tropical eden with leisure activities calendared throughout the year and amenities offered by some 350 tourist establishments.
A Little Bit of Daring
For the adventure-driven, "Mambo Number 5" is a little bit of boating and wind surfing, a little bit of scuba diving, a little bit of trekking, a little bit of mountain biking, and a little bit of golf. There's plenty to do in Boracay other than beachbumming and partyhopping. On the eastern side of the island is Bulabog Beach, a boardsailor's mecca that draws enthusiasts from all over the world, especially during the peak season of November to March. In January, it is the site of an International Funboard Cup.
Sailboating and kayaking are popular sporting activities, with Boracay playing host to the annual Paraw Regatta, an international sailboat race that makes use of the native outrigger. Dive sites surround the island and are learning venues to both novice and professional divers, guided by competent instructors of the many dive shops that operate in the area. Trekking or mountain biking can also bring the intrepid to the island's quaint interior villages and to the edges' scenic rocky cliffs, discovering along the way many hidden coves with isolated beaches far from the tourist crowd. And for golf bugs, Fairways and Bluewater Resort Golf and Countryclub has an 18-hole championship course. Hala Bira! Let Go! January is the time to hang loose in the "Land of the Atis." Kalibo, the capital town of Aklan, is the gateway to Boracay. Every second weekend of January, it celebrates the Ati-Atihan Festival where frenzied streetdancing is performed by costumed and black-sooted "tribes" as they wend through the main streets from dawn till the witching hours.
The Ati-Atihan is celebrated for three days and commemorates the 13th-century land deal between 10 migrating Bornean chieftains and the aboriginal Ati King Marikudo. It also honors the town patron, the infant Santo Niño. To the accompaniment of hundreds of lyres and drums, merrymakers throw all inhibitions to the wind as they join the tribes in a mad jig punctuated by rhythmic shouts of: "Hala bira! Puera pasma! Hala bira! Viva Santo Niño!" (Loosely translated, means: "Let go! Don't get sick! Let go! Hail the Holy Child!") Kalibo is also famous for its handloom weaving industry where fine silken fabrics are produced from the fibers of the piña (pineapple) and abaca plants.
The taste of the region is simple with charbroiled chicken as common fare. Another favorite dish is raw fish marinated in spicy vinegar. Dining, however, is no problem in Boracay with most resorts having their own restaurants that serve both Filipino and international cuisines. Small snack bars and fastfood outlets line the island.
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