In April I made my second trip to the Philippines. I spent about half my time in Metro Manila and the rest in Boracay and Coron, two island beach destinations. I’ll blog in three parts, starting with Boracay, a small but extraordinary island.
As a reminder to those of you that don’t know much about the Philippines, it is an archipelago nation in Southeast Asia made up of 7107 islands, eighty two provinces, and seventeen regions. Boracay is a small island (less than four square miles) just off the tip of Panay island in the province of Aklan and the region of Western Visayas. Pinoy’s are huge travelers and Boracay is a beach destination that is somewhere near the top of most beach lover’s lists. It is probably the most highly developed beach destination in the Philippines with a lot of shopping, eating and outdoor activities. That said, if you’re looking for quiet island solitude this isn’t the place to go, but I had a great time and I’d go back again in a heartbeat.
A couple of activities I really enjoyed were parasailing and helmet diving. Both of these are generally done from platforms based just off the island in the ocean. We got boats to take us to the platforms. This is pretty easy to do either from the hotel concierge or at a number of places in the town. I also did jet skiing because my Pinoy friend, Danny, had never done it, but it was around and around in a marked off (large) circle in the ocean…not that interesting.
The helmet diving was great fun and really interesting from a fish standpoint. We got to the platform, which was quite full of people, and I thought it would be a long time to get to the dive. However, in this case the lines were not long and I guess there were a lot of people just hanging out on the platform. Our “dive” monitor (it’s really not that complicated, but every two to six people gets a scuba diver who monitors them…and is the camera person) seemed to have his entire family there. Wife (maybe, who knows, for a Catholic nation marriage doesn’t seem all that popular), baby, friends, etc.
It was less than a half hour and we were backing down the rope ladder into the ocean. When we were in the water to our necks they placed the helmet over our heads and rested it on our shoulders. It weighed thirty-five pounds, was quite heavy and was meant to be the weight that would drive us to the ocean floor. Of course there is breathable air pumped into each helmet from a tube connected to the platform and the helmet is quite loose fitting. I could easily get my hand up into my helmet to wiggle my ears or hold my nose to relieve my ears from the pressure change.
Once we were on the ocean floor (about thirty feet below the water) we were able to walk around a bit. The area was extremely popular with colorful fish and we soon found out why. The scuba diver handed each of us a nickel size ball of something that the fish seemed to be really fond of and they immediately started to dart in to feed.
Parasailing was also generally done from a platform, but since our hotel was at one end of the island we contracted with a boat that simply came over to our area. This crew was also great. There were four of them in total and they did a fantastic job getting us harnassed up, launched from the back of the boat and landed us directly down on the back of the boat after a bird’s eye view of the island. It was really windy so setting the parachute up and launching us up was no problem. We were about three hundred feet up in the air (I think) and it was scary and exciting at the same time.
Besides the activities, the food was great…
The beach, hotel and pool were terrific.
Next up, Coron…different island, different experience.