Philippines Business Report 2017

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Boracay draws Hongkongers to its white beaches, fabulous food and islanders’ sense of real fun

Island paradise may be crowded, but there is plenty to see, do and sample

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 April, 2017, 12:36pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 April, 2017, 12:36pm

People keep coming back to Boracay. It has white beaches, clear blue water and plenty of flights. The island paradise also offers wide food and drinking choices, and a real sense of fun. Flights from Hong Kong arrive at either Kalibo airport or Caticlan, which is closer to Boracay, mostly via Manila. The most fun airline is Cebu Pacific, renowned for hosting impromptu karaoke antics in flight, and having Mariah Carey and Lady Gaga-inspired safety videos.

Once you get to Caticlan Jetty Port, a short boat ride takes you to the island. While this poses some challenges if you have brought children, they are not insurmountable enough to make this an unappealing destination for families, though you will need the best part of an eight-hour day to make it door to door from Hong Kong.

However, it will be worth the wait. Boracay has a versatility that will suit everyone from the adventure enthusiast to the person who enjoys nothing more than lounging around and cannot live without their creature comforts. The island’s sand is soft and lovely to walk on, particular on the White Beach, a strip running several kilometres that has restaurants, shopping bars, clubs and lots of places to sunbathe and swim.

The best time to travel to Boracay is from September to May or June. The island gained further notoriety when TripAdvisor and several international travel magazines listed it as one of the world’s best for beach holidays.

Some may find the White Beach crowded at times, but Puka Shell Beach and Balinghai Beach offer decent alternatives, while Punta Bunga features the ominously named “Bat Cave” nearby with its resident fruit bats. The island is small, accessible and approximately 8km long. As a result, members of groups can do their own thing. Over at Bulabog Beach, try your hand at kitesurfing, with the ideal breezy conditions. Boracay is also ideal for parasailing and offers spectacular views of the surrounds.

It is also an adventure seeker’s paradise, with other easy-to-organise activities such as scuba diving, kayaking, and snorkelling. You can even dive off the cliff at Ariel’s Point. There are also breathtaking views of Solana at Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort and Spa.

Boracay is ideal for parasailing and offers spectacular views of the surrounds

The island’s food is very diverse, from splendid seafood to delectable cocktails and delicious chicken dishes at fast-food joint Mang Inasal. The island has plenty of independent cafes and restaurants. Alternatively, you can learn the diversity of Philippine food at a local cooking class.

Boracay is also expanding its facilities. Global-Estate Resorts, a subsidiary of property giant Megaworld Corporation, announced last June the development of five hotels on Boracay by 2019 worth about 10 billion pesos (HK$1.54 billion), four of which are within Boracay Newcoast, a 150-hectare township project on the island; the other is to be built in Twin Lakes, a 1,200-hectare development area near Tagaytay that sees completion this year. These constructions will add about 1,850 rooms to the island and multilevel retail spaces. Global-Estate Resorts president Monica Salomon said at the time: “With our new hotels, we hope to accommodate at least 700,000 tourists yearly in Boracay and Tagaytay.”

No visit would be complete to Boracay without going to the infamous Cocomangas on the White Beach. Many a brave soul has ventured here for its 15-shot challenge, and a place on the bar’s Wall of Fame. Or you could just have a beer. Whatever your choice, enjoy another sunset on the island, and luxuriate … life is good here.