White sand, smiling people, legendary parties, plenty of aquatic activities is what the island of Boracay Philippines has to offer. Jérôme from Newly Swissed visited the island and wrote a guest post for us.
Why to visit Boracay
Love Asia in general, I’m a frequent traveler and had come to the Philippines a few months earlier and scuba dived in the Palawan islands, world class for diving. Back then I did not have enough time to come to Boracay which is a must go place in Philippines. I spent 5 days 6 nights in Boracay and I found it to be an optimal length of stay, the island is rather small and ones liver has its limitations 🙂
For the main part of the island you will mostly meet 20-35 aged asian / european tourists. At the Shangri-La you’ll find young couples and families.
Top activities on Boracay
The main reason why people come to Boracay apart from those “lured” by the beauty of the Island is its nightlife and fun activities. That being said the north of the Island was kept intact and is truly stunning even for an experienced traveler in these regions. Diving ranks top in Boracay but Philippines has 7000 islands, so there are also other options.
Water activities include kite surfing and windsurfing (one of Philippines top destination winds are often ideal to practise), flyboard, wakeboard, bananaboat, skimboarding, parasailing or boat trips to nearby islands. Off the beach activities include hiking, mountain biking and golf.
Where to stay
I decided to stay at the dive resort Calypso, which is run by Swiss. The experience already starts at the nearby airport of island Panay where the dive resort Calypso had arranged pick up and transfer all the way to the hotel through boat and bus, no need for me to worry about carrying my bags anymore!
After 45 minutes, I’m there, the view from the hotel facilities on the beach is simply stunning!
The staff gives me a warm welcome, they are efficient and very helpful with any little thing you might need or forgotten home. The resort has been renovated in 2014. I find the rooms spacious, clean, nicely furbished. Looks like I will get the rest needed after the diving sessions and nights out!
It doesn’t take me long to figure the Calyspo is located a few steps away from the coolest bars and clubs. Luckily, your room key is hanged to a necklace, which proves being very efficient and smart for not losing your key when you had a little too much!
Whether you are into diving or just chilling, the Calypso dive resort stands out on White Sand Beach. It features a hotel, bar (Deco Stop), restaurant (Sensi) and dive center. From the facilities, the beach is less than 10m away and I enjoy the complimentary deckchair and umbrella.
The room fare includes a wonderful selection of breakfast delicatessen from Filipino selection to continental breakfast. Apart from serving breakfast the Sensi restaurant offer the best Italian cuisine of the Island, and divers need energy to keep going!
The Deco Stop beach bar is a nice place to chill out, exchange with the staff, locals or your dive buddies. As the sun sets the music volume is turned up, the poufs thrown on the beach, time for you to enjoy the wonderful sunset with a good beer (let’s see how many red horses you can drink) or cocktail in your hands. You don’t really feel like standing up? No worries they’ll bring food to you on the beach if you feel too lazy or too good to stand up.
For my second night the moon is full and people celebrate that. My diving instructor offered me to go out and sample the local way of partying. Despite the place’s name everything starts at the “Exit bar”. The “Area 51” is where we head next for the full moon party. Motor bikes or tricycles all know the location, you can forget about street names and numbers in Boracay as it almost do not exists. In this brilliant outdoor club I find many of Calypso customers having fun including the owners. That is something that this Swiss managed retreat gives me, the feeling to be part of a family for the time of a short holiday. Apart from providing excellent hospitality services, many people will want to stay at the calypso to practice diving. As 5 stars dive resort, the Calypso provides you with modern and excellent quality diving equipment and a diving pool. Instructors are friendly and patient, always up for a drink after a long day of “work” I’m getting a special treatment with the luxury of having a French instructor! The underworld of Boracay delivers fantastic diving spots whatever your level: coral reefs, wrecks, deep walls. As far as my 4 dives are concerned I’ve spotted and come dead close to sea turtles, Lionfish, scorpionfish, snapper, trumpetfish, surgeonfish, hawkfish, barracuda, and the list goes on!
If you already have your PADI open water certification there is of course a multitude of course for you to complete your diver education, wreck diver, enriched air, night diver, search and recovery, deep diver… If the mood is always good and smile on faces, certain risks always come with diving I got a feeling of upmost professionalism during my all stay at the Calypso. Day trips to nearby island and other activities can be organized from the Calypso that really has it all!
Overall I stayed in two places. After dive resort I also stayed a few nights at the Shangri-La which is off beaten path, nested on a cliff in a gorgeous park. It often ranks in the top 20 best beach resorts in Asia and is truly a small paradise, very different from what you can experience on white beach.
Diving Experience In Boracay
Diving in Boracay is still very good when it compares to other places in the world. Clarity of water is often good, currents manageable in most areas and the local dive shops do a great job keeping water clean despite mass tourism. That being said Palawan island for example offers a better scuba diving experience. Other top sites in Philippines are Puerto Galera and Apo reef. Diving in Philippines ranks tops in the world and has the advantage of not being exposed to mass tourism yet (with the exception of Boracay), in the diversity of fauna and reef I’d say it comes pretty close to other top diving spots such as French Polynesia and Maldives.. Boracay might be not the best diving spot on earth but it offers a unique combination of entertainment and good quality dive sites. It is also a very safe place, people are extremely friendly and all speak english.
Boracay offers quite a variety of diving sites: deep wall, drift dive, corals, ship wreck.
Yapak 2 on the north side: sharks, tuna and rays are frequent visitors to this outstanding wall and it can be world class at times.
Crocodile Island: stunning shallow wall just 15 minutes away from Boracay, beautiful corals.
I did Yapak 1&2, Angol Point, Friday’s Rock spotted turtles, rays, sharks, and the usual tropical fish variety.