Contributor: Trudy Allen
For Boracay visitors, particularly those staying longer than 4-5 days, there can come a point where (heaven forbid) they want to escape the party scene or fancy a different view from the stunning White Beach.
Here’s a run down of some Boracay Top Escapes
Motag Living Museum
This interactive museum, the first of its kind in the Philippines, opened in 2015.
A social enterprise, Motag Living Museum is a recreation of a traditional rice farm in the 1920’s. Every building, tool, farming technique, cooking implement on the site is historically accurate.
Local villagers from Motag, including many Village Elders, are employed to help you make the most of your experience; encouraging you to try your hand at Ploughing with a Carabao, Rice Planting, Harvesting and Threshing the seeds. See if you can match the rhythm set by the Rice Pounders.
At the end of the 2 hour tour experience, sit with the Elders and listen to the traditional songs, whilst you attempt to make toys and decorations from palm leaves. Relax and watch the children playing games of old and enjoy some delicious treats made with rice.
Motag Living Museum is a 10 minute trike ride from Caticlan Port. You can pre-book your tour before you arrive, here. The trike ride is not included in the tour
1 Day Diving Trip to Maniguin Island
Trips leave the island approximately 1-2 times a month, depending on the minimum number of divers being confirmed for the trip. In Low Season (May-September) trips may only take place once a month.
Whilst the diving is restricted to those who are qualified as a PADI Open Water Diver, with at least one Deep Adventure Dive completed, this is still a great tour if you’re a “Dive Widow/er” as the snorkeling is also amazing, with visibility up to 50-70 meters. There is a reduced cost for non-divers and snorkeling gear is provided.
Leaving the island between 5-6AM a delicious Continental Breakfast of fresh Bread, Croissants, Pan au Chocolat, jams, cheese, ham and cold cuts is served, alongside coffee and tea (*sample menu: items are dependent on availability).
Maniguin Island is approximately 2 hours from Boracay, by boat, so those who had a late night can grab a bunk bed and catch up on their zzz’s for the duration of the journey out to the island.
Divers will have at least 3 Dives at West Wall and The Ear and the trip is likely to bring sightings of Barracuda, Sharks and Rays, as well as Trigger Fish, Jacks, Pyramid Butterfly Fish and Napoleon Wrasse. The Ear is prone to currents and features some of the deepest sections, hence the minimum PADI certificate requirement.
The trip, which offers a greater dive, and snorkeling, experience than the sites located closer to Boracay, includes a chartered boat and crew, Dive Guide, full dive equipment and tanks, snorkel gear (for non-divers), breakfast and BBQ Lunch (sample menu: pork or chicken kebab, Pasta Salad – guests can also purchase fresh fish from the local Fisherman). Beers and snacks are provided for the journey home, with the boat reaching Boracay between 7-8PM
Most trips include sightings of a pod of Dolphins, which enjoy racing the boat and making the onboard guests laugh and cheer.
Check here, for details of trip dates, or to organise a private trip (bookings require a minimum of 6 Divers)
** Tip: If you have the chance, buy some sweeties and lollies to take with you; often the local fishermen are out fishing, with their children who rarely get their hands on candy.
Day Trip to Carabao Island – book Here
Closer to home than Maniguin, is Carabao Island; a little like Boracay back in the 1980’s with abundant Palm Trees, empty sandy beaches and a day of relaxing, eating, drinking and beautiful views.
Leaving the island around 10am the chartered party boat, with flowing beers and local drinks, arrives at Carabao around 11am.
Stopping briefly for a spot of snorkeling, open water swimming and boat diving, you be taken to the beach by dinghy.
Once on dry land you can wander the almost deserted beach, relax in the shade on coloured beanbags and loungers, swim, snorkel or play Beach Volleyball or Frisbee, whilst lunch is being prepared. Lunch usually comprises of freshly grilled meat kebabs, fish and vegetables. Salads and rice are also prepared and served, along with fresh fruit. The Unlimited drinks, served throughout the day include: SML, SMB, Local Alcohol, Cocktails, Water, Soft Drinks.
After lunch, there’s more relaxation before the chance to visit the other side of the island by motorbike. (Take 50-100PHP with you to tip your drivers) Driving through villages, up over the mountain and down to the beach on the opposite side of the island, on an exhilarating ride.
On return to the Private Beach snacks will be served, alongside drinks as the Boat is readied for your return to Boracay, coinciding with yet another stunning Boracay Sunset!
Lunch at Happy Buddha River Retreat, Nabaoy River!
A secret guarded well by residents of Boracay looking to escape the heat and excesses of Boracay, is Nabaoy River and the freshly named Happy Buddha River Retreat.
Arriving at Caticlan Port for 11am you will be greeted by one of the staff team, and driven to the Happy Buddha River Retreat by either tricycle or minivan, depending on the number of people visiting. The route takes you through local villages, along the coastline and then up past rice fields and locations, reminiscent of Jurassic Park or Full Metal Jacket, all just 10 minutes from the Port.
As your vehicle climbs the incline, away from the main road, you’ll travel further in to a thick and enchanting tropical forest and will instantly feel your shoulders and mind relax, and the intense heat drop. On arrival you’ll be greeted by the friendly resident Labrador/Askal, known as ‘Chili’.
The Happy Buddha River Retreat is set back from the Nabaoy River, with a large, vibrant garden featuring herbs and local plants, a soon to be restored Sauna, Pavilion and Children’s Playground area, and organic farm. The sound of flowing water and birds singing complete the atmosphere.
You are welcome to take a seat in the garden, on the balcony of the main building or in the lounge area, or even in the river itself, especially if it’s a hot day. Whilst you relax and unwind, the Retreats Staff Team will be creating magic in the Kitchen.
Lunch is cooked using fresh, locally sourced or grown ingredients so the menu may vary depending on availability. Lunch may include Chicken Afritada in white wine, Grilled Fish, Garden Vegetables, in Coconut Milk, Garden Salad, Rice, Pancit Canton, Fresh Fruit, Fresh Tarragon Tea
Guests are free to wander up river towards some gentle waterfalls, relax in the grounds, request a Masseuse (for an additional fee), swim or paddle in the water (depending on the water’s height). One definite recommendation is to bring mosquito repellent with you.
Time will pass quickly at this beautiful escape but at 4pm it’s time to depart. You can request to be dropped back to Caticlan Port, or if you wish to extend your day a little more you could be dropped to the local market which is usually open until 6.30pm, and a short walk to the Port afterwards.
Do remember to keep your Tour Voucher with you, when you return to Boracay; you can present this to avoid paying the Environmental and Terminal Fee again, which should be only a one off fee when you arrive on Boracay at the start of your tour.
The Happy Buddha River Retreat is located 2 minutes from Motag Living Museum, so you could opt to combine the two visits on one day, to maximise your time.
Click here to book a lunch day, or inquire further about combining a lunch day with a visit to the Motag Living Museum