Beyond Boracay: Escaping the Island!


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


Harvesting the Rice

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.



Motag 3

Pounding the Rice

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 toys

Toys and Decorations made with Palm Leaves

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.


1 Day Drive Trip to Maniguin Island: Early Morning Starts

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.

Blog day trips

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.


Heading to Carabao in Party Spirit

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’.


Happy Buddha River Retreat: Nabaoy River

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 FishGarden Vegetables, in Coconut Milk, Garden Salad, Rice, Pancit Canton, Fresh Fruit, Fresh Tarragon Tea

Finca Verde 1Guests 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



New Year on Boracay; What’s going on 2015?

New Years Eve is such a fun night on Boracay, even if the last 3 years have been wet ones!

So what are some of the events going on around the island?

In No Particular Order of Preference:


From around 11.20pm onwards the fireworks along White Beach start up, with Hotels, resorts and bars competing with each other for the best displays.

The jury is out on where the best place to put yourself is; centrally at Station 2’s BomBom Bar Boracay or Exit Bar (which for the last 2 years has featured a handy Umbrella Installation) or ‘Steve’s Cliff’ at the far end of Station 1, with its views down the whole of White Beach.


photo courtesy of island photographer Jack Jarilla, 31st Dec 2014

Regardless of where you place yourself on White Beach, you’ll have pretty good views of the fireworks, opportunities to buy ‘bonce-bouncers’ and whacky headware and hats from beach vendors, and a beach full of fellow revelers, wherever you are.


Area 51

More an after-party, and this year something special is going on with Malasimbo Goes to Boracay!  A week of events starting on December 27 through to New Years Eve, where it completes at Area 51.

Area 51 will feature their in-house Dj’s as well as Kristian Hernandez

Funds will be raised for 4 island Projects; Friends of the Flying Foxes, Mangrove Reforestation, Coral Reef Preservation and Investing in Future Leaders



Aloha Boracay Hotel & Aloha Bistro Boracay

The newest island and restaurant on the island (located at Station 3 on the beach road headed up by Boracay’s Best Western Tropics Hotel) is entering the Boracay party scene with a sumptuous New Years Eve 7-course Dinner starting at 6pm and including all you can drink drinks, live music from local artists and a fabulous Roof Deck from which to view the fireworks.

Check out their Facebook Page for more details of the 7-course menu.



Nigi Nigi Nu Noos (‘e’ Nu Nu Noos) Beach Resort New Year’s Celebration & Nigi Nigi Too’s

Nigi Nigi Nu Noos (for short) is centrally located at Station 2 White Beach and with a fabulous, and dishy, Head Chef Mike, Nigi’s is a great place to see in the New Year celebrations.  Dinner starts at 7pm-11pm. See the Menu below*

Reservations only, so secure your booking at Nigi Nigi Nu Noos: call (036) 288 5042 or 0907 5033089

Nigis new ye


Nigi Nigi Too‘s, located on White Beach at Station 1, is offering from 9pm an All you can eat BBQ with :

Starter: Tomato or Pumpkin soup served with homemade country bread
Main course: Chicken, Ribs, Sausages and Kebabs, Rice, Potato Salad, Green Salad
Dessert: Apple crumble and ice cream

Seating by Reservation Only – 0362883150 / 09176226445
Cost : Php 1,000 + 10% Service Charge
Kids 1/2 Price ( under 16 years old )



Masquerade Gala Dinner, Seaview Restaurant, Monaco Suites de Boracay

Monaco Suites de Boracay is located in Manoc Manoc, with views across the sea and Bulabog Beach, a really rather special location with a renowned restaurant; Seaview.

This Masquerade Gala Dinner will feature Champagne, a complete program of events with prizes, Fireworks and International, 5* Cuisine.

Make your Reservation on 036-288-4800



Prana Restaurant, Mandala Spa & Villa’s

This little restaurant went through extensive restoration from late 2014, until very recently in 2015, and many locals on the island had been eagerly awaiting it’s recent re-opening!

Located within the award winning Mandala Spa & Villa’s, it’s not surprising that this restaurant prides itself on healthy, nutritious and delicious gourmet cuisine; tasty AND virtuous!

New Years Eve Dinner is 6-9pm, a 3-course menu with a complimentary glass of red or white wine      *Advanced reservations are required, until December 30

For Inquiries & Reservations: T: (+63 36) 288 5858 M: (+63 917) 634 8430




Sweet 16 Beach House Surf Party at Boracay Terrace’s Resort & Steve’s Cliff, Station 1 White Beach

Will BTR outdo their Avatar New Year Party?  They’re going all out this year with a Beach House Surf Party, counting on another wet New Years Eve, by hosting an event that can be in or or outdoor!

Why not welcome the New Year 2016 with one of the best locations to view the fireworks, performances from Armand Tj, DJ Alex and various international friends, as well as Beer Pong, drinking games, card games and Twister!

“Party like it’s Spring Break” is the tagline and the party starts at 5.30pm to say farewell to that last sunset of 2015

Attire: Swim-wear! Board shorts for guys, Bikinis for the ladies, Wetsuits for those still with pasty-white skin!




Discovery Shores New Year’s Eve Dinner Buffet and Countdown Party

Starting at 7pm with a beachfront Dinner Buffet, priced at P5,995++ per person & P3,000++ children 7 years old and below

Followed by a 10pm Beachfront NYE Countdown Party
Discovery Shores Boracay sparkles this New Year’s Eve with a stellar countdown party and fireworks show. DJ Badkiss, DJ Javi Vargas and Smooth Band will keep the party going with groovy dance hits – definitely a memorable and dazzling welcome for 2016!



White House Beach Resort, White Beach Station 1

Another regular contender for the best place to be for New Years Eve is White House Beach Resort

With 7 Food Stations for the Buffet, Special Deals on Branded drinks, followed by sets by DJ McCoy Navales and one of the best fireworks displays, you are guaranteed to have a night to remember

If you’re planning to eat and drink a lot you could precede it by popping along to their free Zumba on the Beach session, sunset Dec 30th

Accommodation at White House Beach Resort

White House Beach Resort

Shangri-La Boracay

For those who have thicker wallets than the average visitor to Boracay, who want to be away from the crowds and seek a secluded cove or International Menu for their New Year’s Eve, you can’t go far wrong with a visit to Shangri-La Boracay

Reservations are required.  Check out the restaurant and menu options here



Have an EPIC New Year!!

Where would Boracay be without Epic?

Epic, in Partnership with HENNESSY, is hosting its annual White New Year’s Eve Ball; BEACH HEAVEN.  Party all night with International Guest DJ BRAM TIERIE and EPIC’s Resident DJs; DJ ADN and Alfred Maligaya.

For tickets and reservations call (+63 917) 809 8149

or email:

Epic New Year


And when it’s all over … why not start 2016 with some fabulous Tours or Activities? Check out some relaxing ideas or thrill-seeking, hang-over cures (we do not offer a guarantee of ‘hang-over cures’)



Christmas in Puerto Princesa Palawan; The Underground River & Christmas & New Year Deals

Boracay has long been held as the place to take your Christmas and New Year Family Vacation but, during the last two years, visitor numbers to Puerto Princesa have increased significantly. 

It is with this in mind that those in the travel industry are encouraging travellers to book ahead to avoid disappointment; especially if visitors also intend to visit the World Famous Underground River, at Sabang, as part of their holiday

Image  Image

The Underground River, also known as Puerto Princesa’s Subterranean River National Park, is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, was awarded 7th New Natural Wonder of the World status in 2013, and is located 50 kilometres north of the city proper.  The river is now believed to be the World’s second longest navigable underground river, at 8.2 kilometres. General Tours, however, only cover the first 1.5 kilometres, which takes around 40 minutes.  The Underground River Authority have tested allowing greater numbers of visitors and deeper travel, further into the river, but assessments highlighted that not only did navigation became more difficult but there was also a negative impact on the unique fauna, flora and bat and swallow population of the caves and area. 

General Entrance Permit restrictions therefore apply, to keep any impact, by visitors to the cave, to a minimum. This mostly takes the form of maximum visitor numbers each day but visitors are also only allowed one visit a month. 

The Underground River Tour itself is only 40 minutes, but there is some waiting around and you will be away from Puerto Princesa for a whole day; the journey from the City to Sabang takes around 2 hours, the final paperwork elements and scheduling of your visit is undertaken on arrival by your tour guide, and you may take lunch before boarding a banca to take you to the entrance site.  From there you will again await your turn to board the wooden kayaks that will be your viewing platform as you’re paddled down the River. Whilst waiting your turn to board the Banca at Sabang, you can wander around some of the food and drink stalls, as well as the souvenir stalls and whilst waiting to board your kayak for the tour itself, you will likely be entertained by the antics of the the Long-tailed Macaque’s and, if you’re really lucky, you might see a Tabon Scrub Fowl or a Palawan Hornbill.

December through to February are one of the busiest times for the Underground River Authority and if your main reason for visiting Puerto Princesa is to take this tour, you should book a minimum of 2 months in advance of your trip.  This is not the ploy of travel agencies and marketing but the reality.  Other Super Peak Times for this tour are Chinese New Year, Holy Week and the ‘Summer’ months of April and May.

The Underground River, is not the only reason to visit Puerto Princesa, which is the capital of Palawan and often called ‘City in the Forest’. The city has been acclaimed several times as the cleanest and greenest city in the whole of the Philippines and has a wide range of attractions, ranging from beaches and beautiful islands to wildlife reserves. The Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour is another popular activity for visitors.  

Puerto Princesa is a nature lover’s paradise and, in keeping with its green image, smoking is not permitted at any of its tourist spots such as The Underground River, Mitra’s Ranch, Baker’s Hill and Binuatan Creatives, with heavy fines levied for those who are caught smoking or disposing of their cigarettes and cigars irresponsibly.

Image Bakers Hill                          Image Binuatan Weaving Centre


Deals & Promo’s currently on offer for Puerto Princesa:-

Puerto Princesa Early Bird Christmas New Year Promo  For Bookings Placed between June 11-July 31st 2014 ONLY!

Dates of Stay December 1 2014 – 31st January 2015.  Inclusions:-

  • 4 Nights/5 Days Accommodation, with breakfast, at Balay Tuko Garden Inn
  • Airport Transfer to hotel
  • Honda Bay Island Tour
  • Half Day City Tour
  • Firefly Watching Tour
  • Underground River Tour


Puerto Princesa 2 Nights/3 Day Accommodation with Tour

Package Inclusions:-

  • Standard Accommodation for 2 people
  • Airport Transfer to hotel
  • Tour of your choice (Underground River Tour, Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour or Irawan Eco Adventure & Zipline Tour)


Puerto Princesa Low Season Adventure Package  For Dates of Stay between June-November 2014

  • 3 Nights/4 Days Accommodation at Casa Mila Inn
  • Airport Transfer to hotel
  • Honda Bay Island Tour
  • Half Day City Tour
  • Firefly Watching Tour

A Very Merry Boracay Christmas; booking your Christmas Stay

Christmas means different things to different people; a time for family, a time for thanksgiving, a time for fun and parties. On Boracay, it means the busiest time of the year for hotels, restaurants and bars!

Families, friends and couples descend on the island and if you haven’t booked your hotel by the start of October you could spend many frustrating hours, searching the internet, ringing around and trying to find vacancies.

For the most popular hotels and accommodation, such as Boracay Pito Huts and St Vincent Cottages, Christmas, and New Year, bookings really should be made as early as July and August to secure your preferred rooms.

Boracay Pito Huts is a small resort, on the edge of Station 3, with 7 beautifully designed Ifugao-inspired Huts which can accommodate between 2-3 people and up to 5 people with additional mattresses.  The dark wood interiors are complemented by crisp, white linens and whilst the Huts don’t have a beach view, it is just a few steps from the entrance of your Hut to White Beach.

Boracay Pito Huts

Boracay Pito Huts

Boracay Pito Huts now offers a BBQ for guests use, with guests supplying their own coals and disposable plates and cutlery. Immediately next door to Boracay Pito Huts is Yellow Cab Pizza, which is renowned for its delicious pizza’s and chicken wings.

Boracay Pito Huts also has one Beach House, with a large living area with sofa beds, a terraced balcony overlooking the beach path and White Beach, 2 bedrooms and bathrooms and one large loft room, which can be used as an additional sleeping area.  Whilst there is a kitchenette, there are no cooking facilities.   The Beach House can accommodate up to 15 people comfortably and is, by far, one of the most popular places to stay on the island.  As there is only one Beach House bookings should always be made far in advance of your intended stay date.

Boracay Pito Huts Beach House

Boracay Pito Huts Beach House


St Vincent Cottages, is a great budget hotel at Station 2, which offers double, triple, quad and large family rooms.  This hotel is ideal for people and groups who are looking to make the most of their Boracay holiday, whilst keeping costs down, even during one of the most expensive times to visit the island.  The rooms offer double beds, private bathrooms and towels and air-conditioning; the basics that are needed for your stay.

St Vincent Cottages Coco Rimas Boracay

St Vincent Cottages Coco Rimas Boracay

Helping to make your pesos go even further, St Vincent Cottages offers a common kitchen and eating area on their ground floor.  Guests are welcome to use the common kitchen utensils, plates and cups and a cooking fee applies as follows:- 35php per kilogram of rice or vegetables and 50PHP per kilogram for meat or fish (prices are subject to change, so double check on arrival).

Whilst Boracay Pito Huts is a mid-range Hotel and St Vincent Cottages is a budget hotel, they are equally as popular with returning and new travellers, and so early-bookings are recommended to avoid disappointment.

Book your Christmas/New Year Accommodation Now:-


Philippine Street Food; our favourite snacks (“Meryenda”)

There has been a lot of discussion and posts about a recent blog, which included the statement  that they would ‘rather go hungry than eat Philippine Street Food’.  It upset a lot of people in the Philippines, locals and visitors alike.

We took a look at what this blogger had to say, and what some of the commentators had to say, and are inclined to agree that the blog article was primed to secure maximum attention. Whilst the blogger changed the title of the original post to include ‘Street’ it still did not truly reflect street foods that are to be found, and enjoyed, all over the Philippines.

We all have our own personal tastes about food; what is one persons food heaven is anothers food hell, but we decided to write a post about our favourite Philippine Street Foods.

Philippine Street Food Stall

Philippine Street Food Stall

Fish Balls – The clear winner for everyone polled today, fish in batter, freshly fried and served with a choice of 3 dips; sweet, sour or hot. Fish balls can be bought individually, at 1 pesos each or in bags or plates, usually 8 pieces. Vendors may have a fixed stall or a wooden cart that they push through the streets, often between 4pm-6pm in the evenings.



 Isaw – was the next popular, and is usually found at stalls selling a variety of BBQ ‘sticks’. Isaw is chicken or pork intestine in bbq sauce. One person said that the best Isaw can be found at the University of the Philippines (UP), Diliman Campus, Quezon City Manila, with dignitaries and celebrities arriving in cars, with body guards, in order to get their hands on these tasty treats.

Kikiam – Another fish/pork dish; traditional preparation uses minced pork and shelled prawns, with diced carrots, garlic and onion, and spices. The ingredients are wrapped in a bean curd sheet and steamed, before being fried. As with the Fish balls this is served with a choice of 3 dips and is delicious.

Kwek Kwek – are hard-boiled quail eggs in a tempura like batter and served with a spiced vinegar dip. Kwek Kwek is also sometimes confused with Tokneneng – which is, essentially, the same dish but using Chicken or Duck Eggs.

Siomai - served with a choice of 3 dips

Siomai – served with a choice of 3 dips

 Sharwama & Siomai – are not strictly Filipino food, but stalls and vendors are commonly found all over the country and these snacks are absolutely delicious.

Sharwama are basically very similiar to turkish or arabic kebabs, slow cooked meat, sliced thinly and wrapped in flatbread along with salads and dressings. The difference is it’s a mini version.

The Sioamai are little steamed meat or vegetable dumplings served in a paper tray with dips, and can be bought for 25-45pesos depending on where you buy them.  They are a flavourful treat enjoyed by many and sometimes 3-4 are just not enough!

For Sweet Treats there is also a wide range to choose from, including fresh fruits served from the stalls, or offered for sale in bags by sellers who walk the beaches or streets.



Our absolute favourite sweet treat is Turon, a sweet banana spring roll. People may prepare it by just wrapping a sweet banana, pre-dipped in sugar, in a spring roll sheet and then frying it until golden brown, or they may pre-cook the sugar-dipped banana and then wrap it in a spring roll sheet before frying it until golden brown. This second method results in a soft, caramalised banana. Turon can be bought for between 10-25 pesos.

Banana Cue is similar to Turon but without the spring roll wrapper. Usually sold on a stick, 2 small banana’s at a time and for the same price as Turon

“Dirty Ice Cream” is nothing to fear; it’s the name given to the carts that sell home-made ice creams, offering a range of different flavours. Similar to many western countries you will often find a Dirty Ice Cream cart outside schools or churches, waiting for children and families alike to buy from them.

Halo Halo (Mix Mix) is quite possibly the most famous of the Philippines treats. Halo Halo includes a mix of fruits, sweet preserves, shaved ice, evaporated milk and corn .. or sweet corn. This may sound odd for someone with a Western palate but it’s actually lovely, although very sweet. It is often topped-off with a scoop of ice cream and is also a favourite at birthday parties and gatherings.

Taho Vendors are usually to be found in the morning

Taho Vendors are usually to be found in the morning

Taho is a combination of a hot drink and breakfast in a cup, sold in the mornings by vendors who transport the ingredients in aluminium containers attached to a yoke, which they wear across their shoulders. Taho is made of Curd, caramalised brown sugar and Sago (Tapioca) Pearls.

The vendor makes a fine art of scooping up the curd in to a cup and then using a long-handled ladle to pour in the Sugar and Sago, before mixing these together.                                         Bagio famously serves a strawberry flavour Taho, substituting the brown sugar with a strawberry syrup. Vendors may sell different sized cups, ranging from 5-25 pesos, depending on where in the country you are.

The most important thing about the Philippine Street Food listed above is ….  they’re all ‘Meryenda’ or snacks and NOT meals.                                                                          These snacks are just to get you through the morning or afternoon, until you are back home and able to enjoy a fresh, home-cooked meal.  It is the family home, where the art of Philippine cooking is to be found, and in the locally-frequented Cantina’s and Restaurants.