Boracay Island, Philippines

Boracay03Boracay was absolutely a dream. A lot of our friends from Korea were on the island at the same time, so it was so fun to just walk down the beach and run into people we know. We also made friends with a few of the locals who live on the island and spent a few days running around with them too. There were motorcycle rides (sorry mom), grilled fish on the beach, tons of swimming, a lot of fruit shakes, (too) many late nights and early mornings, beautiful sunsets, great meals, a little bit of a lot of rain for a short time, excellent full body massages for $8, cheap beer and fire dancing. It was so great that as soon as I got home I was perusing flight prices to get me back there. It was amazing to have a break from Korea and especially somewhere warm and sunny and with so many friendly people. I really hope I can explore more of the beautiful Philippines soon.

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Favourites:

Damianas / Ti Braz / Fuel: This cool, quaint little restaurant has 3 menus (and a bar!) and was one of my favourite spots on the island. A friend of mine is the head chef here, and his Filipino food was hands down the most authentic and delicious I tried during my week in the Philippines. There are also delicious juices and smoothies here, and a whole wall full of fresh, yummy options for the homemade crepes made right in front of you.

Spider House: If you walk all the way down White Beach and follow the curve of the coast, you’ll eventually come to this beautiful, perfect restaurant and bar. It’s hard to explain this place: it’s built into the cliff, it’s all open to the ocean, the floors are bamboo and only slightly rickety, there’s a bamboo ladder leading from the restaurant straight down into the ocean (and a diving platform), the food is delicious, the drinks are good and the owner is very friendly. It’s magic.

Tilapia n’ Chips: This little restaurant is a little away from the beach, up by the main road, and doesn’t have the beachfront views. But! It’s delicious and inexpensive. There’s a lot of touristy food on Boracay, and we had a few slightly disappointing meals before we found spots that we loved, like this place.

Crafty’s Rooftop Bar: This place is in an unlikely place – the roof of a grocery store right on the main road. You walk through the brightly-lit store and up the four flights of stairs and come up to an adorable rooftop bar with great vibes, views over the island and really yummy Indian food.

Real Coffee: Our favourite place to have breakfast. The second floor window seats have the best views of the beach, the staff are friendly, the food is good, my friends who like coffee tell me the coffee is good, and their famous calamansi muffins are 100% worth the hype.

Jonah’s Fruit Shakes: Our other favourite place to have breakfast. There are hundreds of places that sell cheap fruit shakes on Boracay, but these ones are the best. They have so many different flavours and they’re all so yummy. My favourites were mango pineapple and mango banana. Om nom.

Villa Lourdes: While our shower and the wifi in our room rarely worked, and we got a rude wakeup call every morning from the roosters in the yard, the location of this Airbnb was absolutely perfect and the price was right. We had a room with a double bed, a bunk bed, and a mattress on the floor up in a second-floor loft room. It was perfect for us and right in the heart of it all in Station 2, only a 5 minute walk from the beach.

24 Before 24: Go Camping and See the Sunrise from a Beach

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I’m doing 24 fun or new things before I turn 24. You can see the rest of my list here.

It was a very good weekend for bucket list experiences. In three days, I spent about 10 hours in transport, didn’t get enough sleep and ate too much junk food. But it was a small price to pay for all the beautiful and awesome things I got to see and experience.

My friends and I spent one night camping on the beach of Bijindo, a beautiful, tiny island about 3 hours away from Busan. It’s very small, with only a handful of small shops in people’s homes selling beer, ramen noodles and packaged cookies and only one little restaurant serving about two dishes. It some ways it was a sad place, with lots of trash (and cute trash puppies) everywhere and half-built or run-down buildings, but the surrounding nature was so stunning that we barely noticed.  A friend and I were lucky enough to stumble upon some locals having a flying lantern ritual and when we stopped to admire the process they quickly handed us a lantern or our own so that we could join in. Ours didn’t quite make it off the ground and almost set a bush on fire, but it was a pretty magical moment nonetheless, watching all the lanterns float up into the starry sky. Later that night I had one of the cooler experiences of my entire life when we swam and splashed around in the very cold, bioluminescent water. I’d never even heard of this phenomenon before, but I was quite literally in awe of the sparkling turqoise shimmers. It was unbelieveable. It seemed like magic (I’m still not convinced it wasn’t…) and I just felt this huge sense of wonder at this crazy beautiful world we live in.

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We camped on the beach along with only a handful of other tents – most people who had visited the island during the day cleared out on the last ferry, leaving the place fairly quiet and peaceful. We weren’t really prepared for it to get so cold overnight, so it wasn’t a great sleep, but that made it easier to wake up for the beautiful sunrise. I realized only later that I don’t remember the last time I watched the sun rise at all, nevermind watching it from such a beautiful place. We were cold and shivering, but it was worth it.

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Later that morning, we took a hike straight up the mountain, cutting through fields of produce and a very wild jungle of a forest. The whole island was pretty wild, with bugs the likes of which I’d never seen and bird calls the likes of which I’d never heard. We even sadly saw two dead dogs right as we arrived on the island. It just seemed like the place had its own ecosystem, which was really awesome. Who knows if it’s true, but the bioluminescence has me convinced. The forest itself was beautiful and felt like something straight out of Lord of the Rings, and the views from the top of the mountain were totally stunning.

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The rest of the weekend was also a bit of a dream. I finally tried a Mexican-style restaurant in my area (a big deal for Korea) and found out that the people were lovely, the atmosphere was awesome, and the food was amazing (an even bigger deal). Then Sunday we admired the huge sand sculptures on our local beach and then made a big trek out to a beach a lot further away, across the city. The draw was the “sunset fountain of dreams” – a water and light show choreographed to music – but we had time to kill before the show. We spent the day exploring the beautiful beach, taking a gorgeous coastal walk, talking and listening to music on a rock surrounded on one side by water and on the other by forest, practicing handstands and taking lots of pictures. The show was great, but the best part of the whole trip for me was discovering a trampoline at a run-down little arcade right near the beach. Dylan and I jumped on it for a long time, laughing our heads off and getting weird looks from passersby.

It was a wonderful weekend, full of beautiful and special moments with wonderful people that already feel like great memories. I feel really, really lucky.