The azure sea rushes up to Boracays White Beach
Imagine a place with white sandy beaches, shimmering cobalt waves, and tall, swaying coconut trees. Then imagine yourself lolling on a sun deck, a cool drink by your side, with nothing but serenity around you. As the naughty waves froth and rush to lick your feet you forget you are an inhabitant of this turbulent planet. Such a place exists, let me assure you. Its called Boracay.
The tiny island south of Manila is a beachcombers delight. Its one of the Philippines most popular tourist destinations and its where the sun worshippers flock for their tryst with sand, surf and leisure. This was the destination I made my way to at the end of summer.
Everywhere the eye travelled, all it could see was shades of blue and green. The bright blue seemed to hurt my eyes which are more accustomed to dirty hues of blue.
As I felt the salt sting my eyes, I knew I had found the perfect haven for my time out. The feel of sand beneath my bare feet and the sudden sting of a shell, coupled with the sight of the beautiful cerulean ocean and white capped waves reconfirmed the fact that I had chosen my destination wisely.
Boracay is a melting pot for beach lovers. Thats not surprising as it has been voted the worlds best beach destination by several reputed lifestyle magazines. Its the perfect island getaway, with its warm blue waters, powder-fine white sand, and a palm-fringed 4-km beach.
There are two popular beaches here — White Beach (naturally) and Puka Beach. The White Beach is the place that takes the crown. The water here is shallow and the sand is finer and brighter than most beaches in the archipelago; it feels like treading on miles of baby powder. A green string of palm trees lines the beach, offering lotus-eaters an option to loll under their shade.
But for those seeking privacy and peace, its the stretch of white sandy beach along the northern tip of the island called Puka Beach thats the perfect place to head to. Puka Beach is the ultimate tropical island: white sand, azure water and a laidback serene feel. The shells found on the beach are crafted into jewellery by the locals.
I had barely stepped on the beach when I was accosted by vendors trying to lure me with sunglasses, shell jewellery and fresh water pearls. At least half a dozen people were lying in the shade of trees getting beach massages, having their bodies pampered by expert hands. Some of the younger folk were getting henna tattoos done while others were having their hair braided.
A carefree and casual attitude reigned all around. It was impossible not to get caught up in the mood and I succumbed.
A few locals were hounding the tourists with offers of parasailing, scuba diving and even a trip in a sailboat. After careful deliberation I settled for a spot of island hopping. The best way to see the beauty of Boracay and its various beaches is by paraw (outrigger sailboat) I had been told, and so I took off in a paraw for my tryst with the adjoining islands.
Windsurfers and parasailers were all around as our boat took off with its cargo of six people. The scenery was breathtaking as our boat sped across the length of the island, and as we turned the corner I saw the cavernous caves that occupy Boracays northern tip. The caves looked as if someone had strategically placed them there for maximum effect, looming above the shimmering aquamarine waters.
The caves were vast and deep and provided the perfect shade to cool our roasting bodies for a few minutes while taking in the panoramic views of distant islands that seemed to go on forever. We went from island to island, soaking in the beauty of the pristine beaches and blue water.
The boatman offered us what he called a banana boat ride. By now I was having too good a time to turn it down. The banana boat turned out to be an oblong pair of inflated rubber rafts with seats in a single row.
Pulled by a motorboat, we skimmed and bounced over the rolling waves, screaming at the top of our voices. It was the most exhilarating experience and I loved it though I have always been a bit nervous about water. Even when the tide began to turn I wasnt satisfied and wanted to continue.
The sight of the sun going down behind the rain bearing, nimbus clouds was an unforgettable sight. The lights had come on and the White Beach had turned into a party ground. The umpteen bars and restaurants on the beach front were alive with music and lights. Even the dark nooks seemed to light up with brilliant fireflies. Unwilling to let the magic wane, I took a moonlight stroll.
Exhausted after the long day, I leaned back against a palm tree and watched the moon flirting with the clouds. And then, I saw a falling star and made a wish. I wanted to return to paradise one day.
My search for pristine shores, sapphire seas, and peace ended at Boracay. It was the closest I could ever get to attaining nirvana. If you are yearning for a holiday of a lifetime, this is the place to be. Affable locals, affordable tariffs and unlimited natural splendour — what more could anyone want?
Photographs by author
Getting there: Cathay Pacific has regular flights from India to Manila with a stopover at Hong Kong. From Manila, take a smaller aircraft to reach Catilan and a boat to get to Boracay. Air Philippines runs regular flights between Manila and Catilan.
Where to stay: The tiny island has no less than two hundred resorts of all kinds. Tariff for resorts on the White Beach are above PHP 5000. Some options are — La Reserve Beach Hotel (email@example.com), Paradise Bay Beach & Watersport Resort (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Boracay Regency Beach Resort (www.boracayregency.com). For cheaper options, try Fat Jimmys Resort (email@example.com); Queens Beach Resort (Queensresort@boracay.ph.net); Pearl of Pacific (www.pearl-ofthepacific.com.ph)
Exchange rate: 1 Philippines Peso (PHP) = 0.99 INR