Bustling Boracay

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This photo is a bit of a lie. No it’s not photo shopped, but we had to take advantage of the moment it started raining, as that was when the beach cleared of all the people.

Boracay was PACKED. I have never seen so many people on a stretch of beach, especially as there was no special occasion such as New Years Eve. In some ways, lucky it rained one day so we could have the beach all to ourselves. And swimming in the rain is always a beautiful experience.

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We took it easy during our weekend in Boracay, and I guess the rain helped make that happen. Massages on the beach, stand-up paddling boarding, swimming, eating good food and a little visit up to Mt. Luho. If you strip away all the people, all the bright lights and the selfie-stick wielding tourists, White Beach really is a beautiful beach.

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I never hesitated to go to Boracay because it was “so amazing” and “the best island in the world” they all said, so I guess I can now say that I’ve been there, but not sure if I am rushing to go back. My friend suggested to go just after summer as the rates are cheaper and the beach is empty (emptier). I’ll have to take his advice!

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Must dos that we did:

  • Lemoni Cafe – great food and great price. Reminds me of the amazing breakfasts we have in Australia – located in D’Mall at Station 2.
  • Jonah’s Fruit Shake bar – fresh shakes with unique combinations. You can get them with or without milk – located on the beach at Station 1 and is the perfect place to watch the sunset!
  • Mt Luho – Boracay’s highest point which has great views over both sides of the island. You can catch a tricycle or jump on an ATV.
  • Stand-up Paddle boarding – which can turn into surfing when some waves whip up in the afternoon.
  • Island-hopping – which actually didn’t eventuate for us because of the rain. Although, we bargained a php2000 private tour for a whole morning which we thought was pretty good.
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Swimming with Whale Sharks

DCIM100GOPROI would have to say that this is by far one of the most memorable travel experiences I have had in my life.

For all of the years I have visited Cebu to see my relatives, I had never heard of whales, or whale sharks for that matter, passing by until a road trip with my cousins to Kawasan Falls. They told me how whale sharks (‘butanding’ in Filipino) had been migrating by this small town in Southern Cebu for many years and a Japanese man (so the story goes) told the fisherman to start feeding them so they would stay and people would come to see the whale sharks. The fisherman did as was suggested and hence began the bucket list activity of, “Swimming with the Whale Sharks in Oslob, Cebu”.DCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPROI’m pretty lucky to say I’ve done it twice (it helps to have relatives who live nearby 🙂 ), but both times were drastically different because of the time of year. The first time I did it, it was in August and the water was as flat as a piece of paper and crystal clear; so clear we could see the coral and marine biologist divers on the bottom of the sea floor. The whale sharks were also plentiful, perhaps 8-10 of them came for the feeding. However, when we went swimming with the whale sharks a few weeks ago it was so wavy that most of the time I was just trying to hold onto the boat so I wouldn’t run into the whale sharks, and I only counted a few of them around.

Either way, being so close to such large and gentle creatures is amazing and very humbling. When you are in the water swimming alongside them,  you realise how small you are on this planet and that all of your selfish desires are literally a drop in the ocean compared to all of the things that live in this world. Most of the whale sharks we swam with were babies as the mothers are too shy to come near the shore. But don’t be fooled by them being so young, they are still the length of a bus (approx. 4 – 6 metres).DCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPROThe whole experience is controlled so as not to alter the natural behaviour of the whale sharks (so they say anyway). There is a quick briefing of the rules before you get into the boat, and as I mentioned earlier, marine biologists are in the water monitoring the whole interaction. I can’t say yet how this whole thing is affecting the whale sharks either negatively or positively, but at least they are taking the cautious side by having controls in place. However, I do worry that the demand may ignite greed and basically put the whale sharks into captivity, but only time will tell.
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Trip details:

The whale sharks are only fed for 2 hours from 10AM-12PM daily, that’s when they come close to shore to create the opportunity to swim with them. As the activity gets more and more popular, you need to make sure you get there early so you don’t miss out because of the queue. The drive to Tan-Awan, Oslob is nothing to snooze about either. The 3 hour drive from Cebu City follows the coast and passes through some cute old towns, with old churches and architecture dating back to Spanish rule. As you drive back after swimming with the whale sharks, I highly suggest you stop and explore some of the towns.

The cost for foreigners to swim with the whale sharks is php1000. Filipinos only have to pay php500 (which I luckily got away with!). Your swimming time is 30mins from when you enter the ‘swimming area’ and includes snorkels and a life vest .photo 2 (4)