A 60th Birthday Celebration in Boracay Island

We headed to Boracay Island last December 2018 to celebrate my Mum’s 60th birthday, which officially made her a senior citizen in the Philippines but you’ll never really guess she was that old. My Mum is not really a huge fan of the beach and being under the sun in general, but she was curious to see Boracay after all these years. The first time she visited the island was in 1994. We mostly relaxed on this holiday… and ate all the time, of course.

Back to Boracay (14 years later)

See and Do
My Mum would not dare to try the parasailing activity, which would have been a wonderful way to celebrate her birthday. Instead, we just ate at different restaurants during lunch and dinner, enjoyed swimming at White Beach, and visited the Mt. Luho view deck for panoramic views of the entire island. We wanted to try the sunset paraw sailing, as well, but unfortunately, a typhoon was heading to the island and voyages on small sea craft was cancelled (even if it was really sunny that day). What we did and see instead was…

Mt. Luho View Deck
This was my Mum’s second time in Boracay but the first time we all came here was in 1994. Boracay was still one of those elusive paradise islands that became popular by word of mouth and only really had its beach to boast of. Anyway, since the view deck would be a new thing for us, we decided to check it out. I remember taking ATVs to get here in 2011, but for this trip, we just rode a tricycle to the drop off point and climbed a short flight of stairs to get to the top.

entryway to the bamboo covered modern building serving as view deck
Entrance to the View Deck owned by the Local Government
greenery, blue waters, and powdery white beaches on the other side of the island
The stretch of Ilig-iligan Beach, part of which is now owned by Savoy Hotel
the more populated side of the island as viewed from the top of the building
A view of Bulabog beach (White Beach is on the other side)

A new, modern structure, seemingly owned by the local government, was built in the area and we decided to visit this instead of the privately owned ones. Which was a good idea because not only were we alone there, the building was the tallest among all the viewing decks; so our views of the entire island were unobstructed. I have not really seen the ‘back’ of the island before so it was quite a treat to see the other side of Boracay. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the island still had green cover because I always thought that it had been completely destroyed by development.

stairway of the building and a view of the sea from the glass walls
Architectural lines inside the building
blue sea, greenery, and white sand view of the island from a high vantage point
Overlooking Boracay island from the view deck

White Beach
White Beach, a 4 kilometer stretch of powdery white sand (with crystal clear waters), is the main reason this island came to life in the 90s and early 2000s. It was good to see that the sand and the waters were still as wonderful as I had remembered them since I last came in 2013. Station 1 still exudes a luxurious and “exclusive” feel to it; Station 2 is still the busiest; and well, I have never, ever been Station 3. The entire of Station 2 is still full of bars and restaurants, although drinking and partying on the beach has been banned completely and all parties have to shut down by midnight.

sitting on the beach in front of the iconic Willy's Rock
Birthday girl in Boracay
Baby in the belly vs food baby
walking on the white sand beaches of the island
Strolling along White Beach
skies illuminate like fire as the sun sets on the island
Boracay’s infamous sunset

Aside from swimming and just chilling out, you can visit Willy’s Rock… or use it as a backdrop, like we did we we tried to recreate our 1994 family photo (my dad and my sister remembered their positions; my mum and I did not).

shot of a family photo in a frame
In front of Willy’s Rock in 1994
family photo on the beach
Family photo in front of Willy’s Rock in 2018

Diniwid Beach
Diniwid Beach is a small, uncrowded beach in Boracay, around the bend from the north end of White Beach. At the bend is a small cliff were local kids like to jump off from, as well as a small grotto with a statue of the Virgin Mary. Diniwid Beach was our favorite go-to place in 2013 because of Spider House Boracay, but sadly, this resort has closed down.

coconut trees, white sand, and blue waters of Diniwid Beach
A small, uncrowded piece of paradise at Diniwid Beach
hotels on the cliff and the beach at Diniwid
Small but uncrowded Diniwid Beach

You can also…
Other activities that remained open in December 2018 include: island hopping, parasailing, helicopter beach tours, and SUP and kayaking (equipment can be rented right on main beach). Kite boarding lessons can also be availed of in Bulabog beach; the season is during the Amihan or from November to May.

SUP, kayak, and inflatable unicorn rentals on the beach
Equipment for rent at White Beach
crowd of sailboats on the beach in sunset
Sunset sailing on paraws (local sailboat)
sand, palm trees, and the sea
Bulabog Beach – for kite boarding activities and lessons

Here are some of the restaurants we visited while in Boracay.

Sands at Discovery Shores Boracay
We had lunch here for Mum’s birthday. Because my sister thought it was near where we were, we actually walked from our hotel to Discovery Shores in Station 1, which was about 3 km under the sun (my Mum was not happy haha). But the warm, hospitable staff and the really good food actually changed everyone’s mood and by the time we left Discovery Shores, we had a feeling it was going to be a good day to celebrate my Mum turning 60. I wish I had the funds to be able to afford a stay here because the pool looked so inviting. Back to the restaurant – Sands offers both Philippine and international cuisine. Expect to pay upwards of P500 per meal but do not miss out on the mango shake because it was so, so good.

having ala carte lunch at Sands Restaurant
Lunch spread at Sands
nachos plate with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream
Nachos at Sands
woman stands by the pool with the hotel as backdrop
Poolside at Discovery Shores Boracay
family photo on the beach in front of palm trees and the hotel exterior
In front of Discovery Shores Boracay

Rima at Shangri-la Boracay
We expected top notch service and food at Rima Mediterranean Tree Top restaurant, but was slightly disappointed. The restaurant was full when we were there, but it was maybe 30 people in total, so they could have been more attentive. I mean, I know we were not ordering bottled water but still… For a restaurant that charges a lot, they could have been more considerate. We ordered a la carte meals instead of the degustation menu and while the food was quite good, I have to admit I have had better in cheaper restaurants. It was still a nice way to end our day as well as be able to see this resort which is definitely out of our budget.

family photo of the dinner
Mum’s Birthday Dinner at Shangri-la Boracay
tiramisu, caramel, and espresso post dinner
Dessert and coffee
dining area of the restaurant
A view of the dining area of Rima in Boracay
Christmas decor inside the resort
Inside Shangrila Boracay

Mama’s Fish House at Microtel Boracay
Mama’s Fish House is one of the highly rated restaurants in the island on Trip Advisor, so we decided to try it out. It was also a nice way to be able to see Diniwid Beach. The service here is pretty slow, especially when it’s busy (lunch hour), so expect to wait awhile for your meals, but the food was pretty good that it was worth the wait. They offered a mix of Filipino and international dishes and the portions were pretty generous considering the prices. While Spider House has gone, perhaps this restaurant can become the reason to head over to Diniwid Beach. The restaurant is located by the pool of Microtel by Wyndham and offers wonderful views of the beach.

signage to the restaurant
This way to Mama’s Fish House in Boracay
family enjoying lunch
Lunch time at Mama’s Fish House
chicken satay with salad, fish sandwich with fries, and chicken mango burrito
Dishes at Mama’s Fish House

StreetMarket at Station X
By the end of the second day, we had eaten so much that we decided to skip eating dinner out. While my parents decided on instant noodles, my sister and I decided to split a pizza, and thankfully, Station X was located across our hotel. Station X is a retail complex located in Hue Boracay Resort and offers a mix of food outlets, a bar, a souvenir shop, a salon (on the second floor), and a Mini Stop (yay!). There is a food hall call StreetMarket within the retail complex and we got pizzas from Diavolo. Other restaurants in StreetMarket include Percy (seafood), Fat Rice (South East Asian cuisine), Poketo (Japanese), Santa Peligrosa (Mexican), Sugar Cloud (bingsu or shaved ice dessert), and Winner Winner (fried dishes).

Fun times at Station X
children playing in the grounds overlooking the hotel
Night time at Station X
sitting in different areas of Station X
Mum and Dad with different views of Station X
counter and pastry display cabinet of Little Wave Coffee Co
Little Wave Coffee
tart shop signage and display of tarts and other pastries
The Tart Shop
sitting in a giant swing
Inside Station X
pizza counter of a pizza shop
Diavolo Pizza at Streetmarket
white sauce pizza with ricotta cheese, prosciutto, and apple slices
Diavolo pizza
Our ‘light’ dinner of instant noodles and pizza

Supermagic at Station X
Our last day was greeted with rain (and Storm Signal no. 1), so instead of venturing out to eat before our trip to Kalibo, we just crossed the street to Station X. This time, we had burgers and fried chicken at a dining spot called Supermagic. They also sold ice cream which we got for dessert.  They also had a pastry shop called The Tart Shop (which also sold cheese tarts) which we got for take away. Food here is good and affordable, and like all of Station X, the inside of the restaurant is instagrammable. Other restaurants in Station X include Popo Teahouse (Cantonese cuisine), Nonie’s (healthy food options), Little Wave Co (coffee shop), Big Fat Wolf (hotdogs), and Coco Mama (coconut ice cream food cart). Check out the rest of the shops in Station X here.

ice cream cart and seating of Supermagic burgers and ice cream shop
Inside Supermagic Burgers and Ice Cream restaurant
colorful diner counter and kitchen
Kitchen and counter of Supermagic
burger, fries, and mango ice cream
Burgers and ice cream

A Note on Transport
There are a lot of vans that ply the Kalibo – Caticlan route (we flew in via Kalibo) and they seem to be operating 24 hours now (I am not sure if the boat ride from Caticlan to Boracay is 24 hours, too). We stayed overnight in Kalibo though. While the outrigger boats and van ride is cheaper elsewhere, we highly recommend booking your transport via Southwest Tours for a very swift and convenient transfer from the island to the mainland. They were also very kind to bring back my water bottle which I left on the island on our way home. They use speedboats for transfers so the rides only take five minutes (compared to 15-20 on the local pump boats). I was so happy when they brought my water bottle that the guy who was bringing it was laughing when he saw my face. I was only nothing but happy to have gotten my water bottle back. And that, indeed, was a wonderful end to our Boracay holiday.

family inside a passenger speedboat
Ready for our ride back to the main land
The crew and captain of the speedboat
Crew of Southwest Travel and Tours

Not sure if Boracay should be [back] on your travel bucket list? Here are my thoughts about Boracay in 2018. And if you are looking for a place to stay, here is a review on our stay at Boracay Tropics Resort.

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