A Boracay vacation means picking out my deck chair, slathering a generous combo of tanning oil and sun block, and chugging beers from 11AM onwards. Activity of any sort is limited to the morning 5K run on White Beach (followed by three trips to the breakfast buffet), a 15-minute wakeboard jaunt at 4PM, and dancing like mad on  the platforms at Summer Place by 1AM.

When our hosts at Cebu Pacific and Boracay Tropics resort proposed the “Complete Boracay Experience,” I wondered what else hadn’t I done on that island in my last 25 trips? Well, here goes:

 

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Leading the pack (well, sort of, as our tour guide isn’t in the photo) on our ATVs en route to Mt. Luho.

DRIVE AN ALL-TERRAIN VEHICLE

I’d seen these solo cycles with the short, fat tires and the two-seater buggies whizzing along the main road occasionally, but my interest was never piqued. Riding any of the blue or yellow tricycles (yes, they have a color-coding traffic scheme on the island) was enough.

But the fun way to get to the island’s highest point, Mt. Luho, and other beaches is via the all-terrain vehicle. After a briefing by G1 Island ATV Rental manager Joel Romulo on what seemed like an exciting uphill-downhill route on flat and dirt roads, we strapped on the knee guards, arm guards and helmet. With the gear on, I felt like very Lara Croft, and opted to go solo on an Invader 150.

After a few sudden spurts and sputters, off we went. Woo-hoo!  The soundtrack in my mind: Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild.” Of course, the song sounds better when you’re going at more than 120 kmh. But the Invader’s max speed is 80, and on the dirt road, I must have been doing 50. My close call came when I approached a pothole at a fast clip, misjudging the depth. I teetered to my left and compensated by shifting my self to the right. This was probably one moment I wished I was heavier. This ATV was more than twice my weight. Whew! No more incidents after that and I made it to Mt. Luho in one piece.

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The view from Mt. Luho: sunset arrives on Boracay’s eastern flank.

CHILL ON MT. LUHO

En route to Boracay’s highest peak, I got to see pretty and ugly—the picture-perfect cove of the Fairways and Bluewater resort and two landfills that I am told are no longer in use. Seeing the landfills made me think of how much I enjoy this island and what I can do to lessen any trash I generate during my stay. If you love Boracay, then do your bit to reduce, reuse and recycle whenever you visit.

It was a relief reaching Mt. Luho. My hands were shaking from the vibrating it endured from the Invader, my face and limbs were coated with a layer of dust, and my gait resembled the cartoon character’s QuickDraw McGraw.

The vista that welcomed us on the Mt. Luho view deck was definitely something else. It was the island’s eastern flank from north to south. It must be amazing to do a drive up this peak at sunrise. Scroll mental iPod clicker to: opening strains of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” We snapped dozens of photos and guzzled our sodas as we admired the view.

 

GO REEF WALKING

The next day, we boarded a banca and moored off the southwest point of the island to try reef walking. A floating dock manned by JALS Marine Sports is the jump-off point for this. Seeing the bulky, yellow helmets reminded me of a scene in a movie adaptation of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. I had a slight panic attack. I love the beach, but I enjoy being on the surface of the water, and not under it. Claro Vidal, a veteran scuba diver, guided us.

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I could’ve worn makeup and emerged from underwater with the colors still intact!

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The helmets are linked to 40-foot long cables that provide oxygen inside the mask. I climbed over the dock, and halfway down the ladder, the helmet was placed carefully over my head. Oof! It was quite a weight on my shoulders. Claro instructed me beforehand to equalize by swallowing  as I descended to a depth of 15 feet next to a reef. I found it freaky that all I had on for equipment was the helmet and that I could still stick my hand underneath it, touch my face, with no water at all filling up the mask.

What a trip it was! Once I got used to the weight of the helmet, I walked towards the reef and was greeted by the colorful sight of Dorys, Nemos, and white polka-dotted black fish. Amid the sounds of my breathing under the mask a la Darth Vader, I was humming Sebastian the Lobster’s ditty “Under the Sea.” Yes, yes, I am corny, I know that. Note: You don’t walk on the reef, but around it, so you don’t damage the coral. I surfaced only because my fingers were getting all wrinkly and I was feeling a bit chilly. I should’ve worn a rash guard. 

 

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The author enjoys the tide's surge inside Crystal Cave 1 on Laurel Island off Boracay.

VISIT THE CAVES OF LAUREL ISLAND

It’s a mere 10 minutes by banca from Boracay. The Crystal Caves on Laurel Island are worth a visit. The tourist structures replete with light blue-painted giant seals on the promontory are campy, but never mind that. Crystal Cave 2 is great for snorkeling. If you want a change of scenery, pack a picnic lunch too.

I can tick these activities off my to-do-in-Boracay list and I may do them again sometime.

Now let’s have that bucket of ice-cold beers by my lounge chair, please.

 


 

(First published in Marie Claire, January 2008; photos by Erik Lacson)

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