Posts Tagged ‘sea’

Borawan is a play on two words – Boracay and Palawan. It’s an island named so because, as some people claim, it has white sand reminiscent of Boracay and rock formations the same as Palawan’s limestone cliffs. If one gets the chance to have the Boracay and Palawan experience in one at a measly price, one grabs it.

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My friends and I boarded a bus bound to Lucena, got off at the Grand Terminal. Got on a mini bus and alighted at the town of Padre Burgos where we got on tricycles that brought us to the port. From there, we rented a boat that would take us to Borawan Beach. Someone gave us a tip that people usually do the Borawan to Dampalitan route so we decided to go against the flow of people and camp out at Dampalitan Island instead.

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Upon arrival to the island, we pitched our tents and settled down for the day.

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In all fairness, Dampalitan Island’s sand could pass up as Boracay’s shores from afar. While the sun is shining its brightest, the white sand seems to glow it almost hurts the eyes.

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After lunch and a quick nap, the water level went down low enough to reveal a little sandbar. We walked on the sandbar and took photos farther out into the sea. That entertained us for about 30 minutes until it got too hot to be enjoyable. We went back under the shade and napped some more while waiting for the sun to go down. When it got a little cooler, we explored the opposite side of the shore and came across some sea friends.

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We watched the sun set and it was beautiful. It was made better by the absence of a big crowd. Guess going against the norm paid off, after all.

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When it got dark, we cooked and had our dinner. We built a fire and drank and danced around it. We also roasted marshmallows for our s’mores. It was a great night. 🙂

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The next day, our boat came by and brought us to Borawan Beach.

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I had to agree that the cliffs do resemble the limestone formations in Palawan albeit being miniature compared to the real thing. When we got to the island, there was a group of rock climbers uhmmmmm climbing the rocks LOLOLOL. We contented ourselves in climbing on top the less intimidating ones and swimming around the clear waters. We didn’t really do much at Borawan Island and I have to say that I liked Dampalitan better.

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Borawan is being marketed better than what it actually is. But if you’re looking for a new beach to explore this summer, it is still worth the try.

As mentioned in a previous post, our trip to Polillo Island took an unexpected detour when we were not allowed by the Coast Guard to cross the seas on a Good Friday. We tried a lot of options to bypass the Coast Guard, even hopped from one port to the other. Alas, everything was not working for us. As if some sort of force was trying to direct us somewhere else.

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While arguing with the Coast Guard on duty, we met a bunch of surfers who were also trying to get to Polillo that day. When every other option failed, they offered to take us back to a surf camp where they were staying at.

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We took a tricycle to The Pacific Recreation Kamp a.k.a. “The PaRK”. Apparently, it is a fairly popular place for surfers and non-surfers alike. The PaRK’s campground is covered in soft grass and shaded by trees. It is ideal for pitching tents – which is exactly what we did. We rented a tent and put it up near the fence facing a river. We took a very satisfying nap after a couple bottles of beer and we woke up energized and ready to explore the rest of the camp.

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Just beyond the fence is a river, actually an estuary. There were several boats docked and a blue boat was so perfectly set with the lush green mountains serving as its backdrop.

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To get to the main beach area where most of the people are, we needed to cross the river. It was easy to find the shallowest part in the daytime but believe me, things were totally different when we made our way back to camp when the sun set. High tide, dim moon light and a small dry bag is not a good combination. LOL.

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The beach does not boast of fine, white sand. Instead, the water is rather murky, tinted by the brownish sand. The part where the waves hit the shore is littered with smooth pebbles.

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Walking further ahead, the sand got finer and there were less scattered stones. For some reason, the waves were comparably smaller than other parts. It was crowded with families lounging around. These two boys seemed to be having the time of their lives.

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As per our surfer friends, the waves weren’t really huge that day. That didn’t seem to discourage anyone as there was still a good number of surfers playing in the water even when the sun was already going down. 

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Up further ahead is a more secluded area. It was much less crowded than all the other parts mainly because it takes quite a long walk to get here.

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After swimming and surfing, we decided to head back to camp as it was about to get dark. There are a lot of surfboards for rent at P200/hour or P500/half day. When we reached camp, we washed up and cooked a huge fish the surfers so graciously offered to us. We shared a simple yet sumptuous dinner with our new-found friends and retired to our respective tents early because we planned to catch the first trip to Polillo Island the next day.

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I was not able to take pictures of the main camp area as it was pretty crowded while we were there due to the Holy Week peak. No worries though because this is for sure not my last time at The PaRK.

 

It has been a tradition for most Filipinos to escape somewhere during the annual observance of Holy Week. Some go on religious excursions and take part of traditions observed by their church. Admittedly, I am not much of a religious lot so instead of going to church, I mostly go out-of-town and relax on the beach. This year, I tagged along with some friends on a trip to Polillo Island.

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The first half of our group went ahead on Holy Thursday. I was flying home from my Indochina trip on the dawn of Good Friday so Chris had to wait for me and we would just travel a day behind. Upon landing, I went home, swapped backpacks and made my way to Quezon.

Now, Good Friday in the Philippines is called “patay na araw” which literally translates to A DEAD DAY. Everything stops – shops close, malls close, and worse, no transportation. We overlooked this fact and that led to a lot of misadventures. Long story short: we were not allowed by the Coast Guard to travel to Polillo that day.

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Through all the commotion, we met a bunch of surfers who were kind enough to take us back to their surf camp. It ended up as a happy accident after all, will tell you the story in a separate post. We spent the night in tents and made our way back to the port at the crack of dawn. We finally made it on the first boat out to the island and literally met the rising sun.

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The boat had an upper seating area and as if by some magic, everyone in our group gravitated towards the front deck. We put on some reggae music, dangled our feet down and watched the rising sun. It was so calm, a stark difference from the previous day’s chaos.

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After over an hour, we finally reached Polillo. We reunited with our other friends and sadly had to part ways with our new-found surfer friends. They were in search for waves and weren’t really interested with island hopping. Our group continued on with more travel and rented tricyles that would take us to the town of Burdeos where we would board another boat to take us to the islands. When we got to the pier, I got super excited to get back to the water upon seeing another huge boat.

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Imagine my disappointment when the boatmen insisted that we take the small ones instead.

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See what I mean?!? We got the dinky, little boats instead of the fancy looking bigger one. Oh well…

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We spent quite a while in the ocean, circumnavigating island after island after island. I was honestly getting bored after some time and I was just itching to be on land. Finally, we moored on the shores of Anilon Island.

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According to our boatman, Anilon Island is the best beach in the area and a favorite place of many locals for picnic and beach excursions.

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It is a beautiful island surrounded by fine sugary sand. Its waters were calm and had the most beautiful shades of blue. The other side of the beach was much more rocky and the ocean floor dropped down more abruptly.

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The part where our boats were docked was much more friendly for an easy swim. I spent a sizable amount of time here after lunch, wading in its clear water. I was enjoying myself too much that the sun bearing down didn’t bother me at all.

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When the sun was about to set, we piled ourselves back to the boats and made our way to another island. The setting sun gave the beach a different kind of charm.

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At this point, I actually didn’t care anymore where we go next so I missed the name of our next stop. This is where we watched the sun set.

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When it got dark, we gathered up some dry branches and built our small bonfire. We passed the time swapping stories with our boatman and his wife,  sipping on hot coffee.

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When the last embers of our bonfire died down, we bid goodbye to the island and headed back to mainland. Sailing in the middle of the ocean at pitch dark with only the moon guiding us was part terrifying and mostly enchanting. The water glistens like silver as boat cuts into it. What a great way to end our unforgettable Polillo experience.

 

 

On our last day in Phuket, we made it a point to squeeze in some more touring before we head to Bangkok for the second leg of our Thailand trip. One of the very friendly hotel staff helped us book a half day tour complete with a private car and our own personal driver. She also helped us score bus tickets to Bangkok that included free pickup from our hotel. Super convenient! But before that, we had to get moving because the rest of Phuket eagerly awaits us.

The first destination of the day: Kata Beach. Kata Beach is one of the most popular beach in Phuket next to Patong. It is much less crowded than Patong so it is a great family destination.

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It is safe to swim in Kata Beach because it does not have any drop offs. It is very friendly to children and non-swimmers. Because of the waves, it also is popular among surfers and even hosts a surf competition once a year. While we were there, we saw a couple of surfers in the water.

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Much like Patong Beach, benches shaded by parasols are lined up along its one-kilometer shore. I could imagine myself lying down in one of them, staring off into the scenic clear water flanked by hills, sipping on an ice-cold drink. Alas, I didn’t have the luxury of time for that so I went back to our car and took a final parting shot instead. Maybe next time…

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After a sumptuous lunch at Bora Bora Restaurant, our speed boat made its way to the last destination for the day — Khai Nok Island. Koh Khai Nok is a small triangular island tucked in Phang Nga Bay.

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One special characteristic of Koh Khai Nok is that it has at least twelve types of exotic tropical fish and they aren’t afraid of humans. This is the only place I’ve been so far where you could snorkel above the water. Literally! You don’t even need to dip your head into the water to be able to see all the fish. The water is so clear and the fish are so fearless that they swim even on knee-deep waters.

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My friends and I were more interested in all the freshly cut fruits prepared by a member of our boat crew. He was masterfully cutting open piece after piece of pineapple and watermelon. All the guests could partake of the fruits, water and soda that they brought along. Well, don’t mind if I do! 🙂

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We rented out a parasol where we could put our things and rolled around on the beach’s powder white sand. The sand was so fine and it got everywhere. EVERYWHERE! Hahaha!

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On the other end of the island, less people were gathered. The water is relatively deeper and there are much more jagged rock formations than the inexperienced swimmer would dare get near to.

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After walking around and swimming with the fishies for a little bit, we went back under our parasol and gladly consumed some more watermelon that our full tummies could manage.  We just can’t get enough!

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We spent our last minutes lounging under our beach umbrella and people-watching. Not long after, our tour guide were calling everyone on board. Sadly, our whole day of gallivanting in Phuket’s Islands has come to an end.

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